Women Run Faster After Taking Newly Developed Supplement

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds Combo of minerals and other nutrients might boost performance

According to a study conducted by Ohio State University women saw an increase in running speed with a nutritional supplement. This experiment involved women who took this new nutritional supplement  and another group of women who took a placebo. This was a great way to devise the experiment rather than telling the placebo group that they were not taking anything special. Such findings indicate that there is a possibility that women’s athletic performance can be greatly improved, if tailored to their biological and physiological structure. The major problem is that exercise physiology studies or experiments mostly use men. Women are not the same as men, which is why if they are to get the best training and nutrition programs, experiments must used female subjects. Women are now serious athletic competitors and they need supplements to meet their competition and performance objectives. The results were published in the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition . Such studies are going to change women’s athletic performance by fixing deficiencies in nutrition. While training is essential, diet and nutrition have proven to make a difference in athletic performance.

        The minerals that were given to women included forms of iron, zinc, copper and  carnitine. The supplement also phosphatidylserine, which was derived from both fatty acids and amino acids. Carnitine was also derived from amino acids. phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid responsible for the health of human cells. The omega 3 fatty acids that are in it called EPA and DHA. The role it fills is to maintain healthy cell membranes. Phosphatidylserine can be produced in the body, but can also be found in particular foods. This phospholipid contributes to cellular function and also provides help to other tasks. Phosphatidylserine  is responsible for bone matrix formation, heart beat coordination, hormone secretion by the adrenal glads, and testicular function in men. The phospholipid also may play a role in maintaining neuron health and cognition.  Carnitine can be found in most cells of the human body. It is involved in energy production. It must transport fatty acids to the mitochandria, while removing waste compounds formed out of the organelles. There are carnitine supplements, yet the evidence that it can improve athletic performance is inconclusive. It seems that it is better when combined with other minerals as the study demonstrates. Carnitine has a variety of compounds which consist of L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and propionyl-L-carnitine.

Professor Robert Disilvestro the lead author and of the study stated : “I decided to start with minerals that are commonly low — or thought to be low in many diets — and brought in some of the supporting cast.” This reasoning appears to be correct in the formation of more efficient supplements. This also has implications beyond athletic performance. The reason many people may not be in great health is that they are not getting the proper nutritional requirements. Knowing this, some individuals could be doing the proper amount of exercise, yet are having deficiencies in diet.

Understanding phospholipids and other amino acid derivatives can be more beneficial to women seeking to improve their performance.  Robert Disilvestro discusses that there are some nutrition problems women have as serious athletes. This supplement also holds an economic opportunity. Disilverstro is seeking to develop this supplement for commercial use and was supported by Gatorade Sports Science Institute. They are not involved in commercialization efforts, but is possible they will be. This is an example of applied science. What applied science does is take the research and knowledge discovered then uses it for practical purposes. Relevant to this experiment the supplement will at some point be used for athletic performance.

          There are problems that the female athlete faces in terms of nutrition. Young women according to Disilverso have micro-deficiencies in nutrients. This will effect cell function during exercise. This means women’s full potential in terms of performance is being reduced due to the lack of such nutrients for the cell. The cells are the building blocks of the human body, so if they do not function properly this could result in major health issues. Young women in particular face these nutrient based deficiencies.


A nutrient is by definition a substance required for growth and the maintenance of life. Fatty acids and amino acids would be classified as micro-nutrients. The essential nutrients of the body are carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, protein, water,  and minerals. This can be acquired through the consumption of food or supplements. Another problem is that women tend to consume less meat than men, even when doing high amounts of physical activity. Meat can be an important source of protein and women need that just like any other athlete. Food is fuel for the human body. If women eat less they are not getting enough fuel. Consumption should be adjusted relative to considerations of endocrinology. Women would metabolize food into fat stores due to higher production of estrogen and progesterone. However, building muscle has the ability to burn fat. Eating enough of the right foods and having the correct amount of physical activity can make a difference in athletic performance.

There is also the consideration of how mensuration can have a role in mineral loss. This effects women differently ranging from severe cases to moderate levels of mineral loss. Mineral loss during mensuration can be countered with the consumption of vitamins A, C, E, and B. Vitamin A is essential to diet due to the fact it promotes growth of skeletal tissue. Bone health is essential for any person, especially an athlete doing an immense amount of physical activity. Once these issues are addressed women can have improvements in their run times. Designing supplements and training programs to women’s physiology and biology will make them more efficient athletes.

          The experiment’s conclusions revealed fascinating discoveries. The subjects did three mile runs and saw their run average drop from 26.5 minutes to 25.6 minutes. That calculates to a difference of 0.9 minutes. Stationary bikes were also utilized in the study. The distance covered was from 6.5 miles to 6 at the start of this study. There was also a step test that was done. the results from that part of the experiment showed women increased from about 44 to 40. These changes were not present in the placebo group, indicating this supplement could be effective. The first experiment only used 28 women and the following one used 36. A lower does of nutrients was used  and resulted in a 41 second average decrease in run times. The women used in these experiments were described as recreational athletes between the ages of 18 to 30 years old. They either done some form of aerobic exercise a least three hours a week for a minimum of six months. The reason for not using moderately in shape  women was that according to Professor  DiSilvestro “we wanted people who could already run three miles without it being a terrible burden.” The problem with this is precision. If this supplement is truly effective, the best way to see so is to test it on non-athletic women. The athletically trained women would gain from this, but they have already reach a fitness level in which it does not appear to be a dramatic change.

A more precise experiment would be to train women of lower physical fitness levels. This would take longer, but if their performance is significantly higher than their starting point it can be assumed that the supplement is highly effective.  The same process should be used. The subjects first ran three miles, biked, and the ended with the step test. The reason the stationary bike was used was to see if such a supplement could be used for more than just running. This could only be done if women in the study reach a high point of physical activity.

Men who are vegetarians may struggle with a nutrient deficiency. Protein is one of those nutrients that is harder for the vegetarian to get.Other methods of getting dietary requirements would have to used instead of consuming meat for the vegetarian  Although nutrient deficiencies are less common in men, they are not completely imperious to it. Supplements may not be a substitute for eating food with them in it, but can help people who have such issues in deficiencies. There also is another factor that may skew the data. This experiment was only done for 30 days and that may be too early to say that it very effective. At minimum a month would have been better. There is also the possible problem of side effects. So far, there appear to be none. Professor     DiSilvestro only added minimal amounts of nutrients when it was produced in capsule form. If measured correctly and the right dose is given this new supplement can be safe. The supplement will need further testing for safety and effectiveness. There are many supplements that claim to improve performance. These pronouncements are not always scientifically confirmed. This new supplement seems to be effective, yet must be able to produce the same results in accordance with the scientific method. These first experiments may only give approximations, rather than precise measures of effectiveness.


Women Run Faster After Taking Newly Developed Supplement

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Racing, And The Question of Women’s Physical Capability.

Motor sports continue to be mostly male dominated. There remains a culture that does not accept women race car drivers and doubts their capabilities. Some claims are either just unfounded when detractors voice their opinions on why women should not participate. Bernie Ecclestone CEO of Formula 1 stated that women were not strong enough for formula one racing. Although he did say women may have a future in the business aspects, he doubts that would be taken seriously as athletes. Ecclestone stated in 2016 :“I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn’t be taken seriously.” His belief or rather disbelief is that women are not capable of handling the F 1 races. This has little basis in scientific foundation. Although there are sex differences related to sexual dimorphism, there are women who certainly would have enough strength to handle g forces. One would have to examine what are the physical demands for a driver and see if women could meet them. There are already women who have been race car drivers, so Ecclestone’s assessment does not seem accurate. What determines the success of the race car driver is their physical conditioning and the quality of their vehicle.

            There is a level of fitness required to drive a Formula 1 car. Having a high level of fitness reduces the level of fatigue going through laps. Cars have the ability to create up to 3.5 g of force. Drivers have to do aerobic  and strength training to handle g-forces so they can last entire sustain the force for entire races. Cardiovascular training is done ahead of the racing season and slowly reduce it as time goes by. Running, swimming and cycling are also incorporated in to training regimens.

Women have been athletes and test drivers in Formula 1 racing. Maria Teresa De Filippis was the first woman ever to race in 1958. Although other women have followed, racing and cars are still seen as a male only pursuit.

 Strength training can be very helpful, but too much muscular hypertrophy could cause complications. What drivers experience on their bodies is the force concentrated is the neck and chest muscles. The weight of the helmet and g-force can put extra strain on the neck. G-forces can make both the head and helmet weigh five times more than normal. The wonderful attribute about gym equipment it can help target specific muscle groups like the chest or neck muscles. Drivers also form “rigs” that also assist in such targeting. Although there is power assisted steering, strong arm muscles and a powerful core helps. This allows more stable control over the vehicle. This may be the most difficult part for women. Building upper body strength is more difficult for women compared to men.

F1 car

Women do not have the same structured shoulders as men. Male shoulder length tends to be broader meaning there is more muscle that can be housed on the upper body. The upper body advantage give men more of an edge, but this does not mean women cannot build strength.  Women can build strength and muscle on a weight training regimen. This does not only depend on sex or endocrinology . Genetics, somatotype, and diet are also essential. The difference is in physical fitness capacity. Men have higher physical fitness capacity due to endocrinology and body size. There are obviously women who are more than strong enough to handle a Formula 1 car. Women weightlifters, crossfit competitors, bodybuilders, tack and field athletes are notorious for their strength. They train for different tasks, so this automatically does not mean they would make the best race car drivers.

There is also the question of concentration, reaction time, and hand eye coordination. Race car driving is radically different from driving a regular car. Motor sport athletes will sometimes use batak reaction board to train for races to improve elements of reaction time.There does exist a difference in male and female reaction time. According to some studies men respond faster to visual and audio stimuli. Reflexes described in this context refers to how fast a person can react to stimulus. This could be a factor when a racer is driving and hitting the break of the car. The muscle fiber type that would be most useful would probably be type II. However, there is an amount of endurance required to handle such races.

Muscles of the core are pivotal to race care drivers. Arm strength and muscles of the upper body are required for steering. 

There also needs to be a focus on leg strength as well. A driver must generate at least an estimated 80 kilograms to hit the breaks for stops. Having strong legs is good, but more muscle mass does not equate to automatic efficiency. A racer could use the brake up to 1,500 times in a race. This is the section of the body were women are closer to men in terms of strength. The difference is in the structure of the pelvis. This would not effect women in the care as much, because they are not running. The pedal of an F1 is entirely different from a regular car. It requires more force for gaining speed. This means the driver would have to be able to hold a minimum of 90 kg (198 lbs) on a leg press machine. Driving does involve the legs extensively.

leg-pressThe driving of an F1 car involves both the upper and lower body. Contrary to popular belief, there is a level of fitness required to handle cars like these. Strength and cardiovascular fitness can be out to the test under the strains of a race. The circulatory system must be in optimal condition for the sake of endurance. There are no breaks or rest periods during the race. During competition body temperature and blood pressure can increase. Races could be up to two hours long. The heart beat per minute can increase during the race. The average person has a resting heart beat of 70 bpm (beats per minute ). For a race car driver it can be up to 50 bmp or higher when in racing competition. Due to increased heat, dehydration could be a possible threat to an F1 driver. Even when motor athletes drive in moderate climates, they still can perspire up to three liters.

Having the biggest muscles may not be helpful in a race. Large mass could just more effect from g-force.  Tia Norfleet and Danica Patrick are not at the same strength levels as Kira Neuman or Mah-Ann Mendoza. Yet the bodybuilders would not be the best race car drivers. 

The driver’s blood pressure can increase up to at least 50 percent. This also proves to be a complication for women. The average woman’s heart beats faster compared to men. Women’s hearts and lungs are also smaller compared to men. The heart is structured as a four chamber pump which has two blood receiving chambers. These are the left and right atria. The left and right ventricles with beats from the heart force blood into the arteries. The cardiovascular condition can be changed through training. Trained athletes have slower heart rates compared to non-athletes. The female athlete’s heart still beats faster compared to the male athlete or regular exerciser .


This explains why aerobic training can be important to the motor sport athlete. What controls the heart rate in the human body is cells known as sino-atrial node. What these cells do is act like a natural pacemaker. Depending on the information from nerves the cells will either lower or increase the heart rate. Women respond in a similar fashion except for they are programmed for a higher heart rate. Endurance and strength are needed. Women can handle F1 cars if trained physically for the rigor. There are biological and anatomical considerations that should be noted in training.

          Diet is also essential to athletes. Food provides energy for the body and sustains it for exercise. Race car drivers follow a specific diet. Drivers have protein and carbohydrates in their diets. Chicken or fish can sometimes be consumed for pre-race meal. Vegetables are also part of a drivers diet. Rice and pasta, which are carbohydrates are also consumed to give an athlete a boost of vital energy. The consumption of water is necessary to avoid dehydration.Diets and nutrition for female athletes has to be adjusted for metabolic differences. Women have higher body fat percentages based on hormones. Knowing this it means that women consume huge amounts of food, their activity level would have to be enough to burn necessary fat. Eating less actually can be counter productive in the process. This can cause metabolic slowdown resulting in weight gain. The body needs the right amount of calories and physical activity to manage weight.

 Women have to be careful to eat the right amount of calories to meet metabolic demands. A female race car driver can benefit from a specific diet that can help with races. Exercise and diet can make a woman’s body strong enough for F1 cars.

        G-force will be a physical property that the body must confront in F1 races. G-force is the amount of pressure produced from gravitation on an accelerating object relative to free fall. Seeing as there are so few F1 women drivers it is uncertain if g-force causes extra strain on the female body. Fighter pilots and aerobatic pilots experience g-force. There are women who are fighter pilots that experience g-force at higher levels. The majority of g-force experienced by a fighter pilot aligns mostly with the spine. The F 1 driver has  the g-force focused mostly at right angles to the spine. This comes down to the question of g-force tolerance. There may not be a specific body type that is best for g-force tolerance. The force an effect the neck , ribs, and hips. Some drivers report that they feel as if they are being squeezed. It is possible that a larger person with more body fat could tolerate higher g-forces. The circulation limits blood flow, but the issue would be other physical strains.

Ecclestone’s comments and claims start to collapse when examined from a scientific perspective. Based off the g-force that women fighter pilots experience, there should be no reason that women would have difficulty with a Formula 1 car. Breathing control must be accounted for. While air planes have a technological solution for this, cars do not. Going above 3 gs makes it impossible to breathe as normal. Turning corners makes it more difficult. Forces can be more than a person’s weight, but for short periods of time. When analyzing the degrees of g-force it seems possible that women could be F1 racers. A fighter jet can put a pilot under the strain of 9 to 12 gs. A Formula 1 car only can produce up to 5 gs. Saying that men will be better drivers simply because they are stronger is incorrect. There are women who are actually stronger than F 1 racers. Mark Webber  during his racing career weighed 69 kg. If compared to bodybuilder Colette Nelson during her career,  it seems that she would be stronger based on her 79 kg weight (off season). Force equals mass times acceleration, so based off of weight it would appear she would able to generate more power.

Webber stands at 182 cm, while Colette stands at 165 cm. It is uncertain what Webber bench pressed or lifted during his career, but it is certain that Colette could do more. Now this would not make Colette the best race car driver,but it would be in her capability if she adjusted her training for such a pursuit.  Other factors such as reflexes or driving skill are also part of being a motor athlete. Anyone can drive a car, yet there is a level of skill that the race car drive must have to be on the track. Also there must be a consideration of g-force and how to cope with it during races. This may be the most difficult physical strain on the body. Experienced racers say that after a while the body can adjust, but it is more difficult getting acclimated to when starting.

      The reason there are not more F1 female drivers is not entirely based on biology. There are social barriers. Cars are still viewed as a male only passion. Seeing as it is mechanical and engineering based there is a bias that women are not capable of such aptitude. Motor sport and race car driving as seen as quintessentially male. F1 is seen as one of the most prestigious races in the motor sport world. Many men aspire to become start racers, but it is more difficult for a woman. Prejudice and financial constraints continue to burden women’s sports. Women are slowly in small numbers integrating into motor sports. The problem is the culture of extreme machismo and lack of female interest. There is exclusion that is combined with women not willing to take a risk and try something different. If women want a place in motor sports, they have to increase their participation rates and  encourage other women to join. So it cannot be entirely men’s fault in terms of  the condition of women in motor sports.The frailty myth still exists in one way or another with the idea that women are biologically and physically inferior. Sexual dimorphism does not indicate inferiority. If women are to be successful in F1  they should have training tailored to reaching specific fitness goals.  The question that emerges is which training method is better. Weight training and endurance training can have a benefit to the motor athlete. Dr. Riccardio Cecarrelli who works with F1 Lotus Teams stated that strength is not the only physical fitness element a driver needs. Dr. Cecarelli also said the emphasis should be on mental training as well. Drivers have to be alert and able to concentrate during races. His philosophy is in order to achieve an optimum training should be spent 30 % physical exercise and 70% mental training.  Women may not be driving the best cars in particular races. Women may need more time to physical adapt to the demands of racing. What can be reached as a conclusion is that women can be F1 racers if given the opportunity and correct training. Bernie Ecclestone’s convictions are not based on scientific fact or credible evidence. There is change occurring and it may not be a surprise to see more women race car drivers in the coming decades.


 Norton, Charlie. “Formula One Drivers Feel the G-Force.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 10 May 2010, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/motorsport/7681665/Formula-One-drivers-feel-the-G-force.html.

Edrington, Allison. “Does Gender Affect Reflexes?” Healthfully, Healthfully, healthfully.com/gender-affect-reflexes-8750069.html.
Rosenberg, Warren. “What Is the Difference Between Male & Female Heart Rates?”LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 11 Sept. 2017, http://www.livestrong.com/article/208145-what-is-the-difference-between-male-female-heart-rates/.
Cespedes, Andrea. “Does Eating More Boost Your Metabolism?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 18 July 2017, http://www.livestrong.com/article/383501-does-eating-more-boost-your-metabolism/.
Barretto, Lawrence. “Where Are All the Female Formula 1 Racing Drivers? – BBC Sport.” BBC News, BBC, 2 June 2012, http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/18332772.
Auty, Ben. “Formula 1: Are F1 Drivers Considered Athletes?” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 12 Apr. 2017, bleacherreport.com/articles/30864-formula-1-are-f1-drivers-considered-athletes.
“Driver Fitness.” Formula 1® – The Official F1® Website, http://www.formula1.com/en/championship/inside-f1/understanding-f1-racing/Driverfitness.html.
Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Racing, And The Question of Women’s Physical Capability.

Sports Medicine Weekly : Strength Training

Strength Training

Sports Medicine Weekly is a radio program and website associated with ESPN  presented by Dr. Brian Cole with Dr. Steve Kashul. They expose readers and listeners to topics regarding sports performance, training, and exercise physiology. The topic discussed in this presentation is strength training and its benefits to performance. It was once thought that strength training would hinder performance, but science proved that notion incorrect. The fear of unnecessary bulk was more of a myth than anything else. This does not stop an athlete from performing a skilled movement of the body. When the term strength training is used there is the assumption is that it is just lifting heavy weights. There is more science and method to training regimens such as these. Sports Medicine Weekly provides a simple explanation about the elements of such training. The strength training program can be describe by five elements : muscular hypertrophy, maximal strength, explosive power, strength endurance, and periodization. If these elements are followed an athlete can increase their physical fitness capacity.

        When the muscle goes through a training regimen it will experience hypertrophy. Muscular hypertrophy only constitutes one aspect of sports specific strength training. This should be done for a specific group of athletes. Football and rugby players need it because their sport is contact. Bodybuilders want hypertrophy to shape the body’s muscles in a particular way.

The significant mass that these athlete acquire acts as a protection from aggressive body contact. The text states that too bulk can be a hindrance to most athletes. This is not true in certain cases, however it depends on what sport an athlete is competing in. Muscle mass would not be helpful curling or race car driving. Extra mass would be useful in wrestling, but that depends on which weight class the athlete is aiming to compete in. Muscle mass can contribute to force generation. Muscular hypertrophy can happen in both men and women. The difference in total mass gained is related to body composition and endocrinology. Muscles do get bigger from a strength training routine through adaptation. What causes growth includes the increase in actin and myosin  which are contractile proteins. There is also an increase in enzymes and stored nutrients. Myofibrils and connective tissue increases. Muscular hypertrophy can either be chronic or transient. Chronic muscular hypertrophy is the long term increase in the size of the muscles. Transient hypertrophy is experienced during exercise.

Protein synthesis stimulates muscle growth. During recovery periods from exercise protein synthesis increases. It is at low levels during exercise. More muscle does not mean more strength. It is related to the fiber type. Type II muscle fiber has more power while type I muscle fiber is more endurance based.A weightlifter would have more type II fast twitch fibers compared to a marathon runner. Athletes train their bodies specifically for a particular physical task. Strength is no solely about the size of the muscle, but the nervous system response to stimulus. Studies have suggested that motor neuron function and its efficiency also aid strength.



It should also be understood that type II muscle fibers have two classifications. Type IIA fibers are fatigue resistant, oxidative,  and fast. Type IIAB are notably glycolytic, oxidative  and are still fast but have an intermediate fatigue level. Type IIB is the most powerful having more force and more energy. There is a price for power in regards to endurance. Recovery is slow in type IIB muscle fiber. It is a possibility athletes could have a blend of both type I and type II muscle fiber. Hormones and    cytokines are essential contributors to muscular hypertrophy.

         The second element to strength training programs is the accumulation of maximal strength. Maximal strength ( sometimes called absolute strength) is the total force an athlete can generate from their body. The importance of this strength training element is based on the specific tasks of the sport. The more natural strength an athlete has the more potential to expand it further. Natural strength is the force than can be generated with no training at all. Through training natural strength can be converted into endurance or explosive power.  The peculiar aspect of maximal strength training is that it may not produce the same level of muscular hypertrophy. This may explain why a thinner person who trains in this manner may become stronger than a person who trains for the sake of aesthetics.

 This does not mean that hypertrophy would not happen to individuals who do maximal strength training. It is possible through genetics. The MTSN gene dictates the instructions for the production of myostatin. This protein regulates the growth of the musculoskeletal tissues. If an individual has low levels of myostatin this makes their potential of muscular hypertrophy greater. People do not use their total strength for simple tasks. Lifting a book would take less effort than lifting a weight. Even athletes when in competition may not use 100% of their maximal strength. There is an obvious reason based on body structure.

The muscles and skeleton when put under intense pressure and strain can be subject to injury. Muscle tears occur when the tissue is pushed far beyond its limit. Athletes may reach a maximal strength level, but they have not tapped into the total reserve of strength. Besides maximal strength, the body contains relative strength. This measures the force produced from a cross sectional area of muscle mass.Maximal strength can be translated into explosive power.

        Explosive power requires more than one action. Powerlifting requires one instance of explosive power to move weights. Other sports have to incorporate skilled movements  that are rapid and need the high power output. Physical power under a strength training program must be designed specifically for the functions of the sport. If this is not done, then maximal strength training will not be as effective in the long term. The basic foundation is the potential to add more strength, which can therefore be converted into explosive power. Power training although related to strength training has a major difference. The goal is to produce the largest amount of maximal strength in the shortest period of time. A person or athlete may have immense strength, but may not generate full power potential. The muscles must contract at a fast rate to improve power out put. This can be reversed by plyometrics.

Plyometrics is a method and system of training attempting to make muscular contraction more efficient by moving from muscle extension to rapidly producing power.  Other athletes such as martial artists, long jumpers, and sprinters have found this method to be the most useful for their performance. There are few guidelines for optimum training methods relative to plyometrics. Athletes who did this training have seen improvement. A quality strength program incorporates the methods of plyomentrics and power training. Strength has to be combined with skilled motor movements of the body. There is also another critical factor that is a part of strength training. Endurance has to be part of the general calculus.

      The other two elements of a strength training program include strength endurance and periodization.   Strength endurance refers to how long a person can last under strenuous activity. The amount of maximal strength also effects strength endurance. The larger amount means more left in terms of reserves. The goal is to maintain strength for a prolonged period. There is a point in which the body will fatigue and cannot to anymore. Athletes that focus on strength endurance include cyclists, swimmers, long distance runners, and rowers. The intent is to have a longer duration of activity.

This explains why circuit training is another method combined with a strength training program. Circuit training uses low weights and high repetitions. The problem is that many of these programs in circuit training  do not condition the nervous system adequately enough. A set of 15 to 20 repetitions would not produce the results an endurance athlete would desire. Circuit training does have benefits. That regimen has the ability to improve flexibility and coordination. The last element of strength training is periodization. A training program must be divided into phases. Doing this allows strength to peak at the right period, producing the desired outcome. Proceeding this way, it will allow for the reduction in possible over training. While it is important to be consistent with a regimen, rest must be valued as well. A period of recovery is required for the body to repair itself and allow muscle fibers to grow. Progression does not occur in  a week by week basis. When the program is broken into periods this allows for variations in exercise volume and intensity. This enables performance enhancements for a certain time.

There is a science to strength that involves cytology, biology, endocrinology, biomechanics,  and nervous system function. What ultimately is the best training method depends on what specific sports an individual is involved in. Explosive power for a marathon runner would not be as important as endurance. Pure strength will not be helpful unless fine motor skills are emphasized. What sports medicine and exercise physiology has done is allowed for a scientifically based method of training, rather than simple trial and error attempts.  Such topics can be complex when examining it from the physiological dimensions. Sports Medicine Weekly provided a lucid explanation for the general reader not familiar with the science of strength.

Sports Medicine Weekly : Strength Training

Why Strength Depends on More Than Just Muscle : Neural Adaptations Could Account For Differing Strength Gains Despite Similar Mass

Neural Adaptations

There is still more to learn about the human body and its relation to sports performance. The science of strength exposes a link between the muscular system and the nervous system. A study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln revealed that a portion of strength does come from exercising the nervous system. This  was the explanation for why the subjects who lifted heavier weights enjoyed more strength than low load lifters regardless of similar gains in mass. Simply stated larger muscles do not always equate to more strength. That had been the common assumption, but this study challenges it. There should also be considerations to how experiments were conducted. There are other factors that influence strength that could distort the study. If the experiment is to be conducted again it should produce the same results to be considered fact. Exercise physiology has become an important field with applications for sports performance and health science.

          The experiment selected men only. These subjects trained on a leg extension machine loaded with either 30 to 80 percent of the maximum weight they could lift. This was done three times a week and subjects did this until they could no longer do repetitions. Nathaniel Jenkins and his colleagues then discovered that the high loaded group gained more strength compared to the low load group. They were able to increase strength by ten pounds worth. The subjects were making similar gains in terms of muscle mass, yet still there was a disparity in strength. If this is actually a fact of exercise physiology there should be a diverse sample of subjects. It would be fascinating to see how this experiment would work on women. The average woman does not have as much strength as the average man. Therefore if similar results were produced for women it would show which type of  load bearing exercise is most effective. A comparison between athletes and non-athletes could also be done for extra verification.

Researchers also supplied an electrical current to the nerves of the quadriceps . What was stimulated was the muscle used in the leg extension. It was not physiologically possible for subjects to generate 100 percent of force their muscle could produce. Thus the method of measurement  was done by comparing the unassisted kick and examining the voluntary activation. Voluntary activation refers to the capacity an individual has reached. The data showed a difference in low load groups and high load groups. Voluntary activation increase from 90.07 percent to 90.22 for the low load group ( 0.15  percent during the three weeks ).  The high load group saw an increase from 90.94 to 93.29 percent ( 2.35 percent during the three weeks).

What was extracted from this was that voluntary activation of motor neuron units during maximal contraction is beneficial to physical strength.  Jenkins wanted to be more precise and tested his hypothesis by another method. Subjects were asked to kick 10 percent of their baseline strength. This was done from a period of  three to six weeks. If high load training is better than the low load training a smaller portion of absolute strength should be used. This would mean the same force would be generated, while fewer motor neutrons are activated. If more motor neurons are activated that indicates less efficiency. When the electrodes were placed on high load subjects there was a drop in electrical activity during the exercise session. The data revealed that voluntary activation decreased for the low load group from 56 (baseline )  to 54.71 percent . The high load group dropped from 57 (baseline) to 49.43 percent. The conclusion from these experiments demonstrate that the nervous system and motor neurons play a role in strength. Lifting heavier may be more efficient compared to lifting lighter weights. It is possible subjects could gain the same mass, but not have the same strength levels.

           What should also be taken into consideration the other factors that contribute to strength. Bones,ligaments, and tendons also are a part of physical strength. Muscles rest on the skeletal frame. Ligaments attach bones to other bones. Tendons are responsible for attaching muscle to the bones of the body. Besides those considerations genetics also has a role in physical strength.  People with ectomorphic and endomorphic body structures may find it more difficult to build strength compared to more mesomorphic body types.

Although it is not impossible to increase physical fitness capacity depending on training, a part of potential is determined by particular genetics. Sex also plays a role in strength. Up until puberty, there is no difference in strength levels between the sexes. The shift occurs during the changes in growth. The hypothalamus will release gonadotropic releasing hormone, while the anterior pituitary gland forms  luteinizing hormone. This instructs the testis to produce more androgens. Testosterone contributes to protein synthesis causing a strength spurt in the male body. The difference related to to body composition in the sexes is related to endocrine function. Women produce higher levels of fat, which means less muscle for total body force recruitment. However, there is no difference between muscle cells between the sexes. Both men and women can experience muscular hypertrophy.  Relevant to this experiment  it should be asked if these other factors of bone, ligament, and tendon strength were accounted for. Then another question arises was this a measure of relative or absolute strength? If only one exercise was performed, it would most likely be relative strength.


Isometric training was utilized.  The measurements were also obtained by means of an isokinetic dynamometer. These devices are designed to resist applied forces,while controlling the speed of exercise, The rate is predetermined and maintains a record of applied force. While experiments can have multiple methods of measure, this does not completely eliminate mathematical error. The study when published in Frontiers of physiology  recognized this and notes some of the difficulties in the experiment.


Relative strength only measures cross sectional area of muscle and body mass. Absolute strength is the total sum of  possible body force generated from the upper and lower body. This experiment would be more precise if other exercises such as squats, bench press, or bicep curls were incorporated. The results would probably be the same, but it would reveal more about total absolute strength gains during a heavy load based weight training regimen. There are also muscle fiber types that are best suited for more power. Type II fast twitch muscle fiber has less endurance, yet more power.

      To fully grasp this study, one must understand what a motor neuron is. The motor neuron are efferent neurons that have origins in the spinal cord and perform synaptic functions with muscle fibers. This association produces muscle contraction with muscle spindles to also form proprioceptive sensitivity. The central nervous system is the reason the body can move. Nerve impulses ( action potentials ) carry information. These nerve impulses are the same containing 100 milivolts.

This is a diagram   of how the nervous systems functions with both upper and lower motor neurons.
motor cortex tmp15F87what-when-how.com
The motor cortex has involvement in human locomotion.

These cells have the task of controlling voluntary muscle activity. This would include everything from speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing, and for the skilled athlete numerous skilled movements during competition. The upper motor neurons stationed in the brain link through transmission to the lower motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord. The upper motor neurons are the directors and the lower neurons are the subordinates producing the movement of the body. Lower motor neurons would be involved in movement of the arms and chest. Walking would be a function of upper motor neurons. The nerves are branch like for the motor neurons almost resembling telephone lines. This explains when there is a spinal cord injury paralysis can occur. It essentially cuts off communication with other parts of the body. The branches when extended to other areas attach themselves to motor plates of a single muscle fiber. Thus, locomotion is a physiological function.

The neurons of the spinal cord are referred to as anterior horn cells. The upper motor neurons are also called corticospinal neurons. There is more auxiliary support for such specialized neurons. Motor circuits also contribute to the process of locomotion. If there is some form of disturbance with motor circuits this could cause serious health issues. The causes of spinal muscular atrophy and amytropic lateral sclerosis have a direct link to motor circuit dysfunction in the nervous system .  Further explorations into cytology could produce a possible cure in the future. This also could reveal methods at enhancing strength to higher degrees with an understanding of nervous system function. Through training there is a changes neural adaptation. Impulses can be received from other neurons. Neurons are also capable of producing its own wavelike movements of ions. Impulses then transport from one neuron to the next at junctions called synapses.

       Which training method is best depends on  specific goals. Low load exercises would be best for individuals who want to build mass without putting straining on the joints. This would be suitable mainly for older people and people recovering form injury. Building mass does not always equate to more strength. A weightlifter for example could be stronger than a bodybuilder. They are training for two different objectives. One wants to lift more weight while the other wants to gain more mass. Larger size of the muscle does not mean the person would be able to lift more. The weightlifter trains for functional strength rather than aesthetic presentation.

There is also the factor of how much of the body is composed of type II fast twitch fiber. It is possible that a person could have large muscles,but not be as strong as a person with smaller ones. This once more relates to training. Heavy load based training would be more effective in terms of time comparison with light load based lifting. Theoretically lifting light weights still could build muscle; it would take longer amount of time.  The study does show this. Age is also a factor in strength and that is why subjects were selected between the ages of 19 to 35. This was done because around this age that is the body’s physical peak. The subjects did not have any previous weight training experience and were free from musculoskeletal conditions or diseases. Diet is also important factor in strength. Participants completed a three day dietary log. This documented what subjects consumed and allowed for an account of daily energy intake. What one eats only contributes to the effectiveness of the training. This experiment could allow for the design of more efficient training and fitness programs. Depending on the objective a training or fitness program should take into consideration neural adaptation.

            Neural adaptation is the alteration of the sensory system in response to a stimulus over time. It can be classified as either slow or fast adaptation. When the response happens immediately after the stimulus presentation this would be classified as fast. The rate of slow adaptation is gradual. Weight training would be classified as fast adaptation. The experiment conducted proved this through the using electromyography. This is a technique used by medicine to document electrical activity in the skeletal muscles. This study only confirms what many have suspected for a number of years. The nervous system and motor neurons are important to strength building. Heavy loads are a more effective means of producing a desired response from a particular stimulus. Multiple theories have been developed which include the increased firing rates of motor neurons, motor unit synchronization, and decreased muscular co-activation agonist-antagonist muscles. If nerve impulses and motor neurons could be manipulated in a particular manner this could improve sports performance and lead to cures neurological diseases. Strength does not only come from the muscles. Evidence suggests that it is also neurologically based.

Why Strength Depends on More Than Just Muscle : Neural Adaptations Could Account For Differing Strength Gains Despite Similar Mass

Self-Defense : Physical Differences Regarding Training

Physical Differences Regarding Training

Self-defense for women is critical. Just learning techniques is not enough, but understanding how sports performance can be applied to a person’s protection. There are physical differences in biology, anatomy, and physiology that must be considered when embarking on a training program. There has to be practical considerations if women are to successfully defend themselves against an attacker. Prevention is important, but this sometimes is out of an individual’s control. If the average male has a higher physical fitness capacity, it would be best for women to incorporate other forms of fitness training to ensure personal safety. The text explains the differences from a perspective of kinesiology and biomechanics . While author does mention the differences in the skeleton and muscular system, the respiratory system is also essential in physical activity. The sports performance element should be considered when developing training programs for women.

            The major difference between male and female bodies is the skeleton. Men have greater bone density and this contributes to strength. The pelvis is wider due to being equipped for gestation. This explains why the sacrum is much larger. This makes the distance between the right can left hip greater. This cause the femurs in the female body to be more angled. This explains why women  genu valgum pathologies. Knee and ankle problems are common among female athletes. this had implications on women attempting to do kicking motions.

Men seem to have more genu varum issues. Any one with such issues should develop an exercise program that does not strain joints to an extreme degree. Puberty also changes the bone structure. The female body becomes more lax in terms of joint stability. This limits neuromuscular control of lower extremities. The knee joints will rotate inward when weight is applied adding more pressure to ligaments and tendons. This puts women at risk at higher rates anterior  cruciate ligament tears. What this generally means is that differences in the skeleton produce a unique female hip and leg mechanics. However, some differences come later in the human life cycle. Girls until age nine have more lumbar flexibility. This ends when males gain more lumbar extension and women acquire more lateral felxion.

 This cannot account for all of the disparity. It seems that women are using more of their internal hip rotation. Male joints are not reliant on flexion and extension. The reason the human walk is different between the sexes is different to the skeletal structure. Women walk with more more pelvic movement and reduced width in step. This explains why women run slower than men is due to the shape of the pelvis. Mechanically a large pelvis is not the best for running speed. The differences in q angle also create the difference.

Knowing that a large portion of power comes from the core and the hip, this has implications in women’s total power out put. The text does make an error. Women’s throwing ability is not entirely related to body structure. Girls on average, are not taught to throw like boys. The only difference in female throwing is that it would lack the force of a man. The reason being is that males have more upper body strength. A larger upper body means more space for muscle mass creating the difference. Boys and girls could theoretically be taught the same technique and throw  in a similar fashion at least until the changes brought on by puberty. The concept of “throwing like a girl” may not even exist.

gender throws
This may not be entirely biologically based.  Assuming this example is of children prior to the age of thirteen, there should not be significant differences in the skeleton. This seems to be technique based because the girl is one using her forearm, rather than the boy who uses his whole body.

Inward knee rotation makes the base of the female body more unstable. A strong core and hips contribute to striking power. A power strike originates from the hips to the core and follows to the shoulder. The final product will be the punch that is generated. If the body is not ground like a root, the legs will just act as shock absorbers. The skeleton is the base for the human body. This means that women’s punches and kicks would have to be performed in a manner that is effective without causing injury during execution. One consideration that the author does not mention is the difference in hand size. Men have larger hands on average compared to women’s. If this is the case women have smaller fighting tools to work with. Punches can still hurt depending on where you are hit. Striking spots are critical to remember is such a dire situation arises. The differences in biomechanical function must be recognized in developing an effective training program.

            Muscular strength also can contribute to self-defense. There are differences in body composition, metabolism, and speed of muscular contraction. Male muscles have greater power out put and in terms of anaerobic metabolism a higher capacity. The difference in muscular strength may make it more difficult for women to defend themselves. Men’s larger size and endocrinology means they are on average stronger than women. The muscle cells of men and women do not differ; the amount of muscle fibers make the disparity vast. The weakest male could still have more strength than an unfit woman. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Training can reverse some of this, but it does not close the gap entirely. A woman and man who train on the same regimen will not see similar fitness results. While women do increase in strength, they still retain higher levels of body fat. This difference may be the largest obstacle the only solution is to incorporate some weight training into a self-defense program.  The article makes a excellent point stating ”   women can pack a very powerful punch this way they still will not match the physical strength of men.” There should be a level of caution and thought when in a dangerous situation the author reveals : “standing toe to toe and duking it out with an enemy larger and stronger than them is just plain stupid.” The idea is just to defend one’s self, not pulverize them similar to an MMA match. There are other factors to consider. Every attacker will not be a hulking brute or have the same level of fighting skill. If the male attacker is physically weaker it would be simple to defend one’s self. If the attacker is stronger, the best method is to figure out a means of escape.

If this man was attempting to attack, this woman’s best defense would be to run or escape.

An attack from this man would not be successful.

Skill is also important, because simply just being strong does not mean you can defend yourself automatically. Certain martial arts disciplines such as judo do not require immense amounts of strength. What it does is it uses body weight and gravity against a bigger opponent. Depending on what martial arts disciple is learned, it is possible to overcome larger opponents. There are multiple fighting forms which include karate,  aikido, ju jitsu, and kick boxing. If trained in these fighting styles it may close some of the gap in the strength difference in terms of self-defense. If an attack had the same training, then this could be problematic.

Training in body motion and developing strength can alter the differences that are based on anatomy and physiology. Women must train on a regular basis to see effective results. This require the use of proper drills and instruction. Women are not at a complete disadvantage. Their muscular endurance is higher compare to men. Although there is a difference in power generation, their function under work can last longer. There are other factors that are involved in muscular strength. Genetics, health condition, and somatotype play a role. Women vary in this physical fitness spectrum. There may be women who find it easier to be a fighter simply, because they have their unique physical advantage on their side. Women with ectomorphic body types find it difficult to make significant strength gains. This should not discourage them from making efforts to learn self-defense.

Having some strength would not hurt. To ensure maximum protection a combination of both skill and strength will help. Women’s bodies on average carry 35 % muscle compared to the average male’s 50%. This varies depending on health, the function of the MTSN gene, and size. A larger woman will have more strength than a smaller man simply because her skeleton can house more muscle. It is not impossible for a woman through training to boost physical strength and muscular levels. A woman can see an increase in physical strength to at least 40 % if weight training is consistent. Muscular hypertrophy functions in the same way in the female body. The muscular system of women is the same, but some differences make it harder for them to reach a particular fitness level.

If the core essential to fighting muscles of that area must be trained. This can negate some of the upper body disparity. It does not completely make it disappear. A man can still have slightly more upper body strength even if the height and weight are the same. The estimate is that women are 63% weaker in the upper body and 27% weaker in the lower body. Women are closer to men in the lower body. A large portion of men”s muscle fibers and androgen receptors at located in that area of the upper body. This has implications when fighting with your fists.

Punches may not be as powerful compared to a man’s,but they can still hurt of done correctly. Women would need to build upper body strength, This would be more of a challenge considering the differences between male and female physiques.Women’s punching techniques need to be modified to be more efficient to maximize damage. Men put more power in using their opposite lead foot.This allows men to utilize the core more and have a stable base to work with.  Seeing as the female skeletal and muscular structure has some difference biomechanics must be approached form another manner. Punching the same way as a man would cause women’s hips to lock at the moment peak power could be used. Thus more effort is put in without the pull power projection. The best way as explained by the author is to step in on the same side as the leading foot, thus preventing a possible knee injury. Technique and a strong body can be useful, but there is one physical fitness element that should not be forgotten.

      Aerobic capacity is a fitness element that should be focused on. If the only option in a perilous situation is to run, cardiovascular fitness is necessary. This is one aspect of fitness more difficult to close a gap. The reason has to do with the size difference of the heart and lungs. Women’s smaller hearts and lungs means they have less oxygen reaching the muscle tissue. That means the average woman will run slower than the average man.

Women can improve running speed with the right training. Cardio exercises should be a small part of self-defense training. It seem rather odd that the text did not mention the respiratory system in regards to physical differences. The muscular and skeletal system are obvious points of examination when discussing self-defense. Women’s total VO2max is lower. Women also have lower hemoglobin levels. It may seem that there are limited advantages in terms of women’s respiratory capacity, yet evidence suggests that women have more endurance. It was reported in 2017 that women processed oxygen faster according to a study conducted by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. This means women have possibly more endurance. Running slower may be a better trade off when running for long periods of time. Sometimes the best solution to an attack is to escape if possible or plot a route to safety.Fighting may not be the best response to every incident.

       There should also be an understanding about the mental aspects and situational considerations. It has to do with reactions and prevention as well as a particular mindset. there must be a level of confidence in movements when fighting. Being hesitant can cause a situation to be reversed. The problem the text suggest is that women may tend to think they can reason their way out of a violent situation. This is a mistake. Reaction time critical in such a situation and it make a difference. If one is being attacked it should be noted that it is a fight for survival and that anything should be done to keep safe. Biting or eye gouging can be effective. It is pivotal to know which areas of the body to strike If an attack is happening. Negotiation or  minimal attacks will only aggravate the assailant. Being as aggressive as possible ensures damage and success. Finding a skilled and qualified instructor who realizes that women have to be trained based on their sex differences can improve effectiveness.

Then there should be an emphasis on prevention. Many third wave feminists claim that teaching “men not to rape” is a practical solution. This notion is ludicrous, because violent aggressive  individuals are not so easily rehabilitated. It goes off the assumption that all men are predators and that it is only women who are sexually assaulted. Men and children can victims of sexual assault or rape. Custodial rape is common in US prisons and the Catholic Church remains  silent about the abuse of boys in its institutions. Using common sense can be the best key to protection. Walking alone late at night or in an unlit area is making yourself a target. Going to a party with the intention of becoming intoxicated also increases chances of attack. While the common counter argument is that women should be able to do these things as free individuals, it must be understood the world is a dangerous place. Having awareness of your surroundings and avoiding possible situations is imperative. Getting the proper instruction from a self-defense professional who understand the sports performance elements can help women learn how to defend themselves more effectively.

Self-Defense : Physical Differences Regarding Training

Why Women Can’t Do Pull-Ups


The need for scientific  literacy is important. The mains reason is to discredit information that is either false or erroneous. This article in the New York Times  claims that women cannot do pull-ups. The irony is that the article was written by a woman. It seems that there is still strong belief in the frailty myth in regards to women’s bodies. This does not negate the fact there are physiological differences in regards to the sexes. The difference or disparity could be the result in training methods. Also there is the difference and upper body volume. The article questions whether or not pull-ups are an accurate measure of  fitness. The statement women cannot do pull-ups is false. The article based the statement on an experiment from the University of Dayton. A total of seventeen were given weight training  and aerobic exercise. To practice they were using an incline to see how this would effect their results. This was done over a period of three months. The subjects trained only three times a week. Only four of the seventeen women were able to do pull-ups. This reveals several aspects about the experiment. It is possible that training just three times a week was not enough. The training method may have to be adjusted to accommodate women’s anatomical and physiological differences. One part of this study did not state is what was the physical fitness condition of women prior to testing. Having experience can make a difference in physical tasks.

          It must be realized that early on girls and women are discouraged from learning physical skills. More boys are active, while girls are encourage not to be. If girls are not taught basic exercises, it is rare that they will develop them in adulthood. If so, it will take some time to catch up in the physical skills they did not learn. The relation between women and fitness is either based on weight loss or achieving a thin body type. Becoming thinner is not raising physical fitness capacity. The majority of exercise or fitness related to women is either about fad diets or simply reducing fat. This does not increase strength, stamina, endurance,  or speed.  The study had women do aerobic exercise, but this would not be useful to building strength. It reduced their fat levels by 2 %. They were losing fat, but that does not mean it was being replaced by muscle. If they did this without weight training to their regimen there would have been no change in physical strength.

The article even acknowledges there is a difference in physical standards in the government’s physical fitness tests for children. Boys who are 14 get the highest award for doing ten pull-ups, while girls only have to do two. This seems ridiculous, because at this stage of youth the physiological differences induced by puberty are just beginning to develop.The male strength spurt begins at 13 and gradually boys’ bodies with gain more muscle mass. Bones , ligaments, and tendons are also effected during the change. Boys grow slower than women. Eventually with the increase in androgens boys will increase in height and weight.

 It is pointless to have different standards, when girls and boys have the same physical fitness capacity. There is a bias against girls and women in regards to fitness, sports, and exercise. While it is acceptable for men to demonstrate physical prowess, for women it remains taboo. Gradually this has changed with girls the rise of the modern female athlete. There is some acceptance to a degree, but prejudice remains. Girls have more role models in sports that can change attitudes relative to women being physically active. Women are scrutinized for their appearance and body image pressure seems to effect them more.

A young girls looks at a statue of the Williams Sisters. A positive image may inspire her to follow in their footsteps.

 The will effect how women feel about exercise. Many physical education and fitness related programs still function on the notion that the female body is biologically inferior or naturally weak. Myths that were born from 19th century Victorian Age medicine still persist. Exercise physiology over the past decades has begun to examine women’s physical performance seriously. Prior to this, mots studies were conducted on male athletes. This can contribute to creating programs that are best tailored to women’s physiological, biological, and anatomical attributes. If there is to be a change in performance, women must learn physical skills just like boys.

           There is the claim that even fit women cannot do pull-ups. The problem with this statement is that it failures to recognize physical fitness markers. These markers include muscular strength, aerobic capacity, and endurance. The women is the study may be in shape, but they have not developed their physical fitness marker of muscular strength. If one is attempting to improve total fitness levels all of these markers should be given attention in a training regimen. There is a tendency to focus on one of these markers for some gym goers. This may also explain why the subjects in the study were unable to do more. They did focus on exercise that strengthened the biceps and latissimus  dorsi. It would seem pointless to add aerobic training if the goal was to increase upper body strength. Athletes for example tailor their training to their sport.It would make no sense for a gymnast to  focus on swimming or a weightlifter to do mostly cardio vascular exercise. Relevant to those instances they emphasize the physical fitness marker they will best assist them in their sport.

Aerobic activity just reduces fat levels, it does not build strength. The University of  Dayton study could have removed that from the regimen. Reducing fat does have a benefit. It does not contribute to physical strength. Excess fat only increases mass, which does not generate force like particular muscle fibers. The main reason for the gap in physical strength in equally trained men and women is the result of endocrinology and body composition. The most muscular women or the thinnest women will still retain higher body fat percentages. Estrogen and progesterone create this difference in fat to muscle ratio in women.

Physical fitness markers are important to measuring progress. While women saw a 36% increase in strength it would be interesting to see what the result would have been if they continued. The fact that four women able to do them indicates that it is not a physical impossibility that women can do pull-ups. It seems that it is an exercise and a physical fitness marker they need to focus on. The last statement of the article seems somewhat comedic in its scientific assessments: ” I look at a volleyball player I so not expect her to be able  do a pull-up , but I know she is fit.” This assumption is wrong for several reasons. Fitness cannot be estimated by merely looking at a person. There are indications that come from appearance what type of training a person does. A volleyball player may not do pull-ups simply because the exercise may not help with their performance. Flexibility and adroit movements seem more critical in such a competition.

Training method is just as important as the physical condition of the subject. There is difference between the sexes, but also individuals. This is why training must be designed specifically.

        Sexual dimorphism does play a role in fitness performance. Men have more type II fast twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are not have as much endurance, but allow for more explosive power. Men have a large concentration in their upper bodies. This would aid in the men having an advantage in pull-ups. Women have 40% less muscle mass than men. This means their upper bodies can only be 60% as strong as a man’s. These are rough estimates if the height and weight are the same. Broader shoulders allow more muscle to be housed on the male body. The skeletal system does contribute to strength. The bones act as a support for the muscle tissue. The clavicle, rib cage, sternum, scapula,  and spine form the upper body skeletal structure. Pull -ups do not just use the latissimus dorsi and biceps, but the rhomboid, pectoralis major, minor, teres major ,  subscapularis, and coracobrachialis. and triceps. The study siad they conducted exercise that focused on two muscle groups prior to the pull-up test. The problem is that other muscle groups needed to be worked for the test to be successful. Lifting weights and not doing the practicing the pull-ups may have altered this data.

A common myth is that women have stronger legs than men. This is not true, female lower body strength is only 90% of men’s. There is no difference between male and female muscle at the cellular level. As a result men and women can respond to weight training. Contrary to popular belief, women can build strength. The increase in strength was demonstrated by the subjects.If  the female subjects were  lifting heavy and using progressive overload then results should have been better. The study did not reveal whether or not they use light or heavy weight for their exercise regimen. The most efficient method is to train to the threshold limit, which will increase strength. The process challenges the muscle and induces microtrauama  to the fiber. After rest this will allow for muscular hypertrophy. Lifting smaller weights may not be as effective, because it does not cause microtrauma at the same rate.

 The average man has more natural strength compared to the average woman. However, if a woman exercises she can see improvements to her strength levels. If done consistently women can see improvements. Although training does not negate the total physical fitness capacity difference. Examining the records of elite male and female athletes shows their is a 10% difference in performance in sporting  events.  Considering the biological and physiological differences this seems to be small. One would suspect it to be much bigger. This means a woman and even an elite female athlete would have to train harder in comparison to a man. It is possible that there could be overlap, however it is rare that an elite female and match the performance of an elite male athlete.

Hand grip strength comparison of men and women. This included elite female athletes. These were mostly handballers. A more precise measure would be to examine weightlifting records.  

Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training. This also explains why there is a disparity in injuries. Thicker tendons can contribute to strength. The women used in the study were university age and could have been at various fitness level prior to the experiment. One factor that was acknowledged. Simply being tall and having longer arms can effect pull up performance. A person with shorter arms would have an easier time lifting themselves above the bar.

           It should be apparent given known facts that women can do pull-ups if instructed properly. When women were allowed to apply for combat units in the United States, there was controversy over the pull-up requirement. Most of the women in the US Marines failed to reach the three pull-up minimum. While conservatives claimed that this was evidence that women were not suitable for such military occupational specialties, there was another reason for their failure. Women were allowed to do the flexed arm hang as a substitute fitness requirement. This exercise does not seem effective at building upper body strength. When the requirement changed and women did not receive the correct instruction it resulted in test failure.

 When the fitness standards were changed and women trained the right way there was improvement. Exercise physiology has shown women are not physical inferior; they are different. That is why training must be designed to accommodate such biological and physiological sex based differences. To say women cannot do pull-ups is false. The experiment conducted did not produce an accurate assessment. What one could assume without analysis is that all men by default should be able to do pull-ups. That is erroneous, because there are men who are either out of shape or have a weight problem.

This woman can do pull-ups. 

The only logical conclusion is that women will have a harder time mastering pull-ups. The difference in upper body mass contributes to this. While women are closer to men in the lower body, this makes exercises like squats and luges easier in comparison. Tara Parker-Pope wrote this article in 2012 for New York Times Magazine. The article does not only recycle dated concepts of the frailty myth, it is scientifically inaccurate. If there was to be a full assessment of women’s physical capabilities, the sample size would have to be larger. I would be fascinating to see a comparison between a sample of athletic women compared to average women. The same could be done for a group of men to get a better understanding. If they are given the same instruction then this would be more than an approximation. Men may still do more pull-ups in total compared to women. Yet, women’s performance could improve. Doing this exercise is more than just about biology. Women at a young age are discouraged from the use of their bodies and as adults are less physically active. Physical strength, power, and prowess are still perceived as male only attributes. This can be changed. If the University of Dayton study is correct it should be able to survive the test of the scientific method. Meaning if this were to be done again the same results would have to be replicated from the experiment. It is dubious that it could reproduced even with a larger sample size.

Why Women Can’t Do Pull-Ups

Psychology Today : Do Tests of Physical Ability Discriminate Against Women ?

Do Tests of Physical Ability Discriminate Against Women? What skills are really needed to succeed in physical labour jobs?

This article published by Psychology Today proposes a simple question. Are tests of physical ability discriminatory against women. This depends on several factors. To answer such a question one has to understand what the definition of discrimination is and what is not classified as discrimination. The nature of the test must be determined and whether or not it has relevance to the duties of the job. If such tests have to be adjusted, it would have to be done in a way that does not have unqualified workers doing less while the more qualified are doing more. If just adjustments were to be made then you would have to prove that women were at a physiological and fitness disadvantage. Also affirmative action policy would have to changed. Psychology’s relation to physical testing has to do with applied and industrial psychology. Industrial and organizational psychologists are trained in adjusting workplaces to maximize productivity. They also serve to develop programs to train employees or engage in  market research. They also seek solutions to retain employees. This is why the American Psychological Association published a study called” A Meta-analysis for Sex Differences in Physical Ability : A Revised Estimates and Strategies for Reducing Differences in Selection Context ”   in 2013. The goal was to see what could be done to improve women’s performance in physically demanding occupations. This study was significant, because it examined what could be done to close fitness gaps, rather than reporting obvious differences. Tests of physical ability do serve a purpose, yet it can be debated if they are specifically discriminatory against women.

             Discrimination can be defined as ” the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different people or groups based on their race, sex, religion, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”  This can also include people with physical or mental disability. Discrimination extends to employment . The United States has a long history of discrimination and prejudice. White men were guaranteed the best jobs and it was not until the Civil Rights Act of  1964 did such blatant discrimination was challenged. African Americans,Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, and women were segregated in the workforce. There still continues to be a challenge of  reducing discrimination in the economy and workplace. The difference in America now is that it is more covert exposing its self in anti-affirmative action legal cases and right-wing political agendas. Relevant to women, their  lack of numbers in physically demanding occupations is not entirely discrimination based. It could come down to the choice women make in their career fields. That example would not be enough to constitute discrimination.

If women who applied for these positions and were turned away simply because of their sex that is discrimination. The ban on women in combat would constitute discrimination. There are obviously women who are physically capable of meeting the standards, however even if they were to compete for those positions it would have been denied to them if they were female. This is also happening under the Trump administration’s attempt to ban transgender service members. Being different does not give indication to job performance. These acts of discrimination are designed to favor a ruling group or class. Positions should be filled with the best qualified applicants, not because you are favored by society. This also leads to what does not constitute discrimination. A woman simply failing a physical test does not indicate discrimination. The purpose is to section off candidates who may not be as capable. The counter argument is that this may accidentally weed out more women compared to men.

           If  the assumption is that physical tests are discriminatory to women, the same could be said of it being discriminatory to unfit males. However, there is no argument to make that case. Here the assumption is that men would just be better at physical task. That is not the case if a large spectrum of individuals is examined. Seeing as more men are employed and apply to be coal miners, police officers, steel workers, firefighters, and construction workers it is statistically more likely they would experience discrimination.

It is rare that men take such cases to federal  court. Arguing from this perspective, the following questions arise. If one makes the statement that physical ability tests are unfair to women how would that explain who are a capable being able to meet such standards?  Why does this not apply to men who are not of a high physical fitness level? This also comes to the question of lowering standards. The answer to the first questions can be reasoned to. Obviously, physical tests would be unfair if women were physically inferior to men. This is not true, considering women can increase their muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness. The reason the same concern does not apply to men is it is assumed that they can handle more rigorous physical activity. This assumption is false, because men’s physical fitness levels vary. This is why the idea of lowering standards is irrational. Holding men to a higher fitness qualification for the same position also is unequal. Jay Baur was applying to be an FBI agent, but failed to meet the 30 push up minimum. Women only have to do 14 push ups. He took his case to the U.S Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The courts ruling was a flawed one. The panel concluded : “men and women simply are not physiologically the same for the purposes of physical fitness programs.”  The panel went on further to state “In other words, equally fit men and women demonstrate their fitness differently.” The problem with this reasoning it assumes women are just too frail to reach certain physical demands and need a simple version of fitness. While their are obvious differences, that does not mean there cannot be a single standard.

Men are held to a higher standard, which may create an atmosphere of hostility. It makes it appear as if the job was just handed to women, instead of earned legitimately. Such double standards do not have a place in professions. Three of the judges also added this assessment to their conclusion : ”  whether physical fitness standards discriminate based on sex, therefore, depends on whether they require men and women to demonstrate different levels of fitness.” It is clear here that men and women were demonstrating different levels of fitness. Baur only got 29 total push ups on his physical assessment. Push ups relevant to this case may not be the best measure of  fitness required for an FBI agent. There is no reason men and women cannot reach the maximum of 30 push ups, with some training. This puts into question on how precise physical ability tests are.Physical ability tests can be discriminatory against both sexes and cause candidates who could be capable to be screed out accidentally.

         The accepted measures of  fitness in regards to physical ability tests include muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, and movement quality. Muscular strength can be described as the ability to exert force and exert power. This also includes muscular endurance. Cardiovascular endurance describes how long physical activity can be sustained. Movement ability refers to balance, flexibility, and coordination. These are areas in which women must have high levels of. The findings of the meta-analysis report showed that men out scored women in muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. There was no difference in movement ability. Women can actually outperform men in reaction time, dexterity, and visual acuity.   The data was collected from the tests of  firefighters, steel workers, construction workers, coal miners, and police officers.

Training did improve women’s performance in terms of muscular strength, but it did not entirely eliminate sex differences in physical fitness capacity. Courtwright makes the claim that tests that measure muscular strength and muscular endurance  are over emphasized. There are jobs that this physical fitness marker is important. However, other elements of physical fitness may be ignored which would favor women. This means that tests of physical ability must be more specific in its assessments. If a test of physical ability only measures a few markers, then it is only accurate not precise. Then there is the problem of how to interpret those measurements. When separate muscle groups and regions were examined it showed a narrow difference in strength between the sexes in the study. The conclusion that can be extrapolated is that there are differences in men and women’s physical fitness capacities. Understanding the biological and physical differences can allow for better training programs for women.

       Knowing the differences in physical fitness capacity allows for a practical approach. Women will have to have a high physical fitness level before attempting to take physical ability tests. This also is a wise idea for men as well, because it will prevent injuries of candidates. Women can increase their strength through weight training. One does not need to reach the level of a professional athlete to pass a physical test. An applicant should acquire the list of qualifications and then do research. A training regimen should be adjusted around that set of requirements.

Women do have to train harder to reach a particular fitness level. If women are to perform on the same level as a man physically, they would have to use more of their maximal energy and force . The biggest difference is seen in upper body strength. Women contain less muscle mass in this region of the body. The estimate is about a 30% difference in terms of upper body strength.There is less difference in the lower body. The basic information that can be extracted from this is that it will be harder for women to pass physical fitness tests. Men have on average more type II muscle fibers, which allow for greater bursts of physical power. The difference in body composition and endocrinology as explain men’s higher strength levels.

This means that more men will probably pass physical ability tests compared to their female counterparts. Seeing as historically discrimination has worked against women in these professions the numbers may never be equal. The attempts to recruit women either take two methods. The first is to design training programs to increase their physical fitness level. The other is to lower standards. The first option is more rational considering these jobs require a high level of competence.

       There are a small minority of advocates who believe standards should be lowered to increase the number of women. Such a policy would be ludicrous and possibly dangerous. Having candidates be employed at a lower standard would jeopardize operations. Women who claim to be feminists advocate lower standards just because they think more numbers in a field would equate to more equality. Simply having more women in a field does not mean the institution will become a place of gender equality. This does a disservice to women who can meet the standards. Simultaneously, it creates resentment in male colleagues who believe that women were simply given the job due to their sex, not qualification. It also empowers detractors and their myths claiming their are some jobs women are just not designed for. Women have to prove they can do the same tasks as men. Not doing so, only harms their advancement.This is why some institutions are developing what are referred to gender neutral standards. The US military has developed this for men and women entering combat jobs. The term does not seem accurate, because it is one unified standard in which all applicants must pass. Women are capable of doing this a some examples of standards prove it :

• Swim 500 yards 12:30 9:00
• Push-​​ups 50 90
• Curl-​​ups a.k.a. Sit-​​ups 50 85
• Pull-​​ups 10 18
• Run 1.5 miles 10:30 09:30

fitness standards for special operations in the US military 


An example of Police Department fitness standards 

This tasks would not be a problem for the female athlete. The average woman with limited training would struggle. If there are women who obviously are more than fit enough to pass there is no reason to lower standards.

        Physical ability tests are not discriminatory tools. They can be designed to be that way. If women were given tests that male applicants did not have to do that would be discriminatory. If a test just emphasizes upper body exercises then this can be challenged legally. sex differences cannot be eliminated entirely, but reduced through training. The although gains from training are modest for women, one does not need to be an elite athlete to meet certain standards required of a physically demanding occupation. These occupations account for 28% of the US labor force. Some many even disappear. Coal mining is based around a finite resource. It would be a major error to think such an industry would last forever. If women want to see the pay gap close, they must enter fields that are male dominated. While women are entering business, politics, and law they also must enter the physically demanding occupations. Doing so, would shift the direction of capital. Women would should not just seek to be workers, but leaders and administrators in such areas. Using methods of industrial psychology and exercise physiology can make women’s movement into these fields much easier. That means accepting and passing physical ability tests. The only way these tests could be considered discriminatory is if they were deliberately stopping women. Lowering standards is unjustified, because it operates on the notion women are physically inferior. If physical ability tests are precise in their measurements and assessments they will acquire the candidates they need for a job position.

Psychology Today : Do Tests of Physical Ability Discriminate Against Women ?