Women Resilient To Extreme Physical Activity Than Previously Reported

Women Resilient To Extreme Physical Activity

A study conducted by the Society for Endocrinology wanted to see if women can be resilient  to extreme physical activity. Women underwent extreme physical training to increase their fitness. The women then went on a transantartic expedition. To the surprise of experimenters, women did not display anymore negative effects compared to men. What this means is that women given the proper training can handle extreme physical activity. This should not be a shock to people who understand basic biology. The issue seems to be that the frailty myth remains present in many studies regarding exercise physiology and endocrinology. The result regarding women being as resilient as men should not come as a startling revelation. The problem is that women have been cast as biological inferiors.  Obviously not the weaker sex, but it should be realized that the physical fitness capacity differs among the sexes based on anatomy and physiology. This means that a woman will have a harder time reaching a particular physical fitness level . The element of endurance and the difference between the sexes still remains misunderstood. These findings were presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference. It was conducted by the University of Edinburgh  and the  Royal Centre for Defense.

          There has been the notion that the female reproductive system and stress hormone response is more sensitive to arduous physical activity. Some studies also indicated that extreme physical activity can interrupt normal female reproductive function, impair bone strength, and elevate stress hormone levels higher than normal in women. To test possible negative effects of extreme endurance exercise Dr. Robert Gifford selected six women for a transantartic expedition. This sample was small, yet it did not indicate their fitness level prior to the training given. A woman with a higher fitness level or more experience with physical activity would have more advantage compared to an average woman. The fittest would most likely perform better.



The performance of these two women would differ in relation to fitness level. 

Several markers of health were monitored for the expedition. Body weight, bone strength, metabolism, and the hormone function of the reproductive system. The heath markers were not only preserved, but revealed that the exercise regimen contributed to the success. The six subject were involved in a fitness regimen two weeks before the expedition. Dr .Gifford proclaimed : “we have shown that with appropriate training and preparation, many of the previously reported negative health effects can be avoided.” Dr. Robert Gifford stated that this data could put to rest myth regarding women and extreme activity. Although, there are some elements of the experiment that should be questioned. Training obviously made a difference. The length of the expedition could have an impact on health. Longer expeditions may show that women’s health makers may decline faster than her male counterpart.



Race would not be a factor in this study. Biologically, race does not exist. Populations vary in genetics, but there is only one species of homo sapiens.  

The report also mentions it was not able to account for other factors such as age and ethnicity. Based on what is known, predictions could be made. Age can impact fitness with changes in metabolism and changes in the musculsoskeletal structure. As people age, they lose bone and muscle mass. When a person reaches their mid-twenties their muscles reach their natural full growth. Around age 25 most people have reached their full bone mass and height. This primarily would be males who are slower to grow than females, who reach their full hieght by age 18. The age of physical fitness peak for athletes could be around age 30 and performance gradually declines from that point. This means an older person would not be as fast or as strong in their youth.  It is also odd that some would think race  or ethnicity would have an effect on results. Skin color is the product of melanin. To say that one race or ethnicity would handle this better would be ludicrous. Certain populations used to cold climates may be more adaptable to a transantartic expedition. This is related to environment rather than race. Race would not impact performance,but age would. Hormones play a major role in fitness and they tell a lot about how women manage under extreme physical activity.

            Sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen have an impact on fitness levels. While estrogen can have a positive effect on bone density relative to bone mineralization, it add more fat tissue to the female body. Subcutaneous fat does not have an athletic benefit, yet the difference in body composition could be useful in a cold environment. This means women would be better at maintaining  body heat  in the Antarctic. Muscle is not a big insulator of heat.



Given the same training regimen, men normally gain more strength and speed depending on genetics, health condition, and somatotype. A muscular woman still carries more fat compared to a muscular man. 

This is an instance in which body composition and fat percentage could work to women’s advantage. Muscle fiber type also would be helpful if this is a test of endurance. Women tend to have more type I muscle fiber. Type I muscle fiber is essential for endurance based physical activities. Men have more type II muscle fibers and a body with denser bones. One factor that is important strength is the presence of  free testosterone. Prior to puberty, there is limited difference in physical fitness capacity between boys and girls. Growth hormone causes an increase in body size for both sexes, but the sex hormones are adjusting the body for sexual reproduction.


Exercise physiology has now taken an interest in studying improved sports performance techniques in women. 

The growth of the testicles allows for higher testosterone production in males inducing strength spurts. Lutienizing and follicle producing hormone work on a feedback loop n relation to sex hormones. Males have two growth spurts. The second one occurs two years after puberty. Between this period the strength spurt occurs increasing total muscle mass, while shoulder length increases. Puberty does not increase a woman’s fitness optimum. Therefore, training must be adjusted to take note of the differences in endocrinology. Women who participate in athletics could be susceptible to certain injuries. Looser joints, lighter bone density, and changes in hormones can effect the body. The female athlete could be vulnerable to ammenorrhea if her body fat levels get too low. ACL tears can be a serious risk. Menstruation, pregnancy,  or sudden hormonal changes can effect the female body that would not occur in men.  Despite these differences and sex specific issues women can attain a high level of fitness.  Men have more musculoskeletal mass which allows their bodies to sustain more strain and physical  trauma. Women, far from being delicate flowers can benefit immensely from training. However, the higher the physical intensity, the more women may struggle .  As Dr. Gifford articulated “If an appropriate training and nutritional regime is followed, their health may be protected.”

           The human body reacts to extreme temperatures. Depending on environment, men and women’s resilience would differ in this regard. Shivering and perspiration are reactions to either  warmth or cold.  Hyothermia can happen when if core temperature goes below 95 degrees fahrenheit. The body’s core temperature functions at a range between 97. 7 to 99.5 degrees fahrenheit. The body requires thermoregulation to maintain adequate metabolism and homeostasis. Antarctica is the only continent not inhabited by human beings due to its extreme cold weather.



Antarctica would be a difficult place to establish human civilization. Climate change may alter this, however the gradual decrease in the polar ice caps would cause sea levels to rise. 

There are a number of  dangerous changes that can happen to the body under extreme cold. Hypothermia begins, while simultaneously breathing rate slows down. The heart rate may increase and arrhythmia starts. Tissues of the body cannot handle dramatically low temperatures resulting in frostbite. Core organs will shutdown.Such changes may cause confusion to such a great extent some people may irrationally remove their clothing. This odd phenomenon is known as paradoxical undressing. The brain becomes the last organ to function and if these conditions are not addressed death is the result. Going on long Antarctic expeditions would take a level of endurance and strength to handle extreme weather conditions. Some question why bother to explore this part of the Earth. The reason to do so may serve as a training ground for exploration of other planets in the distant future. Although spacecraft needs to advance, mastering difficult environments on Earth would serve as practice in settling outer space. This study has more applications than just examining endurance.

        The findings of this study could be useful to designing training programs for women entering physically demanding occupations. Firefighting, law enforcement, sports, construction, the military, and space exploration are fields that will see an increase in female workers. There is a misconception that men are just tougher and physically superior to women and therefore would be naturally better at such occupations. Sexism and pseudoscience still contribute to a large amount of gender bias, which women have to overcome when entering these careers.

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Women have taken interest in law enforcement and the military, thought to be a male only job. 

These occupations require a physical fitness test that many women struggle to meet. Understanding women’s physiological and physical capabilities can contribute to increasing numbers and extending careers in such fields. Dr. Gifford explained the relevance as follows :  “these findings could have important relevance for men and women in arduous or stressful employment, where there is concern that they are damaging their health.” Seeing as these jobs demand high amounts of physical activity, there can be an attrition rate. Injuries or declining health can cause a employee shortage or an increase in medical expenses for  the place of employment. Preventing future and on the job health concerns or accidents is essential to efficiency and success.



Women are doing jobs that were thought to be too dangerous for them. The notion that there are some jobs women should not do must be discarded. 

There seems to be a level of disbelief about women’s capabilities are. Questions still remain for this study. The team at the University of Edinburgh want to investigate further by seeing which specific fitness regimens work better. Doing so would reveal how it would effect stress and energy balance in the body under extreme physical exertion. The motivation for the Royal Centre for Defense may have a military application. Women are allowed in the United Kingdom to serve in combat roles and integration of women into the occupation is a goal. Training women to meet the physical demands requires a different approach.  Exercise and nutrition can negate some aspects of sexual dimorphism, yet it does not eliminate them completely. Men still have more absolute physical strength and aerobic capacity. However, women could possibly have an endurance advantage, which as not been fully researched. If confirmed through rigorous experimentation, this could lead to effective fitness programs for women.


Women Resilient To Extreme Physical Activity Than Previously Reported

BBC Future : How The Pill Changes Your Body Shape

How The Contraceptive Pill Changes Body Shape

There continues to be a common myth that the contraceptive pill causes a massive amount of weight gain. This is not scientifically accurate. What it does is changes body shape and the behavior of fat storage. The reason for a change in fat storage is that contraceptive pills contain oestrogen and progesterone. Hormones can effect body composition. These sex hormones explain why women have higher levels of fat in their bodies. Several decades of research has shown that the pill does not cause weight gain, but there are other side effects. This conclusion was reached from a total of 49 studies. Other studies just examined the progesterone only contraceptive pill. While it is clear that a woman cannot gain large amounts of weight  or become obese from the contraceptive pill it should be noted it does change the shape and how fat is distributed. endocrinologist Maria Gallo states that the continued connection between weight gain and the pill is related to bias or apophenia.  Apophenia is a term of psychology in which people see patterns and connections between unrelated topics or concepts . However, unlike unsubstantiated conspiracy theories there is a relation between hormones and body composition. Each contraceptive pill is different which could have multiple side effects which effect women’s health. This also is significant for women who are competing in sports or rigorous physical activity. If a sportswoman is taking a certain type of contraception  it could effect her athletic performance. Such side effects demonstrate the need to make safe contraception to preserve women’s health.

           Weight gain can happen as an adult. This accelerates in early adulthood. The body has stopped growing and overtime metabolism changes with age. It has been estimated that the average person puts on just over a pound . This would be about half a kilo. This is also around the same period in which women begin to use contraception. It would be easy to to think that the contraceptive pill would cause weight gain under these circumstances. The female body goes through a endocrine change with puberty. Their adipose tissue increases, due to the fact more fat is required for ovulation. Weight is not solely influenced by hormones. Diet and lifestyle can also have an impact on a persons weight.



Physical activity level and lifestyle can have an effect on weight. Diet and nutrition is the most important.  

Individuals who make exercise and a balanced diet part of their daily routine would most likely not experience weight related heath issues.  Weight loss is a challenge for women mainly due to the fact of hormonal difference. Women when they consume food metabolize more of it into fat. This is why having a good amount of physical activity is required to manage weight. Also diets with high amounts of sugar and fat can also contribute to weight gain. Fast food, sweets, and high fructose corn syrup has been responsible for the rise in obesity. This effects women worse because of the physiology of sex hormones. While there is not definite evidence the pill increases weight dramatically it alters body shape related to muscle, fat, and the development of water retention.

          The discovery about the pill’s effect on the female body came from an unlikely place. Steven Riechman an exercise physiologist conducting a study at Texas A&M University which wanted to find out how a person’s genetic make-up effects muscular hypertrophy. This study was conducted in 2009 and involved both men and women doing resistance training exercises. Subjects were then weighed to see how much muscle they gained in the training period. The study also examined lifestyle factors to determine how much of the muscular development was related to genetics. Medications were given special attention seeing as this could effect the conclusion of the experiment. Women who were on the oral contraceptive pill gained 40% less muscle mass compared to women who were not. This is quite significant. This means women who are competing in athletics or are in a physically demanding occupation must be aware of the specific type of contraception they use.



The difference in physiology and biology does effect athletic performance, but also certain types of contraception. 

This was only revealed in 2009, which shows that exercise physiology has more to explore in terms of designing training programs for women. Seeing as male and female bodies are different in terms of biology, physiology, and endocrine function research should be tailored to women’s performance needs. Most studies only use men and it has only been recently that women were being included. The most obvious difference is the amount of muscle in the male and female bodies. Untrained average men and women have a gap in strength. The  average man has a total of  72 lbs ( 33 kg) compared to women’s 46 lbs ( 21 kg ).  This is related to sexual dimorphism seeing as men are on average taller and weigh more. If one examines the total percentage of muscle mass in the body men have 38% compared women’s 31%. This means women have a difference of 26 lbs and 7%  in terms of total muscle mass. This disparity is mostly seen in the upper body.

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Women can build muscle, but not to the same degree as males.  Women have to train harder to attain a high physical fitness capacity. 

Men produce more androgens which  includes testosterone. This allows a higher level of protein synthesis inducing more muscular hypertrophy in response to training. Simply having more testosterone does not equate to more muscle. It is the portion of free testosterone  present in the body.  Males do not have to be as concerned about contraception effecting their athletic performance, because their endocrine system functions different. The invention of the contraceptive pill liberated women, but also caused unforeseen complications related to health. Every time biomedical science creates a new technology  it is bound to have less desirable side effects.

         There is more to be known about sex hormones and steroids in the body. Endocrinology explores the science of hormones and their effect on human physiology. A particular hormone known as dehydroepiandrosterone has become something of interest.  Secreted from the adrenal glands it is responsible for building strong bones and even providing auxiliary support to the immune system. This substance would technically would be considered a steroid which would need to be controlled under certain laws. Currently sports organizations have banned it considering it as performance enhancing, yet it athletes still use it because of its ability to increase muscle mass. Women also produce  dehydroepiandrosterone, but women on the pill produce lower levels. This means that a woman attempting to build muscle may not reaching their full potential. Progesterone based contraception could be the culprit related to restricting women’s muscular gains.  The competition for reaching bonding sites may block signals encouraging muscular hypertrophy. More research must be done to conclude which type of birth control is best for a  high performing female athlete.



Depending on what type of contraceptive pill used, it may have a negative impact on a woman’s fitness goals. This can be circumvented with more scientific investigation.

So far there has not been a link proven through experimentation. What is known is that sex hormones do effect performance.  The pill does not cause excessive weight gain, yet it can alter the way body fat is stored.

         The pill has both an effect on muscle and fat in the female body. A large part of puberty is the major endocrine system change. Estrogen and progesterone levels increase in women, which allow for the development of secondary sex characteristics. Hips become wider and breast develop on a maturing female body. Body fat percentage also increases.  Subcutaneous fat can be found in women’s hips, thighs, and breasts. The reason for this is related to the number on oestrogen receptors in those areas of the body. An alteration in hormones will change the way in which body fat is stored. Fat just gets stored in the hips and thighs making it appear as if there was weight gain. If women who were using contraception were to be weighed  on a scale their overall weight would not be dramatically different. Bloating can also make it appear as if women gained weight, when it is really just certain areas of the body swelling. The pill has the ability to influence the way in which the body metabolizes water. Particular proteins are produced in the kidneys, which causes the body to retain more fluid than it should. Extra liquid then spills over into fat cells. Areas which will expand are the breasts, hips, and thighs.  This expansion of these areas of the female body actually do occur naturally. A week before a women’s period expansion of  the hips, breasts, and thigh happens. The dramatic expansion that happens to women on certain types of pill is the result of synthetic oestrogen . This is ten times stronger than the hormone produced in the human body. Seeing as the contraceptive pill is taken everyday there is a more constant source of the hormone.




Subcutaneous fat storage can be seen in the hips, thighs,  and breasts of the female body. Birth control only adds more to these areas making it appear as if they gained weight.

The more troubling revelation is that a particular type of pill could put omen at risk for breast cancer. The risks factor is present when taking it and may be higher ten years afterward.  An uncontrolled expansion or reproduction of cells could lead to tumors. Breast expansion from the contraceptive pill is not only from the retention of water, but growing cells. The challenge is that it is difficult to determine if it is more so water retention or cell expansion. The risk is too great to be ignored. The goal should be to produce safe and reliable contraceptive pills that will not cause major health problems in the future.  Breast cancer is a major concern for women’s health. Seeing as more women will be sexually active this could result in a public health crisis. Although it has been determined so far that the pill does not cause weight gain, the myth still is perpetuated.

          The contraceptive pill has caused a radical change in sex politics. Women gained more sexual freedom not having to worry about unwanted pregnancy. Women with the creation of effective contraception were able to gain more control of their own bodies. Yet, there was some unintended consequences. There has been a global decline in fertility rates. People are not having as many children. While overpopulation causes social and political problems, small populations could mean economic crisis. A large elder population with small numbers of young people in the workforce will not be able to maintain a strong welfare system. Some of this can be prevented with immigration, but that may not be a longer term solution if globally the population decreases over a number of decades. To an extent the relations between men and women have become less bond based. If pregnancy can be prevented, having short sexual  encounters can be more frequent meaning there is no obligation to long term relationships. One other issue is the distribution of contraceptive pills that could be harmful or have dangerous side effects. Considering that this is lucrative corporations would put profit over safety. The only solution is to have oversight and more pharmaceutical research directed at improving the contraceptive pill.

BBC Future : How The Pill Changes Your Body Shape

Femuscleblog Remembers Stan Lee

Stan Lee ( 1922-2018) along with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko established Marvel into a major comics company. These artists made many popular creations known the world over. Lee was responsible for one creation that holds an important place for fans of female muscle.She-Hulk first appeared in 1980. There was a Fantastic Four story arc in which she served as a member. This is an issue of Fantastic Four issue #275 in which Stan Lee appears on the cover with She-Hulk. The comic is from 1984 and already She-Hulk was getting her own comic and appearing in other Marvel properties. The cover is wonderful,because  it shows a very athletic and muscular looking She-Hulk. Normally, women are not depicted in such a fashion in comics, however sometimes they appear. It is a positive reflection of how the roles of women expanded in comics narratives. Women were not just damsels in distress, wives,  or girlfriends they could be superheroes. Stan Lee ‘s passing will leave a large void in the comics and graphic novel industry.  

Femuscleblog Remembers Stan Lee

The Atlantic :The Truth About Little Women Carrying Big Wounded Men In Combat (2013)

The Truth About Women Carrying Men In Combat

This article from The Atlantic was originally published in 2013, the year the ban on women in combat was lifted. Since then, there has been some progress yet more must be gone to make gender integration a success in the US military. Part of this project requires that certain myths be challenged. The consistent argument is that women simply do not have the physical strength or fitness capacity to be effective combat soldiers.  The question in regards to upper body strength becomes debated. The two opposing arguments are split between partisan lines between liberals and conservatives. Women in combat will certainly become a wedge issue just like abortion, immigration, and taxes. The extreme conservative argument is that women are too physically weak to be soldiers and have no place in the US military. The staunch liberal  opposing view is that women are capable, but they do not acknowledge that biological and physiological differences can effect women’s performances in particular tasks. Elspeth Reeve clearly is not looking at the problem from a perspective of exercise physiology. The author then erroneously states ” the thing is, you don’t need much upper body strength to carry a man out of combat.” George Will ‘s assessment is equally oblivious : ” You’re a 6′ 4″, 240 pound Marine, You’re injured, and you need a Marine to  carry you to safety, and the Marine next to you is a 5’ 4″ woman who weighs 115 pounds. It’s relevant .” The fact is there are women who are fit enough for the rigors of combat, but this does not mean every woman is.  Physical fitness and technique are essential for enabling women to successfully help their fellow soldiers in combat situations.

               Lifting requires the muscles of the upper body and motion from the legs. If a woman was to be carrying an injured soldier in a combat situation, then the added weight of the gear and armor should be included. So a woman carrying a person and gear would be a huge amount of weight. The average soldier can carry close to a total of 120 pounds. The armor provides a high level of protection, but it also makes them vulnerable to injury. Depending on the military occupational specialty weight can vary. Soldiers carry ammunition, communications equipment, rations, and various uniform related items. A machine gunner could have to carry up to a total 140 pounds.



It is simple for this woman to carry a man with out gear. The soldier above carrying some one would have to move both the weight of gear and the person. 

This would require a certain level of upper body strength to both move items and save a person. The muscular system between men and women does not differ vastly. The cells and tissues are the same. The differences is related to distribution of strength in sections of the human body, composition, and the influence of endocrinology. The biggest disparity in body strength is in the upper body with women only having an estimated range of 25% to 55 % of male strength. Contrary to popular belief women do not have more lower body strength. Women can have close to an estimated  70% to 75 % lower body strength of men. Body composition plays a role in strength. Women have a higher fat percentage in comparison to muscle mass. Women who are even at a high physical fitness capacity retain more fat to a man who has a similar fitness level. Body composition is influenced by the endocrine system. The production of certain sex  hormones will effect fitness. Testosterone allows for greater protein synthesis enabling greater muscular hypertrophy in men. Men weigh more and are bigger than women on average which contribute to higher levels of natural strength.

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Even with training, men normally reach a higher physical fitness level. Women can experience muscular hypertrophy and can gain strength through weight training. 

The upper body of men differs compared to women’s. Men have broader shoulders, which means that more muscle can be housed on it. Although it would seem that women would not be suited for highly physical or manual work, weight training does have an effect on their bodies. The factors that are important are both power and intensity. Power by definition is the ability to generate force in a short period of time. There is a power generation difference due to the biological and physiological factors related to sexual dimorphism. Men have more power due to larger muscle fibers and the difference in a particular type of fibers. Type II muscle fibers are more useful for generating large amounts of power. However, women have an advantage of more endurance based type I muscle fibers. The strength between male and female muscle fibers is equal yet the amount and type  creates a difference in physical power. Muscle size is not a direct indication of strength. It depends on what type of training regimen is used. This partially explains why it is possible for a less muscular weightlifter to lift more than a bodybuilder. They are training for two different purposes. Knowing this about the muskuloskeletal system reveals certain aspects that should be noted for women entering combat positions. Women would have to increase their fitness level prior to entry to meet the physical demands. After passing those fitness tests, then a female recruit should closely examine which military occupational specialty they want to enter and continue to make improvements on their physical performance.



Exercising prior to basic training can help with meeting the vigorous physical demands of combat. 

Every woman is certainly not the same. The woman of high fitness capacity or with an athletic background will not struggle as much compared to the average woman. This was best articulated by Steve Inskeep : ” there are surely individual women who could pick you or I up wounded and carry us off a battlefield.” His response to George Will in a discussion on ABC’s This Week was a rational answer. Will’s previous response did have merit : “But there are certain anatomical facts about upper body strength and stamina.” Biology cannot not be denied, yet there is one critical factor that is missed. Not every man is built like Rambo. Gorge Will’s scenario of the small woman unable to carry a large man could also be a small man carrying a bigger  one. A man of 140 pounds would struggle to carry a 200 pound man in combat. His scenario does not acknowledge that there are men in the US population that would not make suitable soldiers. Steve Inskeep does not acknowledge that all men would not be qualified, yet highlights women considered unique or exceptional. The reasoning is based on subtle sexism that women are physically weak and too pusillanimous for combat jobs.



It would be obvious that the weaker man would struggle carrying the stronger and bigger man.  Will argument seems to lack cogency, when stating why women should not be in combat. Based on that logic all men should not be drafted, because their fitness levels vary.  

Women who are not serving in combat arms are still doing manual labor in the US military. Host Martha Raddatz mentioned on This Week that there are female combat medics who move large men all the time for medical evacuation. Women have in a sense seen combat since 2001 when America’s wars became more about fighting terrorist organizations and armed groups rather than nation-states. Slowly, frontlines are disappearing into a world that is a complete war zone. While army medics require the strength to put the injured on stretchers and aid in biomedical procedures.  This is essential to troops that are wounded or fall victim to harm by shrapnel. Medical evacuations may not always happen from combat rather, injury inflicted by too much armor and gear on the body. Women therefore must build an immense amount of upper body strength to meet the demands of particular combat tasks.



Female combat medics require a level of strength to move the wounded. Their job is very pivotal to ensuring survival of soldiers. 

Women must train with a certain level of intensity. This means how hard a person works out in a fitness program. Women require both strength training and resistance training which focuses on the upper body muscles. Explosive power training and weightlifting can increase women’s physical strength. Women’s response to training stimuli differs. studies have shown that women have increased growth hormone through weight training regimens, which explains why some women may be able to gain a significant amount of muscle regardless of lower levels of testosterone. This is only achieved with longer resistance training periods and lifting heavier weights. Growth hormone then responds to the exercise stimuli contributing to muscular hypertrophy in women. Men and women actually respond in similar ways to strength training. It only appears that men respond more to training stimuli, because they have more musculoskeletal mass to begin with. Women have lower natural strength and a lower fitness level without training. This means it is harder for women to reach a certain fitness level. Progressive overload is still effective yet other factors should be considered. Nutrition and genetics are critical to physical fitness capacity. Exercises like bench press, pull-ups, and bent-over rows are helpful at building the pectoralis major, biceps, and triceps. While it is clear that women can increase their muscular power, there is one element of fitness that may not be altered through training.

          Assuming that a woman is carrying a wounded soldier, this would require some running if there is still fire being exchanged. The problem is that too much armor does slow down a soldier and hinders mobility to a degree. What would not be working in a female soldier’s favor is the difference in aerobic capacity. There is only slight difference in muscular strength of the lower body, but running requires the heart and lungs. Women’s smaller heart and lungs means that their running speed would be lower. The maximal oxygen consumption is higher in males. Women have a smaller stroke volume in comparison. Women are running with less hemoglobin. Hemoglobin’s role is designed to carry oxygen to various body tissues. This is especially important for  the muscles. There also has to be a consideration for the biomechanics in relation to women’s running speed. Wider hips, shorter legs, and the quadriceps angle effect women’s total running speed.

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Despite biological and physiological differences women can increase running speed. 

Quadriceps angle, pelvis shape, heart and lung size are not altered through training. Hemoglobin levels are not significantly changed through training in the female body. Women can increase muscular strength, but increasing aerobic capacity would be more difficult in comparison. Speed is essential when attempting to move an injured soldier and strength just is not the only factor. Women anatomy also must be taken into account if combat integration is to be successful. Elite female athletes who compete in track and field use reliable sports bras to help with their running. Although breast size varies among women, women with a larger breast size may  feel more discomfort during physical activity. The US military should provide sports bras to it female combat soldiers. This would help reduce discomfort and strain during physically demanding tasks. A smaller amount of upper body strength and a different anatomical structure on the chest contributes to make it more of a challenge of women extracting a harmed soldier.

Ocean Runner

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Some women experience breast pain from intense running. A durable sports bra can prevent such discomfort.

Sports bras and armor designed to fit the female frame can improve women’s performance. Yet, it should be realized that some aspects of biology will not change in regards training stimuli. Running speed seems like one of the physical fitness indicators in which women would not close the gap. The problem with the liberal argument is that they ignore basic physiology. The opposing conservative view is based on a biological determinism, which masks subtle sexist convictions. Both of these are extreme distortions about women in combat and their physical capabilities. This is more complicated than previously thought.

          Elspeth Reeve does explain that there is a method in which a soldier can be removed from the battlefield known as the fireman’s carry. This merely requires an individual slinging a person over their shoulders . The examples Reeve provides show that it can be done by women. The problem is that it does not show someone who is already on the floor or  unconscious. There is a difference between lifting a weight and carrying a human body. A human body contains four limbs and combined with body armor would be more trouble to move. One must understand also, depending on the nature of the injury on the best way to carry a person. If it is a neck or spinal cord injury a stretcher would be required. When carrying the injured soldier one would have to be mindful not to exacerbate the area of the wound. The fire man’s carry would most likely not be as effective as the casualty drag. This still requires physical strength, but may not waste as much energy compared to the fireman’s carry.

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It is easier to lift and carry a person when there is no armor or gear on the body. The solution is to have women practice with their armor and gear.

The fascinating aspect of this article is that it mentions the lift and carry fetish. To fans of physically strong women and the bodybuilding sports it is a much familiar topic. The techniques women use to lift men include the over the shoulder carry, the piggyback ride, cradle lift, and overhead lift.  While such women are more than capable of lifting men over their shoulders, they are not the average women. There is a dramatic difference between the physical capacities of the average woman and the female athlete. This means making a draft would have to be conscious of this fact. This means if women were to be drafted they would need to have extensive fitness program to meet the demands of basic training or MOS. The goal of seeing a gender balance may not happen, but that does not mean the number of female combat soldiers cannot increase with recruitment efforts. Improving fitness levels and certain techniques prevents injury and attrition rates. The casualty drag the US military seems to prefer more now compared to the fireman’s carry.



There are women who are qualified for the physical demands of combat.Others may not be able to do so.  

Men and women can certainly be trained to be combat soldiers. However, training is only a simulation of combat. The nature of warfare is unpredictable and erratic. It is very possible that well trained soldiers could lose wars depending on multiple factors.  Poor strategy, political mismanagement, and undefined goals could mean defeat of an armed force. There tends to be the notion that opening combat positions to women would cause failure and a less effective fighting force. Such accusations are based either on trepidation that women just do not have the strength or stamina or sexist prejudice. Since 2013 women have been entering combat jobs and so far there has been little disruption. As long as physical fitness requirements are not made to make it easier for women in particular, women fighting in the US military will be successful. This is why the Marine physical fitness standards should not be different for females.

       There are several conclusions that can be made based on basic biology and anatomy. Women will struggle to reach a higher fitness level. This means they must embark on an exercise regimen prior to basic training. Depending on the military occupational specialty women should focus on the fitness standards and train specifically for that. There should not be the expectation that there will be equal numbers across the military. Although the number of women in the military has increased, it is still lower compared to the number of men. There are reasons for the difference in numbers of females active in the US military. One reason is that many women just may not have the strength or endurance for physically demanding occupations. Women may not be recruited or encourage to join in comparison to men.



There are women who are capable of combat. Yet, the vast majority of the male and female population of the US may lack the physical fitness required, if there was a need for a draft. Most would either require a weight management program (Fit Recruits Hard To Find ). 

Personal choice also plays a role. A military career could just be something many American women are not interested in. These factors contribute to the gender imbalance in the US military. Seeing as the ban was only lifted in 2013, progress will take time. Over the next few decades women may make progress in the air force, navy, and army. The Navy SEALS may not see many female combat soldiers anytime soon. Such an elite fighting force has high drop out rates among men. The question of the selective service must be addressed. If women want true equality, they should accept being required to register for the selective service. Men do not have much of a choice and equality does not mean some privileges when the opportunity suits you.  Doing this will challenge the detractors. There are still many who underestimate women’s ability, but any rational observer can see that as long as women meet the qualifications no problems will arise. The only issue is men who hate the presence of women in jobs they believe should be male only. George Will and his conservative advocates cannot accept the world and the US is changing. The roles of women have changed dramatically, which seems to alarm the traditional socially conservative  Republicans. Women are going to continue to serve in combat positions and have larger roles in the military in the future. How men adjust to this change is yet to be known. As long as women are physically capable to handle the demands, there is no reason to exclude women from combat.

The Atlantic :The Truth About Little Women Carrying Big Wounded Men In Combat (2013)

Shari Pendleton

Shari Pendleton is best known as Blaze from the American Gladiators tv show and was a former bodybuilder. She was an active track and field athlete prior to her bodybuilding career and her American Gladiators persona.Besides being a bodybuilder, she was a track and field athlete. Born in Iceland in 1963, Shari moved to the US in her youth living in Los Angeles. There she began to show her athletic talents in childhood. At the age of twelve she ran on a track team known as the West Vernon Jets.  Early on Shari enjoyed the thrill of competition. She liked the fact she was the fastest girl on her team. Later she was able to work her way up to 200 meter and 400 meter events. Shari Pendleton continued to compete in track in high school winning city championships. Her discovery of weight training came at the age of sixteen. Although she realized it could aid her athletic performance, her coaches admonished her about such training. This was such a ludicrous warning, because weight training did the opposite. Shari noticed improvements.

At this point it was only inevitable that she would gravitate to bodybuilding competition. She was competing in bodybuilding from 1984 to 1989. Shari’s first contest was the ABBC Natural International Championships. Her best win was in the 1988 ABBC Natural International. Her bodybuilding was being juggled with being a hurdler, javelin thrower, and tack athlete. This was very demanding which explains why she did not continue bodybuilding after 1989. Shari had her aspirations set on athletic competition in the Olympics. When she was a student at the University of Nebraska, Shari continued to have outstanding athletic performance. The triple jump she struggled with, not having much  success. After obtaining her degree she when on to train under Bob Kersee. The UCLA Track Club was known to produce top track and field athletes during the 1980s. Shari Pendleton had the dream of competing in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. A pulled hamstring stopped her from making the US team. Her fortunes were reversed, when she was able to represent the United States as a javelin thrower in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The sprinting competition was at a different level, but she had a better chance at success as a javelin thrower.

Doing these multiple sports demonstrated she had a lot of talent. Physically she was very impressive. Standing at 5ft 8in  and a weight of 145 lbs in competition ( with 160 lbs off season)  Shari was very statuesque. She world be a regular cast member of the American Gladiators shoe from 1989 to 1992. This is the show which made her familiar with the mainstream audiences, who may not have been followers of bodybuilding. During the time it was rare to see a muscular woman being celebrated by a mainstream audience on a regular basis outside the fitness subculture. Her departure was rumored due to the fact she married a man from a imitation show Knights and Warriors. It was thought that producers then terminated her employment based on this. Pendleton has never confirmed this, so it  remains unsubstantiated.  Sculpting her physique took a certain method. According to Shari she would use more free weight rather than machines. Although there has not been official studies to prove which one is the most effective, it seemed to work for her. What she did was also more powerlifting exercises, which she credited for making her muscles develop bigger and stronger. Shari Pendleton also made other television appearances in mostly minor roles. She appeared in the TV series Renegade. Shari also had a small part in the 1995 film Alien Within .Many fans wished she would have competed longer in bodybuilding, but the positive side was that she was a fun American Gladiator to watch on TV. Shari Pendleton later got married and started a family.

Shari Pendleton

Arminda Latia Del Riviero Posing At The Jan Tana Classic (1992)

Another great athlete was lost. Arminda Latia Del Riviero was a Canadian bodybuilder who competed in the 1990s. When she retired from competition she continued to be active in fitness being a personal trainer. The video above features Arminda posing in the Jan Tana Classic as a IFBB professional bodybuilder. She according to some sources died of a heart attack. She was only 53 years old. Femuscleblog will certainly miss this talented athlete and promoter of the sport.

Arminda Latia Del Riviero Posing At The Jan Tana Classic (1992)