Can Women Meet the Physical Demands of the Navy SEALs?

When the ban on women in combat was lifted, many were asking if this was to include elite special forces. Eventually, the ban was lifted on the Navy SEALs. This fighting force of the United States military is known for its tough demeanor and aggressiveness. The training is considered extremely difficult both physically and mentally. When it comes to women in physically demanding occupations, there are physiological and biological considerations. The standards cannot be lowered, for this would cause reduced combat effectiveness.Navy SEALS must be proficient in scuba diving, parachuting, close quarters combat, and demolition. The question remains does a woman have the  strength and endurance to meet the physical demands of the Navy SEALs?To answer this question one must look at the problem from the context of the standards and peak physical fitness. That approach will reveal if this can be possible.

        Before examining the physical demands, one should understand exactly what the Navy SEALS are. The US Navy Sea Land and Air teams are a special operations force created in 1962.  The special operations force was created under the John F. Kennedy administration. Its intent was to combat guerrilla warfare being used in Vietnam. Although US troops were not there yet, there were military advisers in South Vietnam. The Navy SEALS saw combat in 1966 in Vietnam mostly focusing on riverine operations. The Navy SEALS were then attached to other American special forces under US Special Operations Command in 1987. The changing nature of warfare has made Navy SEAL roles indistinguishable from other special forces. The ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed to this shift. The land and air element was more prevalent in these conflicts, rather than water based operations. There were also cases in which the conventional US army was called in to support the Navy SEALS during the 2003 Iraq invasion. The tasks assigned to Navy SEALS involve finding downed pilots, reconnaissance, sabotage, hostage extraction, counter-terrorism operations and counter-drug operations. The Navy SEALS have more rigorous responsibilities compared to other branches.

             The Navy SEALs physical fitness test contains certain measures that a candidate must meet to get selected for combat. There are minimum standards, but it is recommended an applicant strive for the highest scores. This involves a 500 yard swim, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. All recruits go through basic training and from there select a military occupational specialty (MOS).

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500 yard swim – minimum score :12:30 minutes  maximum score : 8 minutes
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Pull-ups- minimum score :10 maximum score: 15-20
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Push ups- minimum score :50 maximum score: 80-100
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Sit-ups- minimum score : 50 maximum score : 80-100
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1.5 mile run – minimum score: 10:30 minutes maximum score : 9-10 minutes

These are examples of the physical screening tests. The target should to get the highest scores to increase the likelihood of successful completion. Competitive scores give an applicant a better  chance also of being noticed for career advancement. There is also an EOD physical and  a fleet diver physical. Some of the exercises are timed. Sit-ups must be done in two minutes ( with two minute rests in between)  in the EOD physical. Looking at these standards, there may be some areas women would have challenges with. If there is a woman applicant who wants to join there are considerations that must be taken into account. Women should seek to go above the minimum standards.

      There are anatomical differences that could make this more difficult for women. The difference in muscular strength and specifically for the upper body could pose problems. Women have less upper body strength compared   to there male counterparts. The difference in strength is in part due to men’s higher testosterone levels allowing for more pronounced mass in the arms and chest. Estimates show that women have 50% less upper body strength in total. It should be noted that with training women still can gain strength. There is also a genetic factor with some women having a mesomorphic body type, which can be an advantage. However, if a woman and a man are given the same training regimen it is likely the man will be stronger. Women still experience muscular hypertrophy, but not to the same extent as a man. Muscle is not the only contributor to physical strength, it is the skeleton and tendons. Women have lower bone density. Their shoulders are more narrow which means a smaller area to house muscle mass on the upper body. This means even upper body development is hard for female athletes.

  The cells of men and women’s muscles do not differ. There is a difference in the amount of type II fast twitch muscle fibers. These are essential for explosive physical force and recruitment. Men have more of these muscle fibers, while women contain more of the endurance based type I muscle fibers.The approach here should be to know the standards before hand and have a high physical fitness level before entry. The only way for women to be successful is to do weight training. This can build bone and muscular strength. Gains however depend on several factors. These factors include age, sex, diet, body type, and fitness program utilized. Women can through weight training can gain at least 40% muscular strength according to the American Council on Exercise. If women have lower upper body strength, they should focus on exercises that increase the muscles of that area. Bicep curls, dumbbell kickbacks,and overhead  triceps extensions are effective at increasing upper body strength. There can be an alternation between weights and machines, because it has not been fully determined which is the most effective. Deltoid  strength is critical to shoulder enforcement. Peck deck machines and help with targeting the muscles of the chest.

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An official chart of standards

 The skeleton strength is also essential. Lower bone mass means women would be more susceptible to muscolskeletal injuries. This has been the case with women in other branches in the military. Injury rates are higher for women compared to men. Soldiers of all sexes are suffering higher injury rates due to heavier armor. Stress fractures can happen while marching under load.Not only does overloaded armor cause health problems, but it decreases mobility. Lower bone mass in women explains why they are more vulnerable to diseases such as osteoporosis. Bone mass can be built and strengthened through weight training. The difference in the male and female skeleton also effects other areas of physical fitness. The shape of the pelvis and angle of the legs mean women’s running speed will be effected. This also makes the possibility of anterior cruciate  ligament tears higher. ACL tears are prevalent in high performing female athletes. Training safely and understanding the musculoskeletal differences can prevent such injuries.

   Women’s skeletons have an increased  Q angle  along with greater spinal curvature. The frontal and temporal bones are smaller in size. Women also have shorter long bones which include the arms and legs as well as the clavicle. The strength factor includes the skeleton, muscular system,tendons, and ligaments. While it is clear that the physical fitness level of these organ systems can be increased, strengthening tendons could be more difficult.

      Men and women may differ in response to loading on tendons. Women can sustain higher connective tissue injuries. This could have roots in estradiol, which does hinder collagen formation. Oestrogen receptor activity is regulated by estradiol. Exercise for a period time should induced tendons to strengthen. Women when they exercise may not see increased hypertrophy in terms of tendon growth. Connective tissue formation could be lower in women on average. Oestrogen could be an inhibitor to collagen synthesis in tendons during exercise. This would mean that total mechanical strength would be lower. This could mean that tendon strength is also related to hormones. Knowing this sex specific difference a solution can be formulated.

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The differences in tendon hypertrophy :The adaptability of tendon to loading differs in men and women

 There are still exercises that are effective and if done correctly can strengthen tendons. Exercise must be done to increase circulation of blood. This also requires some stretching for the health of the tendon. Aerobic exercise should also be incorporated to allow for more circulation of blood. The tendons are not as vascular as the muscles, which can lead to injury during intense exercise regimens. Working all muscle groups ensures tendons will be safe. A small warm-up before stretching will help the muscles and tendons. This also contributes to flexibility . Ten minutes of running in place or using a treadmill will help with preparing for stretching. After work out regimens, there should be time for recovery. Tendons can still grow in women if they follow a consistent regimen.

         Aerobic capacity also should be taken into consideration. Women have smaller hearts and lungs compared to their male counterparts. This means their total running speed would be slower. Besides that physiological consideration, there is an anatomical one. The pelvis is much wider, which reduces speed. This essential if one needs to be in a certain area at a particular time. There could arise a situation that battlefield victory is not in reach and retreat is the only option. When considering hemoglobin concentration, it is critical the transport of oxygen to tissues. Hemoglobin is a protein that resides in red blood cells responsible for getting oxygen to the lungs, then the muscles. Women have 10% lower hemoglobin levels This results in about 10% less lower oxygen transport. The heart’s size also plays a role in cardiovascular fitness. The ratio of heart volume to body mass ratio  in women is 15 % lower. This means maximum cardiac out put and maximal stroke volume are lower in comparison to men. The maximal stroke volume describes the largest volume of blood pumped per beat, while cardiac output reveals the total amount of blood pumped from the heart per minute.

 That means a woman who is a Navy SEAL would have to push beyond their regular physical capacity. The aerobic fitness element may be the more challenging than building muscular strength. Women can experience muscular hypertrophy, but cardiovascular fitness training with not later the size of the heart or hemoglobin levels of women. This means women would have to do overload to the cardiovascular system to see results improve. Jogging, swimming, and cycling are activities that can be done in relation to circuit training.

        Considering this group of elite soldiers involves the Navy, swimming abilities should be examined. It is obvious that women have the ability to swim. Women do seem to perform well in open water swimming. Marathon swims show that women are capable of skilled performance. However, men still are faster in terms of times. Yet, if you look at the women’s records they could easily meet the demands of the swimming standards of the Navy SEALs. Women could have an advantage in distance swimming due to higher fat levels. This may enhance buoyancy and drag in the water. Fat could also insulate a woman’s body better during ultra-long distance swims. Women during swims may be more efficient at the crawl stroke. Their pull was deeper an narrower in comparison with their male counterparts. Arm power was beneficial to males, but longer arm length was not as helpful.

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Looking at these averages women are still behind. The margins are not so astronomically large as one would assume given the biological differences.

Women have shown they can be capable swimmers. Alison Streeter had swam the English Channel 43 times in 2005. Clearly, being female does not limit physical capability. The challenge is it will be harder to reach a higher peak physical fitness level, given certain differences in physiology. There are women swimmers who would be over qualified for certain naval positions.

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These pieces of data only demonstrate averages. Individuals can vary in terms of physical fitness level across the spectrum. Taking into account muscular strength, aerobic capacity, and swimming ability are essential in relation to standards. The criteria should not be lowered. There are women who can meet the physical demands. Lower standards means the quality of the fighting force would be reduced. This would create hostility towards women thinking that the job was just given to them. The women who do make it through will still face physically demanding challenges.

         When a person is in a physically demanding position, overtime there will be physical strain. This comes in the the form of repetitive motion injuries and stress fractures. One argument of keeping women out of combat has been the potential medical costs. Men have injuries being combat soldiers and the effects on women could be higher in special operations. Muscle and bone mass can protect from such problems. This means women who are built are going to have an easier time handling physical demands. The question emerges is what is the attrition rate for a female combat soldier? The attrition rate describes a point in which a soldier can no longer endure the physically demanding tasks. There has not been a specific study in regards to women so the answer is unknown. Although people make conclusions without data as support.

Jessie Jane Duff made a conclusion on CNN in 2015. She appeared on Brooke Baldwin’s program discussing the decision to lift the ban on women being Navy SEALs. Duff is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and senior fellow for the London Center of Policy Research. While she does state facts about physiological differences, its clear what her position is. She uses the fact that not a single woman has passed the infantry officer course and asks a somewhat rhetorical question of “are we setting them up for failure?” Just because a woman has not passed the infantry officer course yet, does not mean it will not happen in the future. If the standards are lucid and women know how to train their bodies for it, this  should not be an issue. Baldwin’s rebuttal is that not all women are the same. Some will just be naturally stronger than others. Watching the news segment longer one can see that it may not be women’s fault. US soldiers are being overloaded with gear so much that it is causing an increase in musculoskeletal injuries. This does not only harm health, but reduces mobility on the battlefield. So far, there has been improvements to women’s armor and the process is still on going. Her closing statement was “it is not about equality its about biology.” Women have been thrown into combat seeing as there is no longer frontlines  in the wars America currently fights.

Women of a high physical fitness level would have slower attrition rates. Women less prepared for physical demands would have more health issues. 

The Army Ranger school cadets demonstrated there do exist women who can meet certain standards. The unusual aspect of this news segment was that Duff only sighted cases in  the marines and regular army. These branches are not the same as the Navy SEALs. The problem is these are based off of averages. The point is not to get average candidates, but women who are qualified for these positions. This means women who can get competitive scores on the physical fitness examination. The fact of the matter banning women from combat jobs has limited justification if there are women who meet such standards. Jessie Duff makes it seem as if every man is qualified for combat positions. What sense would it make to ban a qualified woman in favor of a less qualified man? The only logical reason is sex discrimination and dated attitudes in regards to gender. The right-wing has a poor record on women’s rights and is known to divide the population against one another on the basis of class and race to win elections. Women in combat will soon become a long standing wedge issue like abortion, gun control, and the tax code. Intense opposition mobilizes the Republican base, even though the party tries to present itself as pro-military. Not afraid of being hypocritical, it shows such low character directing hatred at women who volunteer to do such work. If integration is to work women will have to have a sizable fitness level before entry.

This should be done even before basic training to prevent possible injuries. One should be mindful that men who attempt Navy SEALs training have a high drop out rate. There is talk of “hells week” in which the training becomes the most intense. This is vary dangerous at times if training is not done properly. James Derreck Lovelace died during training and this has been now ruled a homicide reported by CNN. There is not only physical stress; there is also mental strain as well. There is little emphasis on mental health in the military. This must be made a priority with suicide rates and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder increasing. This is why the Department of Veterans Affairs has to be reformed to fix long doctor wait times and a general decline in healthcare for US soldiers. Attrition rates can be reduced by more ergonomic armor, mental health services, and keeping a high physical fitness level.

      The Navy SEALs are an elite fighting force. Many men have tried and the drop out rate is high. Women have the opportunity to become Navy SEALs, but none have attempted the program thus so far. There are women who can meet these demands. The numbers would be small. An Olympic woman athlete is not the average woman. They would seem to have a better chance of passing the physical fitness requirements. This means women would still be a minority in special operations units. A female trainee would have to face unpleasant realities of media publicity, hostility from her male peers, and expectations of failure. There seems to be more negativity generating in the US military against women as new positions open to them. The first harbingers will certainly face challenging obstacles both in environment and instruction. Women becoming Navy SEALs seems to be more difficult. It will take longer for women to have a presence in the  Navy SEALs. This does not seem like an impossibility that a woman can successful join one day. Currently it seems women are gaining more access to combat jobs in the army, air force, and  general navy. The reality is women are now part of combat and it is time to efficiently integrate them into combat occupations. For the women who successfully become Navy SEALs, they are an elite and capable group of soldiers.

References

Spencer, Sharon. Weapon a Visual History of Arms and Armor. New York: Covent Garden

     Books, 2006.

Guthrie, Sharon and Costa Margaret. Women and Sport Interdisciplinary Perspectives .

        Champaign: Human Kinetics, 1994.

Mcdonagh, Eileen and Pappano Laura.  Playing With the Boys Why Separate Is Not 

      Equal in Sports. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Steele, Jeanette. “Navy SEALs: Can Women Cut It?” Sandiegouniontribune.com. San Diego Union Tribune, 22 June 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/sdut-navy-seals-women-physical-standards-2013jun22-htmlstory.html&gt;.

Frumentarius. “10 Realities the First Female Navy SEAL Trainee Will Face.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 08 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. <http://www.businessinsider.com/10-realities-the-first-female-navy-seal-trainee-will-face-2016-2&gt;.

Can Women Meet the Physical Demands of the Navy SEALs?

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

This blog post from Big Bad Uber Mother Hen gives the reasons why women in their view are not suited for combat. It was originally published in 2013 when the Pentagon announced that women were no longer banned from military occupational specialties. Women have been in combat before this announcement, because the nature of warfare is changing. The frontline has disappeared and conventional warfare may no longer be the standard. Women have fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq with little recognition. While it is clear physiology and sexual dimorphism can be a factor in combat performance, the argument to maintain the ban or exclude women completely lacks a forceful basis. The author seem to want to prevent women from at least even trying. The ironic part about this is that this post was written by a woman.  She state “while there are undoubtedly some women who are quite capable of performing combat duty, men are better suited to combat duty.” Then goes on to say  “It’s not a matter of discrimination, it’s a matter physiology.” There are been numerous cases through out history that women have served in combat roles across the globe. Being female does not make you a less effective soldier. Training and strategy are essential in producing a functioning military.

           The evidence she provides is accurate in terms of physiological capability. The problem is she uses it to distort information in favor of her position. The muscular strength difference is apparent even in equally trained men and women. The approximations given by physiology academic papers show women were 52 % as strong in the upper body and 66% as strong in the lower body. The difference in skeletal mass is also greater in men. Men can have up to 33 kg, while women have 21 kg in absolute terms. When the weight is the same or relative it can be estimated 38.4% (men) and 30.6% (women). Endocrinology is a factor, because testosterone allows for more protein synthesis. Type II muscles fibers are larger in men, which are responsible for more explosive power. The author fails to recognize that women can gain strength through a weight training regimen. The amount of strength a woman can gain through weight training depends age, fitness level, diet, and specific exercise program.

Mesomorphic body types will have an easier time doing tasks that require strength. Ectomorphs may not be able to build large muscles. They can still build strength through weight lifting. Women and men’s muscles at the cellular level are identical. This means they still respond similarly to microtrauma induced by weight lifting. The training must be consistent to be effective. The rate of gain documents the total muscle mass accumulated from exercise. The American Council on Exercise has reported a woman can gain 40% muscular strength after months of weight training. It is possible for a person to accumulate a half pound of muscle per week. Diet is critical as well from gaining strength. Protein, unsaturated fats, whole grains, and fresh produce contribute to muscular hypertrophy. Sugars, processed foods, trans-fat, and saturated fats will cause the increase in fat. Women seeing as they produce more estrogen, need to pay extra attention to diet. Training must be conducted in a specific manner. Women must lift heavy enough to cause fatigue. This has to be done in 8 to 12 repetitions. Lighter weights will only improve muscular endurance, rather than muscular strength.

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Adding new exercises and gradually increasing the weight will help in improving strength. Increasing the weight every 4 to 6 weeks will help stimulate the muscle and allow for greater hypertrophy. If women are seeking to get into a military occupational specialty, they should look at the physical standards and design an exercise regimen specific to the job. Even before basic training women should exercise prior to entry. The author presents an the frailty myth in a new way, attempting to be objective. It has been discovered that women’s involvement in resistance training  allows for significant gain in strength. Proportionally, their muscular strength gains are greater. Men are still stronger, but comparatively further muscle strength gains are lower. The reason for this may be that women have lower strength levels initially, which makes the data seem immense. Then again, it could be genetic uniqueness specific to certain women.

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The influence of periodized resistance training on strength changes in men and women.

Having the right training and exercise plan can reduce physiological barriers. The author wants to make a convincing argument but never mentions other elements of physiology.

        aerobic capacity she failed to mention. Oxygen consumption helps tissues during work. This also is essential in running. There are physical standards in which women have to run at a certain distance and time, which could be a bigger challenge. Women have smaller hearts and lungs than their male counterparts. The heart allows for the transport of blood and oxygen to transported to muscles of the body. This means their aerobic power is lower. It is established that women have legs muscles that are closer to men in strength. The assumption would be that they could run just as fast. The structure of the pelvis makes women’s running speeds slower as well. The heart is a muscle and through aerobic training it can increase in size. Males see greater increase in heart size through aerobic training. This also has a risk of cardiac arrhythmia with increase in heart size. This seems to be a physiological difference that may no be overcome as easy as strength gain. One method is to tailor training specific for women. Knowing these differences can help design such programs. Lactate threshold training allows a runner to store enough energy to run at a maximal pace. Interval training with a lactate threshold pace 10 to 15 seconds per mile can improve performance.

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A woman does not have to be Elaine Thompson to meet the running requirements. Training like her could benefit women planning to enter military service. She was not born a runner, she had to work her way to gain Olympic accomplishment. Part of the problem is that exercise physiology mostly has focused on the male body. Women’s bodies through out medical history were either considered too taboo to examine or were not worthy of investigation. This has only changed in the last decades.

           Physical strength has been used as a justification to keep women out of combat occupations. These similar arguments were used by fire fighting departments, police, and construction. The common argument is that a woman does not have the strength to lift a grown man. There are women who can perform a fire man’s carry and it can be easily learned. The issue also is combat armor and gear. This has caused a high number of musculoskeletal injuries.

Detractors use this as evidence of  why women should be banned from certain MOS. Women have higher injury rates, because they have less natural strength. Men’s injury rates are higher now due to the fact the gear weighs more. This by all ergonomic standards is not healthy and is causing osteoarthritis in many soldiers. Armor has to be reduced in weight so it does not effect mobility or bone health. Women must pay extra attention to their joints considering they are looser in comparison to their male counterparts.

ACL tears should be prevented through training. One solution to this issue is that women must train also to gain as much upper body strength. There is a limit. Men have broader shoulders allowing for more muscles to placed there. That means more muscle tissue for recruitment. The disparity can even be seen in men and women of similar size. Women will have to work harder to achieve certain results. Women must acquire enough strength so that they can perform casualty drags, while not fatiguing quickly.

 The added weight of gear and the combination of poorly fitting armor are a problem for the US military. The production of armor that fits the female frame better has been going on since 2011. Armor that actually fits will prevent injury and reduce weight burden. If weight load is too much the result will be a stress fracture. The good news is that progress has been made now that women are entering combat jobs. The vests needed a redesign especially. The upper body section was so wide in the Kelvar vests women when they sat down it could rise up ti their chin. A colloquial term known as turtling  was developed by female soldiers to describe the phenomenon. The torso length had to be adjusted as well. The update means the shoulders are narrow on the armor and the torso fixed. This redesign has gotten praise from women in the military. Armor that fits has allowed them to run faster and do it efficiently through obstacle courses. This will reduce injury rates. This distribution of armor will take time. As more women enter the military, the rate of production will have to drastically increase.

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A notch will be added to accommodate the bun and pony tail women wear, while securing the helmet. Hip injuries from armor will end due to two inches being removed from the waist line. The waistline was also an issue. Women’s waistlines are not as large as men’s. The waistline in this version of armor has fewer plates. They will weigh about 25 lbs each. They are lighter than previous versions and that will take strain off the body. It will fit tighter in the structure of the darting.  It will be built into several sections of the vest. These improvements are welcome and should be lauded. Technology is helping soldiers in new ways. This is only in an experimental phase, but is possible that wearable technologies would solve the overload in terms of military gear. The Natick Soldier Development and Engineering Center are continuing to explore various technologies. What sounds like something out of science fiction will become a reality. This is known as soldier-borne  energy harvesting technologies.  The Bionic Power’s Knee Harvester collects kinetic energy. It makes of the loss from walking. That is not the only capability, but it can recharge electronic devices. It will help with communications equipment, sensors,  and battlefield situational displays. This technology was first shown to US government officials on Fort Devens, Massachusetts in April of 2014. Marching under load can be less of a strain for the average soldier. This becomes more of a problem for women. The gear that that they carry is close to their body weight. Hip and leg fractures are common in the Marine corps  experiments in 2015. Marine corps jobs include armor, artillery, and infantry. Soldiers are expected to carry up to a 100 lbs or more.

  Women who are smaller may be at a disadvantage. However, some solutions involve shifting the weight of the pack off the hips and closer to the shoulders. This means the upper body would need significant conditioning. Doing so would reduce injury rates. Women who are used to intense exercise or have athletic backgrounds would probably perform better than the average woman. The numbers will most likely be lower, but that does not mean there are few women out there would could be capable combat soldiers.

         It should be noted there is a level of biomechanic skill in lifting a person. The fire man’s carry does not require mass amounts of strength. The there are other methods, which would be less comfortable for the person injured. There are cases in which a soldier could be so badly injured ( neck or spinal cord damage) moving them would do more harm than good. Sliding a person on to the shoulder takes minimal effort. The over the shoulder method puts more pressure on the rib cage of the person injured. Depending on the nature of the wound it could cause an exacerbation of condition.

Using one shoulder, just puts more strain on that shoulder and the neck. Distributing the weight is the only way to prevent injury. That is why the fireman’s carry is preferred. It places weight on both shoulders.  This way one arm is not doing all the work. Narrow shoulders means it will less space to house weight when a woman is performing a casualty drag.

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The ability to lift someone in a particular situation depends on certain factors. The weight and height of a person should be considered. A larger person will not struggle carrying a smaller person. A short person carrying a tall person could pose problems of its own. The legs and arms of the tall person could end up being dragged stifling movement. Weight needs to be considered to. If the person is so large and outweighs the person who is lifting it make beyond their physical ability. The Marines are concerned about weight. The US has a physical fitness issues with obesity and weight problems at record levels. Most Americans would probably require a weight management program before basic training. The body fat percentages are being adjusted so that women can have higher weight. When women stated doing weight training it caused them to gain more lean body mass, but disqualified them because they fell out of the acceptable weight range for women . These weight ranges are dated. People are much larger now, women included. They should not penalized for gaining extra muscle that will help them doing physical task.

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Cindy Phillips ( from Canada, which allows women in combat positions) would be cut even though she appears to be physically capable. Her weight would be considered too high for her height read here : Marines Permit Women to Bulk Up.

This has to be practiced several times, so it is almost ingrained into muscle memory. Women would therefore need to have enough strength so that they do not utilize reserve strength in their bodies.  Maximum strength is the total force the body can generate from the recruitment of muscle fibers. If a woman has to use all her maximum strength, she will fatigue quickly. Holding enough reserve strength will allow this. Once the biomechanics of the evacuation are understood, women can be more effective as combat soldiers.

         The author discusses endocrinology, but does it in the context of gender stereotypes. It cannot be denied that sex hormones do influence behavior. They have an immense influence on the body after puberty. What the author says is that women and men are emotionally different and that women may not be able to handle stressful or precarious situations. She indicates that indirectly that men are more aggressive due to their testosterone levels and that aggression in women is lacking. Aggression is needed to be a combat soldier. It is true that testosterone could cause men to seek dominance in social circles. This is not really aggression, but establishing status. Competition is more of a psychological need to accomplish a goal rather than a product of endocrinology. The desire and motivation are mentally based. Testosterone is not the sole factor in aggression. Violence cannot solely be explained by high testosterone levels. Violence can be learned and taught to children. A combination of biology and environment create the differences in the sexes in regards to aggression. Boys at a young age are taught that fighting and anger is normal for them.Girls are taught that fighting or expressing discontent is inappropriate. Sex hormones fluctuate through life and it is now understood. Testosterone levels rise in responses to certain situations in men. This can happen even to women in positions of authority or competitive environments. The idea that women cannot be violent and that nurturing is natural to them is based on a sex stereotype.

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There are women who can be aggressive and men who are peaceful. The best way to explain this phenomenon is through fight or flight response. Military training is designed to deal with such a psychological response. Women going through military training will not be peaceful. Hand to hand combat and weapons training are part of every soldiers program. The argument women are not emotionally stable enough seems to be lacking considering women have been in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Through out history, women have served in combat. Although recently scholarship has uncovered this often ignored fact. This brings into question of men being better combat soldiers. If training and determination are of high quality there are women who can handle it. There are examples of women warriors in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. This starts from the ancient world to the contemporary period. Queen Zabbi ruled Palmyra (modern Syria) and led her troops into battle against Rome. She ruled the Palmyrene Empire from 267 to 272 C.E. and refused to be Rome’s client. During her rule, Palmyra’s territory expanded. Nzingha  was another warrior queen who ruled Ndongo and Matamba ( modern Angola) from 1631 to 1633. She successfully fought the Portuguese, while using the alliance with the Dutch to her advantage. When she died, their was nothing stopping  Portuguese  colonization. Africa and the Middle East have had  long traditions of warrior queens.

Boudicea and Joan of Arc were European women warriors who are well known to historians . Boudica  was  the queen of the Iceni tribe that rebelled against Rome. This tribe in what is now the UK  decided to turn against Rome, when the kingdom was gradually being annexed. Boudica’s  husband died and Roman legions came. Boudica was according to accounts flogged and her daughters raped. She then waged a campaign to punish Rome and take back the kingdom. Joan of Arc was known for her service in the Hundred Years War between England and France.

These are only individuals, but women have served in combat units. The mino warriors, were fierce soldiers of the Kingdom of Dahomey ( modern Benin). Women were formidable and in the 19th century they were instrumental in expanding holdings of the kingdom. King Ghezo was confident in their abilities to fight and undermine his enemies. The Dahomey amazons a name they would later be called were critical to his success. The Oyo Empire was defeated by Ghezo and his newly expanded armies. The Dahomey amazons were initially place guards, but Ghezo wanted their full loyalty to prevent internal dissent and coups. Abeokuta was never fully subdued, but that never stopped the Dahomey amazons.

ahosi-or-mino-dahomey-amazons During the 20th century, women still fought in wars. The Soviet Union had women in combat as snipers and in the air force. Soviet Russia faced the worst onslaught by Nazi Germany compared to the other Allied powers. Their loses were immense an the vexation grew. Soviet women could no longer watch their land be destroyed and got involved in combat.The Yugoslav partisans had women fight in their ranks. Nazi Germany invaded in 1941 and a resistance movement emerged. Just like the Russians the outrage of occupation by German and Italian forces induced action. The wars in Indochina (1945-1975) saw women fighting on both sides of  the Cold War conflict. The Indochina war included the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

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Women fought in the Sandinista uprising against the Somoza regime in Nicaragua. It was estimated that they composed 30% of their fighting force. Women in Latin America were also involved in the wars of independence in the 1820s. Women served as spies and messengers in Argentina, Peru, Columbia, and Brazil. Women were more active in wars of liberation and revolution. Women have been in combat at multiple points in history. It should be understood that this history has been either ignored or forgotten. Only in recent decades has military history taken an interest in the women warriors of the past. Women warriors are not just something of legend, they are around the world. The Peshmerga has been fighting ISIS since 2014. What is not known to the general public is that the Kurdish force mobilizes women. The Kurds have faced ethnic cleansing  during various periods in Iraq. The recent outbreak came from ISIS seeking to take over Iraq.

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The Peshmerga appears to be doing more of the fighting against ISIS. The US is arming factions of ISIS a way to depose Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. Once again ,US foreign policy has destabilized an entire region.

 The Kurdish women in a similar manner of the Russians and Yugoslavs decided to arm themselves to challenge what could escalate to a larger genocide. This is fascinating for a number of reasons. While the United States constantly questions women’s competence, the Peshmerga has no problem having women fight ISIS. The West normally looks down on these nations and people as being backward or misogynistic, yet they are fixing a mess created by military intervention. Iraq’s army and militias have been weakened since the fall of Saddam Hussein. They are ineffective and have limited progress. These women of the Peshmerga are fighting and well against an extremist movement.Murder,oppression, and violence is what ISIS spreads. They are a dangerous fighting force and certainly it takes great courage to confront them. These women fight, because there is the hope it will lead to a better future. The a Kurdish nation  is a longtime aspiration. Combat takes many forms and modern warfare has reached a new apex.

          The author has a limited understanding of combat. She attempts to use the fact that women’s low numbers in the IDF mean that women are horrible at combat positions. The reasons for low numbers are part sociological and biological. Women have been banned from certain occupations on the basis of legal protectionism. This meant even if a woman was qualified for a particular occupation, she would still be banned. The idea was that women needed too be protected from the harsh realities of the world. This was more so an excuse for sex discrimination and to guarantee men would not have to compete for jobs with women. There were also cultural beliefs. Women were not expected to do anything physically demanding or have dexterous skill. Biologically, men have more natural physical strength. Having more type II muscle fibers, denser bones, and more height give men an advantage. The average woman has a smaller frame and less upper body strength. Low numbers do not mean there are not women who can fight. The author provides statistics  at the time of the post(2013). She says “only 3% combat soldiers are women.” Since that time 7 % of women serve in a combat role in the IDF. There are a total 2,100 women serving in combat roles as of August 2016. That is a 400% increase in comparison to the previous decades. When the Defense Services Law ruled in favor of women having the right to serve in combat in the year 2000, the numbers increased. Women fought in the Anglo-Jewish War, but after 1948 were banned from combat. Israel is not progressive on women’s rights and  being an extremely religious country it does not believe in them having wider roles. When legal barriers are broken, nothing can stop people from achieving their potential. This data shows it. If progress is not reversed the numbers may go up. The US could learn from this model, if it can swallow its pride. War involves fights from the land, air, sea, and in the modern age cyberspace. Hacking and cyberwarfare are going to be conducted against belligerent nations in the future.

              When the author tries to undermine the positions of combat it demonstrates a lack of knowledge. She claims certain roles, which involve fighting are “hardly combat.” Air force pilots are more imperative than   ever. One US strategy is to bomb selective targets such as military installations and communication centers to undermine a country’s ability to fight. When that is done ground troops are deployed. Air power can be an alternative, if ground invasion is too much of a risk. Dogfights and secret missions are the common form of combat an air force pilot will see. During World War II  when Germany lost control of its air space its factories became vulnerable. American, British, and Soviet bombers hit war production plants essential to Germany’s war effort. Striking targets degrades a nation’s ability to fight. Air power is just as pivotal as sea power. A nation cannot be a powerful military force without a Navy. Controlling the sea means having access to strategic trade routes and areas. The reason the British Empire was so potent was that it dominated the sea. Through their navy they were able to have colonies in Asia, Africa, North America, and Oceania. When Germany started to build its Navy to compete with the British Empire in 1900, this caused alarm. The air force, navy, marines, army, and special forces work together in a synergy in combat. Wars are also going to be engaged in cyberwarfare. The wars fought will not only be fought in physical space, but on the internet. Hacking will become a standard in warfare. It is in a prototypical phase as the US, China, and Russia attempt to hack one another to steal intelligence secrets. The definition of combat has expanded as warfare has become more intense.

          The author does not understand the importance of the combat divisions. The units have specific jobs, which are still dangerous. The labor is distributed differently depending on the situation. The Caracal Battalion’s role has expanded with the political changes in Egypt. The Sinai insurgency could spill over the border, which the battalion has to guard. The fall of Hosni Mubarack  caused mass destabilization and armed groups are becoming bold. What is fueling the insurgency is the discrimination against Bedouin. Simultaneously, the Palestinian people are resisting Israeli occupation in the West Bank and attacks in the Gaza Strip. This battalion will clearly be engaging in conflicts in Egypt and Palestine. Their responsibility is to patrol the border, but if Israel continues an anti-Arab foreign policy and general belligerence this will conflate.

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Women in the IDF are held to the same standards as men. They have tour requirements of 36 months.

     The Snapir units are critical, because the attack on naval bases could undermine war efforts. OKetz functions more like a police force searching and arresting enemy combatants. The 76th Battillion of the Combat Engineering Brigade have the task of disabling unconventional weapons in the battlefield. ABC weapons are the major target for destruction. This makes it difficult to resist Israeli aggression. Opening up these positions to women just allows for more soldiers in the Israeli military. The author then in a condescending manner states : ”  all these jobs are considered ‘combat’ by the Israeli army, and many of these jobs are already available to women in the U.S. military.” Women before 2013, were excluded from 22,000 combat jobs in the US military. This does not make sense. Since 1978 women entered the US military in an official capacity. There is no reason to ban a woman who is qualified from a combat job. This obvious discrimination was legally challenged. The author sees that these occupations are part of combat, but then says its not genuine due to her bias. The roles both support  and direct fighting are part of waging war. It is a mass collaborative, coordinated,and  meticulously panned event. That means all soldiers must do their part to make it function. Then the most contradictory statement comes in the conclusion : “Jobs should be assigned by who can perform the job better, not because someone wants to do the job and it would be politically incorrect or discriminatory not to give it to someone because of gender. ” The women who apply and meet the standards are not doing this for the sake of political correctness. Women will not be handed these jobs, without qualifications. Ray Marbus Secretary of the Navy said he was not looking for average women to enter these jobs, but those who meet the physical demands. Jobs are not given in a workforce they are selected out of pool of applicants. The conservative or traditional perspective has an argument lacking factual support. Israel is used by both the American left and right to justify their stances on women in combat occupational specialties. The left says it is model that should be replicated, while the right  says that is an unrealistic assessment. These two perspectives do not fully grasp the rapid changes occurring. Warfare will become more technological and expansive. Israel is one of the most powerful regional players in the Middle East, but it will struggle not because it allowed women in combat. It continues to fight wars of aggression and expansion in the Middle East. It will fall into wars of attrition and the Israeli public will no longer stand for it. A nation can have high performing soldiers and still lose wars if their strategy is flawed.

           The physical strength argument is used by detractors constantly,but one must consider other factors. It is important in these occupations including a high level of physical fitness. The only problem is that muscles become worthless when fire arms are involved. Assuming a stronger person could yank away a rifle fast enough, before the trigger is pulled, the situation is still precarious. Physical strength is almost impotent compared to the power of tanks, bombs, grenades, mortars, fighter jets, artillery cannons,  assault rifles, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. No longer do armies fight with simple swords or chariots. It is more efficient to kill with weapons rather than with one’s bare hands.

A smaller person with little strength could still kill a stronger person. The scenario women would be rendered helpless without weapons does not hold merit. If they go through the same training in hand to hand combat, this would not be a problem. Training is being updated to reflect these changes in procedures. West Point finally allows women to take boxing as a requirement. When women first entered West Point it was not offered to them .   Women face women in matches during these classes. There is also sparring between men in women in a controlled setting. Learning to punch and take them is essential for women. The same principles that are emphasized in self-defense courses are implemented into training. The more aggressive the better chance of a woman soldier fighting off a male combatant. Women’s punches can still hurt if they are taught how to do it effectively.The martial arts such as karate, judo, and aikido are useful fighting styles that should be incorporated into training. This can help in narrowing some of the strength gap if a woman soldier finds herself disarmed and in confrontation with a combatant.

It should be noted simply being strong does not make a great fighter. Skills and body movements can make a difference in the outcome of a physical confrontation. A bodybuilder may have more muscle, but they would have trouble fighting a boxer in a ring. These two types of athletes would both have trouble fighting a mixed martial artists. The physical skill set is different. What the US military can do is teach soldiers multiple fighting styles in hand to hand combat, which can be utilized by a soldier given a particular scenario.

        The only rational statement in the writing is what readers already know. She states “If the United States is going to allow women in combat roles, those women must pass muster with men equally.” The author then expounds further: “they need to perform the job as well and not be allowed to perform on a lower scale than her male counter-part.” Standards should not be lowered. They are normally adjusted overtime to the specifics of battlefield conditions. Technology also alters training overtime. There are a minority who want the standards to lower for the sake of equality. There is a problem with this for two reasons.The first problem is that it creates a group of under performing workers. As a result the fighting force will be less effective. It also is an insult and a disservice to women who can meet the existing standards. The only way physical tests could be discriminatory to women is if the standards are immensely high. Many times occupations such as firefighting and law enforcement would do this to stop women from getting jobs. This eventually backfired, because they made physical standards so high  that many men were excluded as well. The argument that standards need to be lowered lacks logical basis. Kristen Geist was one of the first women to graduate from Army Ranger School. She participated in the same training and obstacle courses as her male counterparts.

0615rangers-630x473 She will now be serving as an infantry officer. Officer Geist was able to meet these standards, but if the ban were still in place that talent would have been lost. Then there are restrictions in the US military that are now being lifted. People who have tattoos, are slightly out of the BMI requirement, or have some drugs in their system could be accepted for service. The military is targeting women and other ethnic groups in the United States for recruitment. The unfortunate aspect is that the poor mostly are going into the military, so they can get access to a university education. The white men of the US military despise the presence of women and non-whites. When ever an oppressed group enters an occupation that has been historically guaranteed to white men there is both fear and hate. They fear that women and non-whites are taking their jobs. The hate comes from a pathological racism that views anyone different from them as lower beings. People will no longer be restrained by dated intolerance. If anything, it is a vast improvement to the US military. Citizens of various backgrounds can enter and decide a military career.

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Marcia Anderson became the first African American woman major general in the US Army.

Doubtless of what the author believes women are not performing at a lower scale. Their numbers have been increasing in various branches in the US military. The air force, navy, marines, and army have seen more women in their ranks in the past decades. Although the ban was lifted in combat jobs, the numbers may not be that large. This depends on several factors. Choice is an element and whether or not these occupations are positions women want entering the military.Then there are smaller pools of women in the US military, which also gives a limited amount for women in certain military occupational specialties. Recruiting efforts have to reached the same levels like males. Then the biggest challenge is finding women who can handle the physical fitness standards. The average man may find it easier to handle tasks of physical strength. Women would either have to train before basic training  to be successful. It should also be understood that gender integration will take some time.

          Given the long history of women’s participation in warfare, it is not accurate to say women are not as high quality as males in combat. The changing nature of warfare means that women will be a part of it. Frontlines are disappearing and world powers are readjusting to erratic shifts in the geopolitical climate. Maintaining sexist or traditional values in the military is unrealistic. Individuals regardless of sex can be capable combat soldiers. What makes a great combat soldier is a person who is intrepid, resilient, resourceful. and  tenacious. If low quality soldiers are able to reach high levels in the military, then training must be adjusted to screen for better candidates. Instead of disparaging women in the military, they should be encouraged. Integration of the US armed forces has always been a difficult challenge from desegregation of the races to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Women’s entry into combat jobs is just another saga. It will happen and be a success, if it is conducted in the correct manner. The US military has the ability to adopt and acclimate its self to rapidly changing environments. Women entering combat will just be another addition in a powerful military machine.

 References

Jones, David. Women Warriors. Washington D.C. : Potomac Books, Inc., 2005.

Nanos, Janelle. “Armor All: New Body Armor Issued for Women in the Military.” Boston Magazine. N.p., 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2013/09/26/new-body-armor-women-military/&gt;.

Sisto, Jeff. “Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power .” Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power |. N.p., 4 July 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://armytechnology.armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2014/10/31/wearable-technology/&gt;.

“Women of the Israel Defense Forces: History in Combat Units.” History of Women in IDF Combat Units. N.p., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/femcom.html&gt;.

Cespedes, Andrea. “How Much Muscle Can a Woman Gain With Strength Training?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/198318-how-much-muscle-can-a-woman-gain-with-strength-training/&gt;.

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

2 Healthy Chicks- “Women “not strong enough for combat?”

Women “not strong enough for combat”

This blog post was originally published in 2013. The author congratulates the fact the US ban on women in combat was finally lifted. Really, women were already in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, because there was no frontline. As these states collapsed under US invasion insurgencies arose using irregular warfare. While the writing does point out the fallacy in stating no woman has the strength for combat, it ignores biological and physiological facts. The author states that she is a feminist, which to some has negative connotations. Equality is needed for a functional society, but it should not blind us to differences. Men and women are physiologically and anatomically different, it does not mean one or the other is inferior. Understanding women’s physiology can allow for a physical fitness program to make them worthy combat soldiers.If gender integration in the US military is to work, there are certain training regimens women will have to perform. This depends of the military occupational specialty. There are two extremes of this new wedge issue. The conservative perspective is that no woman can be successful and they are too weak. The liberal perspective is that any woman can be combat soldier and borrows some extreme feminist overtones that all women are super women. These two notions are not realistic. The author seems to hold the second view point. These extreme positions must be examined objectively.

              Tom Cotton a Republican representative form Arkansas stated that ” It’s nature, upper body strength and physical movements and speed and endurance…” It is true that men on average have more upper body strength and aerobic capacity, however women can increase their physical fitness level. The question of endurance is a bit harder to answer when comparing men and women. Muscular endurance describes the action of a muscle group contracting of long periods of time. Men can have more muscle mass, but this does not mean they have more endurance.Blood flow and metabolism play a role. Women fatigue less quickly in muscular endurance exercises due to less restriction of capillaries .Women may fatigue less quickly do to more recruitment of synergistic muscle groups. Cotton does not have a grasp of exercise physiology or basic science. He is part of a political party that denies human evolution and climate change. There is a way for women to acquire physical strength.

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Women must have work out regimens tailored to their biological make up. Weight lifting can add strength to muscle and bone. There are two types of methods of muscular hypertrophy that can be utilized in an exercise regimen. Myofibrillar hypertrophy can be induced by lifting heavy weights and performing sets between two to eight repetitions. The lower amount of repetitions combined with heavy weight allows for the increase in size and quantity of muscle fibers. Exerting muscle this way allows for testosterone to be released  resulting in microtrauma. The muscle fiber will respond with repairing the tears with stronger tissue. Other exercise regimens sacroplasmic hypertrophy can be a method of building muscle strength. This increases fluid in the muscle cells. Circuit training involves twelve to fifteen repetitions per exercise. It requires a minute or less between exercise. Three or four exercises can be used which include incline dumbell chest press, dumbell side raises, bench dips, and chest fly. These exercises do not cause muscle fatigue and result in the body producing more growth hormone.

Dumbbell-Lateral-Raise

Besides training method diet is also a component. Rest is just as important as exercise.  It has been recommended that there be at least 48 to 72 hours between workouts. Consuming food before and after a work out session helps with muscular hypertrophy. Proteins and carbohydrates are essential to a diet. Bananas and peanut butter are examples of foods with a good source of protein. Food contributes to feeding muscle. Women do run slower than men, but that does not mean women cannot run fast. Tom Cotton must have never watched a track and field event. Carmelita Jeter  track and field athlete was able to run 55 meters in 6.84 seconds. Her running speed could very well surpass the male standard on the Army physical fitness test . It is a two mile run designed to test cardio respiratory fitness   and leg muscle endurance.

The men’s standard for the U.S. Army :

Age (17-21) – Minimum (15.54 minutes) — Maximum (13.00 minutes)
Age (22-26) – Minimum (16.36 minutes) — Maximum (13.00 minutes)
Age (27-31) – Minimum (17.00 minutes) — Maximum (13.18 minutes)

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Women’s legs are closer to men’s in strength. It would be easier to add it on that section of the body compared to the upper body. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which means their aerobic capacity is lower. This is an average; it does not mean any man can just out run someone like Camelita Jeter. What also effects women speed is the structure of the pelvis. A wider pelvis alters the movement of the attached bone. However, the muscles of the legs are the same and can be responsive to weight training exercise. Tim Cotton deals in absolutes, rather than examining the entire spectrum. Depending on genetics as well, some women will be more responsive to training.

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This is Lisa Bickles  when she was a marine. That was before she took up weightlifting activities.  I think the after version would be the more capable soldier.

A woman who is naturally mesomorphic in body type can see more strength gains compared to one of thinner build. The assumption that the female body is inferior is false. Still there has to be consideration for physiological and biological differences

         The author’s feminism implies that of sameness feminism. This ideology believes that biological differences are “social” constructions and if we realize we are all  similar, equality will flourish. This notion seems ludicrous, because being different is not an indication of inferiority. Some even ignore basic anatomical and physiological facts. Men are physically stronger.  The author states : ” from my experience, some men enter the military as fairly scrawny men, but come out looking like they’ve been lifting weights for years.” She then states “why can’t women do the same?” to follow up. Men and women on the same training regimen result in men attaing higher levels of physical strength. Before puberty and the effects of hormones male and female strength is close to equal. Past age thirteen boys testosterone levels increase increasing muscle size and bone mass. Growth hormone activates in both sexes including insulin growth factor I. They have assistance from the sex hormones. The sex steroids will then effect physical fitness potential of the sexes. A boy 11 to 17 years old can go from 15 kg to 35 kg of muscle. Women by the age of 17 have a lean body mass of 22kg.  Reaching adulthood a male would have 150% the mass of an average female and twice the muscle cells. Males do still have fat, but women gain more due to the effects of estrogen. The skeletal structure is important to strength. Bones, tendons, and ligaments work with the muscle to produce movement and force. Men after full growth are normally taller and weigh more than women, which means they have more natural strength. Natural strength is the force the body can generate without a training regimen.

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Between the ages 11 to 14 the change in body shape are developing. Men’s shoulders broaden and the upper body becomes more pronounced.

Women will have to work harder and train longer to gain substantial strength. Besides larger and more type II muscle fibers, larger bones contribute to greater male strength. Longer and larger bones means a mechanical advantage. Increased articular surface means more leverage and a larger frame to store muscle. Ligaments act as a reinforcement, which are also more robust in males. Men have more upper body strength  and  it is estimated that women can have 52% of a man’s upper body strength. Other estimates put women’s upper body strength being 40% less than a male’s. Often people make the claim women have stronger legs than men. That is not exactly correct   women are closer to men in the lower body. If it is a man and woman of a similar size a woman can have at least 80% of a man’s physical strength. Building lower body strength could be easier for women in a fitness regimen.

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Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men. Looking at Lenda Murray’s legs it is easy to make that assumption.
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This does not mean women cannot build strong legs. This is Korney Olsen squeezing a water melon in half.

Endocrinology does effect training. Muscle mass volume and tendon size are basic indicators of sex hormone influence.  Smaller tendons could make women more susceptible to injury. This can be avoided by training in correct form and doing so under an experienced individual. A new trainee should not immediately do lift the heaviest weight. It should be a gradual process in which you add more overtime. This explains why women suffer higher rates of musculoskeletal injuries during combat training. While males do get them as well, they are protected mainly because of  larger size and more natural strength. Marching under load can effect the body of a woman more so. Women’s shoulder length is smaller in comparison and  total bone mass is less. That means less body support for gear that could weigh over a 100 pounds (45 kg). If the body cannot handle it it will cause a stress fracture. The fact is women would need more training before attempting to do such physically demanding tasks. Another solution the US military is working toward is reducing soldier load for the sake of health. The problem is too much load on a soldier will hinder mobility, when it is critical.

Bones

The differences in the muscular and skeletal system means that women could not just be the same as men. She almost implies  that just about every woman could do this. While it is ridiculous to say there are none that can, her example almost disproves her point. Jessie Hillenberg  is far from average. She is an IFBB pro figure competitor who has been involved in weight lifting for years. Her strength was built over a period of time and she has acquired a high level of fitness. The picture displayed in the article is an old one. Looking at her now it appears she made even more progress.

1365680821e1b3c Jessie Hilgenberg - fitness beauties - fitness female Her chances of passing the fitness test are higher than that of the average woman. She is exceptional . For the women with limited athletic talent, it will be a challenge. It showed it self in the female marine pull-ups issue and the constant debate of if a woman can carry a full grown man if injured in combat. The reason women were having problems with the pull-ups were part biological and sociological. Women were taught to do the flexed arm hang, which was in many respects pointless. Women have lower upper body strength, so that means it will be more of a challenge. It requires the force of the latimissus dorsi, biceps, triceps, and the muscles situated on the shoulders. Many women failed to do three. Proper training and practice allowed for improvement. focusing on upper body exercises changed the situation. Then there is the question of removing an injured soldier. Women are on average a smaller, which means they will have to use more of their maximum strength to carry the wounded. It’s not impossible for a woman to pick up a full grown man.

As you can see here this woman is carrying a large man multiple times. She does not even have much muscle. 

The firemen’s carry can be performed by a woman and if she has the strength it will not be a problem. If taught properly the fireman’s carry is simple to do for moving a large person. Sliding the person on to the shoulders and lifting them up is fast and efficient. There is a mechanical challenge still. Men who have broader shoulders will have more room for muscle. Even a muscular woman’s upper body strength could be lower than her male counterpart in a battlefield. This means women will have to push themselves to their physical maximum. The author should understand that women may need to train longer to adjusts their bodies to rigorous physical demands. Feminism does not eliminate biology. This does not mean women make horrible soldiers. It means that training must be developed to target the upper body. If the author is such a feminist, then she would have no problem having women register for the selective service. This topic has been debated in congress, but there are some women who are preaching equality when they do not mean it . You cannot be for women in combat and reject them not registering for the selective service. While the majority may have difficulty passing the fitness portion, there are ones who would not. Equality means treating everyone the regardless of their sex, religion, background, or race. The author points out that Israel has women in combat, so there is no reason why it cannot work in the US. Understanding the biological differences will help, not hinder women’s progress in combat performance.

                  These two opposing view points  are extreme, but they never consider an important factor. What makes a good soldier? Women have appeared in combat throughout history, so there is nothing revolutionary about this development. Women fought in the Soviet Union during World War II, North Vietnam under the NLF during the Indochina wars,  the American Civil War disguised as men, and in The Eritrean Liberation War. There was another fighting force  in Dahomey  ( now Benin)  composed of women known as the Mino warriors. They were known for there skilled battlefield prowess. Dahomey’s warriors were able to keep their kingdom independent until 1890, while surrounding states were invaded by the French. They were able to hold out longer in the face of European invasion.  These women have past conflicts did not have the same training as the modern US soldier. Skeptics about women’s capabilities need to only examine the past.

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The Mino Warriors, who were sometimes called the Dahomey Amazons.
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Soviet women served as snipers and flew combat missions.
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Eritrean women fighting in the independence  war.

Devotion to a cause and the resilience to complete a mission ultimately make a great fighter. Being fearless and willing to sacrifice yourself for that cause also makes a quality soldier. A that stage there is a paradigm shift . This means a soldier system shifts to a warrior system. Warrior cultures have a long tradition in Japan and Dahomey for example. They have a Spartan mind set in which it is glorious to go to battle and if you come back you did not do something right. Modern warfare became more brutal with more lethal technology. The rise of tanks, drones, airplanes,better guns, and nuclear weapons has drastically altered warfare. Physical fitness still is important to the health of a soldier, but technology seems to be beating human muscle power. Wars are not won by physical strength. Technology and tactics are essential to military success. Women have been a part of warfare, only now has society began to acknowledge it. If this current phase is to be successful there must be practical actions and assessments when integrating women into a combat force.

2 Healthy Chicks- “Women “not strong enough for combat?”

Muscle Fibers

Muscle tissue consists of various fibers. Each person has a unique composition of muscle fibers, which does effect athletic performance. There are three major types of muscle fibers. These include type I fibers, type IIa fibers, and type llb fibers. Depending on the sport athletes may have more or less of a certain type of muscle fiber. The human body is an incredible organic machine with different functions. It is pivotal to understand the characteristics of muscle fibers to tailor specific training regimens.

           Muscle fibers are located in the fassicle. The fibers are secured by the endomysium. The muscle almost forms a structure that is similar to a fiber optic cable. It is bundled by a network of wires. These types of wires are supported by both bone and tendons. There is also a network of blood vessels running through the muscle. The epimysium acts as cover for the perimysium of the muscle. The movement of the human body can only happen when tissues contract. When discussing major muscle fiber types, they are mostly regulated to the examination of skeletal muscle.

tendon

Sometimes it is referred to as voluntary muscle. These are muscle that respond to the conscious control of the brain. Chemical messages can either direct them to contract or lengthen. When viewed under the microscope they have a striated or striped texture. All of these microscopic fibers work together as one unit in the muscular system.

        Type I muscle fibers are normally called slow twitch. Their speed to contract is lower compared to other fibers. This slow contraction time allows for better performance in endurance events. The force out put from these fibers is low. They do contain high amounts of mitochondria which assist with oxidative metabolism. Slow twitch fibers are more fatigue resistant. The slow twitch fibers are red from the iron in cytochromes. They also contain a large amount of capillaries in their structure. Endurance athletes such as marathon runners,distance cyclists, and cross-country skiers could have up to 90% slow twitch fibers. Athletes with higher amounts of slow twitch fibers will have higher VO2max results. This means an endurance athlete will have higher aerobic capacity.

Mary Keitany
This marathon runner would have more slow twitch muscle fiber composition.

The average person can contain up to 50% slow twitch fibers in their body. Like other fibers they can be built through a specific type of training. Slow contraction is an advantage, because they keep the body going. This gives dedicated swimmers an advantage in endurance. Endurance exercise allows the muscles not to get worn out fast during physical activity. Other benefits include improved coordination, a larger heart which can pump more blood,  and maximizes metabolic efficiency. Oddly enough, it is believed that endurance exercise can improve digestion. Slow twitch fibers are not useful in sporting activities that require explosive power. muscle_fiber_pic   A cyclist or a swimmer attempting to enter weightlifting may struggle if the training regimen is not adjusted. The role of oxygen is critical, due to the fact  it produces energy for muscle contraction. Even though slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers are different muscle fibers follow a basic anatomical structure. There are myofibrils, which contain actin and myosin filaments. There is also the nucleus structure and striations present. Myofibrils are divided into sarcomeres. They are by nature contractile. When myfibrils contract sarcomeres shorten. This subsequently results in actin filaments to move past myosin filaments shrinking the H zone. This happens when the muscles contract.

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This cyclist when doing this activity is constantly contracting sarcomeres.

 When examining this part of the body, it demonstrates how the body is like an organic machine. The body is constructed of smaller units known as cells which form organ systems that collaborate to keep a life form functioning. Muscle fibers play a role in this process, besides assisting in athletic activity.

       Fast twitch fibers function better in strength sports. They are know for their fast contractions, but can fatigue quickly. Their ability to generate action potentials is very efficient. The higher level of myosin ATPase allows for a larger release of calcium  and uptake by sarcoplasmic reticulum. Fast twitch fibers are suited best for basketball, soccer, hockey, track and filed, and powerlifting. Fast twitch fibers can be divided into two groups: type IIa and type IIb. Type IIa has more muscular force, fatigue faster, and functions on a different energy system. The glycolytic energy results in anaerobic glycolosis which produces ATP. ATP is responsible for supplying a sufficient source of energy for muscular contraction.Type IIb are known for having a high fatigue rate, but have the greatest explosive power. They are the fastest of all the muscle fibers. Physical activities that require a massive burst of power will recruit type IIb fibers. They are summoned last when muscle recruitment is required. Slow twitch fibers go first, followed by type IIa. Finally, when those fibers can no longer sustain pressure type IIb is recruited. This results in the burst of maximal strength. That is the total strength the body can produce. The body contains a general strength reserve. Lifting a carton of juice would not require maximal strength. Lifting a huge weight or a person would.

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This is the demonstration of type II muscle fibers in use.

A contraction from a type IIb muscle fiber can last up to 7.5 milliseconds. This is a short period of time for the burst of power to be released.  This means a weight lifter would struggle with an endurance event. The muscles would fatigue at a faster rate. The strength athlete who tries to compete with a runner would find themselves in a real challenge. The runner would most likely have trouble generating a huge bursts of physical power. All these fibers work together producing skilled movement which is directed by electrical impulses in the brain. Diameter of the fibers does effect the force of muscle fiber. Fast twitch muscle fiber has a larger cross sectional area and can therefore generate more force. Slow twitch fibers have limited potential for high levels of muscular hypertrophy.

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Here she is using her maximal strength.

There also remains aspect. Sexual dimorphism also does play a role in the distribution of muscle fibers. This does effect athletic performance between the sexes.

Contrary to popular belief, men and women have the same muscle tissue. There are a total of 700 skeletal muscles in the human body which account for at least 40% body weight of the average person. The anatomy of the muscle is the same for both sexes. The difference is that one sex has more of a certain type than the other. The fibers are still the same, but it depends on genetics and which type of exercise an individual engages in. Men have more fast twitch fibers. This is an explanation why men are on average stronger. Women have more slow twitch muscle fibers, which means they are more fatigue resistant .  There is a difference in upper body strength seeing as men have more of a concentration of fibers in that part of the body. Higher skeletal volume means more output. Estimates vary, but a woman of the same height and weight  of a man can be close to 80% of his body strength. That 20% difference reveals that a woman is closer to a man in lower body strength. Testosterone has an enormous impact on protein synthesis. Estrogen forms more fat. Even the most muscular female still carries a higher fat percentage than a man.

   Muscle fibers both fast and slow twitch have even more distinct attributes. The reason for fast twitch muscle fatigue is that lactic acid will accumulate (anaerobic glycolosis process). Acidosis occurs causing fatigue of the muscle fiber. Muscle fibers utilize blood supply in a different manner.Slow twitch fibers have excellent blood supply as compared to fast twitch fibers. Slow twitch fibers get their outlandishly red appearance from the abundance of blood supply. Fast twitch have less blood supply to work with having a white appearance. Lack of blood means a limited supply of available oxygen.  Besides the difference in oxygen, it is fascinating to how it relates to mitochondria. This organelle is important to human life Most eukaryotic cells carry mitochandria. Their total number can vary depending on certain types of activities. They can change shape to be either longer or thinner depending on the circumstance. Mictochandria provide energy where it is needed. Fat cells contain a small number and fat storage does not require energy. Mitochandria are referred to as the “power house” of the cell, seeing as they produce adenosine triphosphate. Slow twitch fibers have more mitochandria, while fast twitch have less. This effects energy reserve for the different types of muscle fibers.There are fuel sources that fibers are reliant on. Slow twitch use glucose and fats, while fast twitch uses ATP derived from glucose. Depending on what sport an individual goes into it is critical to have an understanding of muscle fiber and its histology.

Further Reading

Mader, Sylvia. Biology.New York: McGraw Hill Companies, 2010.

  Clark, Shannon. “Muscle Fibers How They Differ.” Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 7 Mar. 2007. Web. 5 May 2016. <http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sclark20.htm&gt;.

Dale, Patrick. “Difference Between Slow-Twitch and Fast-Twitch.”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 25 June 2015. Web. 04 May 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/454134-difference-between-slow-twitch-and-fast-twitch/&gt;.

Muscle Fibers

Women in Combat : Are They Physiologically Capable of the Physical Demands ?

US Marine Corps released a study examining the combat effectiveness of mixed sex units. Their findings reported that all male units performed better than sex integrated units. Detractors and pundits stated that this was evidence that was enough to up hold the restriction on women in combat. This was only one experiment, but should not be used as an excuse to reverse the ending of the ban of women in combat. There are physical and physiological differences between men and women. Understanding these aspects of biology can help design a physical fitness plan for women ( and elevate men’s fitness levels as well). Normally, the argument is that women are not strong enough for such positions, but their are other arguments as well. They range from women are too “emotional,” they lack courage, they ruin morale, they’ll have health issues, or they will attempt to get pregnant. Those arguments are ludicrous, but the differences in physical strength and speed are a legitimate concern. Women will have to maintain a high level of physical fitness if they are to be successful in combat. The question remains are women physiologically capable of physically demanding  tasks? Just like men are not all made to be soldiers, the same can be said of women. There are women who are physiologically capable, but they are exceptions. For the average woman who wants to be in combat, she will have to work twice as hard to be successful.

       It is important to examine the findings of the report. The study found that women could meet physical demands. However, this was not to the same level as their male counter parts in regards to performance, fatigue, workload,  or cohesion. The female volunteers were PFC sergeants who were 100 in total number. There were 400 male volunteers for this experiment. A major issue pointed out in the report is hiking with loaded packs. The report reveals that women (on average) have higher injury rates compared to their male counterparts. There are some problems with this study. It is unknown what was the physical fitness level of the women participants. If they did not have some form of consistent weight training or exercise regimen, this could have effected the results. Another problem was that their were not specific combat arms specialty standards. Female volunteers and male volunteers  were given little information on how to prepare. Women received more physical fitness instruction for the experiment, while men got more technical instruction. Both men and women should have gotten the same amount of instruction to make this experiment precise. The report does  mention athletic overlap .

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Look at the summery of the Marine report : Women in Combat Report.

The hints are listed as “anaerobic power : females posses 15% less than males; the top 25th  percentile overlaps with the bottom 25th percentile of males” The report goes on further to state “anaerobic capacity: females posses 15% less anaerobic capacity; the top 10th female percentile overlaps with the bottom 50th percentile of males.”  The report claims that 27% of injuries happened to women wile moving under load.  It was also documented that women suffered 40.5% more musculoskeletal injuries. Body composition and size was examined. Males on average were 178 pounds with 20% body fat. Women who volunteered were 142 pounds and had 24% body fat. When reading this, one automatically assumes this is too much for women to handle. Understand this is one experiment and it would have to be replicated in the same manner and produce a similar result to be considered fact. The report did not ask what high performing women did to make the physical demands easier. Another problem is they quote a report from 1992  in regards to women in aircraft units, which has been proven incorrect. Another aspect is with the physical fitness tests. Men and women have been given different physical fitness tests. Women were given lower standards with the assumption they would be horrible at any task requiring strength. The standards have been changing over the past decade to meet the demands of an evolving combat zone. Detractors claim that standards will be lowered to accommodate women, but this will not happen. There are other studies that were conducted prior to this one that give a better assessment.

       There is a report that was released in 1994 by Marilyn Sharp(read the report here ). This was conducted by the Occupational Physiology Division of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. It was called “Physical Fitness Occupational Performance of Women in the U.S. Army.”This assessment seems to be more realistic considering it was produced 21 years ago.  They examined this from an exercise physiology perspective considering the elements of physical fitness which include muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardiopulmonary fitness.

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U.S. Marines Cpl. Kelly Campagna (left), Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40, fireman carries Cpl. Lance Rowewood during a corporal’s course five mile hike from Camp Leatherneck to Camp Bastion, Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 30, 2011. The final phase in graduating from corporal’s course was a five mile trek that implemented various obstacles. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert R. Carrasco/Released).

        The findings revealed some common knowledge. It stated ” while it is clear that the average man is stronger than the average woman, some women are stronger than some men.” Through these various exercises conducted the report claimed “the ability to produce is similar between the genders, but the quantity of muscle mass available to produce force differs .” Strength is pivotal as the report states for load carriage, repetitive lifting, and heavy lifting in infantry and mechanized units. Body composition does play a role. Men have less body fat, which will not add to the loads they have to carry. For women it will be more of struggle , because as the report showed “it is dead weight that must be transported by the skeletal muscle and therefore compared to access baggage.” This extra body weight means a woman will need more physical  effort.

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Women who were involved in this study showed that their lower body isometric force was higher compared to their upper body results. The activities done testing strength were the box lift, machine lift, and two mile run. The ultimate correlation was that body composition was related to total muscular strength. Women produced in this study up to 70% of the isometric force of men. There was overlap with the study exposing in floor to shoulder height lifting strength. The report said “less than 2% of men scored 36 kg or less, which was equal to the 92 percentile of women.” Women doing the loaded box lift were able to get up to 60% of the men’s results. It would seem that males have dominance in physical strength, but women and counter the disparity with varied lifting techniques. Muscular endurance  was found “to be equal or greater than their male counterparts.”  there were no significant differences in hand grip strength between men and women in the test. However, there were  differences in women doing bench press repetitions with a 45 pound bar. The women were described as using a greater amount of their maximum strength.

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080508-F-6852H-101 U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jennifer Eagelman, a public affairs journalist, performs the fireman’s carry while participating in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program at Baumholder, Germany, during Exercise Combined Endeavor 2008 on May 8, 2008. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Hill, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

 The maximum strength is the total amount of force an individual can exert without fatigue. Women as the report said need to maintain a strength reserve, because they will fatigue quickly. Peak power describes the ability of the body to utilize adenosine-triphosphate  and creatine phosphate to produce energy for exercise. Sprinting with packs and evacuations of injured are simulated in this report. Muscular endurance seems to be the area in which women fare better. Aerobic capacity has there is a large disparity . Women have lower hemoglobin levels and smaller hearts. It was written “a woman’s maximum cardiac output ,  or the quantity of blood pumped by the heart per minute, is 30% less than a man’s output.” The report makes the right conclusions. Weight training is a solution to building women’s physical strength. Men had larger muscle fibers to start with and their increase in strength would still be greater. Women can gain enough strength to surpass or be equal to the average man.

The major problem was that basic training did not incorporate a consistent weight training program. The level of cardio fitness varies depending upon level prior to entry. Some women in the assessment were able to increase their cardiopulmonary fitness by 7.9%. Women can increase their fitness level. The document then states ” if activity does not require maximal effort, she is allowed to self-pace, a woman perform many tasks and meet the standards of male performance.” this document has more practical solutions for integrating women into combat.

        There are women who could meet these fitness standards. The fact is women have unofficially been serving in combat. There is no longer a “front line” in the traditional sense. Women have had a presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been serving in intelligence gathering, serving in the Navy, army medics, and the Air Force. If ground combat is to be successful the strongest women will have to be recruited. Some women have already seen action before the announcement that the ban was lifted. There are also women who you can say are not only fit for the job, they are over qualified.

military-bodybuilder-of-the-month-latresia-pugh_a (1)     Latresia Pugh is aeromedical technician. Her job requires a huge amount of strength lifting pateients on a litter for medical treatment.  

Latersia Pugh is a person who values keeping up a consistent training regimen. At 5’6 and 129 pounds of muscle, her strength was gained by bodybuilding. If it were not for this, she may not be able to do her job. Yet, she has won many medals for her professional conduct and excellence. Her training is very labor intensive, but necessary. There are some women who are qualified, but they are not interested in combat. There are women who also hold a traditional views of women, doubtless of what feminists say. They assume that since men are stronger  women are not equal to them. The odd aspect of this is that it is coming from women who are physically capable.

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Jane Grieme  another woman in the US army said “I don’t believe in equality.” She explains “men and women are different.” Grieme  does not seem to understand being different does not mean were are not equal. 

Jane Grieme  serves with the Air National Guard. She is 5’9 and 150 pounds  and gained a PT score of 99%. It is almost baffling that she would make such comments about abilities of women. While it is true men and women do have different strengths, such generalizations sound  prejudiced. Considering she is physically impressive herself, her statements are contradictory.

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These are just a few of many women involved in the military that would be perfect for combat roles. They have the strength levels high enough to handle the physical vigor. They love being active and that helps with meeting physical challenges. Their experience with strength building exercises could help other women. There are some who have other agendas in mind. It’s not just some men who want to see women fail, it is some women. Their interest is to be in the military avoid danger, but gain the benefits of service. These are women who want to use their military credentials solely to advance themselves. The feminists groups supportive of combat integration never mention them. It is known these women exist . Another problem is in regards to the selective service. Women should have to register for the selective service if they want full equality. The women who meet the physical standards will serve in combat operations and the others who do not can still serve in some capacity.

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army girl   This is Cammie Spindel. Looking at the first photo above you who assume is not that strong. The second photo tells another story. Her strength and peak power could be greater than some of the men she served with.  

There are strong women out there, but the army does not seem interested in recruiting them. These standards are probably difficult for the average woman. Simply put, the  woman need for this type of occupation will have to be built like She-Hulk and have the fighting skills of Wonder Woman .Even when women pass their physical fitness tests there remains doubts about their ability.

        The other argument is that women cannot fight if disarmed. This is false, because learning martial arts can reverse this. Many self-defense classes are designed for women with the assumption her attacker will be stronger. The U.S army teaches hand to hand combat so that if a soldier is disarmed, they can effectively fight back. Just being strong will not guarantee winning a fight, if skill is not present. Defeating an opponent requires an estimation of speed, strength, and stamina. Having skill can reduce a strength gap. One should not assume that a woman is just weak by nature.

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Here is a female soldier doing mixed martial arts. Below is a female bodybuilder. The she obviously has strength, but may not be the best fighter.

Some opponents of women in combat use the argument “you don’t see women playing in the NFL.”While it is true sports are modeled on warfare strategy  the objective is not to kill the players. The fact is the army is a force of highly trained killers . This makes people uncomfortable, mainly because the US has presented to the public a “humanitarian” image of the military. This is not the truth and the lugubrious reality is that one must be ready to kill anyone. To ignore this is to ignore thousands of years of human history. Men may have higher aggression levels due to cultural and biological factors. Testosterone may be the biological reason some men love to fight. Culturally, men may be taught to be more physical in confrontation. This does not mean women are less aggressive, but display it in different ways. Anthropologist Helen Fisher described that men will respond in a physical way, while women display it in a verbal manner.  Women are going to have to increase their aggression levels. Learning martial arts will be of great assistance in combat duties. Judo, Karate, or chun kuk do would be perfect for soldiers.

         It is important to examine this development from a biomechanical dimension as well. Upper body strength is critical and women have less of it. The marines reported that 55% of women were having difficulty with tests that required upper body strength. Another controversy was that the three pull-up requirement was going to be dropped. Thankfully this did not happen, because there are many women who can exceed three pull-ups. The upper body consists of the arms, shoulders, and chest. The only way for women to advance is to build up that area of the body. This should be done before attempts at basic training. The average woman would struggle, but a physically fit one would have no issue. Women will have to gain muscle to have that upper body strength. This will prevent musculoskeletal injuries and stress fractures. Weight training does not only build muscle, it can increase bone mass.

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The question remains how much muscle can a woman gain? This varies depending on age, body type, particular levels of fitness, diet, and specific training program. A woman of naturally mesomorphic body type can add more strength through training than an ectomorphic woman. The rate of gain can vary as well. Women can gain at least 40% muscular strength after months of weight training. Women must not be afraid to lift heavy weights. To experience results women need to lift  to the point fatigue happens in 8 to twelve repetitions. The only thing lighter weights will do is allow for more muscular endurance, not strength. The routine must be modified to allow for improvement. This means if a woman can easily curl forty pounds, she should gradually work her way up to fifty. Diet is critical for women due to hormonal differences. Eating a diet of lean protein, unsaturated fats, whole grains, and fresh produce should be done while keeping activity level high. Estrogen will make a woman’s body process more body tissue into fat.  The weight training exercise will allow for the building of more lean body mass. It is also important to take a day of rest so that the muscle can repair and grow.

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The military must be mindful of the meals they serve their soldiers. High fat and sugary foods will result in weight issues. The military already has weight management programs to combat lack of physical fitness. Having the most healthy food selections can combat this problem. It becomes a bigger issue for women, who have a harder time losing weight. Even though women can add mass, the width of the shoulders remains the same. Mechanically it would less total space to add muscle tissue compared to men’s broader shoulders.

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Training can add to an increase in upper body strength.

That would men cumulatively women would have less mechanical advantage when carrying loads or people. Packs can weigh up to a total of eighty pounds. This added to a woman’s own body weight would result in extra physical strain. This explains why women’s injuries are higher. They need to focus more on building pectoralis major, trapezius, biceps and triceps muscles. The so called heavy requirements require infantry soldiers to carry between 50 to 120 pounds. Men even are burdened by overloading, which caused the military to reevaluate essential supplies needed in packs. The Army Science Board even admitted that the overloading of packs caused higher fatigue, injuries,  and decreased mobility. Twenty six percent of men suffer musculoskeletal injuries according to the report “Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Women.” That is high for men even. A solution is to look at the contents of the packs and keep the bare essentials. Water, ammunition, medical supplies , and some food must remain. Objects that are in the packs not related to that should be discarded. Armor will have to be redesigned to fit women better.

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Although women can add muscle to their upper bodies, smaller shoulders give less room to support carry loads. More physically effort would be needed. 

It would seem as if men are more physically capable, but averages do not mean all. There are women weightlifters who bench more than the heavy infantry requirements. Not only that, they train to do heavy lifting most of their lives. Olympic lifters study various methods on how to utilize maximum strength.Methods are important when training soldiers, specifically marines.

         Detractors despite a portion of overlap reject women in combat. Even if women meet the standard, they believe it is no place for a woman. This message comes mostly from conservative pundits who have never served. It is ironic considering most are for aggressive war. Progressive liberals would never support women in combat for reasons opposite of staunch conservatives. The view from the military is more diverse than just simple support or repudiation. The Navy seems more accepting of women in combat. The Air Force has come around, but the Marines despise the idea. It is far beyond view women as frail and weak, but a sexist machismo  fart culture that has developed  over the years. This must change, because it is unprofessional of a modern military force. Some conservative conspiracy theories claim this is one large political correctness social experiment  project. Liberals fail to see that women are biologically different.

Ray Marbus Secretary of the Navy gave a correct assessment articulating we are not interested in the averages, we are looking for exceptional women. Lt.Col Kate Germano  said two elements effected the study: women’s  physical ability and the culture of the Marines. One problem she noted was that female recruits were given different training standards before the study and were gender segregated. Her employment was terminated when she attempted to alter the standards. Women go in to boot camp separate with the expectation of failure.

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An environment that encourages one to exceed and excel, no matter what the challenge will help all soldiers. Yet, expectations must be realistic. All women, just like all men may not be able to pass the physical fitness tests . They should be encouraged to either try again or contribute to the US military in another way.

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The average woman has less upper body strength and lower bone mass. Smaller lungs and hearts mean that the Vo2max is lower.

 As much as women’s groups and feminists organizations like to blame men for the situation, there are women who are also culprits. Katie Petronio a Marine captain wrote an article for the Marine Corps Gazette entitled “Get over It! We Are All Not Created Equal.” She explains why women are not suited for infantry. They are similar arguments repeated by conservatives. This is no a sophisticated report, but a documentation of her experiences. She had an athletic past being able to bench 145 pounds and squat 200. Petronio excelled at Marine corps fitness tests. She developed a spine injury, muscle atrophy in her legs, and restless leg syndrome. Obviously, restless leg syndrome is not induced by heavy lifting. The spine injury could have been a result of that. Her article even admits both men and women were suffering from muscle atrophy. One should ask what her prior medical history was before going to Iraq and Afghanistan. The only thing muscle atrophy indicates is lack of use of muscle, creating a decrease in mass. The ultimate conclusion of this is that soldiers were not getting adequate medical care. Doctors check-ups would have caught any abnormal changes in the body . This does not prove that women are not capable of infantry jobs. It means some are not. Katie Petronio was not suited for combat. The fact she is contributing in stopping qualified women from doing so is ignominious.

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This is the type of woman you want in combat.

The whole point is to remove the 1994 restriction and allow women who are qualified to join. There were claims this will effect morale or break cohesion. This will only happen if the majority of males hate their female co-workers. Standards must not be lowered, because it reinforces myths about women’s physical inferiority and incompetence. This also is more of an insult to women who may be better at physical tasks than their male counter parts. Using the phrase gender neutral standards only adds to people’s trepidation in regards to women in combat. The goal should be standards that fulfill tasks and duties necessary for the position. Women passing and being held to the same standards will eliminate arguments that are given by critics.

           While it is true that women can increase their strength, there are some obstacles that cannot be overcome. Running speed will be slower in women. This is the result of the shape of the pelvis and the angle in which women’s legs are structured. This could be an issue if there is a point in which a soldier has to evacuate or get to a location quickly. Women will have to improve their cardio vascular fitness as much as they can. Although  women’s hearts and lungs are smaller training can alter previous fitness levels.

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Bone mass can be increased, but the structure of the female skeleton will not change.  That explains the disparity with in regards to the number of stress fractures. One solution could be to alter boots for soldiers to relieve some of the strain on their feet. Basic ergonomics can prevent injuries. One example is to bend with your knees when picking up objects. More relevant to this topic is to have women practice carrying packs to get use to the rigor of it. This could minimize some of the sex differences, but not all.

      Based on the two reports, there are some conclusions that  can be made . Women can improve their performance, if trained properly. One case was the three pull-ups requirement. When women were taught to pull-ups rather than the flexed arm hang, more passed. Women must build up their bone and muscle strength through weight training. If they are to keep up with a mixed sex unit this is necessary. The Marine Corps report even acknowledged that “strength training, fitness, calcium/ vitamin D supplements reduces injury to women.” This was not released or mentioned due to the fact of fourteen pages of the report were released. The world is rapidly changing and the military must adjust. Seeing as the US is acting as an occupy force globally, combat has changed. The warfare has become irregular in nature. Women who were restricted from combat found themselves in combat when they went to Iraq and Afghanistan. There was no front line. Women serving in combat will not degrade the US military; aggressive wars,  failed policies, and inability to address veterans issues will. Women have been police officers, firefighters, astronauts,  and construction workers. Collectively, they are few in number because a majority of women would not be able to meet the physical fitness standards. Yet, there are women who can and they should be given the position based on their skill set. It should be the same for the US military.

References

   Cepedes, Andrea. “How Much Muscle Can a Woman Gain With Strength Training?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/198318-how-much-muscle-can-a-woman-gain-with-strength-training/&gt;.

 Sharette, Luke. “Women in the Infantry? Forget about It, Says Female Marine Officer.” NBC News. N.p., 12 July 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2015. <http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/12/12684555-women-in-the-infantry-forget-about-it-says-female-marine-officer&gt;.

Seck, Hope. “New Training Requirement Marks Key Shift in Marines’ Female Grunt Strategy.” Marine Corps Times.com. N.p., 12 July 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://archive.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20140712/NEWS/307120032/New-training-requirement-marks-key-shift-Marines-female-grunt-strategy&gt;.

Cauley, Pamela. “The Biomechanics of Women in Combat.” Pamela Cauley Bush.com. N.p., 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Aug. 2015. <http://pamelamccauleybush.com/leadership-innovation/innovation-methods/biomechanics-women-combat/&gt;.

Murline, Anna. “Why Marines, unlike Army and Navy, Are so against Women in Combat.” Csmonitor.com. N.p., 11 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2015/0911/Why-Marines-unlike-Army-and-Navy-are-so-against-women-in-combat&gt;.

 

Women in Combat : Are They Physiologically Capable of the Physical Demands ?

The Anatomical and Physiological Reasons for Differences in Performance Between Female and Male Athletes

Men tend to have higher levels of athletic performance than women. There are sociological factors that play a role. Boys at an early age are encouraged to engage in physical activity. The opposite is true for girls. Women may not have the same opportunities to develop physical skills as men. Before puberty, there is no gap in athletic performance. Boys and girls are at equal levels of strength and speed.While some of the discriminatory barriers have been removed, the difference in performance cannot be solely environmental or sociological. There are anatomical and physiological factors that effect athletic performance. Elite female athletes would not be able on average, to compete with with elite male athletes. When men and women are given the same training regimen, on average men perform at higher levels. However, this does not mean there cannot be a small sample of women who overlap with some males in terms  of performance. The difference in biology, physiology, anatomy, and endocrinology contribute to the gap in athletic performance.

One factor that effects athletic performance is body structure. Women and men’s bodies differ in particular attributes. Secondary sex characteristics do influence athletic performance. Men have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Having broader shoulders means more space to build muscle on that section of the body.

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This would give men more advantage in sports that require upper body strength  like boxing or weightlifting. Women would have to work harder to gain strength in the upper body. Women have wider pelvises, which effects running speed. However, women are closer to men in lower body strength, so it is not impossible for a woman to outrun a man. Women have a smaller waist  and smaller shoulders, which means limited space for muscle mass. Women are normally shorter in height and weigh less than males. The difference between body composition occurs after puberty, with males developing more muscle mass and women more fat. Women’s fat is concentrated more so in the buttocks, thighs, and hips. Men have larger feet and hands. This could be useful to an athlete depending on what sport. Women have lower bone mass as compared to males. The difference in body structure is due to endocrinology.

        The endocrine system plays a major role in athletic performance. Specifically endocrinology refers to the study of hormones, the organ system itself, and the diseases that could befall it. The hormones that are relevant to performance are testosterone and estrogen . Although estrogen produces fat, there are advantages.

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The functions of the endocrine system.

Estrogen-B has an effect on the speed of contractile tissue, but  it means the muscle is more fatigue resistant. This is critical for recovery after work outs. Exercise physiologists in the past just assumed that males had all the advantages, due to sex biases. Testosterone on the other hand, allows for greater muscle mass. It does not only just effect muscle, but bones ligaments, and tendons. Testosterone also produces more red blood cells. That means men would have higher anerobic capacity. Estrogen and progesterone are sex hormones that have other functions. Estrogen like testosterone is responsible for secondary sex characteristics in females. Progesterone is responsible for preparing the female  body for pregnancy. The endocrine system metabolizes nutrients differently in a woman’s body. Women will have higher subcutaneous fat levels. Fat is needed for ovulation and menstruation. Even the most muscular woman will retain higher body fat than a male. Marathon runners have low body fat percentages, but males are usually at four percent  while women have eight percent.

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Testosterone allows men to have more muscle mass. Women do produce this hormone, but in smaller amounts. Women produce at least one-tenth the amount of testosterone of males .Hormonal levels do vary among individuals, so it is not impossible that a woman producing more testosterone naturally could be exceptionally athletic. Testosterone contributes to protein synthesis which will aid in how muscle will respond to an exercise regimen. This means males will achieve a higher level of muscular hypertrophy. However, hormones are not the only factor in strength. The testis are not the only pace in the male body in which testosterone is produced. The pituitary gland also contributes. The hormone will bind to skeletal fibers as well has having an effect on proteins.   A man could have more testosterone, but not stronger than a particular woman.

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The assumption is that the man would be stronger, because of higher testosterone production.  The testes produce more of the hormone in males, but that does not mean every man would be stronger than every woman.  There is no doubt that the woman in the photo could have more strength than the man. 

The amount of free testosterone is a major factor in muscular hypertrophy. The majority of testosterone is bounded to sex hormone binding gloubin  or non-specific proteins. While it seems that testosterone has all the advantages, estrogen also contributes  to something vital. Estrogen plays a role in protecting bones, the heart, and the brain. Women when they produce estrogen allow for the creation of osteoblasts. This type of cell is what bones are made of. Estrogen will then collaborate with calcium, vitamin D, and other hormones to maintain proper bone health. Recent medical studies have shown that estrogen can protect the brain. This was discovered by examining pre-menopausal  women who had their ovaries removed. This is sometimes done when there is a high cancer risk. Hormone therapy is done to maintain good endocrine health. Estrogen helps the heart by relaxing dilated blood vessels contributing to increased blood flow. The hormone can also maintain and manage high density  lipoprotein, which is essential to having good cholesterol. The endocrine system performs many functions, but the muscular system is also pivotal to athletic performance.

         Muscle and strength are two elements an athlete needs to be successful. When examining this organ system, there is little difference between females and males. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as “girls muscles” or ” man muscles.”  At the cellular level, the fibers are the same.

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Men and Women have the same muscles. 

The difference is revealed in the distribution of certain types of muscle fiber. Hormones do play a role as previously explained, but that is not entire reason for the strength difference. Males have a greater amount of fast twitch muscles fibers. These types of muscle fibers allow for greater bursts of physical out put. Women have more slow twitch muscle fibers, which means they have more endurance. This is the reason why women’s muscles would be more fatigue resistant. Women can develop fast twitch fibers through weight training, but men have more to start off with. According to some exercise physiologists, male’s muscle fibers may actually be bigger. Women are closer to men in lower body strength.

muscle fibersMen still at equal levels of training surpass women in the lower body. Women who go train the same will rarely surpass their male counterparts. Women produce at least two thirds the physical strength of a man. Another important consideration is muscular endurance. This describes the ability of a muscle group to contract over a long period of time. Men could not have more muscular endurance, just because they have more muscle tissue. Training and genetics seem to be essential factors. Muscle activation, blood flow, and metabolism play a role. When examining muscle activation women had more endurance, because they fatigued less quickly and recruited more synergistic muscle groups. Women were found to utilize blood flow better, which aids to muscular endurance. Men and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Although weight training can address some disparities in absolute strength, usually the strongest male is stronger than the strongest female. Males during puberty go through a “strength spurt.” This occurs during the later stages of puberty. This strength gain can even continue into adulthood, when testosterone levels reach their peak. The strength spurt describes the pace of  muscular hypertrophy and is a attained one year after the initial peak rate.

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Zoe Smith most likely followed the same training regimen as her male counterpart. However, he has the advantage of more upper body strength. 

While it is true men have more absolute strength, when comparing men and women of a similar size the disparity is not as large. When examining cross sectional area of muscle it would appear that male and female muscle are equal in strength. Women respond just the same to weight training, but there are some hormonal and histological  factors that could limit physical gains.

       Bones and the skeletal structure are also a reason for athletic performance differences.  The Skeleton’s various tendons and ligaments contribute to biomechanical   function. Women have smaller bones as compared to men. Larger bones on the male body allow for greater articular surface and extra leverage. A large frame means more of an opportunity to hold muscle. Women’s ligaments are looser, which means they have to be mindful of injuries. A wider pelvis means that a woman’s running speed would be slower than a man’s. This does give an advantage in balance, which is required in sports such as gymnastics. Women involved in sports do suffer a higher rate of musculoskeletal injuries. Joints, shoulders, and knees are major points of injury. Even though this statistic is high, building up particular muscles can prevent such damage. Looser joints allows for greater flexibility in women.

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Muscle is not the only player in strength, but bone mass is as well. Men larger bone structure adds to the strength of the lean body mass. Men’s greater height would give them advantage in sports like basket ball or volleyball. More bone mass means the body can withstand more trauma. However, injuries such as concussions can effect men and women both negatively. This is why it is more pivotal for women to build up their bone mass as much as possible.

        There is a difference in levels of cardiovascular fitness. Women have smaller lungs and hearts, which effect how oxygen is utilized. The Vo2 max describes how oxygen is transported to the muscles during exercise. Women have lower levels of hemoglobin and would have less aerobic capacity. Muscles take the oxygen transported and used it to produce adenosine triphosphate which is essential for muscular contraction. This describe the general processing of aerobic power. The aerobic power of males is about 50% greater. This is due to certain factors. A larger heart means there is more blood to pump into the body .Larger lungs allow to fully oxygenate the blood coming from other body tissues.  The role of hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body.

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The body is really an impressive organic machine. While cardio vascular fitness is important element of athletic performance endurance is necessary.

         Endurance can be described as the ability to resist fatigue under periods of physical exertion. Endurance can be determined by how efficiently the body convert calories into energy. Women have an easier time converting glycogen into energy. When glucose levels drop, glycogen acts as a secondary power source. This may explain why women excel at ultra running events. Women’s endurance could be related to estrogen. The hormone seems to have a protective role in regards to the muscles after workouts. There is some indication that estrogen could also control fatigue by inducing a level of serotonin production. There still is more research done to find out the exact role of estrogen in athletic performance.

      These are the average differences between men and women in terms of physiology and anatomy. However. when examining the elite male and female athletes there still is a gap in performance. The gap has remained stable since 1983 according to Olympic records. Generally, there is an estimated ten percent difference in all events. The data could be skewed a little, due to the fact there are still countries that do not let women compete in the Olympics. Women do not participate at the same levels at males do and it has only been recent that women were allowed to engage in serious competition. Although it is a small sample size it still provides an accurate assessment , but no precise.

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Estimates of athletic performance gaps 

Sports such as equestrian events and shooting men and women are close to equal in performance.Given the difference in skeletal and muscle mass one would assume that the gap would be larger. These are averages, but when individuals are examined their is a level of overlap. Some enthusiastically believed that women would catch up to men in performance in the 21st century. This has not occurred and many are doubtful it can happen. While it seems a little presumptuous to say it would never happen, it just may not be in this century. Humans could still be evolving and their is a possibility that women could change as well. This process takes millions of years. Seeing as we have not mastered time travel, this prediction remains speculative. Another problem is related to training methods. Women may not be performing at their very best, due to certain cultural mores. Some women, even ones in sport are afraid of developing muscular bodies. Jessica Ennis famed track athlete had sated she had to overcome that trepidation. Women if they are going to be successful in their sport are going to have to embrace muscular strength. The gap would not be fully closed, but narrowed.

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Women can gain strength, but males have the advantage more type II muscle fibers.

 There is a period in which male and female physical performance is equal.Boys and girls have not fully matured or grown. At this period, strength levels and body composition are the same. Aerobic capacity is even similar.Women do not gain extra strength, unless they train vigorously. Girls will as they mature develop a menstrual cycle. This does not hinder athletic performance. Studies show that athletic performance is not changed during the 28 day cycle. Many myths and old wives tales have surrounded the function of women’s bodies.It was once believed that women lose half their strength during their menstrual cycle. This has been proven erroneous.

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Muscles are not the only contributors to strength, but the skeleton. The three major sex differences in the skeleton are the ribcage, pelvis, and skull.  

This myth was developed around the 19th century based on eugenic foundations. It was assumed that the female body was too weak for strenuous activity and the menstrual cycle was used as proof. The medical professionals of the West said that girls upon reaching puberty, needed a rest cure. This meant doing as little physical activity and protecting the body for child birth. When women began playing sports, this put to rest these ideas. Examining the records it seems that physiology, biology, and anatomy do influence performance.

       After looking at these facts many would assume that males are the better athletes. This is an incorrect conclusion. While male records are higher, individual women athletes have proven extremely skilled. What makes are great athlete is persistence in training regimen, diligence, genetics, and  the rate in which they can master physical skills. When examining those factors biological sex does not seem like a factor. Even though sexual dimorphism is a major factor in athletic performance, the sociological factors cannot be ignored. Women are recent neophytes to the world of professional sports. Women still have to deal with body image issues and traditional gender norms imposed by society. Inequality and discrimination are still present  in terms of access to training facilities, pay, and media coverage. This explains that differences in performance are not always biological, but can be environmental.

References

Doctor, Vanessa. “Is There a Difference Between Female and Male Muscles?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 12 Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/355987-female-male-muscles/&gt;.

Mich, Hannah. “Muscular Endurance Men Vs. Women.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/286883-muscular-endurance-men-vs-women/&gt;.

Latham, Andrew. “Physiological Differences Between Male and Female Athletes.” Chron.com. N.p., 9 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://work.chron.com/physiological-differences-between-male-female-athletes-20627.html&gt;.

Lee, Lexa. “How Do Men and Women Differ Athletically?”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 08 Feb. 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/347443-athletic-differences-between-men-women/&gt;.

The Anatomical and Physiological Reasons for Differences in Performance Between Female and Male Athletes

Women’s muscle strength reacts better to weight training than men’s does

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A study from the University of Alberta produced some unexpected results. While it is true that men are on average stronger, women’s  muscular strength increases and reacts better to training. The idea was that men would gain more strength as recognized by the data. Women showed a dramatic increase. Robert Kell conducted an experiment for twelve weeks with 20 men and 20 women. They performed numerous exercises like bench press, squats, lat-pull downs, neck press, calf raises, crunches, and many others. The subjects did have experience with weight training prior to the experiment. Subjects would train just four times a week.

      The results should not be that shocking. When representing the results in percentages women showed a 38% increase in strength as compared to men’s 28%. Women’s muscles function the same way men’s muscles do. Hormones do effect the amount of muscular hypertrophy women can achieve. Robert Kell is guilty of having a confirmation bias assuming that men would automatically see larger increases.

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Sports Science only in the past several decades has began to focus on women’s athletic performance. 

The assumption is the female body is automatically weaker. Robert Kell seems skeptical about his own data.  The article states : “Robert Kell does not conclude that women react better to strength training than men do, but that is a possible interpretation of his results. Other studies have shown that it becomes increasingly difficult for people to increase their strength, the better trained they already are.” This statement seems flawed. The more one trains the more strength and skill will be acquired. The reason added increases will not be seen is because an individual has probably reach their natural physical limit. Myostatin will regulate the growth of muscle and depending on an individual’s amount it determines  much about possible athletic potential. The following claims seem to contradict the previous statements “The larger strength increase in the female group was likely a result of lower initial strength levels and less previous free weight training experience.” While it is true that women’s body composition is mostly fat, that does not limit them. There is more that factors into strength than just high testosterone levels. The hormonal differences just give men the potential to be stronger.

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Being female does not limit your potential for strength. 

With any experiment one should be questioning the results. The subjects used had experience with training, but it may have been better to use men and women with none at all. One should also question the women subjects. Did they have an athletic past? If so, this could effect the data. Comparing a woman with a long term background in athletic activity with an average man may demonstrate why the percentage increase is large. The article did say that they did have experience, but did not say how long. The amount of training is significant to an experiment like this.

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An athletic woman like her could skew the study when compared to an average man. She already has more experience and potential to  add more strength. 

These are but a few factors to consider. Trying this experiment with elite athletes may produce different results. Depending on what stage they are in their careers, at some point athletes will reach their physical peak. This would probably yield the results that Robert Kell was looking for. The men would all show higher levels of strength in terms of aggregates.

       The last section of the article seems the most revealing about certain biases. The texts proclaims ”  But even this cautious conclusion surprises Kell. Because men make more testosterone than women, Kell had expected men to make more progression.” A real scientist never assumes first, but observes, experiments, makes hypotheses, collects data, and attempts objectively to make conclusions from the information. The subtle message that can be taken from the text is that testosterone makes men “superior.” A ludicrous assumption, but  prevalent myth in sports science circles. A more bizarre claim illustrates the point : ”  Japanese researchers published a study in March 2010 which may explain the unexpected outcome. The Japanese discovered in an animal study that training causes women’s muscles to start producing their own male hormones.” One thing we should remember is that women do produce low levels of testosterone. Calling it a male only hormone is not completely accurate, its just that men produce more. Simply being male does not make you a better athlete. Training, genetics, and elements of psychology are important factors.

Women’s muscle strength reacts better to weight training than men’s does