Taller ,Heavier Female Soldiers Out-Perform Leaner Counterparts In Power Tasks Study Finds


Bigger Women Out-Perform Smaller Women

There have been claims that women are not the problem, it is the military standards. The real error was more obvious, it makes some wonder why it was not mentioned earlier. A study published noted that women who perform the best in combat jobs that require power task are bigger and taller. This was not a shock to a person who understands functional fitness and the basics of the musculoskeletal system. The denser the bones and greater muscle mass means that the body can sustain more physical strain. The fact that body mass index is still used to evaluate soldier performance is more of a shock. This measure has been questionable in its scientific validity and usefulness in relation to calculating healthy weight. Women who do weight lifting can gain weight. This is not fat, rather the build up of lean body mass. The title of the Stars and Stripes article is some what of a misnomer. Leaner can be understood as having less body fat and therefore more muscle mass. The more accurate term here would be women of thinner body types. Military Medicine‘s study revealed that BMI is not reliable for assessing soldier fitness. Women who trained hard to build strength gained extra muscle mass as a result and were marked as being overweight. Qualified women possibly were overlooked for combat jobs due to this mistake. Other methods must be utilized to assess women’s preparedness for combat operations.

          The study took 362 women soldiers and trainees examining their BMI. The result demonstrated that women with higher BMI were better at common soldiering tasks. This included marching under load or dragging causalities. The only flaw with this is that the sample is small. the challenge is finding enough women to participate in such studies. It will take some time for  the numbers of women in combat jobs to increase. The ban was lifted in 2013. The Department of Defense lifted the ban on all positions only in 2015. The study used more active duty soldiers totaling 229. The trainees were 133 of the the test subjects. They did the common soldiering tasks such as the sandbag carry, move under fire, casualty drag, road march, and casualty evacuation. This was done with fighting loads on their bodies that weighed 60 to 90 lbs. The women that had BMI in the range of 25 to 29 were able to perform tasks easily. Women who were taller in heavier did better as well. According to the BMI chart, the 25 to 29 range is overweight. What can be concluded from this is that the body mass index chart does not account for muscle mass.

The chart does not distinguish between fat and muscle mass percentage.
Women if they are to be successful in combat operations, they must meet the same standards.
Women who train for bodybuilding competitions go into an off season in which their weight would be higher. The BMI incorrectly places them on the overweight range.
Building upper body strength is the hardest area for women to improve.

Observers have made this claim before, yet the chart is still in use. There is a claim that obesity rates are up across all of the armed services, but that can be disputed with this information. The BMI chart seems to indicate that women who are in shape and have the 25 to 29 range would be more suitable for combat. There was a suggestion that the BMI should be readjusted or waivers be given. The BMI may just have to be discarded, because it lacks precision in relation to combat readiness. The approach to fitness must also change.

       The US Army at one time seemed to focus on cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance as indicators of soldier fitness. The problem is that strength was not a part of the measure. If the military occupational specialty requires lifting, this is essential. The only rational solution would be to design a program of functional fitness. This would incorporate strength training, runs, and endurance exercise. This was the reason that the US Army updated its standards. It can reduce injury rates, while have a uniform standard that both sexes must meet. It would be ludicrous to classify a fit soldier as overweight and  negatively impact their career. Strength training should not come at the expense of other areas of fitness. One study from 2017 claimed that those who exceeded the weight and height standards took longer to complete the two mile run. This indicates that either they did not train enough for endurance or their cardiovascular fitness was ignored during training. Thus training should have a more integrative approach. Clearly, training needs adjustment and the BMI should be replaced with another form of measurement. Body fat testers could be more useful than BMI.

A skinfold calipher  only measures the fat not entire body weight.
army weight lifting_1482239167380_7424963_ver1.0
When muscle mass is added boy weight can increase.
Endurance is also an essential element of fitness.

The body fat tester is more simple than BMI and does not require computation. Taking this measurement before and after training can help assess soldier physical fitness and health. The error of using BMI  means that soldiers that could have performed better were disqualified due to an unreliable method. Gradually, the US Military has seen the problem and will proceed to fix it. The movement to functional fitness is much welcomed and being implemented in the new combat assessment tests.

        The body mass index does make the mistake of classifying more muscular people as overweight. Taking random selections of strength athletes reveals errors. An observer would look and determine that such people are not overweight or obese. According to the chart they are. Attempts have been made to adjust it to women. The same problem still occurs with the classification. A women who has a high level of fitness could easily fall into the overweight classification by just gaining a few pounds. Obviously, small amounts of weight gain would not harm a person. It is only when it is massive amounts overtime which effect the circulatory and skeletal system. Let us select an assortment of crossfit, bodybuilding, and weightlifting athletes. The examples are of athletes past and present. The reason for this is to show how flawed the method is. Yolanda Hughes was a competitive body builder with a weight of 145 lbs in competition. Using her off season weight would be more reliable considering contest weight is not year round. Her 164 lbs weight would put her in the overweight range although most of her body would be muscle with some fat. Yolanda is 5′ 6” inches tall. Now calculate the BMI value. Yolanda falls in the 26.5 BMI range incorrectly classifying her as overweight. Stephanie Chung’s body is 150 lbs according to crossfit statistics. At 5′ 5” if she were to gain one more pound of muscle she would fall into being overweight according to the body mass index. her BMI is 24.9. Gaining a few pounds would not dramatically alter her health.

Stephanie Chung (150 lbs)
Yolanda Hughes (164  lbs)
Womens Category +75kg
Cheryl Haworth (300 lbs)

Cherly Haworth, who certainly is stronger than the both of them, has more mass and height. The Olympic athlete is 5′  9” with a weight of 300 lbs. The BMI chart only stops at 215 lbs. Her BMI is 44.2, which means she would be extremely obese. Seeing as she is an Olympic athlete and does more exercise than the average American, it would be hard to believe she suffers from weight related health problems. Once more the BMI is providing data that does not match the the condition of a person’s fitness. A woman with high physical fitness could be randomly selected for the BMI measure and it still does not give a correct result. Even when the metric equation is used it produces similar results.

        There is a growing health concern in relation to weight. The BMI is not reliable in predicting or making recommendations related to body mass. While waivers can be used to make exceptions for recruits who are qualified, the BMI probably needs to be discarded. The measurement has done the reverse: If women with a BMI of the 25 to 29 range perform better it would seem BMI from this perspective is an indicator of success. Using the skinfold calipher and then the BMI measure could be a readjustment. If women do not have too high of a fat ratio and fall in the 25 to 29 range, that would indicate that are strong enough for physically demanding tasks. There still remains controversy about women in combat as well as considerable debate. Others support the measure, while there are objections claiming it is unnecessary. Women in combat jobs is going to be more common, so it is pivotal that adjustments be made. A more reliable and precise method of assessing soldier fitness is needed for the US Military. If not then many qualified soldiers will be passed over for combat jobs.

Taller ,Heavier Female Soldiers Out-Perform Leaner Counterparts In Power Tasks Study Finds

Diet Quality Improves Fitness Among The Fittest (2017)

fit womenstrongwomen.jpg

Fitness and Diet Quality

Training is important to athletic performance, but diet is essential. A study from Skidmore Collage showed that diet quality and have a major impact on sports performance. Exercise scientists found that consuming moderate amount protein throughout the day combine with multi-dimensional exercise regimen can increase physical fitness capacity among the most physically fit. This technique is called protein pacing. The term multi-dimensional exercise refers to resistance training, interval sprinting , stretching, and endurance exercise. The paper was peer reviewed and published by  Nutrients and Growth Hormone and IGF-1 Research in 2017. The data shows there is more to learn about sports nutrition and diet. The method which exercise scientist advocates is called PRISE. The system he describes as eating the right food at a certain time and incorporating various exercises. He suggests that it could have wider uses such as improving health. Athletes and casual exercisers can benefit from this information. People who are also trying to maintain good health may have an effective means of doing so.

         The subjects included 30 women and 20 men. This is actually unique in an exercise physiology study. Women outnumbered men as test subjects. These men and women were considered physically fit. The age demographic was diverse ranging from 30 to 65. The problem is their physical fitness was not  specifically prior to the study. The exact physical fitness capacity of 50 subjects was not known prior to change in exercise stimuli. The only information on that was self reporting. The subjects stated that they exercised for 4 days a week, 45 minutes a session , and done so for at least three years. They did both weight training and aerobic exercise. Self reporting may not be as reliable. Assuming no one embellished or fabricated their training routine , it should be correct. Using the body mass index as an indicator of fitness is incorrect. The problem is that it does not account for the variation in somatotype. People of muscular builds could be classified as obese. Those with slimmer bodies could easily be classified as being under weight. Larger women  may not be at a high body fat percentage to an degree which could be harmful, but still could be under the overweight classification. Measuring body fat would be more precise than using BMI.

hot women
The examples of mesomorphic and ectomorphic body types which are difficult to classify on a BIM chart. Clearly neither of these women have a weight problem.
Muscle does not weigh more than fat. Weight is just the measure of how much the force of gravity is acting on an object. Larger women may not be at an unhealthy weight. As long as the skeletal and circulatory system are not effected, the health will be fine.
The fruits, vegetables, whole grains, carbohydrates, and proteins of a diet. There is still considerable debate about what constitutes a healthy diet.
andrea shaw 456
Training is not the only factor in physical fitness progression. Diet and nutrition are a factor. A strong body requires a high amount of calories to fuel physical activity.

These factors could have influenced or effected the outcome  the experiment. The physical fitness capacity most likely varied among individuals in the group. What would be interesting to see is if this experiment was done on professional athletes. If a response to exercise stimuli happens to that group then it can be guaranteed that diet quality is pivotal. The subjects may not be as fit as their self reporting indicated, but it was close enough for the experiment.

       The procedure involved dividing subjects into two random groups. Then the trial involved consuming the same amount of calories and using the multi-dimensional exercise method. This was done for a period of 12 weeks. The first group consumed the recommended protein intake combined with sports nutrition products. The second group’s diet consisted of antioxidant supplements and a higher amount of protein intake. Antioxidants are compounds that stop oxidation. During the process of oxidation, free radicals are produced which could gradually put strain on cells. Consumption of antioxidant rich foods can reduce the amount of oxidation in the human body. It was important to make sure the exercise regimen was identical to prevent distortion of results.

Examples of some foods that contain antioxidants
interval training

Both groups did witness an increase in physical fitness. The group that saw the most benefit was the one that was using antioxidant supplements and protein pacing. The improvement was in upper body power and endurance, core strength, as well as blood vessel health. This effected men and women differently. Men gained more aerobic power and flexibility. Women saw a vast improvement in muscular strength compared to their starting point. Other studies have suggested that  Arciero’s experiment may be correct. If so this could radically change the way athletes train and how people improve health.

Protein pacing and using the PRISE system may be a way to improve or prevent heart related diseases. The manipulation of whey or whole food sources combined with the right exercise could protect the blood vessels of the body. Allegedly. there can be a reduction in blood glucose, insulin, and cholesterol levels. Heart disease and diabetes are becoming too common. Lack of exercise and unhealthy diets have become culprits. Fast food and sugar have become the staple of the Western diet. However, Obesity is not just regulated to the West. As more developing nations increase their standard of living access to different foods from around the world become easily available. Globalization has allowed fast food franchises to have an international presence. The result of this is the rise in weight among the world’s population and more chronic illness. The PRISE system may be a means to improve public health internationally. It should be assumed that one day average life expectancy will increase around the world. Encouraging exercise and healthy diets can improve public health and quality of life for senior citizens.

     Paul Arciero has spent 30 years doing research into protein pacing and exercise. This could vastly improve the performance of athletes in the future. Women have more to benefit from this information. The difference in metabolism in relation to sex makes fitness more difficult. Seeing as women metabolize most of the food they consume into fat it becomes complicated for the female athlete to know what is the right amount of caloric intake. If the fitness regimen of PRISE is effective, women have a simple fitness plan they can utilize. One reason why some athletes may see erratic performance is due to the fact they are not getting proper nutrition. The citric acid cycle explains how the human body  releases stored energy from proteins, fats, carbohydrates, ATP, and carbon dioxide. What this approach does is considers the factors of biology, exercise physiology, and nutrition to increase physical fitness. There is one aspect that can be debated. Stretching may not be a good idea before or  after workouts. Some have thought it could make a person susceptible to injury. There is very little data to say whether stretching before or after training is harmful or necessary. There still remains more to learn about nutrition and its relation to exercise science.

Diet Quality Improves Fitness Among The Fittest (2017)

Strength Comparison Between Untrained Men and Trained Women Athletes (1981)


Female Athletes versus Men

There was an exercise physiology experiment produced in 1981 by James R,Murrow. It was published in Medicine and Science in Sports. The intent was to see female athlete strength compared to average men. A total of 80 subjects were used all were college students. Basketball players and volleyball players were the types of female athletes used for the experiment. Female and male strength was compared as well as strength between athlete women. Relative upper body and lower body strength was compared in the experiment. This involved as the paper stated expressing relative strength in terms of per unit weight, height, and biacromial , and biiliac widths. The assumption was that the men were stronger than trained female athletes. The result was that men had greater upper  and lower body   strength compared to  women in both relative and absolute definitions. Women basketball players had more upper body strength compared to the volleyball players. Both were the same compared to absolute and relative strength. This was only one experiment and for it it be considered scientific fact it must be reproduced. There may be certain  factors that effected results. The mathematics was correct in terms of the use of  multivariate analysis of variance. The problem is simply measuring biacromial width would not give an indication of full strength potential. Biiliac width could be more helpful, but still misleading. Weight as a measurement can be helpful if analyzed from a perspective of body composition. The female athletes used do not solely train for strength. Some sports require also skilled  movements and  quick reaction time. The experiment would have worked better with weightlifters, bodybuilders, or crossfit athletes. The challenge was at the time there was little information on how best for the female athlete to train. Certainly it is now known that a female athlete depending on her height,weight, body composition, and physical fitness capacity can be stronger than the average man. The early studies are fascinating to look back upon for improving experimental methods.

             Volleyball and basketball players have to be reliant on a set of skills. While these sports use a degree of upper body strength, the goal is knowing how to concentrate power when needed. There are many different types of athletes from cricket players, soccer athletes, swimmers, or track athletes. Certain sports require more physical strength than others. Then sports like marathon running require more muscular endurance. Athletes that have more endurance based activities would struggle with sports that require more physical power. Speed, aerobic fitness, and endurance are also essential physical fitness indicators.

Training for athletes vary depending on the sport they compete in. Volleyball and basketball players may not do as much weightlifting compared to a strength athlete. Dribbling skills and hand-eye coordination would be more important than just brute force. The experiment was done at a time when it was being debated whether weightlifting was good for women’s sport performance. This was done with college students not professional athletes. This makes a difference because professional athletes take years to acquire the strength and skill to remain competitive. Their is a point in which an athlete will make physical fitness improvements and reach a peak. At that stage they can no longer enhance physical fitness capacity. Skills can still be learned and improved seeing as their is no physical limitation. Basketball and volleyball require cooperation seeing as they are team sports. Female strength athletes were not available for the study so the result does not give a precise picture. Their are many different types of athletes ranging from race car drivers, golfers, runners, and gymnasts. These require different levels of physical fitness markers. Certain female athletes would be stronger than others. So just using any female athlete from any sport could not give good comparison of maximum physical strength.

          Some understanding of anatomy is required to decipher the experiment. Biacromial width refers to shoulder size. This measurement takes the total length from the left to right acromion. The acromion is a process structure of the shoulder blade.   This is different between men and women, which has implications on strength potential. There is very little current data on  biacromial width. The CDC gathers data on height, weight, and BMI index. There is data archived between 1988 to 1994, which gives an average. The experiment was done in 1981, but it should be assumed that between the five years there was not a dramatic change. Women had on average 14.4 inch (36.7 cm ) should length  compared to men’s 16.1 inch (41.1 cm) total. That is only a 1.7 ( 4.4 cm ) difference. That is not as large as one would assume give the sexual dimorphism in skeletal structure. The data just comes from the United States. Other countries have not really invested in doing this type of measurement.





The only country that did a survey on biacromial with was Sweden. Conducting in 2009 it produced similar results. Women measured 14 inches compared with 15.5 inches of men. The sample was small, but what it did show was that women and men were getting bigger. This measurement is an indirect indication of  somatotype and physical strength capability. The upper body strength in men is more pronounced as indicated by biacromial width. More bone mass in that area enables more muscle to be stored on that section of the body. Biilliac width reveals another aspect of anatomy. Women have wider pelvises, yet one would assume using the previous examples women would have stronger lower bodies.  Women’s lower bodies do not surpass that of men. They can be closer to men in lower body strength,but the gap still is present. That would cause a distortion in the data showing that the female athletes in the study had stronger lower bodies than men. The experiment was able to get the right answer. The Billiac width was probably not as useful. This measurement could be more useful in showing possible running speeds, rather than physical strength.





Although measurements may be flawed, they reveal about an approach to training. Women will have to take special emphasis on increasing upper body strength. Lower body strength increase would be simple too attain in comparison. The measurement technique is just as important as the mathematical methods employed by an experiment.

          The use of multivartate analysis of variance and multivariate analysis of covariance  were used to test the hypothesis. Both fall under the general mathematical classification known as statistical analysis of variance. The mathematics was not done incorrectly, rather how it was utilized. The anthropomorphic measurements were not as good as examining height and weight. MANOVA by definition is a statistical method involved in examining several dependent variables. It is classified as analysis of variance designed to produce a model showing difference among sample groups (estimation procedures ) . MANCOVA  refers to when the conditions of covariates are used to reduce error in data collection. Covariates are the characteristics of  the groups used in the experiment.   Health condition would be classified as a covariate in this experiment. It could be assumed that all 80 subjects were in good health. The physical activity would vary between them seeing as the women would probably do more exercise compared to untrained males . MANCOVA is preferred because of its higher level of precision. That is not to say mathematics can sometimes be victim to human error or subject to interpretation.  Relevant to this experiment the use of MANCOVA was correct. Sample size, billiac and  biacrominon measures are what what threw off  a sound mathematical technique.  Weightlifting statistics would be better sample of data.

Volleyball players do not train specifically for strength. If Foluke Akinradewo did it would surpass an untrained man. She is 6′ 3” and 174 lbs (78.9 kg ).
The groups variance would be men and women. The error would be that variation within untrained men and fit women. The covariates are the characteristics of individuals.
Natlia Zhedik is 6’0 ” and 163 lbs (73.9 kg). It is possible that she is stronger than men who are smaller than that.
Women’s bodies do respond to exercise stimuli.

MANOVA and MONCOVA could still be applied giving  providing a conclusion that would be more precise. While this was done with college students, it would be fascinating to see how the untrained college men would do with professional female athletes. The conclusion would  be different. The relative and absolute strength aggregates would have to be adjusted.

          What needs to be known is how strong the average untrained man is. The only data that can be gathered is from strength training recommendations. These are not from Olympic or professional sporting events, rather from fitness and exercise science experts. The term average is general, because people vary in size, weight, and height which may give them a higher level of natural strength prior to training regimen. According to Livestrong an untrained novice lifter could be capable of lifting between the range of 135 to 175 pounds depending on their total body weight. This is not because the male body is better than the female body rather a difference in weight and body size. A woman who is 132 lbs could be able to benchpress 64  lbs. Theoretically, a woman who trains for years can either an attain the strength of an untrained man or close to it. Trained men are stronger than most women. Even under these conditions it is not impossible for overlap to occur. Genetics, methods of training, somatotype, nutrition, and diet contribute to athletic performance. Muscular hypertrophy and myogenesis operate in the same way physiologically in the female body.

Women have the same muscles. 
There are some men who do not have high levels of strength. 
iron chicks
Insulin like growth factor I and growth hormone play a role in muscular hypertrophy. 
Women have to train harder to attain a certain level of physical fitness. 

The biggest factor come to the size and distribution of Type II muscle fibers. These are designed for more explosive power rather than endurance. Males tend to have more fast twitch muscle fibers, however training can have an immense impact on women’s strength gains ( Muscle Fiber Type Can Vary Among Individuals). Women’s muscle fiber distribution can vary depending on individual physiology and body structure. What this means is that being female does not limit athletic endeavors or potential. Rather the fitness starting point is lower and will take more effort to increase. It would be incorrect to say that all men are stronger than all women. Some would misinterpret the study in this manner.

        Strength has to be measured in a precise way. The study used body measurements of the upper and lower body then used MANOVA and MONCOVA. The better method would be to have subjects use weights to determine strength. This would allow for seeing how much force  type II muscle fibers can produce. Arm wrestling is not a good measure. Technique and leverage can be used by smaller opponents to win matches. That means a smaller person would easily defeat a bigger one. Hand grip testing is better,but this once more is only an approximation. Seeing weightlifting records demonstrate that there are female athletes stronger than untrained men.  MANOVA and MONCOVA could still be applied and produce a correct conclusion to the experiment. It is possible that with some samples untrained males just have high degrees of  natural physical strength. Strength levels can vary among  individuals regardless of sex. The men in the sample most likely did not all have a uniform level of strength. That is why MANOVA and MONCOVA had to be adjusted for height and body size. Instead of relying on body measurements, the average men should be given lifting tasks along with the female athletes. Then analysis of variance should be used. Seeing as data was collected from the first method, compare it to the weightlifting statistics. The 1981 study was limited by the time it was produced. Women’s weightlifting did not become an Olympics sport until the year 2000. There were few women weightlifters that a college campus would have access to. The odd aspect is why they did not seek out female track and field athletes. If one really wants to see the full degree of female physical strength subjects would come from sports that require that the most. The method was slightly flawed, but the mathematical techniques could not negate them.


Strength Comparison Between Untrained Men and Trained Women Athletes (1981)

Chis Chew: Can Women Build Big Muscles and Won’t My Muscles Grow ?

Can Women Build Big Muscles  and Why My Muscle Won’t Grow

Women and sports performance is an unexplored topic in exercise science. There is debate about women’s physical capabilities. Chris Chew answers some of these questions for Health Guidance. Two questioned asked is can women build big muscles and why won’t my muscles grow?  The first question discussed the extent of women’s muscular development. Women do find it harder to build muscle. It certainly is not a simple process.Much of it involves training, diet, and long term dedication. Women who lift may have an irrational fear of getting “big.” This term is relative. What may be large to one person could be small to another. Few women could reach the size of a Jeff Steid, which some women think they can. There seems to be an overestimation of potential. The female bodybuilders that are on stage if one compares their weight are not big. They would weigh less than the average man and definitely less than the largest male bodybuilder. Women can build muscle and not be large. Some bodybuilders are smaller than what an observer would think. Building muscle does have benefits to women’s health. What really hinders women’s embrace of strength and fitness is the attitudes directed at the female body. The idea that women should be weak and delicate should be discarded. Female athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts are embracing this by attempting to gain size. There are certain steps that must be followed to ensure progress in fitness goals. Chris Chew has good insights, yet some of his exercise science claims can be challenged.

        The first question ponders the extent of female muscular hypertrophy from weight training. Chris Chew states ” there is no way women will build big huge muscles unless you are on special supplementation and specially designed training system. ” He then goes on to state some women could also add to this anabolic androgenic steroids. There is performance enhancing drug use in sports, but muscular women are accused with out evidence of using them. Not all women who compete are on steroids. The appearance that is produced is mostly a product of hours of weightlifting and nutrition. Steroids do not create superhumans or champions.  The majority of women have lower muscle mass, yet there are some women that do have higher potential. Somatotypes and genetics can determine muscular growth not just sex or hormones. Women with more muscular bodies prior to training could see a higher degree of  growth compared to women with thinner structures. Seeing as women can differ in size, height, weight, and body type what training does to their body can vary. The same training regimen will not work for every individual. That means starting off it could be constant trial and error attempting to create a certain look. Many women who enter bodybuilding take years or decades to sculpt a particular physique.





It would be incorrect to say the testosterone is required to build a muscular body. The difference with men and women is that males have more natural strength. When testosterone levels increase in boys body composition changes during puberty. Women do grow in terms of bone and muscle mass, but do not have a strength spurt. The male body has more muscle. Women can still increase size through training due to other hormones produced during exercise. Insulin like growth factor 1 and growth hormone are active in women which aid in muscular hypertrophy. Genetically the MSTN gene dictates myostatin function, which control how large the muscles will become. Testosterone levels can vary among men and women. Yet,men’s higher production of free testosterone allows for a greater base t start from. This explains why the the most muscular women are not as muscular as the biggest men. A woman seeking to build muscle must remain consistent with training, diet, and do the regimen for certain period of time. What a person body looks like for training depends on several factors.

          Women will experience muscular growth from lifting weights. Depending on the goal in mind this could lead to numerous directions. What Chis Chew mentions as myth is only half true. No one automatically looks like a bodybuilder from just some training. He poses this question :   So will women who lift weights in their workouts build more muscle tissue? Women’s bodies are capable of that. He insists that it will result in a “toned” body. Toning is still building muscle. It is nothing more than a gendered term to make weightlifting more appealing to women. From an exercise science perspective no such thing exists. The distinction is in aesthetics. The way the muscle is shaped and conditioned produces certain looks. Terms like toned or bulky just describe an appearance not an anatomical fact. The toned appearance is the lowest level of muscle on a female body. The female bodybuilder body has a low level of body fat with more definition.





There are women who fall in between the bulk and toned definition. They are  not muscular enough to be considered bulky, but too big to be toned. Their bodies resemble that of figure and physique competitors. Lightweight to middleweight female bodybuilders have this appearance. At this point the terms are just arbitrary and imprecise. There really is not bulky or toned muscle at the cellular level. The reason why some women are afraid of lifting weights is that they believe muscle and strength is not feminine. Women no matter what they look like should not have to be subjected to insults about their body. There is nothing wrong with a muscular or strong woman. Sadly,some women have internalized body image conformity. Muscle can enhance the female form. It may not be the mainstream idea of the female aesthetic. The hardcore fitness and sports woman does not care about the status quo in regards to women’s capabilities.

          Building muscle requires a high caloric intake. Women have to balance this with care. Seeing as metabolism works differently in their bodies food can be converted mostly into fat. Basal metabolism in the female body is lower. Estrogen production allows for greater fat storage. This means women’s activity level must be high enough to burn calories. Restricting calories would be a mistake,because it is not providing the body enough energy for the intensity of exercise. Diets may work for a certain period. Some may find that the weight comes back either because they were not consistent or they did not exercise enough. Muscle has the ability to burn calories. A woman seeking to manage her weight can benefit from a regular weight training schedule. If a woman is seeking to build muscle protein consumption is necessary.





There are some food that cannot be consumed. High sugar and fructose corn syrup based sustenance can cause weight gain gain. Too much fat consumption can also be an obstacle to diets. Women may notice they gain weight when lifting. This is normal. The body mass that is being acquired is muscle tissue. The scale can be misleading considering it does not tell you fat to muscle ratio. The body mass index is not the best way to indicate healthy weight.   According to calculations, many bodybuilders would be classified as obese. Obviously this is incorrect. Weight refers to the amount of gravitation pulling on the body, while mass is the the amount of matter in an object. A person who is in  Outer Space would technically be weightless, but would not have lost mass. The “large” women are stage are really not as large as they appear. The biggest female bodybuilders could either be between the 165 or a little more. Male bodybuilders can easily exceed 200 lbs. The fear of becoming “big like a man” is misplaced. Women’s bodies on stage are exaggerated by tans, low body fat, and a particular type of conditioning. This makes the body look bigger from the perspective of an observer. Eating becomes essential to maintaining muscle size.

          There are benefits to a weight training regimen Chris Chew explains. He claims that muscle can burn calories even while you are asleep. Women who theoretically have more muscle would be able to burn more calories while being awake or sleeping. Fat does not burn as many calories as muscle tissue. The reason why women have a harder time losing weight or managing it is related to sex hormones and muscle to fat ratio. Regular weight training can solve this problem. Musculoskeletal mass decreases with age. One benefit Chew forgot to mention is that weight training can also combat sacropenia. Muscle loss happens as we age and this could effect women disproportionately. If women have less muscle to start off with, this would be more devastating. Being active throughout life can build enough muscle mass so that mobility is not hindered.  Bone health can be preserved by increasing density from exercise.Osteoporosis is a health threat to women that is too costly to ignore. Besides bones and muscles, the  circulatory system can also benefit. High cholesterol and heart disease are being endemic to countries with high fat and sugar based diets. The Western diet as it is referred to could be responsible for the increase in diabetes. Exercise and a change in nutrition can prevent many forms of chronic illness. It would be a wise investment for women to take up lifting or other forms of exercise to maintain health.

          Women who are not afraid of being strong or building muscle need some guidelines for fitness. Others who are progressing may reach a road block. Chris Chew reveals some may stop seeing progress after just a few months. The reason is that a novice may be doing something wrong. Chis Chew lists seven common mistakes. Over training can reverse progress and possibly harm health. The muscle tissue needs some damage from lifting to grow. Being too intense can cause rhabdomyolysis. Muscle tissue can get so damaged it breaks down and then releases protein in the blood stream. Having too long of a training session can also be counterproductive . A sufficient amount of rest should part of the process. Drinking can also do more than just effect the liver and the dendrites of the brain. It may have a negative impact on muscle growth. This should be avoided. Getting enough sleep is not only good for  your mental and physical health it contributes to athletic performance. Muscular hypertrophy requires rest to ensure recovery so that the muscles can grow stronger. There also must be a variation in workout routine. The muscles must be challenged to ensure a change from exercise stimuli. Progressive overload has to be done increase muscular development. When a novice can easily lift a certain amount of weight, then it needs to be increased. Protein consumption must be emphasized. It has been debated what is the correct amount among nutritionists and exercise physiologists. These are just a few problems that a novice could confront when attempting to build muscle.

       Building muscle is not simple. This requires knowledge of anatomy, exercise science, diet, nutrition, and physiology. The best method has been difficult to determine. What is known is that the same regimen may not work for every single person. Women’s bodies may actually have more capabilities than realized. It is just that exercise physiology is rushing to catch up. Women should not be discouraged from being active or getting bigger. Thinness has been presented as the image of health to women. Being thin does not indicate good health. Lower amounts of bone and muscle mass could make a person more susceptible to osteoporosis or sacropenia. Muscle may actually useful in preserving women’s health. One does not need to train to the levels of professional athlete to see benefits. Daily moderate levels of exercise can be enough to combat illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and morbid obesity.  For the women who are afraid to build muscle or lift there is nothing to worry about. It can be good for your health and it can enhance your appearance. Women who are serious about their fitness should also realize that training takes time. Results do not happen overnight. Chris Chew gives just a general guideline. Be sure to consult personal trainers, coaches, and academic fitness journals for the best approach.

Chis Chew: Can Women Build Big Muscles and Won’t My Muscles Grow ?

The Best Way To Improve Muscle Strength (2016)


Best Way To Improve Strength

A study by Human Performance and Neuromuscular Physiology at Loughborough University may have found an efficient way to improve muscle strength. There continues to be debate on what is the best way to improve muscular strength. What Dr. Jonathan Folland suggests from the study was that short bursts of contractions lasting one second can help. Sustained three second contractions can also contribute to muscular strength. Strength training has multiple applications related to health and treatment of disease. Rehabilitation and the treatment of osteoarthritis strength training has become a solution. Athletes looking to improve their performance incorporate it into their training. There was at time in which some athletes believed that using weights would harm their performance. The scientific data proves the opposite and there is more to learn. The study claims ”  the results showed that explosive contractions are an easier and less tiring way of increasing strength and functional capacity of the muscles, and therefore a highly efficient method of training.”  The role of the nervous system was not ignored. Apparently, the nervous system can switch on trained muscles. This makes sense seeing as the nervous system is responsible for both voluntary and involuntary movements. The traditional method was to train the muscle to the point of tiring. This method is used more for making muscles larger, rather than stronger. Some get confused when a person that appears bigger may not be able to lift as much as a smaller person. Training for aesthetics and performance are two different fitness goals. A fitness regimen may not require an individual to train to a high degree of exhaustion.

          The experiment used  a total of 43 men who were in their twenties. All were in good health condition. None had been through lower body training or done any form of training for 18 months prior to the study. The sample does not include women. If one really wanted to see the dramatic change in muscular strength, women would be the best subjects. The average woman has a lower amount of muscle mass compared to the average man.  However, their bodies react to strength training. They experience muscular hypertrophy and can gain strength. If women have lower strength and muscle mass they would be perfect to demonstrate the effectiveness on the body. The study should not include professional female athletes, because it would distort the study. This is why subjects with average levels of physical fitness have to be selected.

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Tiny weighst

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The only muscle that was examined was the quadriceps muscle. The first group was required to do explosive contractions. The second group had to do the sustained contractions. The last set of subjects acted as a control group. This experiment lasted three months. Although the sample was small in comparison to other studies, it should be enough to have a reliable result. Three times a week in those months subjects trained with 40 contractions. The force was closely monitored following that measurements were recorded. This data was related to physiological and performance changes documented prior and after exercise. What was concluded goes against the common strength training method. Explosive burst contractions are better at building strength.If this is true it will change how athletes and lay exercisers approach exercise.

        Dr. Folland was confident that the “no pain no gain” motto is not actually based in exercise physiology fact. This experiment must be replicated to be considered fact. Sample size, confounding factors, or other effects could have effected the results. Folland then explains : ” Whereas traditional strength training is made up of slow, grinding contractions using heavy weights which is quite hard work, this study shows that short, sharp contractions are relatively easy to perform and a very beneficial way of building up strength. ” The idea that training to exhaustion of the muscle will encourage greater hypertrophy as well as strength. There has to be enough microtrauma  to induce muscle growth and strengthening of the fibers. Learning more about how strength training techniques can make improving sports performance easier. Fast explosive contractions could built strength efficiently and in a shorter amount of time. It must also be noted that there are other factors that determine sports performance. Diet and nutrition are critical, because the body requires fuel for long periods of physical activity. Genetics and somatotype also contribute to physical fitness capacity. There will still be variation among individuals in terms of results from a training regimen.

       Short explosive contractions could  be an effective means of  treating osteoarthritis. This disease refers to when flexible tissue at the ends of the bones wears down. Cartilage acts as a protector and cushion between bones. Osteoarthritis can damage joints in the hips, hands, knees, and spine. Symptoms include pain in joints, stiffness, bone spurs, swelling, loss of flexibility, and a grinding sensation in the bones. There are numerous risk factors. This could include age, sex, constant stress on a joint, unhealthy weight, genetics, or bone deformities. Weight training could be both a preventative measure and a treatment. Lifting heavy would be too dangerous with someone with osteoarthritis. However, short contractions could be the best for someone with the disease. It will take some time to see if this type of exercise will be effective for people wit osteoarthritis.

       Strength training is more complicated than previously thought. What can be said with certainty is that strength training can protect musculoskeletal health. Muscles and bones are built with exercise. This protects against break down that is related to age. This study must be repeated to see if can be applied to various individuals of different fitness levels.   Dr. Jonathan Folland  seems confident that explosive short burst contractions are more efficient at building strength. There are multiple methods designed to increase muscular strength. The best way to approach it continues to be debated. There also has to be a consideration to the fact everyone responds differently to a training regimen. Individuals may experience more muscular hypertrophy and strength than others based on genetics and body type.

The Best Way To Improve Muscle Strength (2016)

Hieu Truong: So You Want to Pick Up and Lift a Man Overhead?



Pick A Man Up Overhead

There are many fitness goals that both professional athlete and casual exerciser attempt to meet. Rarely do you hear a woman say her goal is to lift a man overhead. The internet  has shown us many feats of strength coming from women. The question is how would a  woman go about actually doing this? Hieu Truong provides her expertise in weightlifting to give an answer. Truong asked this question of her friends and associates who coach and participate in weightlifting, strongman,  and powerlifting. Although it may seem like a ludicrous question it is a fun scenario to ponder in regards to exercise physiology. There are factors that determine if this is possible. The size and weight of the man being lifted should be taken into consideration.  Hieu Truong  provides insight : ”  I was also reminded multiple times that I should not expect to ever pick up my husband and press him overhead. ” She is a weightlifter her self but she explains ”    unfortunately, they’re right: my husband weighs twice as much and is over a foot taller than I am. ” Truong then goes on saying she does not expect to do this with her husband or any man. Although her husband is large, with some effort she may be able overhead lift a man of smaller size. Possibly she could do it to a man of her size. Height would not be a factor rather total body mass. The second factor relates to if the man is resisting being lifted or not. The size of the woman is also a factor. Then there are the use of push presses and is there a set way to lift a man off the ground. The program Hieu Truong  has never been tested, yet it is fascinating to see how a training regimen is devised.

          Before any lift is attempted the size of our subjects needs to be clarified. For these tests the weight of 185 lbs is used for a man. The reason they use that weight is because it is the closest measurement to a standard  Olympic barbell. According to the CDC the average weight for the American male at 5 ‘8” is 200 lbs. This comes  down to weight lifting a man who is obese or extremely musclebound one  would be the most difficult. Muscle does not weigh more than fat so if it were a muscular man and a fat one they could weigh the same.

Knowing that a man could be around a 185 to 200 lbs weight range, this gives an idea about how strong a woman’s body would have to be to deal with the weight.Lifting a man overhead would be nearly impossible for an untrained woman. These actions require a good amount of upper body strength. Then the woman lifter’s muscle to fat ratio becomes a factor. Her weight and muscle fiber type will determine if she can lift overhead a man. Type II muscle fibers are the most important to explosive strength . To hoist a man in the air, it would mean that more type II muscle fibers would have to be concentrated in the upper body. The woman lifter faces two physiological and biological challenges. The first is that total body mass is less and the amount of type II muscle fibers is lower. The endocrine system produces more estrogen in women, which has an effect on body composition.  This means a woman would have to work harder in achieving a high level of strength. Training and technique can negate some of the  physical differences.

All women are not the same. Some have greater strength potential than others.
The upper body is the hardest area for women to gain strength.
Women’s bodies do experience  muscular hypertrophy through long term weightlifting.

This does not close the gap in physical fitness capacity. It should be noted that Hieu Truong proposed two scenarios. The first is if the man is resisting being picked up. That would be challenging for anyone seeing as a person would be actively moving. The other case involves a man who is compliant with the lift. From this a hypothetical training program can be developed to see if a woman can lift a man overhead. The two training programs both utilize back squats, push presses, bench presses, and sandbag cleans.

          The attempt to lift a man without his assistance requires movement patterns from the legs and hips. This is very helpful, because the lower body is easier for women to add strength to. Also the man who is being lifted must be in a particular position. The goal is to get them upon the shoulders of the woman so she can lift him in the air. The technique here would be the Steinborn squat. Knowing that most likely the woman weighs less than the man being lifted her strength reserve would have to be higher than the weight being lifted. If the strength reserve is only equal to the weight being lifted the woman would not be able to successfully execute the feat. The Steinborn squat puts more force on the back and knees, which means such areas of the body must be strengthened through progressive overload. A woman would have to reach a target squat of 225 lbs. The upper body strength still is a requirement so a 225 lbs bench press is recommended by Phillip Stablien. The weightlifting coach also suggests a 205 push press, which may actually mimic the lifting of a person.

An athlete doing a log press
The overhead lift being done by a female bodybuilder.
An athlete must have a high strength reserve in comparison to the strength that they use for the action.

The challenge is asymmetry when holding the human body compared to a weight. There are other exercises that can be used to attain the required strength levels. The sandbag could be another close imitation of the human body being lifted.  The biggest problem with lifting or moving a person is limited options for holding. Then there is the shifting center of gravity. Sandbags basically a more like dummies that can be used as a test run for this exercise experiment. The log press is an exercise part of training for strongman and strongwomen  events. It is part of the competition, but it can be applied to lifting a man overhead. Holding the log is much easier compared to the sandbag. The benefit is that it allows the person to focus more on building brute strength, than applying balance with center of gravity in mind. Adding the total amount of weight required for a woman to move it would be 655 lbs. It would be harder for a woman of ectomorphic body type to attain this level. Women with more natural strength and muscular body structure could do this. There are videos that show women lifting men overhead.  The first video shows a woman who is in shape using What appears to be the Steinborn squat. However, she does struggle to execute it. That is an indication that she needs to work on building her strength reserves. The other two videos show the overhead lifts of a bodybuilder and strongwoman.

Dawn Riehl was able to lift the man in the video easily because of her high strength reserve. During her competitive years her squat was 345 lbs and a bench press of 315 lbs. That means she can move a total of 660 lbs, which is over the 655 lbs marker. She was a bodybuilder meaning she trained for aesthetic purposes, rater than strength. Dawn if she trained like a strongwoman could have gotten much more powerful. The last video shows strongwoman Aneta Florczyk lifting men overhead multiple times. Her bench press was 220.5 lbs and 456.4 lbs squat. Her total weight lifted would be 676.9 lbs. That means she would be stronger than Dawn and it explains why she was able to toss those men so easily in the video. Aneta Florczyk’s weight was 165 lbs and Dawn Riehl’s 132 lbs. Women can do this even when they come in different sizes. It may be difficult to determine which method is the best, but it is known lifting a person without assistance is harder.

     Lifting a person who is a willing participant or conscious is easier. Mike MsKenna says ”  Assuming you’re working with a man within the realm of your strength–say, 100-150% of your weight–then you could put him over your head at some point. ” His directions are more specific compared to other approach. There should be certain days in which front squats and back squats should be done. There is an overlap with suggestion of using sandbags. Deadlifts and heavy cleans are also advised in this method. This technique functions on a four day a week training split. What was extrapolated from this hypothesis was a chart of exercise and their intensity level. The training schedule goes as follows. The fist day requires snatch balances, back squat ladders, Turkish get-ups, T bar and bent over rows. The second day will involve cleans, deadlifts, front squats, and bench press. The third day requires back squat, overhead recoveries, arms, and Romanian deadlifts. The last day will involve log cleans,presses, sandbags, and yoke carries.


sandbag exercise
Weights do not have limbs like a human body.

There seems to be more attention to detail compared to the other hypothetical method. Practice makes this work. The man being lifted has to be practice with as many times as possible. First when in the air or on the ground. The biggest factor is the man being able to hold the plank position. The method presented in scenario two seems more meticulous in approach. This is a very unconventional fitness goal, but there are women who can pick up men. Fireman’s carry, over the shoulder, and cradle carry are what women can do with strength training. Women can lift men overhead with either of these methods or scenarios. Which technique works the best has not been determined.

       Lifting a man overhead would be no simple feat according to  Hieu Truong. The man being lifted determines the success of the feat of strength. A smaller or thinner man could be no problem lifting overhead . Around  the 132 lbs to 149 lbs range would not be too much weight. If a man exceeds  195 lbs range women would require a huge amount of strength. A woman of  larger size could lift many men seeing as bone density would be aiding her. Beyond just a simple fitness entertainment theory, this could have important applications. Women are entering physically demanding occupations, which require a certain degree of muscular power. The military and firefighting departments could benefit from the use of sandbag exercise and strongwoman training to improve women’s performance. The US Military is now implementing a set standard for physical fitness for both of the sexes and women can benefit from functional fitness training.

lA6y8lLjobc The argument used often is that women should not do these jobs, because they do not have the strength. Detractors claim that it would be impossible for a woman to carry a man out of a combat situation or rescue them from a burning building.  Training and diet can make a difference in physical fitness capacity. The point is to have an objective. The lifting a man overhead scenario can be retooled to evacuating an injured coworker or comrade. If women were to be given the proper instruction, then questions about physical competence would be resolved . The lift a man overhead scenario is more controlled compared to the situations of soldiers, firefighters, and police. However, it may make for a good simulation and training of the body for physical demands. Seeing as women have to train harder it may take some time to do an overhead lift of a man. Months or possibly years it can take to build the physical strength necessary. Consistency, time, and training can eventually change the fitness capacity of the human body.

Hieu Truong: So You Want to Pick Up and Lift a Man Overhead?

Sports Medicine Weekly : Are You Fit Enough For Mars ?

SpaceSapce fit

Are You Fit Enough For Mars ?

There has been a renewed interest in space and astronomy. The US government wants to create a space force, the program Cosmos is getting a sequel, and the discovery of exoplanets has cause excitement. It may be centuries before actual humans can travel between galaxies. The first step to that task is to master travelling between planets in the Solar System. Mars is a great candidate for future space exploration with astronauts. While the Mars Pathfinder captured impressive images, seeing something for yourself  has a greater impact. Outer Space is a real mystery. It is uncharted territory that humanity has yet to completely map. Navigation is not the only obstacle. The human body was adapted to the conditions of Earth. Microgravity can have certain effects on the organ systems of the body. The most notable is the muscular and skeletal system. Long spaceflights could decrease physical fitness. The longer it is, the more the musculoskeletal system could be at risk. Certain jobs like this demand a measurable level of fitness. There is an amount of exercise required to prevent such loss of muscle and bone. Mars has a more harsh environment compared to the Moon. Travelling to Mars would be more strenuous in comparison. Making it suitable for colonization would be a long term project. Kansas State University produced a study to determine the level of fitness required for a planetary mission to Mars. It also simulated performance with in flight equipment. It is likely that a successful mission to Mars can be done, but its is important to have detailed understanding of the planet.

           Mars is a terrestrial planet thought to be at one time similar to our own. The atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide (95.7% ), nitrogen (2.7%) and argon (1.6%).  The surface gravity of Mars is 0.38  g . The environment is a place volcanoes, immense canyons, and frozen ice caps. The surface temperature ranges from -125 to 25  degrees Celsius. Mars only has two moons which include Phobos and Deimos . Some have speculated that these are captured asteroids. The planet may appear to be a dry desert wasteland, but there are some dangers to potential space explorers.  Ultraviolet radiation levels could be harmful to human health. Mars does have seasons due to its tilted axis. The axial tilt of the planet comes to a total of 25.19 degrees. Ice caps provide proof of seasonal change, which grow in the winter and shrink in the summer. Dust storms can be a peril to any astronaut on Mars. The air is thin, but dense enough to allow for weather. A combination of high winds enables the red sands to be exacerbated causing sand storms.

A day on Mars is equivalent to 1.03 days on Earth.
Muscle atrophy if they are not exercised. This will be an issue in a microgravity environment.
Aerobic capacity is one element of physical fitness.
Even a muscular person could experience a loss of mass in Outer Space.

The only environment on Earth that comes close to a Mars like setting is our deserts. However, the sandstorms on Earth are no where as extreme. Conditions are not exactly the best for human habitation. A different type of space suit would also be required. Going onto the Martian surface would require a pressurized suit equipped with oxygen supply. Otherwise the low atmospheric pressure could cause the fluids in the body to boil  to a dangerous temperature. There is no magnetic field, which means human explorers would be vulnerable to cosmic rays. Spending long periods of time on Mars could pose a serious health risk. One possible solution would be to have large shielded housing structures that would protect human life. This is only a small amount of information known about Mars.

         The goals of the experiment as stated from the abstract was to “determine values and ranges for key aerobic fitness variables that can individually map the level of success for planetary mission tasks performance for long-duration spaceflight, with the goal to develop a predictor-testing model that can be performed with in-flight equipment.” Part of the task is not only getting on to the surface of Mars, but how to ensure a safe journey. Reaching the planet could be just as physically demanding as colonizing it. There have been proposals of using the Moon as sort of a testing ground for possible terraforming. If humanity can successfully colonize the Moon, then it can be done with Mars. Astronauts need to be in the best health and physical condition to prepare for future missions. At the moment there is limitation in terms of funding and technology. Spacecraft will have to be more durable. Exercise equipment needs to be able to build large amounts of  physical fitness.

         The experiment selected 45 men and women who did hill climbing as well as a surface traverse task. These task were performed from low to moderate activity simulating a lunar and Mars like environment. The subjects moved supplies and set up communications towers. The point of this was to see a change in metabolic response. Aerobic fitness was described in terms of ventilatory threshold (VT), and critical power. Performance was determined by ” logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis were used to determine the cutoff thresholds for each aerobic fitness parameter that accurately predicted task performance.” Both Cycling and rowing Vo2 peak were utilized in the experiment. It should be assumed that all the men and women used were at high fitness levels prior to the experiment. Otherwise, this could effect outcomes.  The results produced that   ventilatory  threshold and critical power were good indicators of determining who could complete mission tasks. This suggests what type of physical fitness test could be used for long term spaceflight or travel between planets. 

        The study concluded with this statement : ” In summary, we identified aerobic fitness thresholds below which task performance was impaired for both low- and moderate-intensity mission-critical tasks.” The study explains further that “In particular, cycling V˙O2peak, VT, and rowing CP could each be used to predict task failure.” Many physically demanding occupations have a fitness test to determine if a candidate is qualified for a job. This experiment has more than a test of qualification, rather how much stress the human body can take in a radically different environment. Humans evolved to live in places in which gravity effects their bodies. Space can change the human body possibly at the cellular and genetic level. The brain even may be effected during long spaceflights. A  lucid understanding of physical fitness, spaceflight’s impact on health, and other hazards must be established. More details and tests must be done to make a mission to Mars a success. What has been determined is that space travel requires a certain amount of physical fitness.


Sports Medicine Weekly : Are You Fit Enough For Mars ?