Psychology Today :Do Stronger Muscles Mean Better Brains ?


Stronger Muscles Mean Better Brains?

Brain health and cognitive function has become a large area of study in health science. Psychology has interest in brain anatomy and neuroscience to fully investigate the attributes of the human mind. Recently studies have been investigating the connection between exercise and mental performance. Psychology Today poses the question does a stronger and fitter body correlate to a better brain. This is a fascinating question and it makes many in various sciences related to the human body. The common stereotype is that jocks and  jockettes  are not the most intellectually inclined. Stereotypes do not reflect reality, however. Psychology and neuroscience have not even determined a specific definition of intelligence. Rigorous debates have been conducted about its attributes and characteristics. Controversy surrounds academic investigation due to the connection with eugenics and pseudopsychology. The hereditarian theory of IQ does not have a scientific proof to support its claims, but it is still accepted by small circles. While incorrect theories can be discredited, serious investigation must continue. The importance of brain health  must be a priority. As the world population ages dementia and Alzheimer’s disease become a bigger threat to public health. Exercise can improve health for multiple organ systems. The brain can also benefit in relation to a healthy circulatory system. Yet, one must question the results of research and scientific studies.

          Gretchen Reynolds wrote about a study by Claire Steves, which involved British twins. She writes many pieces related to health science and exercise physiology for the New York Times. Twin study has been used in both psychology, sociology, and genetics to understand the influence of environment . She claims that there is a correlation between muscular health and mental acuity. The data was extracted from the TwinUK registry. It was composed by both non-identical and identical twins. The reason it was composed of both was to not have genetically inherited diseases effect the data. This could not be eliminated completely seeing as there may not be complete family trees of all the twins registered. Gretchen Reynolds even states ” these studies have limitations and one of them is that some people may be luckier than others.”  She delineates further : “they may have been born to have a more robust brain than someone else.” Just like some people are born to be taller or stronger, our neurological attributes differ. This explanation is not completely genetic.  A combination of genes and environment can change health outcomes : ”   their genes and early home environment also might have influenced those exercise habits, as well as how their bodies and brains responded to exercise.” A general summery of this would be genes and the changes in environment can confound  results of an experiment.

Lifting weights is good for the skeletal and muscular system.
The basic structure of the human brain. It controls body  motion, organ function, thoughts, emotions,memory , cognition,  senses, and our consciousness.
Brain arteries
The major arteries of the human brain are essential. Poor artery circulation or blockage may lead to stroke or aneurysm. Risk factors increase with age.

Scientists in various fields have the tendency to emphasize genes or environment, when it is a combination of both. Twins show that there is an interactionist theory between environment and genes . If twins share the same home and genes, this makes it easier to observe changes. When a divergence happens then there is indication lifestyle and habits are influencing health. What Claire Steves of  King’s College London did was to study the thighs of the twins. The muscles of the legs are the biggest in the body. Strong legs means better mobility, especially in old age. The study found that  that it appeared as if  the people with stronger legs were sharper.  The subjects for the study were 162 middle aged women who were twin pairs. Some were either identical twins or not. Scientists also sought subjects who had done computerized examinations( ten years previous ) that tested memory  and problem solving skills. Metabolic health and leg strength was also examined . Exercise habits were not included mainly because it would not give an exact measure of strength. Unreliable data of the frequency of exercise regimens would have altered results. However, it was noticed that subjects who did report more exercise had stronger legs. The cognitive tests were repeated and subjects were given brain scans.




What was then done required to comparing leg power with the present and ten years in the past. According to the study, the women with the sturdiest legs of the 324 had the least decline in thinking skills. A difference was noticed in twin pairs that the stronger one was the better thinker later according to the cognitive tests ( also related to memory) . The performance difference was 18% compared to the weaker twin. The brain imaging of identical twins also revealed that the twin with the stronger legs had more brain volume. Gretchen Reynolds stated ” over all, among both the identical and fraternal twins, fitter legs were strongly linked, 10 years later, to fitter brains.” There are some problems with this study. The sample only included middle aged female twins. Men were not included in the experiment. It would be fascinating to see if the results would be similar based on sex. If men’s body composition is mostly muscle then the males twins should outperform the stronger female twins in the cognitive tests. Another issue was that it did not take into consideration the changes in health condition of the muscular system. It really does show the effect of exercise on the brain. As far as one can tell, building muscle power does not build brain power.

It is doubtful that the man with the violin would be able to reach the level of mathematical skill as Maryam Mirzakhani. The results may be different if tested with professional athletes. 

A person who does not think critical about the information may reach the wrong conclusion. One could easily conclude from the study that men would have the better brains, due to more muscle mass. While both men and women are closer to one another in the lower body, women have an estimated  33% less compared to a man. However, it is a myth to say that men have better brains or are more intelligent than women. A more through study would examine the changes across age groups. What is extrapolated from this experiment is that there may be some biochemicals that are released from exercise. This may offer protection at the cellular level. A more complex physiological process is occurring, but more research is needed to explain why.

         Psychology has never agreed to a single definition of intelligence. Numerous theories have been proposed, yet there remains a glaring problem.  Intelligence is not measurable. IQ and psychologists that support them claim that they are accurate. This is an example of reification. Meaning taking a concept that is not measurable and quantifying it. The field of physics measures through scalars and vectors. Personality tests are even questionable. If answers are not given honestly on such a test, it would be difficult to determine someone’s temperament. IQ test do not measure brilliance or genetic ability. The only indications it gives is proficiency in puzzles or a hint at education levels. It seems more like it only shows how well a person can take a test. Mismeasure of Man   describes how eugenicists, biologists, psychologists, naturalists,   anthropologists, and supporters of scientific racism used data and statistics as a means to prove the inferiority of various ethnic groups. It began with racial classification in physical anthropology when Johann Blumenbach stated there were five distinct races . There were Caucasians, Mongolians, Malayans, Ethiopians, and American Indians. It was not accepted that different races of people belonged to the same species. The classification was based on the measurement of skulls and skin color. Craniology was used to determine intelligence and human worth. Paul Broca became the biggest advocate of this pseudoscience in the 19th century. Known for the exploration into the the localization of brain function, he applied crainology in an attempt to prove other races were inferior to Europeans. When craniology was no longer credible, IQ testing took its place. Alfred Binet the original developer of the IQ test never made it to be used for discrimination. It was designed to in his nation of France to identify children who were struggling in school for special education. The concept of IQ was really developed by William Stern. The German psychologist even coined the term intelligence quotient.

This is an example of bell curve distribution of IQ points. The middle represents average intelligence. The left of the graph is below average intelligence and the right shows high intelligence. One cannot measure intelligence like distance, speed, length, width, height, volume, or temperature.

IQ tests are still used by psychologists, even though the scientific basis is questionable. If it does not follow the scientific method  or produce the same results, then it cannot be designated fact. Understanding that IQ tests were not reliable, psychology developed other means of uncovering the attributes of intelligence. The theory of multiple intelligence claims that abilities could span into various areas. There are also concepts of crystallized and fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence explains the application of knowledge and skills. Fluid intelligence refers to the process of logic and problem solving. One would have to find out the basis and true definition of intelligence. This is why the correlation between stronger muscles and improve cognitive function would be difficult to prove.

           There also has to be consideration for how the brain and body processes information. The majority of average people do not get their exercise from going to a gym. Rather their are daily activities that require walking or moving in some way. The brain muscle coordinate all movement in the body, while also acquiring sensory information.Smell, touch, sight, taste, and hearing  are major senses of the human body. The immune system also has a level of complexity. The antibodies present must respond to pollutants, viruses, and bacteria. Through mitosis new cells are generated. Could a change in these organ systems and physiology have an impact on cognitive function ? While health can be altered by changes in the immune system or nervous system this does not mean a person would have higher intelligence. Psychometrics may just be a cognitive fallacy. What needs to be understood is that the body can be viewed as a system of information. Genes, tissues, organs, DNA,  and cells are carrying  information. The body regenerates information. The millions of years of human evolution reveals that the body is like an organic machine. The more complex the organism in terms of  cells, organs , and function the higher probability of disease. So far, it appears that staying in shape can stop cognitive decline. However, this cannot be fully verified. Stronger muscles may not lead to improved brains.

Psychology Today :Do Stronger Muscles Mean Better Brains ?

Maxim: Why Muscular Women Are Overpowering Our Libidos (2015)

Why Muscular Women Are Overpowering Our libidos

Although this was written in 2015, it still has significance on many levels. There has been a cultural shift in which strong women in the physical sense are gaining some acceptance in the mainstream. The love of the physically developed female form has been mostly a subculture regulated to bodybuilding and weightlifting. Popular entertainment has also become fascinated with the idea of a strong woman. Films such as Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are showing that there is some sort of attraction. This article appears on Maxim written by Bill Schulz. Maxim started as a print magazine in 1995. It is a men’s magazine that originated in the UK. The magazine still circulates, but it has an online presence. The magazine is known for it photography of female actresses, singers, and models. Men’s magazines are targeted at particular set of interests associated with males. Cars, women, technology, sports, and tools are considered the typical male attention grabbers for magazines. Here in this article the strong woman is not being disparaged or ridiculed. The comical aspect about this is there were men who are into muscular women even before this article was published. Schulz describes it as a new and recent phenomenon, when decades prior women were displaying impressive physiques and getting plenty of male admirers. The female muscle fandom has gotten so large it has spread to other areas. Schultz states:  ” then there are the untold legions of distractingly toned fitness models on Instagram, whose ripped physiques recall the bodaciously buff Jen Selterfar more than those bulky lady bodybuilders of yore.” This love of the physically strong woman began with the fans and the female bodybuilders of the late 20th century.

         If it were not for the female bodybuilders of the past, there would not be the sudden internet sensation and social media following of fitness models today. There were women with muscle who existed in the past. They were acrobats, strongwomen, or vaudeville performers. Due to sex prejudice  and discrimination from the wider society, these women did not have a platform to display their physiques. Around the 1970s female bodybuilding emerged with women seeking the maximum development of their muscles. From 1980 to 2014 the Ms.Olympia would be considered the Olympics of female bodybuilding for women. Even though there may have been a decline in the sport itself it seems to continue with the Rising Phoenix World Championships. The sport may not be dying as some proclaim, rather going through an evolution. One thing is certain there are more muscular women in public view than centuries past.

It should be no surprise that the muscular woman attracted a following from male fans. The mainstream would either condemn women’s athletic pursuits or getting involved in this activity in general. Erroneously, many critics stated that no man would ever want a woman with such a level of physicality. However, schmoes and female muscle fans have grown in number gradually through the decades. There were magazines available to the female muscle fan, but nothing could compare to the rise of the world wide web in 1989. Websites could be established regarding any topic. One of the fist websites devoted to muscular women was Female which launched in 1995. This build up of fan base would start with print then transfer to the internet. The rise of social media in the 2000s only expanded the fandom and curiosity more. The Ronda Rouseys have been having a major moment that took decades to build. Now the world seems to be noticing the physical change in women participating in sports.

UFC 207 Weigh-in
Ronda Rousey  went from UFC fighter to WWE wrestler. Fans have taken a positive response to the  switch.
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Female bodybuilders were the pioneers in muscular development for women. Now women from various sports work out with weights.
There are women who are not only doing this for aesthetic purposes, but to get as physically strong as possible to succeed in their sport.

The muscular and athletic female form has gotten more media and pop culture recognition. Captain Marvel  and Wonder Woman are just an examples of  the desire to see women use their physicality in fiction. Comics have been a place where strong women have been given exposure to both children and adults.  There are men out there who enjoy female physical strength to a greater degree than even the mainstream media promotes.

           Schmoes are not just extreme female bodybuilding fans they are admirers of the most muscular and strongest of  physiques. Men who are not exactly schmoes may like some muscle on women, but to a certain degree.   They may say “I like a woman that is just in shape” or “is toned.” Basically these statements are the same, but the term muscular is avoided. The reason is based in gendered language and a level of subtle sexism. Strength and muscularity to some are still seen as male only. Even though women are capable of great strength, cultural and gender role attitudes still limit acceptance. Schmoes were accepting before the recent phenomenon of the mainstream acceptance of a woman with some muscle of physical skill. Kacy Catanzaro’s performance on Ninja Warrior was praised and she also has made an impact coming onto the WWE. Her muscles are not as large as a bodybuilders, but it is what some could best describe as a mainstream acceptable level of fitness for women.




The claims that women  “get too big” or “crossed the line” seem to be more ridiculous when the double standards are examined for what they are. Women should have full control of their bodies and this is what they are doing when they decide to go against body image conformity. Everyone has  different preferences, but that is no reason to condemn or ostracize women for not following the status quo. Kacy Catanzaro is correct that “men are starting to notice strong women.” Men have been noticing the physically strong woman for  quite some time. It has been a female muscle fandom that has grown larger, but before that a subculture of schmoes. Bill Wick and Tom Jackson pioneered mixed wrestling videos in the 1980s and 1990s. The erotic fascination has been there longer than Bill Schultz realizes. It should not be seen as bizarre rather a preference in looks and a unique form of sexual expression. There are certain attributes that attract individuals to one another that are both biologically and sociologically based . Social media has given muscular women a greater platform and schmoes greater access to them. Jen Setler for example has built a fitness empire around social media. Female bodybuilding also has been helped by social media where the fitness industry and magazines have let them down.

Jen Selter a fitness model who has become more notable for her videos , rather than the contests she has entered.
Female bodybuilding started the expanded love of female muscle.
Men have sought muscular women to wrestle them to fulfill a fetish.

Even women sports that are more mainstream have exposure issues, but the internet has circumvented the traditional gatekeepers of media. There may come a time in which the concept of a muscular woman will not be such a shock to people. Nor will the attraction be questioned by critics who think it is strange or abnormal. Not all men who like female muscle are schmoes, rather men who just like the strong body. There is no questions asked if a man views images of women with larger or thinner bodies. Why should men be forced to like the same type of women? Most fans of female muscle and strength tend to a wide variety of paradigms of beauty. There are other factors to the mainstream acceptance of female muscle. Schmoes were just the beginning of a silent revolution that seems to be taken place, yet few people give it serious attention.

        Mandy Stadtmiller described the rise of the fascination of the fit woman as the greater acceptance of sexual fluidity . This describes sexual orientation identity and how for some it may change through out life. Certain scholars state that sexual orientation is not a choice, yet sexual identity can be fluctuate. There is a problem with applying this to Stadmiller’s theory about the sudden attraction to strong women . Men are still attracted to women, even though they do not fit society’s narrow definition feminine gender identity. Strength and power were thought to be exclusively male attributes. This is flawed thinking because it is done out of a perspective of a sexist ideology. The fact that muscular women are seen as biological anomalies or in more harsh terms freaks demonstrates a hostility to women. Simultaneously, it demonizes a diverse male  attraction to different types of beauty. Men who like female muscle are either viewed as deviants or having some mental disorder. The sexism is direct at both men and women. Men are ostracized for liking such women and have their own masculinity questioned. Thankfully, people who love free society ignore the philistine thoughts of the majority. Male attraction  to physically strong women should not be seen as abnormal. If one actually examines the reasons and motivations for such attraction, it makes more sense.

          Kiana Tom made an astute observation : ” an athletic woman is strong all over if you know what I mean .” She then goes on to say “we can hold creative positions for hours and have amazing endurance.” There is no denying there are sexual fantasies and desires that come from seeing women in a highly developed form. To some it may seem peculiar that a man would want to be with a woman more physically powerful than himself. The male psychology hungers for larger objects. Large trucks, power tools, and other materials that demonstrate power attract men. Strong and fit women would be part of this list. Power can be sexy and it has only be until the present that some men see this as an attractive attribute in women.




Physical power has now to an extent become attractive for women. The physically fit woman radiates this power through her image and actions. The reason session wrestling has become popular and lucrative is that some men seek to feel the force of a woman’s physical power. It is an arousing experience that is based around a fetish. Being dominated physically by a woman is not something emasculating or based on abusive control, rather power exchange fantasy. For others who are not wanting to be wrestled, looking at a muscular woman up close is enough.  Kiana Tom’s statement about sexual performance may not have much scientific data to support it, but being in shape may not hurt copulation. Sexology or exercise physiology has not full confirmed if this true or false. What can be determined is that human sexual behavior and sexuality are more complicated than previously thought. Individuals have a multitude of ways demonstrate sexual expression. This has been done through fetishes and sexual  kinks. The love of female muscle can take many forms. Cratolagnia and sthenolagnia seem to be the two common fetishes among female muscle fans. Sometimes it is not even about the strength feats or athletic talent. It is about a new and radical display of the female physical form. Not only are wrestling videos popular among the subculture, posing videos are the second most favorite among female muscle fans. There is a graceful composure to a posing routine, which makes the viewer truly appreciate this type of female athleticism.



The outsider examining male attraction to such women may perplexed. Why would a man like a woman who most likely has more muscle and strength than him? The reason is that muscle can actually make the female form more voluptuous looking.  The legs and buttocks are fuller on the muscular woman. These areas of the body are seen as the traditional beauty marks for women. A full chest and pronounced intermammary cleft provide another appealing factor. Arms and  back also become favorite body parts. Maxim’s revelation about female muscle is nothing more than the mainstream adopting subculture that has existed for decades. There are muscular women of various fitness levels appearing in media or print. They are just referred to by a different term. Some men they say ” I like a woman in shape not too muscular”  or ” a woman who is just toned.” What this really means is a preference of degrees of muscle. Some may condemn the female bodybuilder look as being “too much.”The idea is contradictory, because why should women limit themselves or all look a certain way ? There really are not enough legitimate arguments against it. While detractors complain, there is a growing fan base that has existed and may grow bigger. Slowly, female muscle fandom has come to the mainstream encouraged by women’s sports growing in exposure. Bill Schultz’s article is a demonstration just how public opinion can change when more media exposure occurs. It is possible that there is a gradual acceptance of the athletic and muscular woman. It remains unclear it this will continue or how it will evolve as the time goes on.

Maxim: Why Muscular Women Are Overpowering Our Libidos (2015)

The Conversation : Grannies Get Physical How Bodybuilding May Hold The Key to a Major Aging Problem


How Bodybuilding Holds The Key To A Major Aging Problem

Bodybuilding is actually much older than people realize. The exercises which can today are called bodybuilding can be traced back to Greek civilization. Humanity for at least 1,500 years has used bodybuilding techniques to improve fitness. Milo of Croton the famed ancient Greek athlete was said to have used weight training techniques. The sixth century wrestler according to legend  carried a calf on his back until it reached adulthood. Doing this it was claimed built up his legendary strength. The 20th century saw a specific type of training come into existence known as progressive resistance overload. This technique was a development by Thomas DeLorme. It was designed for rehabilitation purposes directed at injured US service members and  people with polio. During the 1940s when it was developed the US was at war with Germany, Italy, and Japan. Jonas Salk had not yet developed polio vaccine which was a major illness in the US at the time. President Franklin Delano  Roosevelt  even had the disease. DeLorme developed a training method which has numerous applications to health and well being. It operated on a basic principle. Lift a weight or certain amount until it becomes easy to do so. Once that is done continue to increase the amount. The muscle will adapt to the change in stimuli. What bodybuilding can do is improve strength and combat age related diseases or medical conditions.

           There is a physiological process that happens to the musculoskeletal system under progressive overload. Exercise such as this increases the rate of protein synthesis. Protein is the foundation of muscle in the human body. A greater response come from the consumption of dietary protein, which adds to the rate of protein synthesis. The amazing feat of protein synthesis is that it can be change by exercise and have a higher rate compared to non-exercised muscles.  There also is a question of sex differences related to muscle building. Progressive overload can be extremely beneficial to women. Women on average have lower bone density and muscle mass compared to men. This is related to endocrine function and ratio of fat to lean body mass. As a result, this has implications on health. Women on average will live longer than men, even when both arr subject to the best medical care. What that means is women are more likely to get particular age related diseases, simply because they have more durational strength. Osteoporosis can be prevented through load bearing exercises that increase bone and muscle mass. Women need muscle to remain healthy and independent in old age. People are in general reaching old age and there must be adjustments to accommodate these growing  demographic shifts .

Women can benefit from resistance exercise with increased strength, weight control, and stronger bones.

 Weight training should be an important part of women’s health. Having muscle on the body does not ruin women’s figures it can enhance it. There are a number of reasons women either stay away from physical activity or exercise. Time or family responsibilities are a factor. Body image issues or the cultural conformity surrounding seems to be the biggest one. Such criticisms should be ignored. Health is more important than fulfilling an unattainable beauty standard. How you want to look is your decision. There also is a psychological benefit to women women who become stronger. Some report feeling more confident in other areas of life and that it combats feelings of depression . What has been scientifically confirmed is that muscles do waste with age. If this is known, then it can only be assumed that the effect is worse for women. One statistic is that in the United States 40% of women ( mostly white in the survey) had a fracture after the age of 50. Race can be a risk factor in osteoporosis with white women and Asian women being at a higher risk. This does not mean African or Latin American women cannot get bone related diseases. Part of the reason people may get certain illnesses is because they do not know the symptoms or the nature of disease. Knowledge and prevention are the best methods  to counter certain conditions related to aging.

            Sacropenia is not the most well known condition to the common person. The term refers to muscle loss resulting from age. Muscles do grow from the time of birth to the age of 30. From a your 30s,muscle mass continues to decline. The strange aspect of this process is that even when a person is active, muscle loss still happens. The inactive person can see a loss 3% to 5% muscle after the age of 30.

There is no way at the present time to test for sarcopenia . The best prevention is to be physically active to stop the wasting of muscle.


The rate of muscle loss accelerates by age 75. When a person reaches advanced age 80 years and up the likelihood of fractures and falls increases. This becomes a major problem for older adults. The symptoms of sarcopenia are weakness and loss of stamina. Research suggests other causes for the development of this age related issue. The reduction of nerve cells might have an impact on signals sent to the muscle from the brain. Lack of protein in diet could be another cause or simply not getting the proper calorie amounts from meals. The body may lose its ability to convert protein into energy.The decrease in hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin like growth factor can also cause sarcopenia.  It is not impossible to develop solutions to this age related change. Exercise can reverse some of the loss that happens in the body. A recommendation of either strength training or weight training can help.The effectiveness depends on the time given to exercise and the intensity of the training. There has been investigation into medicine related treatments. Hormone replacement therapy  has been hypothesized to be a method to reduce the changes brought on by sarcopenia. HRT has the ability to increase muscle  mass and bone loss. The problem is HTR may not be very safe in the long term. Cancers have been associated with the use of this treatment. Urocortin may not even be a safe solution, because little is known about possible side effects.

       As the world population ages, the importance of maintaining   health becomes more pivotal. The loss of muscle strength means the loss of independence among the elderly. Combinations of medical aliments and conditions may put a strain on  healthcare systems.  This can be done with education and exposing the public to health science knowledge. The muscles can waste away if not fully used. This is known as muscular atrophy.


A common fitness myth is that if a person stops weight training, muscle becomes fat. Muscles do not automatically become fat, they atrophy from not having the exercise stimuli. Knowing the nature of protein synthesis and muscle impairment from muscle wasting, researchers have attempted to develop a drug through means of biochemistry. This involves getting in control of molecular signals to encourage muscular hypertrophy.  These molecular signals also give signals to stop growth. There exists a molecule  p70S6K1 which may be responsible for this process of instructions for growth of muscle. The difficulty is that it is hard to measure the function of this molecule in skeletal  muscle. Teams have been examining this for a number of years. This report was published in 2014 and at the time, the author stated it could take decades before it is commercially available.

         It seems the best solution for now is a bodybuilding regimen to prevent extreme sacopenia. There should also be some concern for what possible side effects could be the result of the new medication. For women bodybuilding as just as much or more benefits compared to men. Load bearing exercise can increase strength and bone mass. Exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.There can be a psychological benefit with a new sense of confidence and well being .  This is one element that seems to be missing from women’s health focus.  Seeing as women will live longer it is best for individuals to considered the possible factors that could reduce independence. So many people think that their children will take care of them in old age, but this may be difficult. Financial constraints and limited access to quality healthcare complicate these matters. The best approach is to take one’s health seriously and not be a burden on your children when they reach adulthood. For, people with no children this is even more important. A limited family circle means chronic illness would be tougher to deal with. Having a positive attitude and lack of fear about aging can also improve the situation. Weight lifting can be done at any age and it is never too late to start.


The Conversation : Grannies Get Physical How Bodybuilding May Hold The Key to a Major Aging Problem

Femuscleblog Remembers Birch Bayh (1928-2019)


Birch Bayh was a senator from Indiana who served from 1963 to 1981. He was known as “the father of  Title IX” which sought  to challenge sex discrimination in education. Along with Patsy T. Mink this legislation would have a profound effect on women’s sports. This photograph shows senator Bayh doing running  laps with female athletes who benefited from the Title IX legislation. These are Purdue University students in the 1970s. Decades before, they would not have such opportunities to be in competitive sport or enjoy exercise facilities at their universities. Sex discrimination in public schools and universities was rampant in the United States. This is why the Higher Education Act of 1965 was introduced and the Education Amendments of 1972. While at present discrimination in sports and education has not fully been eliminated it did produce a number of incredible female athletes. Many female athletes both in public schools, universities, or competing in the professional ranks can thank Birch Bayh for his service and his desire for gender equality.

Femuscleblog Remembers Birch Bayh (1928-2019)

Livestrong : Toning and Bulking Diet For Women

Livestong produces fitness and sports performance information to both athletes and the general public. Although the information is produce by athletes, personal trainers, and exercise scientists there are some instances in which there is slight error. While it emphasizes the role of diet and exercise in reaching a fitness goal it continues to use incorrect and dated terminology. There are two articles of interest on their website. There is the “Toning Diet for Women” and “The Bulking Diet” for women. Technically, toning does not exist in a scientific context. Rather it is building muscle, specifically muscular hypertrophy through resistance training. Bulking is the mere act of gaining muscular weight. Weight gain is not always unhealthy. It becomes a threat to health when the body composition becomes an immense amount of fat tissue in which it effects the circulatory and skeletal system. Heart disease or joint issues could be the result of poor weight management and diet. This can be reversed with changes in lifestyle, activity level, and a change in nutritional consumption. Women are still afraid of building lean body mass or using weightlifting as a means of improving health. Body image and cultural attitudes must be changed to counter this belief. Muscles can be good for women. Part of the technique of encouraging women to get active is to use the term “toned” when it is building muscle. The gendered language also is applicable to men who are encouraged to “bulk.” The truth is exercise and diet is for both sexes.

         Women may refuse to do weightlifting and bodybuilding activities, because they fear getting bigger. Sexist attitudes that it is “unladylike” or “makes women look like men” demonstrates a closed minded perspective. All women look different from one another and that is not an excuse to engage in vituperation. Big women and small women are still women, even if it does not fit someone’s paradigm of beauty. One benefit of weightlifting is that it can help women overcome body image conformity and peer pressure.  Many have reported having more confidence and higher self-esteem with sports and exercise activities in their lives. It has not been closely studied, but there may be a psychological benefit for women. There is no reason for women to fear getting bigger or looking muscular. There are levels to muscularity which a person can attain. The casual exerciser can at least gain a small amount of muscle. Years of training could result in a moderate proportion. Serious athletic competition can produce a larger physique.




The Toning Diet for Women

How much muscle mass a woman attain is related to genetics, somatotype, diet, training regimen, and endocrinology. A simplistic statement is that women have less testosterone and therefore less athletic potential. Hormones are only a part of this factor  in women’s muscular development. Weightlifting as the text exposes does have the same effect on women’s muscular tissue. the difference is related to the degree of total muscular hypertrophy from exercise stimuli. Men are on average larger than women, which means they have more musculoskeletal mass in terms of total body composition. Even the “too muscular” female bodybuilders may actually weigh less than an average man when competing on stage. Weight can vary by age with younger people having less body mass. The average weight of an American man is estimated to be 197.6 lbs. This is no all muscle rather body fat from high sugar and fat diets. The statistic for women in America stands at 170.6 lbs, still lower than men’s weight. Considering these weights of people who do not exercise, female bodybuilders would not be “bulky” at all.

Doing some random selections reveals that the female bodybuilder is not a horrible mass monster as the negative stereotype presents. Brenda Raganot was 135 lbs, while Ms. Olympia champion Iris Kyle was 165 lbs. Dawn Riehl was 132 lbs and Karen Garrett weighed 125 lbs. Even in their off season weight, they do not come close to the weight of the average American man. Toning is not real, rather it is building muscle. To maintain muscles of such size, a specific diet and calorie intake must be maintained.

         Rather than referring to it as a toning diet, it should be called a muscle building diet. There is a debate about the calorie deficit. Consuming fewer calories or eating less may not be productive to weight loss or building muscle. If the body does not get enough food it may begin to alter its metabolism by storing what little has been consumed as fat. One should consume three nutritional meals a day and get enough exercise to burn calories. A proper balance of enough food consumption and a decent amount of physical activity will aid in weight improvement. Eating less and exercising excessively could endanger health. Livestrong estimates ” women who are overweight or obese often benefit from eating 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day to shed pounds. ” This may have to be adjusted depending on what type of exercise a woman is doing and for how long. If she does high intensity training then more calories would be required for energy. Low level activity such as walking or some push-ups would require less caloric intake. Another consideration is exercise method. Weight training may be more effective than cardio in efforts to reduce body fat.

Muscle has the ability to burn calories.
Cardio improves aerobic capacity,but may not be the best method of weigh loss.
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weight training can also have a positive effect on bone health.

People with endomorphic and ectomorphic body types should be informed about proper nutrition before embarking on an exercise program. The larger endomophic person would have to monitor closely the amount of calories they consume and keep activity level consistent. The ectomorph would struggle to gain any weight compared to other body types. Controlling calories and exercise is the key. The amount should be adjusted depending on health condition and initial fitness level.

          Fiber is essential for digestive health.  It also can aid in the diet for mass gain. Fiber has the ability to reduce body fat. Fiber rich foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These are foods that also should be part of your diet even if you do not have a fitness goal in mind. The Journal of Nutrition produced a study in 2009, which found that intake of fiber reduce the total caloric intake and there for reduced the chances of increased weight gain in women. The results of the study were promising showing for every 1 gram of fiber consumed fat decreased by a percentage point of 0.25 %. Adjusting diet can also aid in satiety. One reason people keep eating more or excessively is that they cannot get full of the food they consume. High sugar diet will not make a person full. It is not certain if fiber can act as a preventative measure against colon cancer, but it does maintain digestive health.

Examples of fruits and vegetables that should be incorporated into a balanced diet.

Constipation and stomach issues can be managed with fiber. Choosing the right type of fiber can also help with a specific intestine condition. Medical professionals and biologists have realized that in the stomach and body exists a microbiome. All bacteria is not harmful rather it could aid in digestion and intestine health. What you eat can have an immense impact on your overall heath. If it is known what foods aid muscular gains or weight loss, there are food that must be eliminated from a person’s daily diet.

          Junk foods are prevalent and addictive, which is why it is difficult to give them up. There are certain food that should be cut out from consumption. Soft drinks such as Coca Cola or Sprite must be part of a daily diet. Water should be drunk more in relation to the amount of soft drinks. Diet soda should also be avoided as well. Diet Coke has very little nutritional value. It has fats, zero calories, carbohydrates, and protein. There is also a growing concern about aspertame in  Diet Coke. Aspertame is an artificial sweetener used to imitate the taste of sugar. Livestong suggests limiting or cutting out completely sugar. The best plan for success would be to eliminate junk food from your diet completely.

Fried food, candy, and soft drinks are examples of junk food.

Refined grains could also contribute to excess weight. White bread, white rice, and pasta are classified as refined grains. Baked goods like cakes or cookies have high amounts of sugar. Candy does not only increase weight it can effect dental health. Large amounts of sugar can harm teeth by creating cavities. Junk food does not provide the required vitamins and minerals needed for the body. The prevalence of fast food and the rising prices of vegetables as well as fruit make if difficult to maintain a healthy diet. Besides market and sociological factors it also comes down to personal psychology. Some people may have difficulty changing habits or be discouraged from past failure. Food may be an addiction for others. Having a strong support system and a positive environment may help change these habits of over consumption of unhealthy food. While its nice to have some confection sometimes, it should be an occasional affair.

         Protein is essential to diet. This requires that certain foods be consumed to meet the recommended amount. Protein can be found in lean meat, skinless portly, egg whites , nuts, seeds, legumes, seafood, soy products, and seitan.  Protein has multiple benefits to health. It aides in the construction and repair of tissues of the body.

Foods that contain protein as shown above.

The mystery is how much protein a person needs.Sex has to be taken into account with protein consumption. The reason for adjustment based on sex is due to the difference in endocrine function. Women even the most muscular and the thinnest ones still carry more body fat compared to a male of a similar body type. Women no matter what they consume are more likely to convert food into fat storage on the body. Recommendations vary depending on what institute has researched nutritional science. According to the Institute of Medicine there are certain levels of protein required for various stages of physical fitness capacity. The scale they use is weight in pounds multiplied by a certain number of proteins. This is not precise, but it is accurate enough to provide at least a general idea. The Institute of Medicine suggests 0.8  grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The lower the fitness level the less protein is need in the diet. A woman who is mostly sedentary would be her weight multiplied times 0.4. grams.

A sedentary woman of 120 lbs would be multiplied by 0.4 grams. That  would equal 48 grams.
An active woman of  132 lbs would be multiplied by 0.6 grams. The product comes to 79.2 grams.
A competitive female athlete at 150 lbs would be multiplied by 0.75 grams. The product would be 112,5 grams.
The female bodybuilder would require the most. A weight 165 would require 0.85 grams. This would be a product of  140.25 grams.

Protein consumption has to increase with the level of physical activity. Exercise science continues to explore how protein can best be utilized for athletic performance. At this stage a reader of the “Toning Diet” should ponder how is this different from the “Bulking Diet.” There are minor adjustments, however in retrospect they are expressing similar methods and views. Protein remains essential for both methods.

          The term bulking can be just as problematic as the term toned. Bulking implies just excessive weight gain. The intention is to increase muscular hypertrophy to a maximal degree.Seeing as fitness continues to use this gendered language it is assume that only men can bulk. The biological reality is that women can bulk or rather build muscle mass. Many times personal trainers assure women that they cannot build bulk or mass, because they are not biologically capable. Some women have potential more than others can wonder why they get more muscular with exercise. Much of this is regulated by the MSTN gene and the role of myostatin in the human body. A combination of genes are responsible for strength and the level of muscle composition that a person has in their body regardless of sex. There is a difference between training for muscular hypertrophy and training for strength. A bodybuilder is looking to sculpt a physique, while a weightlifter is attempting to lift more. Even though these goals are different nutrition and diet are critical to athletic performance.

          According to Livestrong there are certain differences with the diet designed for muscle building. The first statement has been confirmed true. Women need plenty calories to add mass combined with a specific exercise program. Part of the struggle with women in embarking on a bodybuilding path is that they may not be consuming enough food in correlation with their activity level. Calorie restricted and the absence of carbohydrates will harm efforts to build mass.

The Bulk Diet for Women

A woman needs a significant amount of calories  to maintain the muscles on her body. The difference with the toning diet is that it puts emphasis on calorie restriction, while the bulking diet rejects a calorie deficit. There should be one that is more effective. The only way to determine that is to have two subjects try one or  the other method. Then document their weight and health condition. Such diet would have to be adjusted depending on the nature of an individual’s metabolism.

          Calories are adjusted depending on the amount of exercise designed for muscular growth. A woman who engages in intense training are recommended  44 calories per kg of body weight ( 20 calories per lbs) according to Livestrong. This means that a woman would have to eat an extra 350 to 700 calories a day. Keeping track of this could be difficult. Planning meals can be helpful ahead of time and keeping logs can track progress. The most pivotal part of this process is to determine how your body responds to an increase of calories. Calories are units of energy, which related to nutrition means the energy received from food and drink. The amount of calories a person requires depends on activity level, sex, age, and health condition. Calories can be in anything that has energy. Empty calories mainly come from added sugars and solid fats. Both the toning and bulking diet would exclude the common junk food. This is one area of intersection between diets.

        Protein has to be an immense part of a diet designed for bulking. According to Livestrong aw woman attempting to build muscle must consume at least 2 grams of protein per day. The primary source must be complete proteins. Eggs, fish, and meat are classified as complete proteins. The purpose of protein consumption is to have amino acids maintain nitrogen balance in the human body. This enables tissue growth and repair. It is possible to get protein from other sources. Meat is not the only effective source of protein. Beans, brown rice, seeds, and nuts can be helpful in a protein diet.


It should be no surprise that protein also contributes to the health of the muscular system. Hair and nails consist of protein.There are a total of 100,000 proteins that have been identified so far. They serve multiple functions such as metabolism, support( keratin for hair and nails ) , transport roles (such as hemoglobin),  regulation ( such as growth hormone ), motion ( contractile proteins)  and defense ( antibodies).  Amino acids form proteins which are monomers. This explains why protein is required for a balanced diet.

      Carbohydrates and fats are also part of the bulking diet. It should be noted that their is a particular type of fat that should be consumed. Livestong advise women added to their diet 25% fat for bulking. unsaturated fat has to be consumed. This differs from the toning diet, which excludes fat. Healthy fat can be found in  almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, avocados, olive oil, salmon and mackerel. An endurance athlete could consume up 70% carbohydrates as part of the dietary calories. A person intending to increase muscle may just need on 55%  carbohydrates in terms of calories. White rice, a sandwich with white bread, and a baked potato can  enable the muscles to absorb glucose. This must be done under the circumstances of intense workouts. Livestrong states ”  other than your post workout meal, the carbs you eat should come from slow-digesting carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread and whole-grain pasta.” Carbohydrates are in the majority formed from a single sugar to multiple chains of sugar.

       After reading the Livestrong bulking and toning diets a conclusion can be made. The toning and bulking terms are both dated and unscientific. From a perspective of exercise science this is merely inducing muscular hypertrophy through training, nutrition, and  the measurement of calories. Exercise is important to the maintenance of health, yet the diet aspect seems to be difficult to master. While people may exercise, they could be still consuming an unhealthy diet which may effect their health later in life. High sugar foods and saturated fats contribute to diabetes and heart disease. Weight management should involve being more proactive in the consumption of healthy food choices. For women this is very important seeing as on average they live longer. Living longer means there could be the likelihood of chronic illness. Women should not fear gaining muscles or “looking manly” or “unfeminine.”   Weight training can help overcome body image issues and the  various psychological conditions related to it. Being too obsessed with weight loss can possibly put a person at risk for anorexia or bulimia. Rather than focus on weight loss, there should be a concentration on increasing fitness capacity. Too many women have either a love hate relationship with food. That can be changed with consuming the right combination along with proper physical activity. The benefits will be numerous with increased metabolism, stronger bones, and prevention of chronic illness.

Livestrong : Toning and Bulking Diet For Women