Cathe Fitness : If You Have Strong Muscles Do You Have Strong Bones ?

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Bones and Muscles

There may be a correlation between strong muscles and the preservation of bone health.This would make sense seeing as the skeleton is the frame in which our organs are placed.  Without bones our bodies would be nothing more than flesh like blobs. Maintaining bone density is important for human health. Over time bone and muscle mass decrease. Women over the age of 50 must take considerable steps to preserve bone density. The reason for this sex  specific difference is due to sexual dimorphism. Women have less bone and muscle mass than an average man. When age decreases the amount women have less to work with. The reduction of estrogen levels can also cause the reduction of bone mass. Women who engage in large amount of endurance exercise and do not get the proper caloric intake are at risk of bone loss. Gymnasts and ballerinas have this problem as Cathe Friedrich describes. Women can get osteoporosis even before menopause. Extreme weight loss is not healthy either. Weight training can be a solution to preserving and building bone density. Although there is a large amount of research on the effects on the muscular system, bones remain a mystery. Certain studies suggests there is a relation between muscle strength and bone density.

         Bone mass can be effected by a resistance training regimen. One study compared subjects who did endurance exercise with people who did strength training. The groups  was a mix of both men and women. The results showed that the strength training subjects had more bone density. Further research revealed form other studies showed that the amount of time  was also essential. The subjects who lifted on a regular basis had more bone density. While further investigation is needed to make this be a statement of health science fact, it can be assumed the link is clear.

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If we had to take a guess the woman with the bigger muscles may have the most bone density.
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Strength training can build muscles and bones.
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Lifting weights can be beneficial to women’s health.

The skeleton acts as support for organs. It houses the muscle connecting through a system of ligaments and tendons. The musculoskeletal system is the description of both the bones and muscles of the human body. Heavy resistance training is good for health in many ways. Healthcare professionals have advise the use of high impact exercise to preserve bone mass, yet have been gradually suggesting that heavy resistance training can also be and aid. Lifting lighter weights with high repetitions are not effective at building bone mass or muscle to the highest degree. Lifting light weights does still have an benefit. This can be a method of increasing muscular endurance. That is an aspect of fitness that should not be ignored entirely. Bone mass is built in an incredible why, which demonstrates how easily the human body can be manipulated. When the muscle contracts a tendon is activated. This results in the bone being put into motion. Exercise stimulus has to be large enough to induce the formation of the bone. Bones have to make adjustments otherwise, not be functional. A minimal essential strain must be reached to induce the physiological response of bone growth.  This should not be done to a dangerous level otherwise it could cause a bone fracture. The resistance must be 90 % of the one repetition maximum to see an increase in musculoskeletal mass. Bone mass can be changed allowing for the prevention of certain skeletal diseases.

         Bone formation occurs  by means of osteoblasts. These are bone cells that are responsible for creating new bone. Physical activity such as running, plyometrics, jump rope, and step training are enough to activate new bone growth. Osteoclasts have to remold the new bone into its finished product. Low impact activity can still build bone. Cycling can cause bone growth if done frequently. Osteology is the study of the skeletal system and its physiological properties. It has a wide range of applications beyond physical fitness and biomedical science. Anthropology, paleontology, and natural history disciplines use it to uncover the past.  Health science uses osteology to manage or prevent diseases of the bone such a osteoporosis, osteogenesis imperfecta, and scoliosis. Osteogenesis functions the same way in women. The difference is related to amount and how age effects bone and muscle loss over time.

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Bone formation is needed to keep up with muscular growth.
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The structure and cells of the bones. 
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Cycling is a low impact exercise compared to running.

Women have on average less musculoskletal mass compared to men. Overtime this decreases with age. This means women could be more vulnerable to bone related disease related to age and could be at higher risk for fractures. At a certain age falls could be fatal. Hip fractures can become an even greater concern. Resistance training can build a bone and muscle reserve that protects the body. Even a small amount can be good for a person.

       Strength training does have the ability to protect the skeleton. The question remains which exercises are the best. This has not been tested, so the only answer that can be formed is through conjecture. Cathe suggests that exercises that work the back and hips could be the best. Compound exercises are recommended  and isolated ones are too. The problem with doing just isolation exercises is that other areas could be neglected. The point should be to strengthen all bones of the body. Doing bench presses, bicep curls, squats,deadlifts, and lunges should be part of a workout routine. The bones and muscles have to be challenged to see physical change. When training it should be noted that results are not automatic. The process takes considerable time and effort. Bone mass increase can take years. People with osteoporosis are advised to consult their doctor before going into a strength training regimen. Post-menopausal women must be vigilant in regards to bone health. DEXA scans are available to see if a person has osteopenia or osteoporosis. These two are not the same condition. Osteopenia refers to the low level of bone density, but it is not enough to be considered threatening to health. Strength training for people with osteopenia can still possibly prevent osteoporosis.

        Having built muscle would mean that there are also stronger bones to support them. This makes sense from a perspective of morphology. The skeleton is the foundation of the building of the human body. Thinness for women has been presented as the image of health. The reality is this does not have a scientific basis. A thin body, inactivity, smoking, and genetic history are risk factors. There is no complete guarantee that all chronic illness can be prevented through diet and exercise. The human body is a complex network of cells, organs, and physiological functions. At some point it breaks down like a machine. Aging does not have to mean physical and mental decline if certain steps are taken. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and being consistent with health habits can improve the quality of life. Diet may not be enough to maintain the health of all of the organ systems. The skeletal system needs as much attention as the circulatory system and nervous system.

Cathe Fitness : If You Have Strong Muscles Do You Have Strong Bones ?

Why Males Pack a Powerful Punch: Upper Arm Strength Different From Females

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Punching Power Between Males and Females

Animals have specialized anatomy for fighting. This is more common among the male sex of a species. Male rams have horns and elks have antlers. The reason for specialized anatomy is to have an advantage in a fight and for competition for mates. The Univesity of Utah pondered if human men have a similar attribute of sexual dimorphism. Men have larger upper bodies, which also include more upper arm strength. The study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology  reveals that men may have evolved for fighting. Biologist David Carrier that in general the difference between sexes of mammals is related to what it uses on its body as a weapon. The hypothesis is that male on male aggression shaped the way human bodies evolved. It took years to amass the data. While humanity has gone through millions of years of evolution, it should be noted it still impacts behavior. If the study is correct, then it might explain why men are over represented in violent crime, domestic abuse, and assault. Biological explanations are not the only ones; environment also is also a major factor. Women’s bodies do not have the same degree of musculoskeletal mass. Sex differences are known, but there has never been a definite answer why. Examining punching power could be the first step into understanding why sexual dimorphism exists.

         The method used was to document the body’s anatomical structure. The hands are important in punching. What was discovered was that manual dexterity was not only essential, but how the hand was protected when made into a fist. The strength of the bones in the face were also taken into account. This is the area most likely to be punched in a fight. The researchers were also careful to examine how heels were planted on the ground. This could add additional punching power not associated with the upper body muscles. It is widely known that men have more upper body strength. According to James C. Martin ” It’s already known that males’ upper bodies, on average, have 75% more muscle mass and 90% more strength than females’. Even under a physical fitness training program women never reach the same level of strength as an equally trained man. The study then had to figure out a way of measuring punching power.

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The muscles of the upper arm  showing the posterior perspective.
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Punching also involves some technique. Boxers and MMA fighters train at mastering an effective punch.
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Sexual dimorphism refers to the physical differences among the sexes. Male and female bodies have a different shape as well as body composition.

A punching bag was not even used. They feared it would cause hand injury. Other methods probably will not give as much precision. A hand crank was created instead to simulate a punch. This may have effected the experiment. The subjects included 20 men and 19 women. Although the numbers were not equal, one less woman may not have created an issue. Participants had to fill out a questionnaire about their physical fitness activity. Assuming they were all honest the subjects had a uniform level of physical fitness. Mixing fit men with average women or fit women with average men would have distorted results. The problem is that to an extent sexual dimorphism is flexible. Although men are on average stronger, a woman of significant fitness can surpass an unfit man. This sample was small, which could have also altered results. Only 39 people is not large enough to make a definite statement of fact.

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Men have more muscle on their bodies. Type II muscle fibers are the most important for physical strength .
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Even the most muscular women carry a higher body fat percentage. This is related to the production of oestrogens.
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If the study had fit females and average males it would have altered the results. They would have shown either equal punching power.
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Comparing fit males to average females would make men seem more physically power than they really are.

This was why they wanted fitness levels to uniform. Doing so eliminates doubt about procedures. A method of verification could be to take one group of fit and unfit subjects then see the result. Another procedure would be to have a group of mixed fitness levels and then see if there is a pattern. Their strength  in this study was measured specifically by pulling a line forward over their head. The experiment may also be useful in understanding the evolution of throwing. It should be noted that subject according to the report had “roughly the same amount of fitness.” Physical fitness capacity should have been measured prior to ensure this was the case.

       The results did not come as a shock. The punching power of the men was 162% greater than women. The degree was quite significant. Even the weakest of the fittest males in the group had a stronger punch power compared to the most powerful woman. There was no overlap, but it could be possible in a larger study. This makes a person ponder how the result would have come out with professional boxers. If the professional boxers have lower power than the fit people in the study, then the experiment needs to be adjusted. Do not be confused. There are women who can punch as hard as men. Punches can still hurt depending on which part of the body is hit. The strange similarity was that overhead pulling strength did not differ for men and women. That lead researchers to conclude upper body strength of men was meant for fighting.

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The punches from these female MMA fights can still hurt.
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The muscles of the upper which  both sexes have.
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The differences in punching power were not for fighting women. It was to fight other men or required for the rigors of hunting.

The reason for sexual dimorphism in size is that our hominid male ancestors were competing for mates. The visual marker could have physical strength indicating biological fitness to women. Other studies have shown women do prefer men who are taller or have a certain amount of strength. These studies still are debated considering there are cases which do not follow the norm. The punch power study also opens up more questions. Could the results be the same if weightlifters were used ? Was a simulation just as using a punching bag ? These are uncertainties that cannot were not answered.

       This discussion ultimately leads to the question of violence. It was articulated that the thought of men being designed for fighting was uncomfortable. There is a problem with this reasoning. Organisms are not “designed” which implies some creator. They are products of environment, genetics, natural selection, and the process of sex selection. Human bodies are not designed by a divine creature or unknown force. This also implies that  evolution makes organisms more complex. Bacteria and viruses have evolved, but are not as complex as the multi-cellular organisms they infect. To make such statements would be claiming that evolution follows in a straight line. Human evolution functions more like a tree, with multiple branches.

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His body may not be designed for fighting.
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Her body looks designed for fighting
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The modern world is technologically driven. So in many ways strength is not as important to daily survival.

There is a horrible revelation that violence could just be a part of nature. Men are more prone to use physical force compared to women. There is a difference in physical aggression. We assume that our hominid ancestors lived more short and brutish lives. This would be presumptuous considering the early genus homo species were not subject to natural observation. Cooperation and empathy are important attributes of human behavior as Carrier cites. Yet, this can also be applied to mass violence such as war or general insurrection. There can be a case made for sociological factors that contribute to violence. War, a collapsing society, economic turmoil,  and fear can lead populations to mass violence. Boys are normally taught to be more aggressive. Predilection to violence may be more related to how a person was raised. It would be incorrect to say that men have a genetic tendency to physical violence. Breaking the legacy of violence would be next to impossible if the hypothesis of the study is correct.  There is a reason why that there are mostly men in the military or why male police officers commit more acts of brutality. Attempts have been made to change human behavior through establishment of  a civil society and a civilization. However, this has not made human violence disappear. More research is needed to see why this trait still remains, even though our environment changed dramatically.

 

Why Males Pack a Powerful Punch: Upper Arm Strength Different From Females

Cathe Fitness: How Men and Women Differ in Strength-Power and Do Women Gain Strength Differently Than Men ?

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Strength Power  and Gains

Cathe Friedrich  is an American personal trainer , group fitness teacher,  entrepreneur and American Council on Exercise instructor. She also is the owner of  Cathe Fitness, which designs fitness and exercise programs for athletes and laymen. Cathe also is co-owner of the Four Seasons Health Club.  Since 1989,  Cathe Friedrich  has produced over 190 fitness videos and used to host programs on FitTv. Her business expanded so much she was able to be inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame. Born in 1964, she is based out of New Jersey. Since the launch of her website and blog, Cathe has composed a number of articles for the general public to read as reference and advice for fitness as well as health. One subject she does not shy away from is male and female athletic performance comparisons. Cathe discusses the topic of how men and women differ in strength and power. The following article then approaches the topic of if women gain muscular strength in a different manner in regards to anatomical and physiological attributes. It is wonderful that a woman is encouraging other women to get active in weightlifting and physical  activity beyond simple weight loss.However, she has the tendency to use terms or concepts that have no basis in exercise  physiology.

             The bodybuilding and weightlifting sports have grown in popularity among women. Yet,Cathe Friedrich’s explanation seems off :  “More women are realizing that resistance training won’t give them big, bulky muscles. ”  Women who train in a certain way can get muscular seeing as muscular hypertrophy can occur in both sexes. The concept of  “bulky” muscles do not exist. Histiology reveals that there are no difference in cells between what are considered “toned” or”bulky” muscles. These terms are either designed to praise or disparage women of different levels of physicality. Normally a woman who shows an enormous amount of physical power and skill is disparaged as being “bulky.” The unfortunate part is that many cannot see the beauty in difference and variety. When that word is used it refers to female bodybuilders. When Cathe stated ” Instead, it can make them stronger, leaner and firmer” this is what many athletes are going for in physique sports. Muscle size and definition are added to the list of beneficial aesthetic attributes. The first strongwomen, female bodybuilders, and weightlifters were the harbingers of  women’s fitness culture. They broke the barriers,yet are not even respected or given as much exposure even by prominent fitness publications. The internet has changed this through social media platforms. Bulky is not a bad thing, it shows the impressive abilities of women’s bodies.

Certainly, women are capable of athletic ability and prowess. Women can attain strength and power. There are some biological differences that effect physical fitness capacity. It is important to realize that strength and power are two different entities.

          Power can be defined as the the ability to do work  and generate force. Applied to weight lifting its how fast an individual can lift the weight. It seems that there is a sex difference in power generation. Cathe cites the records of women jumpers competing in the Olympics. There is a 17% difference in performance. Another example is sprinting . Regardless of sex, power can  be enhanced through training. One method is the use of explosive power drills. Power cleans, kettlebell swings and plyometrics  fall under  this classification. Plyometrics are exercises that require jumping in short periods of time . When people age strength does not only decrease,but power dissipates as well. This can be reversed by power drills which can improve this aspect of fitness. Research according to Cathe indicates that you lose a total of 8% power for every decade of life after age 20.

box-jump-exercise-benefits-workoutWomen should make power drills a part of their exercise routine. Doing so improves an important part of functional fitness. Generating force quickly can make a difference in sports performance that requires explosive force. A powerlifter lifting a weight as fast as they can is not a demonstration of strength only,but power. So from a perspective of exercise physiology strength and power are not the same entity.

        The definition of physical strength is less complicated. It is the ability of the muscles to exert force on objects. The misconception is that bigger muscle equals more strength. The pivotal factor is related to muscle fiber types in the human body. When discussing strength the focus is on skeletal muscle of the body. Type II muscle fibers are responsible for explosive power, They are built for strength,but have poor endurance in comparsion to type I muscle fibers. Type II muscle fibers appear to be thicker. Less myoglobin is found in them and contraction is higher. Muscle fibers have different cellular properties.

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There is variation in terms of mitochondria amount, energy utilization, time, myoglobin, and myosin ATPase. Myoglobin is essential due to the fact the protein stores and transports oxygen to muscle cells. This red protein contains heme which aids in the physiological processing of oxygen to muscle cells. Myosin is the protein that acts as a contractile tissue for muscle with the assistance of actin. The average man has more muscle mass in comparison to fat. Estimates vary in terms of strength, however according to California Lutheran University women have 55% of men’s total upper body strength. The range for lower body strength was estimated at 75%. That means there is a 45% difference in upper body strength and a 25% difference in the lower body. That means a woman can have 70% of a man’s total body strength. The is quite significant considering the differences in sexual dimorphism. Larger muscle fibers and more II classification can explain the sex based differences in physical strength. Endocrinology also explains the stronger bodies of men. During puberty strength spurts occur in boys due to increasing testosterone level. At once boys reach their full adult growth they have both a strength and power advantage. Training can negate some of this, but not entirely.

        Exercise intensity is essential for women. If they are going to see results they will have to train harder. The suggestion Cathe makes is to train with 80% of the one rep max. Doing so will activate growth hormone which enable muscles to grow. Hormones do play a role later in life with women who struggle to maintain muscle mass after menopause. Incorporation of explosive strength exercises. Cathe suggests doing lighter weights at a faster rate with 30% of your one rep max. This method is lighter resistance, but exercising at faster speed. Progressive overload can be done with heavier weights at slower speed. Which ever method is used be mindful of proper form to prevent injury. Cathe Friedrich  states ” don’t worry about becoming muscle-bound by resistance training.” Lifting weights does build muscle, however women should not be ashamed of the bodies they sculpted. The transformations can be amazing as she describes ” you’ll only become stronger and more powerful – and lose body fat with a combination of power and strength training.” Cathe’s statement just contradicted the other one. The physiques on stage are exaggerated due to tans, low body fat, and lighting. Their appearance is different in the off season when fat returns to their bodies.

It is false to say that women lose their femininity by building their bodies. It can enhance the female figure. Any woman can benefit from such training. Weight training can strengthen bones and protect the health of the muscular system. One does not have to train to the degree of a professional athlete to see benefits. What can be concluded is that men have more strength and power. This does not mean women cannot increase their strength and power; there is a difference in total physical fitness capacity. The result is known, yet this leads to another question : do men and women gain strength differently in the process of training?

      Cathe Friedrich  also explores the question do men and women gain strength differently. Her second answer was written after explaining the difference between male and female differences in power. Her research made her shift positions stating women can build muscle too. This is correct and women may actually react better to weightlifting exercise. Muscular hypertrophy can occur in a woman’s body due to training. There are some women who may produce higher levels testosterone, which may provide some advantage. This is not the only hormone that enables muscular hypertrophy . Hormones are not the only way women can build muscle. Somatotype is a contributor. A woman theoretically with a mesomorphic body type may be able to build more muscle than an endomorphic man. Then the years of training must be considered. Building muscle and strength takes years or maybe decades. Consistency is the key to adding more and both maintaining muscle on the body. The factor of growth hormone seems more important to women’s bodies. Seeing as women produce less testosterone, growth hormone increase is the response they get from progressive overload training. The hormone is protecting the muscles as a response to strenuous exercise.

       Estrogen does have a benefit. It can protect women’s muscles during exercise. This explains why after menopause when estrogen levels drop, so does women’s muscle mass. This demonstrates why physical activity must be a part of women’s lives. Estrogen might explain why women are able to handle more training volume. Too often women’s physiology and biology is discussed in terms of disadvantage. Yet, exercise science still has more to learn about women’s physical fitness capacity. Cathe Friedrich explains “due to hormonal limitations, women have to work harder than men to build muscle mass.” Even the most talented athletes have to work hard to reach the top level of performance.  This is not a task that can be done immediately. The effort and diligence should be seen as a badge of honor. At the same time women should not be afraid to develop themselves to their physical maximum. It should be remembered that women’s extra fat could provide a benefit in swimming as a source of metabolic function. There could be more benefits estrogen has to athletic performance, but it has not been fully investigated.

         When talking about strength muscle fibers are important. Men and women’s muscles on a cellular level. If one were to examine a sample of male and female muscle they would be the same under a microscope. The real difference is in the amount of type II and type I muscle fibers. Men have a higher portion of type II muscle fiber in their bodies. Type II are not as endurance based, but carry more strength. Women’s higher type I muscle fibers allows for slower muscle breakdown. Sports that require more muscular endurance may be easier for women compared to ones that require brute strength. Women can still build muscle and strength, but they need to train hard enough to challenge the muscles in their body. It also helps to diversify your exercises as Cathe explains: ”  If you’re a female, you can also benefit from including more compound, multi-joint exercises in your routine, including deep squats, deadlifts, and bench press.” Some women are not physically active enough, much to the detriment of their own health. Another factor involves diet and nutrition, Caloric intake should be high enough to feed and provide energy to the muscles. Protein needs to be a large part of the diet. What can be concluded is that women’s bodies can be made stronger through exercise and nutrition. There is a difference in strength and power among the sexes, yet this should not discourage women. More women are active in sports and fitness compared to previous generations. Exercise physiology will eventually catch up to meet their sports performance needs. Cathe Friedrich provides an simple to understand reference for both the general public and professional athletes to use.

Cathe Fitness: How Men and Women Differ in Strength-Power and Do Women Gain Strength Differently Than Men ?

Spot Me Girl : Six Scientific Reasons Why Women Should Lift Heavy

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Read the Original Article Here

Weight training can be good for women’s health. This has been confirmed in exercise science studies and Spot Me Girl produced an article stating the scientific reasons women should lift heavy. Reading the title anyone who has a basic understanding of science can see the problem. Some people believe by adding the term scientific, it makes a claim more credible or truthful. The fact is science is more of a long term investigation. The only people who use the phase “it’s scientific” have no understanding of the discipline. Part of the problem is that public education lacks good science curriculum. The general public has a limited understanding of it. When discussing the complexities of the human body people are even more uninformed. This partly explains why certain myths about fitness and biomedical science continue. Women’s bodies are subject to either lore, falsehoods, or some form of  medical pseudoscience. Women’s physical capabilities are either underestimated or considered biological anomalies. Women gaining strength and muscle mass is not a physiological  abnormality. It can be scientifically proven that lifting weights can be a benefit to women’s health. Strengthening bones and muscles prevents certain disease. Lifting heavy can be a form of weight management. However, certain claims can be debated. Science is about using a particular technique to understand particular phenomena.

            The scientific method is a means of uncovering facts or explaining the natural world . The process involves several steps. A hypothesis is a proposal for a possible explanation for  a question posed. The hypothesis relevant to discussion is lifting heavy can be good for women’s health. The hypothesis must meet conditions prior to an experiment. The hypothesis must be testable, compatible with other verified hypothesis, and  have simplicity. The misconception is that science seeks to be complicated, yet the desire is to give a basic explanation of the natural world. Having a quality hypothesis enable experimentation. The proposed experiment would have women to work out with weights for a period of time and document the changes in their body. Muscle mass gains would be measured. An experiment must meet a requirement for duplication. Otherwise, claims made by the hypothesis could be put into doubt. Experiments can be classified as controlled, natural, and field. Controlled experiment have an independent variable which is the effected or altered factor from testing. Weights in  our mock experiment would be the independent variable. The dependent variable is the factor that is measured. The level muscular hypertrophy women experience would be the dependent variable. The natural experiment put an emphasis on observation. Field experiments are done outside a laboratory.

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Weightlifting is an example of training for strength.
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Bodybuilding involves training for aesthetics.
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Exercise causes a response from the human body.

Observation has certain limitations. There are things that the human senses cannot detect. Subatomic particles , microscopic organisms, and particular waves of electromagnetic radiation escape human detection with technology.  Pure science was based mostly on observation, but  by the time of the Age of Reason the scientific method developed as a way of validating facts. Observation still is important to science,because it provides a description of the natural world. After data is collected, then a conclusion can be made. Possible limitations of the experiment should be considered and factors that effected the outcome. If the process can be reproduced, then it could be considered scientific fact rather than theory. Scientists do not seek complex explanations rather a comprehensible descriptions of the the natural world.

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The scientific method involves a hypothesis, experimentation, observation, and the collection of data. When that is done a conclusion can be made.
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The human body contains cells and organ systems. Looking at a person we would not be able to see every cell in their body.
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Building strength and muscle can have benefits.

The term “scientific” is thrown around so much that people do not understand its meaning. This also explains why people are more willing to accept false information. Using terms or claims that sound credible can make it simple to manipulate the credulous. There are many myths about women can exercise that people still believe. Spot Me Girl is not immune from these myths.

       The concept of toning the body is incorrect. There is no such thing as toned or bulky muscle. The only purpose these were serve is to describe aesthetics. Women can build muscle , but the amount depends on certain factors. Body type and skeletal structure can vary among women. The relation between the MTSN gene and myostatin regulation also plays a significant role in muscular hypertrophy. Spot Me Girl states ” contrary to popular belief , lifting weights do not make women bulky it firms and tightens muscles. ” The process of weightlifting will not make a woman “bulky” but is possible they can get muscular . Sex hormone function is not the only factor in muscular mass gain from a training regimen.  Weightlifting does not shock the muscles rather it only causes micro-trauma. When adequate rest and recovery is done, then muscle fibers grow stronger. Spot Me Girl claims ” lifting heavy weight will shock your muscles and make them look leaner.” A shock to the muscles would be more like a tear or severe injury.  Another claim seems rather general : “females do not have enough testosterone to build significant muscle mass.” It’s not the total amount of testosterone that aids in protein synthesis, rather the amount of free testosterone in the body. Regardless of sex, mesomorphic body types have a greater ability to add muscle. The muscular women on a bodybuilding stage are not as large as one would assume. However their muscular mass in large in relation to there body frame. The weight of the women competing is lower than that of an average man.

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Compared to their male counterparts, they are smaller in terms of total muscle mass. The male bodybuilders can reach a weight as high as 200 lbs and over. The largest women have reached weight of 175 lbs. Lesa Lewis when competing weighed 165 lbs. The average weight of an American male 196.9 lbs. The argument about women being too huge or manly is a ludicrous one when examining body weight. Lifting does not tighten loose muscle either. Toning does not exist, rather the term is used in a gender based context rather than a scientific one. Women can build muscle, but it depends on the fitness goal and method used.

           It is correct that women’s bodies are capable of gaining strength. Victorian Age medicine believed that the female body was naturally frail and that rigorous physical activity was harmful to women’s health. This was accepted for a longtime and discredited. Load bearing exercise can protect women’s musculoskeletal health. Women have lower bone density and muscle mass. Overtime, muscle and bone mass decrease with age. The health risk of getting osteoporosis or sacropenia increases with age. Lifting weights can be a good method of prevention. It may also be an effective form of body weight control.

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Physical activity is good for health. Being too sedentary could lead to chronic illness. So far the information gathered about women and weightlifting is that muscle mass gain can have health benefits. Building bone mass and strength in the earlier part of life may enable a person who reaches advanced age to have more independence. The increased likelihood of falls which may result in bone fractures can be a concern with the loss of balance. Spot Me Girl only briefly mentions the psychological benefit expressing ” getting stronger by pumping iron can help you in other aspects of life as well.” Women notice they feel more confident, which can be positive for mental health. Daily tasks such as moving objects, doing chores, or anything that requires some physical activity becomes easier. It also reduces women’s dependency on men to extent. Too many women ask men to move something heavy for them or do a task that is physical. Even something as basic as opening a jar women should be able to do in the new age of woman power that appears in public consciousness. It may be just that women do not want to do such physical tasks because they choose not to or chivalry still remains. The only way for true gender equality to be a reality is if women also really understand what it means by equal treatment. That means in this case women should be able to do their own heavy lifting. Strength training is important to women’s health, but medical literature is not sufficient. However, it is clear that load bearing exercise can protect women from chronic illness.

          The claim weight training can improve body structure as a scientific fact seems questionable. This seems to be more of a discussion of aesthetics. The statement itself assumes that a person has a “bad” body structure or a “good” body structure. The morphology of human beings is the same. A person has a head, neck, thorax, abdomen, arms, and legs. There is a variation in somatotype. Some can be ectomorphic, endomorphic, or mesomorphic in body structure. Having a different body structure is not a disadvantage as one might assume. It means approach will have to be altered. Endomorphs will have to be careful about their caloric intake, while adjusting the amount of exercise. Ectomorphs need more caloric with enough training as well as rest to gain more size. Anyone can see improvement in their physical fitness. The total  physical fitness capacity depends on genetics, diet, sex, somatotype, and the training regimen.

tumblr_p4fhsfPITQ1vjlsfvo1_1280.jpg 494fa3592492363denise and susanWhile morphology does not radical change from exercise, the shape of it can.  The human body can be made to look different through weight training. Aesthetics in terms of strength sports really does not have a scientific basis to it. The only argument for that would be symmetry. Symmetry is not only aesthetic to strength sports, but it describes a property amount objects of the known universe and also at the subatomic level. People like symmetry because it is pleasing to the eye. This stated fact is not really a truth rather an expression of  a perspective. Spot Me Girl is correct in relation to the concept of bodybuilding molding the human body like clay. The term body sculpting has also been used to describe this process. What body sculpting refers to is core building or “toning ” exercise with the use of bands or dumbells. This is not different really that much different from bodybuilding, only that it is a way to make using weights more appealing to women. The truth is there is no such thing as “women’s” or “men’s” exercises. If the basic morphology is similar both sexes are capable of various exercises. Sexual dimorphism  can effect athletic performance. Women with weight training can enhance their shape.

       Muscle does have the ability to burn fat. The reason men find it easier to lose weight is due to body composition and androgen production in their bodies. Women have a higher fat percentage due to estrogen. This does not mean losing weight and keeping it off is impossible. If women use weight training to build more muscle more calories can be burned. Metabolism is key to understanding how the body absorbs food. When women  consume food it may convert most of it into fat storage. For most people the consumption of high sugar and fat diets can cause weight gain. Combined with limited physical activity this could put a person at risk for obesity or diabetes. Adjusting diet and physical activity can prevent this.

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Daily physical activity can improve health.
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Muscle has the ability to burn fat.
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Muscles do not turn into fat when you stop training. They atrophy from not being exercised.

It should be known  that if one stops training muscles do not turn into fat. The only way this could happen is if diet was changed. Muscles atrophy from not being used. It can be debated whether or not high intensity interval training  is effective at burn fat or building muscle to the greatest degree. There are numerous exercise fads that appear and vanish,but their claims never have underwent scientific testing. Using a treadmill it has been determined may not be the best way to burn enough calories. It does have the benefit of enhancing endurance, yet will do little for the increase in physical strength. Weight training can go far beyond building strength; it can be an effective tool for weight management.

   The question of weightlifting and posture has been explored very little. Spot Me Girl makes the statement that lifting can improve posture. The challenge with science is that it always has to verify and debate. The article makes a expresses a view with little evidence or support. To understand this problem there needs to be an understanding of what posture is. Posture can be described as ” the position in which we hold our bodies standing, sitting, or lying down.” Without it and our muscles the human body would not be able to hold itself up. Good posture is pivotal to health more than some realize. Back pain and possible strain or fatigue of muscles can occur due to improper posture. Alternations in posture can occur from sitting in a wrong position.

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An example of good posture and poor posture.
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The effect of weightlifting on posture is not completely known.
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Few who train in strength sports demonstrate poor posture.

The age of tablets and cellphones may have compromised neck and back health. Too much sitting for long periods also caused major health concerns.There are methods other than weight training that can improve posture. Do not slouch, because this can cause problems for the lower back. When using a phone do not spend long hours with your neck in the same position. Basic steps could improve posture. Exercise would not hurt considering the stronger the body the better. There still needs to be evidence that weight training can indisputably improves posture.

         Exercise can be a method of stress reduction. Current data shows that during physical activity endorphins are released. Endorphins are a group of hormones secreted from the brain and nervous system.The text incorrectly refers to them as “happy cells.” Their function varies depending on the physiological tasks. They are produced in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.Endorphins also have the ability to reduce pain and elevate mood. Some have speculated that low endorphins may have a link to depression. Studies did show that people who engaged in regular exercise did experience mood elevation from the increase of endorphins.

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Neurotransmitters are how brain cells communicate. Endorphins can be classified as neurotransmitters.
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There are numerous physiological responses to exercise. The nervous system responses is another unexplored territory of sports science.
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The chemical messengers in our brains have the ability to change our emotional states .

The stress is unavoidable. However, it is a person’s responses to stress that seems to be more of a problem. Overreaction to life’s minor issues can eventually take there toll on both mental and physical health. With more awareness about mental illness and loneliness there are some changes that can be made to reduce personal turmoil. Staying away from negative relationships, taking control of life, and not using bad advice from others may reduce stress to a degree. Stress that is induced from environment can be insuperable. Racism, warfare, economic instability, or the decay of society create an abnormal amount of stress on the population. These events are beyond an individuals control. Coping is only a passive way of  not solving a problem. Some challenges in life may not have a solution. Finding an enjoyable activity can allow a person to whether the burden of life. Disconnecting from digital media is fine, but being a way from people may cause distress. Sometimes working out with another person can be encouraging. Exercising can improve mood and reduce stress. The degree and how much exercise specifically is up for debate.

    The general public lacks a basic understanding of science. This is why when the word “scientific” is used people will easily believe a claim, even though it may not be true. The studies that come out by press release are not definite facts; it is a continuing investigation to reach a scientific law. There is still more to learn about astronomy , physics, mathematics, biology, and the human body itself. Relevant to sports science and medicine  it can be said based on experiments and studies that weight training  can be beneficial to women’s health. Training is not a male only affair and women who do it are not masculine. Sadly, this idea still remains yet women are challenging this incorrect assumption. Weightlifting can build bone and muscle. The reduction of excess fat will prevent obesity,diabetes, and heart disease. There are indications that being physically active can also aid cognitive health. Certainly there are more than six reason why women should lift weights.

Spot Me Girl : Six Scientific Reasons Why Women Should Lift Heavy

The Military Studies “hyperfit” Women Who Pass Grueling Courses

 

The Military Studies “Hyperfit” Women

Women are now serving in combat roles. The United States Military is taking note and making adjustments to one of the most significant changes in the institution in decades. Combat jobs can be physically demanding. Men on average have more muscle mass and a higher aerobic capacity compared to women. This means that the most physically demanding jobs may not have equal numbers of men and women. While many argue that sexual dimorphism justifies excluding women from certain military occupational specialties, women have demonstrated that they can reach a level of physical fitness to meet the demands of combat. Some women have made progress in majority male branches in the military.  Thirty women have earned their Army Ranger tab. Two women as reported by the Military Times have passed Marine Infantry School. Three women have also passed the initial phase of Green Beret training. The numbers may be low, but does prove a point. There are qualified women who can serve in elite units. As long as a person is qualified, then they have the right to apply to a combat job. There will be challenges of gender integration in the US Military. Sex prejudice must be countered to prevent a decline in cohesion. The biggest challenge is to figure out how exactly women trained and prepared mentally for such grueling training. The US Military is finally taking time to examine what women need to do to be successful in physically demanding occupations of  combat.

          The term “hyperfit” is used to describe women who successfully accomplished their combat training. There is a problem using such a term. It almost implies that these women are some form of biological anomalies.  The sex bias here is that only men can be good at tasks that require physical prowess. Women who reach such physicality are considered some how abnormal. The term “hyperfit” is an incorrect assessment. This is an analysis of physical fitness capacity. Physical fitness capacity is the measure of how strong, fast, and skilled a person can become through a training regimen. Men and women are both capable of increasing fitness levels, but there is a difference in terms of total physical fitness capacity. There is no “men’s fitness” or “women’s fitness.” The questioned posed by the study was who are these women and what makes them competitive ? Holly McClung a nutritional physiologist stated “the real point of this study is to characterize this unique cohort of women that has made it through these traditionally male trainings.” Training itself does not have a designated sex. Exercises are not “male” or “female” exercises. The only reason training would be considered male is because men were the only ones to take them. Women were banned from combat jobs up until 2013. Even fitness examinations for men and women were different, which was not helping female service members. Their standards were lower and not helping them strengthen their bodies as a means of injury prevention. With the new gender neutral standards, it puts an emphasis on functional fitness.

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Women have the same muscles as men. The difference is in body composition.
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Large muscles do not automatically correlate to more strength. A large factor is the total type II muscle fibers in the body.
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Aerobic capacity is determined by the Vo2 max
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There is a difference between a training simulation and an actual battlefield situation

McClung who works with the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine cannot be condemned for  possible bias. The majority of studies in regards to exercise physiology focus on men. Women’s bodies are different, but sexual dimorphism does not imply inferiority. Training needs to be adjusted to accommodate their needs. There are certain attributes that who of a high physical fitness capacity have to meet the demands of physically demanding occupations. Strength and speed are critical, however there is a mental aspect that is forgotten. Persistence in high stress environments is a necessity for any soldier in combat operations.

        The psychological aspect to women being successful in physically demanding combat jobs cannot be overlooked. Holly McClung was interested in the mental aspects required for women to pass such physical fitness assessments. Military training can be thought of as a sort of sports training. Every athlete knows mental state is crucial to performance. Written tests were given to assess leadership quality and behavior of the women. The type of resilience and determination has been colloquially described as grit. The women have a sort of mental toughness which drives them to succeed. Mark Esper the Secretary of Defense stated that this was the case of women who are successful in combat jobs. The women who are going to be successful are the ones who are more goal oriented. Motivation and persistence seem to be the biggest factor to completing training from a psychological perspective.

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Standards are moving to having functional fitness assessments.
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Could there be something physiologically unique about these women ? If so, what in particular makes them able to cope with physical demand ?

 

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Training has a psychological aspect.
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Some concepts used for improving athletic performance can be applied to US Military training.

An example of a military psychological test is described by the Military Times as follows : “the military version of the resilience test lists statements and asks people to determine on a scale of one to five if the statement is definitely or mostly false, “don’t know” or mostly or definitely true. Some examples of the statements are: I enjoy most things in life; I often feel helpless; I like to have a lot of structure in my life; I carefully plan just about everything I do; it bothers me when my daily routine gets interrupted; and my successes are because of my effort and ability.” Personality tests may not be as reliable, but it can reveal aspects of particular behavior and mannerisms. Personality can change over a lifetime and molded by certain experiences. A person entering military service will be completely different once they  begin and progress through their career. The assumption is that the physically strongest person would be able to adapt, but personality shows who will crack under intense pressure.Resilience and consistency may be the two psychological factors that enhance the likelihood of success.

      The intent through testing is to see if women have particular biological and physical makers that explain their success in physically  demanding tasks. The tests measured Vo2 max scores. This tells how much oxygen consumption is occurring at peak exercise rate. A person who is fit or a top performing athlete could have a score of 80. The average inactive person about 30. One study claimed that women have a more efficient utilization of oxygen compared to men, but it has yet to be confirmed. Breathing tests were also used for women. Bone density scans were also conducted along with both examinations of blood , calcium, as well as iron levels. These are excellent ways to see just how these combat ready women’s bodies function. The problem is that they did not mention anything of a biopsy or body composition analysis of the female service members. Muscle fiber type is critical depending on what physical task a person is doing.

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Aerobic capacity is an important part of fitness. Lung and heart size are factors in that element of fitness.
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Even with new technology, physical fitness is still important for combat .
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Strength does not just come from the muscles. It is a combination of bone mass, tendons, ligaments, and muscle fiber type.
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Technically, women were already in combat . There were no frontlines in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  What the end of the 2013 ban  really meant women could apply for military occupational specialties in an official capacity.

The women who were in the study sample should have a precise measure of strength. Hand grips are useful for quick approximations, yet weightlifting should be a part of this experiment. Bone density could be good enough for now, but further investigation would be needed. The skeletal structure provides some indication that depending on its size, more muscle could be housed on there. The women with the highest bone density could be the strongest, yet this misses the factor of muscular endurance. The women with type II muscle fiber would have the most explosive strength, while women with more type I fibers would have more endurance. It was not mentioned what was the average weight for the physically fit service members. What could be assumed is that their fat levels were high enough that it does not cause any  menstrual related problems, but a higher muscle mass ration compared to women who were inactive. A picture can be seen here, which indicates the physical aspects of women’s success. Such women have high amounts of physical strength and aerobic capacity. The idea was to unlock a secret of certain biological attributes, yet it seems commonly known.  What can be extrapolated from this is that women need  a specific exercise and nutrition regimen to ensure the increase in physical fitness capacity.

Tired and struggling this female captain completed her training. Notice that the positive environment also encouraged her success, not solely personal motivation.  

Prior to attempting any course of training, physical fitness prior to entry must be considered. Doing so would prepare women’s bodies to more rigorous physical activity and be the best method at injury prevention. Women would have to be well prepared before even attempting a basic training course. The women who are able to handle physically demanding task may not be so remarkably different from other women. If they were, then it should display itself in their genetics. An analysis of DNA was not done, but that may not reveal anything new. What is known about women’s biological and physical factors for success is that they have a certain level of muscular strength, endurance, and speed .

       What should also be incorporated in the study is what exercises and nutritional guidelines do  the elite female service members follow. Too often many forget that diet and nutrition are essential factors in physical fitness. The food consumed acts as fuel for the human body. This also relates to metabolism and the citric acid cycle. Although the women were not asked about food consumption habits, it was clear that much of it was either low sugar and fat. Proteins, carbohydrates,  and some fats are required for a balanced diet. Women have to have the right nutritional needs met to perform better. Women make the mistake sometimes of eating less to control weight. This is actually more harmful to the body and metabolic function in general. Food consumption must be adjusted to the amount of activity level a person does. The female soldier must get a quality diet to fuel the body for long term combat.As for exercise, women need consistent weight training to build the strength required to handle combat related occupations. Upper body strength training must be emphasized. This is the hardest section of the body for women to build. The lower body does not pose such a difficulty when women train. Another technique would be to see how female athletes train for high levels of competition. Apply similar methods could enable women to pass physical fitness testing. Increasing running speed would most likely be more difficult compared to building strength. Women’s pelvis, heart, and lung size effect running total running speed. These are anatomical factors that are not changed through running. However, there is the benefit of having lower body strength closer to men’s. Exercise must be done before joining the armed forces and be consistent after.

         The issue of sample size becomes a problem for physical fitness studies. There are not enough women to test to get a complete picture of what makes them successful in physically demanding tasks. More women need to compete MOS training to be a part of the study. Working with a small sample is not enough to make a general statement. What can be extrapolated is that there are a few women who are qualified, yet seeing as the ban was in place there may be more. Low numbers does not mean women are not capable or qualified. If there is equal opportunity employment and no discrimination, the numbers will increase. Gradually, since 2013 the numbers have been increasing seeing women working in combat positions. The sample size may never be adequate enough seeing as more men are in the US Military compared to women. The dilemma comes from the realization that the institution will never be completely gender balanced. The reason the gender gap in pay exists is partly  due to the type of employment women seek. Dangerous work or employment that involves technology or science women may not be interested in. The 250,000 positions opened may not see a drastic increase in the number of female combat soldiers.

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It makes no sense to ban women from combat jobs if they are qualified. This only hurts the military by reducing the number of qualified soldiers.
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Culture, discrimination, and employment choice influence women’s career path. Women entering combat positions will be a major adjustment for the US  Military.
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The argument women are not strong enough has been used before. It was common when women applied to be firefighters or involved in law enforcement. Obviously there are strong women, but they may not select jobs with a high amount of risk.

Few women rushed to apply for infantry positions. The Navy and the Air Force seem to have more progress in comparison to the Marines. The next phase of the study would probably have to wait at minimum a decade to get more women for the study. Holly McClung stated if more women graduate from military training courses, they will be added to the study. This depends on how many women apply to those positions and how many successfully complete their courses. The new standards are gender neutral meaning that there will not be a different set of physical fitness requirements based around sex. Recruits will have to adjust and prepare for physical fitness testing  revisions. This may delay subjects for the new study that was approved for McClung’s team.

       There will be at one point the question of the selective service and draft. It would be unfair that men have this responsibility, while women have a choice. An obstacle is the physical fitness of the US population. The majority of Americans may either have a weight related issue or are just not active enough physically. Most work present in the 21st century is not manual labor. Although such jobs still exist, these will overtime disappear due to automation and technology. Drafting women must take into account that they would need an initial stage of  physical fitness training before entering basic and then advancing to MOS. Women with an athletic background have a higher chance of passing compared to the average woman.

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There is a difference in physical fitness between the average woman and a woman who has trained for years.
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If women get the same training and  meet the same criteria as their male counterparts, combat integration will be successful.
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More women not just in the US are taking up arms in both in official armies   and insurgent group or paramilitary groups.

There either has to be a weight management program for draftees and weight training program to build their strength. What should be understood is that there are men who fail the physical fitness tests, but may be accepted anyway. Realistically, most Americans would not favor a draft or mandatory military service, The memories of the Vietnam War still haunt policy makers and military officials.  The United States has one of the best military forces in the world, mainly because it innovates and can acclimate to a rapidly changing environment. Women’s integration into combat positions will only strengthen the US Military. Former Secretary of Defense John Mattis claimed that it was too early to say that women in combat could be successful. Women when he made that statement were in combat jobs although in small numbers. When these numbers increase, then a full assessment can be made. Only then could women be drafted, when the test run phase of combat integration is complete.

        Holly McClung  and her team expressed a desire to compare results with men. Getting subjects for that would be more simple compared to women. Even without testing it can be predicted that overall men’s physical fitness capacity would be higher. Olympic performance records show that men and women at the highest levels of athleticism do not have the same range of strength and speed. There can be cases of overlap on rare occasion in performance.   Detractors erroneous state that this is justification enough to restrict women from combat jobs. The Navy, Army, Marines, and  Air Force have a different set of physical fitness standards. Examining them, one can realize that women could pass these, if approached in the correct manner. The Army  Physical Fitness Test  had not been changed since 1980. Certain exercises were phased out to reduce injury of recruits.

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The new Amy Physical Fitness Test has six events that must be completed in 50 minutes.
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There are women who are more than qualified. The US Military has to accept that women want to contribute.
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Warfare has become highly technological. The introduction of guns, artillery, aircraft, submarines, tanks, drones,  and nuclear weapons have changed the way wars are fought.

Sit-ups were removed mainly due to the fact it could have caused more back issues to recruits. Women are not doing the flexed arm hang anymore, because if trained the right way regular pull-ups are not an impossibility. Due to differences related to physiology and anatomy the numbers of women in the most physically demanding occupations would be less. The Navy SEALs and Marines could be the most challenging to increase the numbers of female combat soldiers. The Navy and Air Force could see more women in comparison. The Army will have to catch up to these other branches. Women’s test failures may be higher until they get adjusted to the new fitness standards. The US Military plans on accelerating its combat standards change. There have been objections. Some fear that the new standards will reduce the size of America’s fighting force. The changes will take some time to acclimate to, but is possible. More women needed to be studied for the most efficient way  to successfully make high performing combat soldiers.

 

The Military Studies “hyperfit” Women Who Pass Grueling Courses

Dr. Barbra Semukula- How Muscle Development Differs For Women (2015)

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How Muscle Development Differs For Women

Dr. Barbra Semukula answers questions about women and weight training. This was an interview conducted by the Baltimore Sun. Dr. Semukula is a sports medicine specialist with the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Clearly a professional with much expertise,but there are some minor problems with her answers. There are no such thing as “bulky muscles.” Muscle development can very from person to person. Just like like the term toned it has little scientific basis to exercise physiology.  Dr. Semukula is correct that women can experience health benefits from weight training, but do not experience the same level of muscular hypertrophy as males. She even advises that women can do some stretching to their workout routine.  The reason this interview is important is that a female medical professional is giving advice. Women are more likely to trust the sports performance advice from another woman.There seems to be a large amount of misinformation about the human body and health. Women’s bodies are either misunderstood or subject to medical myths. Here  Dr. Barbra Semukula provides basic explanations that do not require access to physiology or anatomy textbooks.

What’s different about men and women’s muscles ?   

At the cellular level there is not difference between muscle of the sexes. The physiology and response is the same. Strength training is dependent on intensity, progressive overload, and a proper diet. Due to endocrinology and body composition men have higher amounts of muscle mass. It is more than just have large amounts of mass muscle fiber type is essential. These muscle fibers include Type I fibers, Type IIa fibers and Type IIb fibers. Which type a person has can var regardless of sex, but on average men have more fast twitch muscle fibers. These are required for explosive physical power. Slow twitch fibers help women have more endurance in the muscles.  Dr. Barbra Semukula stated ”  strength gains are the result of muscle recruitment and muscle hypertrophy, and women have the same capacity for achieving strength gains as men.” That is not entirely correct. A woman and man on the same strength training regimen will see a different magnitude in relation to physical fitness capacity. Women can produce two thirds the amount of physical force  a man can. This is related to the physiology of the male and female reproductive system. The ovaries produce more estrogens and the testes produce more testosterone. Both sex hormones are in the bodies of males and females.

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However a woman who trains seriously can surpass an average male in strength. If muscle cells from man and a woman were put under a microscope it would be difficult to tell them apart. The men and women in the pictures above could have biopsies of their muscle tissue and it would be impossible to tell which sex it belongs to. One of the biggest factors in muscular hypertrophy is somatotype. While endocrinology effects body composition, body type can be determined by genetics and nutritional consumption. The  opening of the article explains ”  Women won’t likely develop bulky muscles when they work out like many men do, and most probably don’t want to, says Dr. Barbara Semakula, sports medicine specialist at Anne Arundel Medical Center. ” Women with mesomorphic body types and low levels of myostatin protein can experience significant muscular development. There  is no difference between “bulky muscles” or “toned muscles.” Everyone has muscle in their body the size of them depends on amount of exercise, fitness level, and individual health condition.

Do men and women exercise differently ? 

Dr. Barbra Semukula reveals that women normally try to say away from weight training for fear of getting muscular. The physiques of athletes are developed through years of training and specific diet. Some athletes may resort to performance enhancing drug use to attain a certain appearance. This does not create a champion athlete. There is still an unfair double standard when it comes to women and body image. People may start exercise for the wrong reasons. Improving appearance seems to be the large motivator, but this could easily lead to body dysmorphia. Exercise should be made to be enjoyable and a stress reduction activity. It should not be sex specific either. There remains the attitude that men have the weight room and women have the cardio area. If weight loss or increasing physical fitness levels is your objective it will not happen with cardio only. Weightlifting may be a better solution in terms of efficiency. Women from an early age are not encouraged to be physically active, which can later on be detrimental to their health.

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If women do begin to lift they remain with using lighter weights. While this may be exercising the muscles, it may not be as efficient in terms of time.  Using lighter weights would be better for higher muscular endurance, but it would not significantly increase strength. The idea is too increase the amount gradually to cause microtrauma to the muscle tissue. When the recovery process happens, the fibers will grow stronger. The only way for women to be successful is to have a training program that is designed for their physiology and body type. Muscles on women is not a horrible thing. It can actually have benefits. Exercises can be done by both men and women. Women should engage in upper body strengthening exercise to prevent shoulder related injuries.

              There seems to be conflicting evidence on stretching what does the evidence say ? 

This topic is much debated among exercise physiologists. Stretching too much could be doing more harm to the body prior to a competition. Dr. Barbra Semukula explains that there is very little research that proves that stretching is good before workouts or prior to a sporting event. She does cite that it does have a benefit for flexibility.  Dr. Barbra Semukula then reveals from patient studies that doing this daily can also increase muscle stretch. It can be debated whether or not it can dramatically improve performance. The only way to know this would be to conduct and experiment of athletes. They would need to be divided into two groups one set that does stretches and the ones that do not. Their performances would be measured and then analyzed to show if it truly is effective. It is even more confusing when attempting to determine  at what point should stretching be done. One myth that never goes away is that having a certain amount of muscle with make you less flexible.

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 Some have even have made the erroneous assumption that too much muscle will harm your range of motion. Adding muscle to the body will not make you less flexible. Joint structure, ligaments,tendons, age, and sex can determine how flexible you are. Women’s bone structure is different, which enables them  to be more flexible than men. If a large female bodybuilder can still do moves that require flexibility, this proves muscle mass does not have as a dramatic impact.

What muscles are important to stretch to avoid sports injury and are they different for women? 

Muscle cells are the same for men and women. Men and women have the same muscles. The difference is in total amount in relation to sexual dimorphism. This element of it is flexible among individuals regardless of sex. There are theories on why sexual dimorphism emerged. One was that it was important  for our early hominid ancestors to hunt. The other theory has to do  with sex selection and mating. Men grew bigger  to be fighters for mates because they were competing with one another. The more physically powerful males  would have access to more mates, there by making the trait of strength naturally selected. These are mere  theories,not facts but our bodies do provide evidence of  the past of human evolution. Stretching will not do much for injury prevention. It could be a temporary solution to stiffness,but there are more efficient methods of preventing injury.

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Dr. Semakula articulates : “The important muscles to stretch depend on the type of activity you will be performing.” She then delineates further “For example, basketball, football and volleyball players use both their arms and legs, so they should stretch the shoulder, especially the rotator cuff muscles, and the legs, especially the quads and hamstrings.”  For these intense activities, stretching would not do much. Women do have higher rates of upper body, shoulder, and ACL injuries. One solution is to focus on building  musculoskeletal mass in the upper body. Doing so strengthens not only bones, but ligaments and tendons. There are methods that also can prevent ACL injuries. Being consistent with training better  prepares the body for certain physical activities. Building more strength in the quadriceps and hamstrings. Having the proper landing technique for jumps would be more effective than stretching. When pivoting knees and hips should be bent to reduce the amount of stress on the ACL. Exercises such as chest presses, bicep curls. pull ups, bench presses, and push ups can strengthen the upper body. These methods would be better than just doing stretching.

Are there times when women should or  should’t stretch or should do the stretches like being pregnant or certain surgeries ?   

If stretching  is not as effective as other exercises,then it seems pointless in comparison. It can be useful in improving flexibility. Stretching is probably not a good idea during pregnancy or after surgery.   Moderate levels of exercise are good for anyone. Pregnant women are encouraged to get at least some level of physical activity. Intensity obviously will have to be adjusted so no harm will come to the developing fetus. There is one error that Dr. Semakula makes in her statement : ” As the pregnancy progresses and the uterus enlarges, the belly is getting bigger, and there can be a relative blocking of blood return to the heart resulting in decreased cardiac output and hypotension — which may be perceived as lightheadedness. ” The organ’s of a woman’s body do not get smaller, they shift to accommodate an expanding uterus and growing baby. The stomach does not get bigger rather it is shifted upwards. Shrinking of the organs would imply some form of atrophy.

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Some women may be susceptible more so to hypotension than others. That is why it is critical that one consults their primary care doctor before embarking on a new fitness program. If women joints also change during pregnancy yoga and stretching would not be advised. Some women experience joint pain from the increase in weight and hormonal changes.  Dr. Semakula forgets to mention fertility may be effected when women compete in sports that require them to have low body fat levels. Fat is needed in the female body for the purpose of ovulation . Bodybuilders do compete at lower body fat levels. The concern goes away during the off season when women’s fat levels go back up. Women recovering from surgery would need some kind of exercise. Being bed ridden causes muscle mass to decrease. As we age it continues to lower. Some weight training after surgery can rebuild lost musculoskeletal mass. Women can regain their physical edge after pregnancy. The myth is that pregnancy means the end of a woman’s athletic career, because changes in endocrine function effect physical fitness capacity. Athletes like Serena Williams and Allyson Felix  have returned to competition in just a short period after they have given birth.

Are There Differences in the way men and women recover from intense sports exercise ? 

At the time when this was written in 2015, there was little information o sex differences  in relation to recovery from training. It appears some studies conducted have shown that women actually may recover better after training sessions. Estrogen does help with protection of muscle from damage. This means that  women can recover faster after a training session. There is a tendency to believe that men have all the physical advantages,but exercise physiology is disproving this. Men may have more absolute muscular strength, but women have the advantage of muscular endurance.

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Depending on which sport a person is competing in endurance and strength could be more important than the other. A marathon runner would need endurance to run long distances over a certain period of time. A powerlifter  needs as much explosive strength to lift heavier weight. Training must be adjusted to match what performance target an athlete is attempting to achieve. Unknown to Dr. Semakula, there is a difference in exercise recovery and it appears to favor women.

Conclusions 

Muscular development does not differ entirely between the sexes. The divergence comes from the outcome in relation to total physical fitness capacity. Men have greater levels of muscular hypertrophy mainly due to endocrinology and a larger skeletal structure.  This is not the only factor alters the outcome of a training program. Genetics and somatotype determine some aspects of a person’s muscular strength potential. Weight training and exercise sessions that are consistent. Metabolism and diet are  also  factors that Dr.Barbra Semakula forgot to mention. Diet and nutrition are pivotal when attempting weight management. Seeing as body composition is different, losing weight and gaining muscle is harder for women. It can be done if activity level is high enough to burn calories. What type of food is consumed is also essential. High sugar and fat diets can result in weight issues and other health conditions. The consumption of enough protein and vegetables can ensure that muscular gain can occur. Women’s sports exercise physiology is still relatively new, so there is still more to learn. Dr. Barbra Semakula is one of a small group of women involved in sports medicine. Only when the numbers increase and their is serious scientific investigation can certain questions about women’s physical capabilities can be answered. Women can obviously build muscle and it may have a health benefit for their bodies.

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Sarcopenia

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Diseases such as osteoporosis and sarcopenia become threats to the health of the muscular system. Women are at a higher risk seeing as the have less muscle mass in their bodies. Weight training can strength bones and muscle as well as act as prevention against such medical conditions. Besides these benefits exercise can also be good for heart health and blood pressure. One does not have to train to the degree of a professional athlete to improve health. Women may still hold the fear of  “bulkiness” but this  does not exist. The women on a bodybuilding stage weigh less than the average man. It should be noted they may appear large on stage, but their off season weights are higher. Even then with more body fat  they are smaller in terms of weight to the average man. The women are tiny compared to their bodybuilding male counterparts. Men who compete can reach the 200 lbs range. Female bodybuilders are not “bulky” they have sculpted their physiques to a certain aesthetic. Myogenesis and muscular hypertrophy  functions in the same way in both sexes. At the most basic level it means a person can exercise, have a response to that stimuli, and through rest have muscle grow. Biological sex is not a limitation to athletic performance or achievement.

Dr. Barbra Semukula- How Muscle Development Differs For Women (2015)

How Viral Image of Breasts Exposes Science’s Obsession With the Male Body

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The correct visual representation of women’s breast ducts.

How a viral image of breasts exposes science’s obsession with the male body

Too often people in the digital age of media believe what ever is presented on a web page. A viral image of women’s breasts ducts and anatomy of the upper body generated some controversy. The problem was that it  demonstrated that  large portion of people do not have a basic understanding of anatomical structures . Women’s bodies especially either remain taboo or a mystery to some. The viral image was not even a correct representation of women’s ducts. The problem is that they were depicted like muscles,which they are not. It seems it also has generated more conversations about how biomedical science and anatomy treats the male body as a natural default. This is a serious problem when it is known that sex can determine health outcomes. However, there are some who desire to politicize anatomy and biology. Jill Filipovic gives a fourth wave feminist perspective,that may have a valid point but then goes off on a tangent. Her compliant can be summarized in her thesis that the male body is default and that women’s organ systems are not fully represented in medical textbooks and literature. She then states further that women’s skeletal,muscular, and nervous systems are not fully depicted in medical illustration.  The biological reality is that these organ systems have minor or little difference between the sexes. So in that regard, there would be not reason to say that lack of female diagrams is the problem. The real issue is that women’s health and anatomy is not taken seriously as a field of scientific study. More women need to be involved in the biomedical fields. While presenting male bodies as default is an issue the biggest problem is that people do not realize our bodies can be similar.  The public must become more knowledgeable about anatomy. Jill Filipovic like many have not gotten the quality science education that should be given to every person. Adding  more female medical illustrations to textbooks can help, but spreading correct information about women’s bodies is more important.

          The muscular and skeletal structure of men and women is not that radically different. Jill Fillopovic did not seem to realize this : “And yet it’s also clear that the default is a man.” Prior Fillopovic said without skin and a face its not obvious you are looking at man. The most incorrect statement is  “even without milk ducts, the scientific images of human bodies that we typically see have male builds and musculature.” Women’s bodies have the same muscles as men. When comparing muscle cells, there is not a sex based difference in histology. The assumption is that only men have muscular builds and that women do not. Women can vary in terms of somatotype meaning they can be endomorphic, mesomorphic, or ectomorphic. Even with this difference between body types women carry a higher body fat percentage. The only difference in male builds is broader shoulders, denser bones,  and a higher percentage of muscle mass.  Other than that women can have varying levels of musculature depending on genetics,fitness level, and somatotype.

Women can have muscle and develop it through training. Displayed here is an example of a diagram of the female muscular structure. All the parts are the same as the male muscular system. 

There is the false notion that women do not have muscles. Medical illustration may feature the male body for the muscular system mainly because it is based on the idea that men are physically superior to women. The image of strong powerful man and weak woman has distorted people’s views of biology. Muscles and constitute nearly half of a person’s body mass. The study of the muscular system is known as myology. This field has become useful in terms of healthcare and fitness. Rehabilitation programs have been developed from such studies. There are three major muscle types that include visceral, cardiac, and skeletal muscle. The muscular system refers to skeletal muscles specifically. There are about a total of 600 muscles that make up the organ system. Muscles are responsible for movement,stability, control of orifices, and heat production. The production of heat may come as a surprise, seeing as fat is a better insulator. Yet, muscle has the ability to generate 85% of the body’s heat. The musculoskeletal system is different from just the muscular system. This organ system incorporates both the skeletal and muscle structure as well as ligaments with tendons. The term is designed to describe how both organ systems collaborate.

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The differences in the female skeleton include a wider pelvis, smaller cranium,  and narrower shoulders.
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Complex movements require multiple organ system during especially during physical activity.
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The knowledge gain from anatomy, physiology, and biomedical science has allowed people to manipulate their bodies.

The skeleton has a total of 206 bones all of which women have. However, a difference in bone density does have a sex specific health outcome. If women have less bone density this makes them more susceptible to osteoporosis or sarcopenia. Muscle and bone mass gradually declines with age. Women who have less musculoskeletal mass to begin with probably would need more load bearing exercises as a means of prevention. The fascinating part about the skeleton is that people have more bones in youth. At birth a baby can have a total of 270 bones. As a child ages the number decreases because the bone fuse into larger ones. When a  person reaches late adolescence to mid-20s  the number will be reduced to 206. Bones can  be classified into three types which include cortical, compact, and trabecular bones. Cortical bones have to support weight. Compact bones are stacked to be durable like the cranium. Trabecular bones use combination of both structures. Knowing that these organ systems are the same  for  both sexes makes  Filipovic’s argument for separate diagrams seem unnecessary.

            The nervous system does not differ immensely among men and women either. The brain consists of cells known as neurons,which  do not show signs of sex difference in structure.  There are slight differences in brain anatomy ,but this irrelevant considering everyone’s brain is different. MRIs and CAT scans reveal that the brains of individuals can vary regardless of biological sex .  Men do have larger brains,but this is due to difference in body size. Brain size is not an indication of intelligence. There could be indications that men and women’s hippocampus  regions differ. The amyglada also differs in size between the sexes. Men have more gray matter and women contain more white matter. Gray matter is the outer layer of the cerebral cortex,which contains 50 billion neurons. White matter is located in the interior having networks of  axons and lead down to the cell bodies of the cortex.  Neuroanatomy  and neuroscience also tell us that there may be sex specific reactions to mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases. Women could be more prone to anxiety and depression due to hormonal changes. However, men do not fair better with higher suicide rates. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease also become a concern for  both men and women. Women could be at greater risk seeing as they live longer.

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The nervous system  as seen through a medical illustration. There should be no issue which model you use when discussing this organ system,because sexual dimorphism is not as vast in it.
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Simple and complex movements require use of the skeletal,muscular, and nervous system.
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The structures of the brain are the same for both sexes.

This is why Beyonce’s comment about saying “I never seen a chart of a woman’s muscular system ” seems ridiculous . If we applied such reason to the brain and the wider nervous system this would be neurosexism. Therefore making diagrams displaying women’s nervous systems would  defeat the point. Anyone should know that when looking at a medical illustration of the nervous system, the default would not be man as Filipovic suggests. The nervous system is composed of three separate units. The central nervous system contains both the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the network of nerves in the body. The automatic nervous system is responsible for voluntary actions such as heartbeat, breathing, and  digestive processes. Assuming that every diagram or medical illustration follows the male as default  would be erroneous. The biggest problem is ignorance and lack of education about the human body.

        The milk duct three dimensional render  is not accurate. The comedic aspect is the reaction that came from social media. Saying blaming male as default cannot be applied in this situation. Ignorance and a weak education in regards to biology as well as health science can be the culprit. The problem is people may not have enough understanding about their anatomy and physiology to maintain good health. Limited information related to women’s bodies make them seem like something strange or abnormal. Combined with the taboos about the exposure or discussion about women’s bodies only endangers their health and psychological well being. The female body is normal and  natural. Milk ducts are not to be feared.

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A correct anatomical  illustration shows that the mammary ducts are not similar to a flower shape.
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The image that went viral. If a dissection were to be made of a female cadaver, this is not what it would look like.
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Contrary to popular fitness myth,lifting does not increase breast size.

The graphic showed the milk ducts of women’s breast as being similar to flowers in shape. Obviously, women’s mammary glands are not shaped like that. Giving the image the description  of flower shaped is problematic,because rarely are petals arranged in such a perfect circle. The ducts are incorrectly depicted as some form of skeletal muscle. Women do not contain skeletal muscle in their breasts. The breasts themselves are mostly fat tissue. Epithelial cells constitute the lobules and ducts in women’s breasts. The only muscles known as areola  are the dark areas around the nipple. This muscle must remain firm when a infant is getting milk from their mother.  The argument of male musculature being depicted too much can be challenged even with the upper body. Women also contain pectoralis minor and major muscles. It cannot be argued that anatomy and physiology are part of a giant patriarchal conspiracy. There is a tendency for third wave feminist to reject scientific facts or attempt to infuse it with their ideology. It cannot be ignored their still remains misogyny and sexism in scientific institutions. The male as default concept came about from historical circumstances and the fact that women were not as involved in the medical fields as they are today. Before condemning anatomy and the biomedical fields it should be remembered that women were scientific pioneers as well.

          Anatomy has a history going back  3000 years ago. Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilization  were using herbs, faith healing, and early forms of physical therapy to help patients with a number of ailments. Hippocrates (460- 375 B.C.E)  was the Greek physician to state that disease was not the cause of supernatural forces, rather natural causes. Aristotle ( 384 – 322 B.C.E )  made contributions to anatomy by proposing the idea complex structures were made out of smaller units of the human body. Claudius Galen (130-200 C.E.)  became the most influential physician with his works being taught in Europe for 1,500 years. The problem with his works is that he dissected animals , rather than human cadavers. When Christianity dominated Europe science was suppressed and it was not until the 16th century till a new age of freedom was established. During the Middle Ages religious dogma restricted scientific advancement and free thought. Islamic civilization did not have the same restrictions on scientific curiosity. There was also Jewish contribution to anatomy by Moses ben Maimon ( 1135-1204). Ibn Sina ( 980- 1037) wrote The Cannon of Medicine, which became a leading authority. Italy would later become a major center in the study of anatomy when the Catholic Church relaxed its policies on cadaver dissection.  The major turning point was with Andreas Vesalius’ ( 1514-1564)  De Humani Corpis Fabrica .This ushered in a rich history of detailed medical illustration still present today. While it was mostly men who pioneered anatomy women made significant contributions. Alessandra Giliani  was an anatomist in the 14th century who carried out her own dissections. Most of her work has not been preserved. It was alleged that she was involved in the exploration of the circulatory system. A technique she used was to drain the cadaver of blood replacing it with colored dye. Alessandra Giliani  may have been the first female anatomist in Europe. Anna Morandi Manzolini during her time gained more notoriety.  Not only was she trained in the sciences, her skills as a sculptor were astounding. Using both her skills in anatomical science and art is solved a problem. Bodies used for dissection fell victim to decomposition,but with wax models students and academics had a three dimensional representation. An illustration can only go so far. Seeing  the organs and their systems provides more information than  what an illustration can provide.

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Alessandra Giliani (1307- 1326) 
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Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714- 1774) 
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Laura Bassi (1711-1778) 
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Jane C. Wright  (1919-2013 ) 

Manzolini became a professor of anatomy and taught at the University of Bologna. Her collection of wax models became a valuable teaching aid as well as an important source of biological knowledge.  Her studies focused on the male reproductive system and the the nature of the oblique eye muscle. Over the course of the 18th century she amassed a huge collection of models she constructed. Her works were known as the Supellex Manzoliniana . Manzolini was not the only female anatomist in Europe at the time. Laura Bassi was not only active in biology and anatomy she was responsible for bringing Newtonian physics to Italy. During the 1760s she conducted experiments with electricity for medical purposes. The 20th century saw more women in medical fields. Jane C. Wright  was a pioneer in cancer research and chemotherapy. Using human tissue culture was a way to see the true attributes of how cancer grows and spreads. This many it easier to produce effective drugs. Jane C. wright also was a harbinger in the use of methotrexate as a medication to fight both skin and breast cancer. Many women have been written out of scientific history. What  Jill Filipovic  does not realize is that science does not have an obsession with the male body. The real problem is the ignorance about biology, anatomy, and  the history of medicine.

          The reason that the male as default in anatomy came about could have been to the ratio of male and female cadavers available for dissection. More male  bodies were used in the past,which may have caused a distorted view. Few women were involved in the biomedical sciences, which meant that fewer people were studying female anatomy. The comical statement of  Filipovic is ”  It may seem like a stretch to say that we haven’t seen milk ducts for the same reason we haven’t had a female president. ” Certainly, any rational person  can see that is a stretch. The fact female biology and anatomy is not given attention is more of neglect, rather than vicious sexism. Not voting for someone based on their sex  is an example of  prejudice. The wider symptom is that there needs to be more women in the sciences with a concentration in women’s health. More female based medical illustrations will not solve problems that involve institutional sexism. Distorted thinking such as men being considered normal and women biological anomalies can be challenged with more education. Public schools must add more biology, anatomy, and health sciences courses to counter myths.  The irony is that Jill Filipovic falls victim to her own limited understanding of the human body. Third wave feminists were fast to declare patriarchy surrounding the image and responses to it without realizing the image was an inaccurate representation. The fact that one think about man as default when looking at the image only demonstrates, how the public has a poor understanding of sexual dimorphism. It can be flexible relative to certain attributes,yet men and women are the same species. Women’s bodies are not unusual or bizarre they are products of millions of years of evolution.

How Viral Image of Breasts Exposes Science’s Obsession With the Male Body