ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

Essop Merrick produced videos giving an analysis of women’s strength training. These are mostly instructional with some exercise physiology in the content. While his knowledge is extensive, there are some elements that are critical that are missing from the videos. It is true that men and women can learn from one another when it comes to training. Method is critical when designing a training program. Also anatomical and physiological differences must be accounted for in certain approaches. Simply acknowledging differences does not constitute sexism. Essop stresses that point, but makes general statements about feminism. Not all feminists are power feminists or sameness feminist. The problem as he points out is that they think sameness equates to true equality. Everyone is different and this is not an indication of inferiority or superiority. It is not a stereotype that men are stronger than women; it is biological and physiological fact. That being understood physical fitness capacity can vary among individuals regardless of sex . There are numerous factors that determine physical strength and the video makes the mistake of saying it is primarily testosterone. Genetics, body type, body composition, and muscle fibers play essential roles. If a person is to be scientific in their analysis, one  should do more research. It is not about “defining   strength in a different way”  or “being strong in a different way.” It it is about reaching maximal physical fitness capacity. When men and women train on the same regimen male physical fitness capacity will be higher. This does not mean women cannot reach a level that is high relative to their size and anatomical structure.

            There are multiple factors that contribute to physical strength. Age does play a role in muscular strength. The best period for maximum growth is between the ages ten to 20. As a person ages their muscle mass will decrease if they do not exercise. obviously, as children grow into adults, there strength level increases due to larger body size. Puberty is the period in which males have a dramatic change in endocrinology. Testosterone levels increase causing denser bones, ligaments, tendons, and more muscle mass. Women do not get a strength spurt, rather estrogen and progesterone allow for more storage of fat.

However ,somatotype is also important. While a man may produce more testosterone a man with an ectomorphic or endomorphic body type may struggle to build muscle like a mesomorphic woman. This is independent of endocrinology and sex. Male and female muscles do not differ in terms of histology. Male and female muscles can respond to training and function in a similar manner. There is a difference in the total amount of muscle mass even with highly trained female athletes. Women have a higher body fat percentage even when reaching upper levels of muscular development. Fat does not contribute to strength generation.

Sexual dimorphism effects physical fitness capacity.

 Then there is also the factor of muscle fiber type. This must be clarified before discussing muscular hypertrophy. There are different types of muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers generate more power, but have less endurance. Slow twitch fibers do not have the same level of power compared to type II fast twitch. Although the type of muscle fibers vary among sex, men on average have more type II muscle fibers compared to women’s more endurance based type I muscle fibers. If an athlete is training for pure strength, type II muscle fibers would be the most helpful. So it is possible for a woman with more type II muscle fibers to have more strength, even if a man is producing more testosterone. Strength and power training is the most effective method for recruiting the most muscle fibers for strength.

 

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The skeleton also is a factor.Bone density is higher in men. The skeleton acts as a support system for organs and houses muscles connected by ligaments and tendons.Limb length also can aid strength. People with shorter limbs can have an advantage in lifting due to leverage factors.  Longer limbs mean more space for muscle compared to shorter limbs. Tendons can provide biomechanical advantage relative to point of tendon insertion. There also remains a difference in upper and lower body strength between men and women partially influenced by skeletal structure. Men have broader shoulders, which means that there is more area for muscle. A woman can build significant strength in the upper body, but smaller shoulder width and size would not allow for muscular levels of the male upper body. Men have an estimated 50% greater upper body strength. There is even a strength difference in the lower body estimated at 30%. Women are closer to men in the lower body.

Genetics and the function of the nervous system also have major roles to play in physical strength. There have been genes that have been identified associated with strength. These genes include PEX14, ACTG1, TGFA, and SRYT1. These genes are responsible for muscle fiber function and the nervous system communication between them. Women are also the carriers of these genes. There are most likely more genes that contribute to muscular strength. The MSTN gene provides directions to myostatin a protein responsible for regulating muscular growth. If an a person has low myostatin levels, then building muscle would be easier. These factors are independent of biological sex and endocrinology. Sexual dimorphism can be flexible in this regard. Neural adaptation is also important to strength. If the motor cortex can be trained to efficiently recruit muscle fibers, this means the body can reach a certain strength potential. The motor neurons are classified as efferent neurons  which working through the spinal cord produces muscle contraction producing  proprioceptive sensitivity. The nervous system has to be included in this discussion of strength.

Motor neurons

Neuromuscular efficiency has to be considered when making strength assessments. This explains why someone who appears to be bigger may not be as strong as someone who has trained differently.  Testosterone is a major help in protein synthesis, which allows for more hypertrophy. Yet.it is  not the sole factor in physical strength.

          Strength depends on which training method is used and the type of muscular hypertrophy it causes. Exercise increases physical fitness levels. There are no women’s exercises or men’s exercises. If the muscular and skeletal system are similar in terms of physiology any exercise should work to produce stimuli.

Even using the term “women’s strength training” seems somewhat inaccurate. Strength training is strength training no matter what a person’s sex is.  The major factors related to it come down to sarcoplasmic and myofibular hypertrophy. The video gives a general explanation of both. Myofibular hypertrophy requires high intensity, low reps, and medium sets. Myofibrils are formed from bundles of myofilaments. Each muscle cell contains these myofibrils and they are responsive to load stimulus. This means micro-trauma must be applied to  the individual fibers inducing repair during a recovery period. Overload must be maintained to see muscular hypertrophy occur. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy involves medium intensity, higher reps and sets. Sarcoplasm is the energy sources that encase the myofibirls. This includes ATP, glycogen, creatine phosphate, and water. This involves scaroplasmic expansion. The problem is that it would be premature to say which type of hypertrophy favors women. Other factors involved in strength must be realized when considering this.

Hypertrophy

It may appear that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy favors women more in terms of  the disparity in intensity, but there has never been an experimental basis for this. This question relates to whether or not women should train like men or try another method. The best answer is designing a program specific to a person’s unique physiology. There are women who are at various fitness levels and will see more results compared to others. While some methods are not interchangeable   with men and women it can apply to various individuals regardless of sex.

There is a difference is total absolute strength gains. The chart that was made for the presentation gives a least an general estimation of physical capabilities. However there has to be a level of precision. Weightlifting records show  the the total aggregate of fitness capacity.  Crossfit records also provide a more accurate assessment. Weight and height add an advantage.  The performance range differs between novice lifters and advanced ones.

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Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

Strength level wise women can reach the level of an untrained male. Their strength could be slightly more than an untrained male given the trained woman’s size and total weight. This also depends on training method. If a woman only does cardiovascular exercise, this will not dramatically increase physical strength. The act of getting strong is not sexist. The process from going from weak to strong is the increase in fitness. As data shows, women can improve their performance like men if they train, consume the proper diet, and focus on periods of recovery. The major challenge is that for women it is a trial and error method, because very few exercise physiology studies focus on women. The majority of these studies are conducted on men. This causes confusion about how women should best train for maximum performance. Also interpretation of data is important. These are totals of each athletes’ performance. This could mean that there may be a level of overlap in performance when comparing individual male and female athletes.  Women’s athletic performance should not be considered as poor, rather a representation of weight class. Weight class was designed to give smaller people and extremely large people opportunities to compete in sports on an equal basis. Seeing as women are smaller their performance is a representation of their weight class. No one ever says that smaller male athletes are inferior. They are admired for their skill, yet women do not get such accolades.

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Women can improve their performance, but they have a harder time reaching higher fitness levels. Less muscle means more work has to be done. The difference in metabolism means that women have to be careful with the diet. Activity level most be high enough so that food does not metabolize into fat. Calorie intake needs to be the right amount to provide energy and feed the growing muscles. It is not just biology that influences athletic performance; there are sociological factors.

          There has been for a longtime sexism in sports. The problems does not stem from ignoring the differences or “celebrating the good in one of the groups.” Discrimination stems from bias and prejudice as well as the conviction that certain groups do not deserve the same rights or opportunities. Such thought believes that certain groups should not have access even to the same leisure activities. The reason so few women are present in serious strength training gyms is because they have been excluded in the past. Although women’s numbers have increased in sports it still is below the participation level of males. Cultural standards of beauty and restriction to training facilities kept many women out of sports. The passage of Title IX changed this allowing girls in school the opportunity to play sports. From 1972 onward there would be a dramatic increase in female athletic participation. This a demonstration of how public policy can change a social ill if implemented correctly.

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There are many who want to reverse such changes. Claims of  “reverse discrimination” or attempts to bring down other groups of another are made by conservatives. This is nothing more than an attempt to reimpose the old order. It is too late to keep women out of sports, but there are numerous attempts to undermine it. Limited television broadcast, lack of sponsorship, or sex discrimination are the most notable methods. Gender verification tests, no competitive venues, and public ostracism made it difficult for women to compete professionally in sport. When the modern day Olympics came into existence in 1896, it was a male only event. Although women participated in sports since the ancient world 19th century cultural sensibilities rejected the idea of a physically strong woman.

Fight It was not until 1991 that the IOC  ruled that any new sport introduced to the games had to include women. Despite these gains, women around the world do not have the same opportunity for athletic competition.  Women may be faced with extreme poverty, lack of reproductive rights, or limited education. If a ruling group does not want to share power and continues to oppress, then it must be taken down. So far, certain institutional structures have changed for the better for women competitors. Considering the past women’s advancement in sport is impressive. These obstacles demonstrate why many are still trying to catch up in the sports world.

           Exercise does not differ between men and women. There are no “girl exercises” or “men’s exercises.” This can be described best with the squat and the deadlift. Essop articulates it as a movement pattern. Training with correct form and avoiding injury can create a safe as well as effective workout. The notion that strength and physical prowess was a male only attribute has created a bias against women. The frailty myth was created by 19th century pseudoscience with the conviction that the female body was biologically inferior. Many thought that if women became too strong this would harm their ability to become pregnant. This was proven false in the 20th century and women began to enter the world of sports and fitness.

Strength training is strength training no matter who does it. So saying there is a “women’s strength training” makes no sense. Exercise like the deadlift or squat can best be seen as a movement pattern. Men can even learn many techniques from women in terms of lower body strength training. Women have an advantage in terms of deep squats because of their pelvic structure. Knowing differences between the sexes allows for a more efficient training program that can meet an athletes needs. Intensity and volume can be inversely proportional. That means the heavier the weight, the less time one can lift it. The lighter the weight the more time you have to lift it. Volume can either be adjusted to promote growth or more physical strength. This can to an extent be fluid rather than a set quantitative value. There may be a way theoretically to reconcile the difference in maximal strength between men and women Essop suggests. The approach may be by increasing volume. Splitting such a task into sets reduces the labor or possible strain. This may counter the intensity by equalizing the workload. The variety of exercise can also effect performance outcomes. Women’s looser joints and flexibility  also provide an advantage in particular ranges of motion. Squat, bend, and lunge are the movement patterns for the hips.

There are also three planes of movement which include frontal, transverse, and sagittal. Other exercises also involved in the movement pattern include step ups and hyper extensions. Variety when done will challenge the muscle and allow for significant increase in total amount of weight lifted. There is the question about whether free weights or machines are better. To date there has not been a conclusive study to prove which one is better. The conjecture is that both are best to use, but there is no official verification of that. Women’s recovery from training gives them a benefit, which men do not have. While male absolute strength allows for more intensity, this means recovery periods would be longer. Doing high intensity workouts in such a manner also increases the risk of injury. Women can build immense core strength if they understand that the nervous system is stimulated by the activation by that section of the body. It is not by isolation.

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Using this particular approach can help athletes avoid over training. This still does not eliminate the absolute strength difference between men and women on a similar program. Sexual dimorphism is flexible in particular aspects. Core strength demonstrates through training that some elements one show a small physical performance difference. Elite men and women it is bigger in absolute strength. Becca Swanson is stronger than many men, but would not be stronger than the strongest man.

Her range of strength would even surpass trained males. What can be extrapolated from this information is that being female does not limit athletic potential. Women are neophytes to the professional sports world and developing training programs is an experimental process. There are numerous training programs and  fitness advisory websites, but this can be confusing to a person just starting. There has to be a framework to follow for success.

         Essop reduces the process of strength training regimen to certain steps. The first step requires stimulating the muscles. That would be the exercising process that follows after that . This follows recovery allowing the body to repair and get ready for the next training period. Super compensation is the diet and rest in total. This should be repeated and be consistent.

Essop’s view is that it should be retrospective in function rather that a set schedule. The problem with being set on one exercise, then correct form, and then progressive overload. This may not work for everyone and may just be too restrictive. The objective should be to enhance the body through variety and challenge it. The standard operation of the personal trainer system may be too limited for higher physical fitness targets. The problem is being too focused on one exercise. The emphasis should not be the form its self rather the movement pattern and its particular features. The squat can have the neutral neck, thoracic extension, as well as external rotation of the hands and feet. The femurs of the body will be going back and the hips will be lateral during the hip hinge.

Generally, Essop calls this women’s workload training. It involves several steps. The first step involves selecting a movement pattern. This can either be the squat, lunge, or bend. The second part involves either the two foot, one foot, or split stance. Then comes the question of adding weight loads and which part of the body should this be done to. Starting off one should learn the basic patterns. When the basics are mastered, then one can move on to more advanced movements. This can result in simple training progression. Having higher range in motion can lead to more activation of muscles with less weight. This will result in muscular  hypertrophy just the same as lifting heavy. The only difference may be is that this method would be less strenuous and efficient compared to a longer training program. There are simple exercises that one must remember that exist on a spectrum. These include the bend, squats, and, lunges. These exercises are dependent on which joint is moved first and ultimately effect total activation. The exercises as the video argues is that it functions on a spectrum. The movements are part of this spectrum and doing them a specific way in a rigid fashion may not be the best approach. Having correct form can prevent injury, but it should be understood that exercises are more similar than previously thought. Essop makes cogent arguments, but it must be realized women still need to be studied more in terms of exercise physiology. It cannot be stated with complete certainty what is the full extent of women’s physical fitness capacity.

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ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

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.

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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.

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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 .

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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.

References

 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.

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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

Psychology Today : Battle of the Sexes

The Battle of the Sexes

There have been arguments that men are biologically and physically superior  to women. This has been proven false, because scientifically it has been proven that ” biological superiority” does not exist. Men and women are biologically, anatomically, and physiologically  different . This does not indicate a superior or inferior sex. Science reveals much about the battle of the sexes in terms of physical abilities and biology. The Psychology Today article does claim there is no clear winner in terms of the battle of the sexes. However, from an evolutionary and health perspective women are the winners. They are more likely to live longer compared to men. Women are in this regard not a weaker sex. Other measures such as intelligence quotient (IQ) are not a reliable measure. While the other scientific statements can be verified, measuring intelligence may not sustain the rigors of the scientific method. Psychologists are still debating what is intelligence. There exists health disparities among the sexes that are due to both environment and biology. There is no stronger sex, yet women are winners in the test of survival.

        Men have more physical strength on average. The difference has to do with the amount of free testosterone in the male body. This cause a difference in body composition resulting in a greater percentage of muscle mass. Muscles are not the only contributor to physical strength, it also includes bones, ligaments, and tendons. Muscle cells are the same for both men and women the difference is amount. Women retain higher fat levels no matter what their body type is. Males have a greater number of type II fast switch muscle fiber, which allows for more explosive power during a physical task. Until the onset of puberty, there is no difference in physical strength. When puberty starts women’s bodies gain more adipose tissue from estrogen and progesterone.

Women do not have the strength spurt that males gain during puberty. Both sexes have growth spurts during these years. Girls have their growth spurt earlier meaning they will for awhile be taller than boys. Between the ages 9 to 14 girls are growing faster than boys. Boys experience growth slower. The first stage happens around the age of 10, but there is a dramatic shift around the age of 13. The largest growth spurt happens around two years after puberty. The last growth spurt happens at the end of puberty. Between these two growth spurts the strength spurt increases muscle mass and broadens the shoulders. The largest disparity between physical strength in the body between males and females is in the upper body. Women are closer to men in the lower body, but not stronger in that area. Men have an estimated 50% more muscle mass in the lower body and 66% more in the upper body. The average woman’s body is estimated to be at least 35% muscle weight compared to men’s 50%.

Olympic Records in Weight Lifting – Maximum Lifts
Date Event Sex Achieved Name Category
2012 Snatch F 151kg Tatiana Kashirina 75kg+
2012 Clean & Jerk F 187kg Zhou Lulu 75kg+
2012 Total F 333kg Zhou Lulu 75kg+
2016 Snatch M 216kg Behdad Salimi 105kg+
2004 Clean & Jerk M 263kg Hossein Rezazadeh 105kg+
2016 Total M 473kg Lasha Talakhadze 105kg+
Highest Male Record Below Women’s Maximum
2000 Snatch M 138kg Halil Mutlu < 56kg
2012 Clean & Jerk M 177kg Óscar Figueroa < 62kg
2012 Total M 327kg Kim Un-guk < 62kg

This explains the difference in athletic performance. However, it should be realized that strength is not solely determined by biological sex. Age, genetics, health condition, and training method are also important factors. Women respond to training stimuli and can benefit from improved health. The reason why women  would have higher rates of osteoporosis is due to the fact that they have lower bone density. As a person ages they lose both muscle and skeletal mass. This could be more severe for a woman as she ages, Strength training can reverse such issues and preserve bone health. It is not impossible for a woman to be stronger than a man. It is unlikely that a woman would reach the same level of strength as a man on the same training program. This has to do with starting point. If males have lower body fat and more muscle prior to training this means their physical fitness capacity would be higher. If women natural strength is lower, that means they would be behind in terms of attempting to reach the same out put. Then there is the consideration of size. Men are taller and have larger frames, which correlates to housing more muscle on skeletal frame. Women relative to their size can see an improved level of strength.

Women’s muscles can experience hypertrophy, just not to the same degree as men. All men are obviously not stronger than all women. A woman who strength trains can at least reach or surpass the strength level of an average man. Somatotypes vary among both men and women. A woman with a mesomorphic body type could see far greater strength gains compared to a woman with an ectomorphic body type. While the weakest men are still stronger than the weakest women, it would seem unlikely that they could be stronger than the strongest woman.

It is clear that men do not have a monopoly on physical strength. The difference is in total amount of muscle composition. The difference means that there are some health implications.  Women will have a harder time losing weight and obesity could be a higher health risk for women. Men may be stronger, but that does not indicate superiority.

        Men have greater cardio vascular reserve compared to women. Lungs and the heart are bigger, which means greater lung volume per body mass. Men compared to women have a higher red blood cell count including higher hemoglobin. This means men can run faster than women. Oxygen is a crucial component to aerobic fitness and hemoglobin contributes to the transport. The difference in running speed is not only related to specific organs, it has to do with pelvic structure. Women’s wider pelvis reduce speed compared to men. Endocrinology and the changes in puberty also effect women’s fitness. A smaller heart means less blood is pumped. Women’s hearts are about 25% smaller compared to men’s hearts.

Men may also be able to run faster longer. Although men and women have the same muscles in the legs, the muscular composition is still more in the male lower body. Women have the advantage in terms of fat acting as an energy source. This becomes useful in ultramarathon events. While women can build impressive legs which aid in running men contain an estimated 80% muscle mass composition in the legs compared to women’s 60%. That 30% difference correlates to a slower run speed for women. The Vo2 max is even lower for females who are sedentary compared to men who are also.

There are differences in circulatory system health that effect women in different ways. Heart disease is a major health concern for both men and women as they age. Seeing as women live longer this means that the risk factor increases. Women’s heart disease occurs often later in life and can go undetected. Coronary heart disease in the United States claims men and women in equal numbers. This is related to weight, diet, and health habits. The reason there is a slight disparity in diagnosis is that most of the medical studies on heart disease were done on men.  Women do have lower blood pressure which gives them a level of protection from cardiovascular diseases prior to menopause. Women who do suffer heart attacks on average have them by age 70.

Many aliments can be avoided by a change in exercise and eating habits. The major problem is that many people are not getting enough physical activity. It is clear that too much sitting and inactivity has negative effects on the circulatory system.

         Mental health is just as important as physical health. There appears to be a disparity between men in women in this regard. Women are least likely to suffer from anti-social personality disorder, autism, tourette’s  syndrome,  and psychopathy . Men are least likely to suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and eating disorders. There seems to be questionable data in this regard. Examination within the US military demonstrates that both men and women can suffer PTSD at high rates. It should also be noted that the suicide rate among men is higher compared to women. This statistic could be distorted mainly because men often choose the most violent method to kill themselves compare to women. Men may be experiencing more psychological distress than what is reported. Cultures that value hyper machismo teach boys and men to suppress their  emotions, which could be deleterious to their mental health. The expression of dolorous emotion in such cultures causes men who do to be seen as weak or unstable. Women are free to express a wider range of emotions or feelings, because it fits within the gender cultural stereotype. Mental health does have biological causes, but environment can have an immense impact on well being. The problem also is that their is a stigma surrounding such illnesses. Eating disorder such as anorexia,bulimia, and binge eating are higher in women. This has more of an environmental basis with eating disorders being more prevalent in Western culture. The obsession with image and in particular the thin body type has caused these disorders to increase. It is more common in teenage girls and young women who at that stage in their live value physical attractiveness. The consumption of mass media images that present one version of the female body has caused women distress. It has only been a recent development that medical professionals are taking mental health seriously.

             Intelligence has been a constantly debated and controversial topic in psychology. One issue is the idea that intelligence can be measured. There continues to be bias against women and other ethnic groups in this regard. At one time it was claimed that men were smarter than women. Such claims like the correlation between race and intelligence have proven to be nothing more than pseudoscience. It is doubtful that intelligence can measured by a test or scale. Unlike scalars or vectors IQ may not even be a fixed  unit. Psychology and other sciences have not produced a specific definition for intelligence. It is at best a hypothetical construct. This is why the statement ” it has been suggested that the variance (or spread) in IQ scores is greater in men.” The text continues : “if this is true, there should be more men than women with an exceptionally high IQ.” This revelation written then claims that women should have less learning disabilities. Intelligence can vary from person to person and even putting it in a graphical set of data is a problem. To get a precise measure we would need to know what exactly intelligence is. Also all individuals who take such tests would need to have the same education level. The literacy rates of women are lower globally compared to men. Throughout human history women were denied access to an equal education and it was only in the 20th century that this was reversed. There still remains a disparity in education among the sexes.

Map3.7Education_Discrepancy_compressed
It is not that girls are less intelligent or have learning disabilities. There is discrimination and societal pressure that holds them back.
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The claim is that the majority of the population fall into a normal distribution of IQ scores.

Realizing this, the concept of IQ cannot survive the rigors of the scientific method. There are psychometric, cognitive, and  cultural theories of intelligence. The first IQ test was developed by Alfred Binet . The term IQ was only developed in 1914 by William Stern. Lewis Terman developed the IQ concept further by standardizing the Binet’s test for the US. These tests were developed around the period of eugenics and pseudoscientific biological racism. Sexism also was a part of this and a common falsehood was that women were not as intelligent as men. Male brains are contain larger volume, while it has been suggested that women have more cortical thickness. The brains of individuals vary regardless of sex, but this does not indicate men have more intelligence. Male and female brains are capable of great amounts of intelligence. Measuring it is may not be possible. Unlike height , which can be measured and defined ( the average man in America 175.8 cm tall compared to 162 cm for women)  intelligence seems more like an abstraction.

Brain

The brain is a complex organ that is involved in thoughts,problem solving, emotions, motivation, and organ function. Human evolution demonstrated that the genus homo species has been developing intelligence for millions of years. Intelligence being a measurable inherited unit  lacks cogency.  Saying men are more intelligent than women is not scientifically correct. While the root of intelligence could be based in the neo cortex  and frontal lobe, there is no method to measure it. IQ tests only show how well a person takes exams or which subjects they are more knowledgeable about.

         Women have an advantage when it comes to fighting infectious diseases. Women contain more white blood cells and produce  at a faster rate more antibodies. This is an advantage men do not have. What leukocytes do is act as a protector and guard for the body against infectious diseases or possibly harmful foreign substances.The body is strengthened by this.

WhiteBloodCells

There are multiple types of white blood cells which include lymphocytes, monocytes, basophil, eosinphil, and neutrophil. The body can be stronger in more ways than one. It seems women have the ability to handle disease better compared to men at least in terms of immune response. The preconception would be that men would be better at handling such infectious diseases or viruses. What is colloquially referred to as “man flu” may not be fiction. This means that women’s immune systems may be more robust compared to their male counterparts. Wrong is the assumption that just because men would have more physical strength, they would be better biological survivors. There is more than just one type of strength.

The reason women have this advantage could be related to microRNAs. These pieces of genetic material are responsible for silencing particular genes. The X chromosome which has microRNA located on it may give women an edge in terms of the immune system response. There could also be an explanation based on endocrinology. This research is still relatively new, so many elements are still unclear. Women survive trauma better, which could be rooted in a long evolutionary past.

       Men can father children into old age. Women’s reproductive capability ends with menopause. The reason for this is based on millions of years of primate evolution. According to Darwin’s theory of evolution there are traits that are naturally selected. The goal of organisms is to reproduce offspring so that certain genes and traits can be spread. Charles Darwin did not understand the mechanism that caused traits to spread. It was not until the science of genetics mad such understanding possible. Men have a reproductive advantage in this regard being able to father children in advanced age. Women have an advantage due to the fact they actually give birth. X  linked recessive disorders are rare in women . However, it appears that boys are more fragile at birth. Infant mortality is higher for boys compared to girls. This can be reduced through changes in healthcare,however it can still exist in developed nations. Nature may have made men more expendable, because female reproduction was just too important. Women have to keep the species going in this respect. The text is taking its analysis from an evolutionary psychological perspective. Environment cannot be ignored either. Psychological traits according to this perspective evolved out of adaptations in relation to natural selection and sex selection. This may explain behaviors such as promiscuity or human courtship behavior. Our ancestors adapted reproductive strategies for survival and some of these behaviors can be see today. The problem is observation and experimental procedure. It  is unknown how early humans behaved compared to modern humankind. This difference between male and female fertility does have an evolutionary basis.

       Environment does determine health outcomes. It is not only genetics that are a factor for why men have lower life expectancy. The gap is closing in developed countries to a degree with men being less involved in physical labor and women engaging in unhealthy habits. Smoking and drinking are still done, even when there is public knowledge of the health risk. Women may live longer as the article points out simply because they do not take as many risks. This translates to areas in the workforce that are considered dangerous. The military, police, construction, and firefighting are examples in which women’s total numbers are low. Discrimination is not the only answer, it has to do with choice. Women are not willing to risk danger to the same degree. Then there is biology. Physically demanding occupations require a certain level of fitness. Women would have to train harder to reach a particular fitness level compared to men that have more natural strength.

This would mean a difference in attrition rates in such physically demanding occupations. Despite the physiological and biological differences women have been able to become a part of such professions. Training can improve women’s performance. If is a matter of training, why are there not more women in these professions ? Some of this has to be based on an element of evolutionary psychology. There may be an instinctual drive that alerts women not to take risk. If survival depended on reproduction of the species, taking unnecessary risks was not worth it. There also could be an evolutionary psychological explanation of why more women are not involved in the fields of science and information technology. Women can be just as intelligent as men, however there may be certain way the male brain is wired. Men may have more of a preference for mechanical and technological related topics, because building was part of their evolutionary past. Traditionally, women have been excluded from such professions and unequal amounts of education, put them at a disadvantage. This also translates to human health. Having inadequate healthcare, limited hospitals, or a reduction of reproductive rights negatively effects health outcomes. then there could be public health crisis that effect an entire population. An epidemic or pandemic could effect life expectancy. Drug addiction outbreaks such as the opioid issue in the US is currently reducing life expectancy. A dramatic change in environment can change health outcomes.

           The article concludes with the statement that “so at least in biological terms,there is no clear winner between the sexes. Considering that data known and what has yet to be learned that may not be an accurate conclusion. Women have more durational strength. Men’s greater physical fitness capacity would indicate they would be biologically stronger, but total life expectancy tells otherwise. Sex differences do influence health or possible illness. Women consistently show that they are survivors in many cases. Women even outlive men when conditions are stable. From a biomedical standpoint there does not exist a stronger sex, but it seems women win the test of longevity.

Nature does not dictate a battle of the sexes, because compatibility was needed for survival. Women’s durability was to ensure that off spring would be successful in the environments in which early primate species lived.  Humanity now has reached a level in which it can manipulate its own health and biology. The rise of antibiotics, scientific surgery, and a genetic understanding of disease has vastly improved health outcomes. Men still lag behind in terms of life span. Many women also have medical issues in regards to breast cancer and access to contraception. The author Neel Burton has a background medicine, seeing as he is a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are not the same as psychologists, because they take a medical perspective on mental illness with the belief it can be cured. Burton should realize that women from a biological view would be the winners, based on the rate of survival. This does not mean one sex is biologically superior . Misogynists often claim that the biological and physiological differences of women mean they are inferior. Difference is not an indication of inferiority. Sexual dimorphism is the product of evolution and environmental adaptation. Scientifically there is no way to test for biological inferiority or superiority. What can be concluded is that women might be stronger than previously thought.

Psychology Today : Battle of the Sexes

Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes

Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a monograph exploring the history of women athletes in Greek civilization. While any devoted follower of women’s sports and history knows about women’s participation in the ancient world, this is something new to the general public. For many the idea of female athlete is a new phenomenon that occurred with Title IX and the feminist movement. This obviously is not true, seeing as there are cases in which women played sports and were athletes. The reason this is not examined to the same extent as male participation is due in part to sexist prejudice and the fact that sports historiography is comparatively new. There are some who may not believe women did such things. Archaeology provides evidence of the ancient female athlete and the types of competitions they were involved in. Seeing as some civilizations either had an oral tradition of record keeping or few documents that still remain, artifacts help solve puzzles of the past. Authors Anne Reese and Irini  Vallera-Rickerson combine both history and archaeology to provide the reader with a vivid description of the female athlete of ancient Greek civilization. Originally published in 2002, at the time there was sill few secondary sources on this subject. The monograph discusses the Olympic games, festivals, and mythology in the context of women’s sports.While this is an entertaining and informative book, it does have some minor flaws .  Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes does successfully prove that the female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, but they are part of a long history of sports competition.

        The text does a great job of describing women’s status in Ancient Greece. it varied depending on the period and area. Minoan civilization was known to worship a mother goddess. This continued into Mycenaean civilization until Zeus became a replacement. Athens and Sparta were two extremes of the political spectrum. Women were restricted in terms of the laws in Athens. Their freedom was limited, yet they were allowed to attend some schools. However, women were under legal guardianship of the men in their lives whether it was their husband, brother, or father. Sparta gave women more freedom, yet this should not be seen as a conviction in equality. The monograph makes that mistake by implying it. The only reason women were allowed to engage in physical activity was so that they could produce stronger children. The males would become soldiers in this militarist society and the women would look after the home while men were at war. Citizens of Sparta male or female were raised to serve the state without question. Thebes and Korinth fell in a political and social middle ground between these two states.

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Seeing as each city-state was independent, the laws were different in regards to women. Accounts of Spartan civilization come mostly from Aristotle, Herdotos, Pausinias, Plutarch, and Thukydides. These were mostly Non-Spartans, so accounts could have a level  of bias.It was a common Athenian opinion that Spartans were rude, uncivilized, and rustic. The accounts do expose what training for women in Sparta was like. Their exercise regimen consisted of wrestling, footraces, javelin throwing, and discus. Spartan women also developed a type of exercise known as the bibasis. These were exercises of jumping in place. A Roman poet known as Propertius claimed that women also were involved in pancratium a sport which was a combination of boxing and wrestling. Maybe it could best be described as the MMA of ancient Greece.

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Spartans had a different attitude in regards to how boys and girls were raised. Girls and boys would perform physical activities in the nude. Gymnos the ancient Greek word in which gymnastics is derived,  means naked or without clothing. Athenians saw this and the fact that women had more freedom as vulgar. Athens was a place of the arts and culture. It was not compatible with the militarist and rustic society of Sparta.The fact that Spartan women had more independence did not mean the society valued gender equality. The idea was to have women become strong breeders and produce great warriors. King Lykurgos produced the foundation for a mighty power in the Mediterranean . This did not stop the state from falling to Macedonia and the Achaean League  around 195 B.C.E.. When The Roman Empire invaded in 140s B.C.E they divided Greece into provinces to be ruled directly. The Romans admired Spartan militarism and declared Sparta a free city. There was a small rival of the old Spartan culture. Women lived different lives in Athens and Sparta. Women were regulated to a domestic sphere in Athens, while Sparta allowed some freedom for them. Women’s status varied depending on the social and political circumstances of a city-state.

         Women athletes may seem like a new phenomenon, yet there is evidence that they were present in Greek civilization. Aegean civilization (3000- 1100 B.C.E) provides artifacts of sportswomen of the ancient period.  Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations reveal much about the activities of these athletes . Fresco fragments, clay seals, and reliefs found at Knossos are documentations of history of the sports Minoan participated in. Arthur Evans was the archaeologist responsible for uncovering the mysteries on krete.  His excavation allowed him to produce a four volume work called The Palace of Minos at Knossos. The art that Minoans left is a documentation about their society. Women just like the men were active participants in bull-jumping and bull-leaping. These sports were thought to be religious in nature as a way to honor the Mother Goddess. The Mother Goddess may be an indication that women in Minoan society had higher status. There is some disputes over how exactly bull leaping worked. The Toreador Frescoes depict bull leaping. Doing this action would require a huge amount of upper body strength and acrobatic skill. The text proposes theories, however it does not reach an answer. It could be that bulls were trained to perform in a certain way to allow acrobats to jump on them.

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The Minoan Mother Goddess was usually depicted with snakes in her hands. Goddesses were more common before the rise of monotheistic religion.

 If the bull was charging and an acrobat would grab it by the horns, this would be dangerous. To somersault for bull leaping would be physically impossible. It is possible that the fresco is being interpreted to literally. A more logical explanation may be that this was depicting bull fighting rather than actual leaping. The feats were just embellished for the sake of entertainment. One problem with archaeology is that there may be a rush to jump to a conclusion too soon. These scholars have to be detectives of the past gathering artifacts as their clues.

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The bull leaping fresco  shows two women  engaging  in bull sport with a man jumping on the bull.

 Iconography can be a useful tool in archaeological study. It has revealed that women normally in Minoan art were depicted with white or lighter skin and men with darker skin. Clothing differed in artistic depiction. The loin cloths that women wore had more designs and variation in color. The art also shows straps on the wrist and hands. The function was probably for getting a better grip on the bull. Frescoes were prevalent plaster based paintings. Pigments would be applied to plaster on buildings depicting sporting events or activities of daily life. Buon fresco required a method of applying pigment to wet plaster and the color will then sink into the wall. Fresco secco applies the pigment combine with an organic preservative ( such as egg whites ) to a dry surface.

Bull leaping as depicted from Minoan art would require a huge amount of upper body strength, acrobatic, and gymnastic skill. It seems unlikely that a person would be able to do this without serious injury. 

Besides frescoes, seals also leave evidence of female athletes in the ancient world.  Seals were carved as well as engraved objects made of stone, clay, or bone. The seals were used to make impressions on clay or wax. It was a means of verification of authenticity. It also was used to denote ownership. Normally seals were used in the home or market place. Seals were also used as symbols of identity among people.

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This is a seal depicting bull leaping. There were two types of seals which included the stamp and the cylinder. The stamp was flat and made the impression by pressing down. The cylinder had to be rolled over to make an impression.

Statues and sculpture are also artifacts that show that female athletes were active in the ancient world. The reason why serious study was not given to such findings was because many male scholars thought it was not important enough to give attention to. The 20th century saw the rise of women’s history as a major academic field. Since then, there have been efforts to uncover women’s roles in the past. There still remains more to be discovered and learned. Heinrich Schliemann only discovered Mycenae in 1876. Prior to that, there was no knowledge of its existence. There could be many lost civilizations globally, but there are limited remains or evidence of their existence. Artifacts, documents, and art are records of history.

Greek female athletes depicted in sculpture. 

Still there is a level of skepticism. It appears that the only sports women were involved in were bull sports. There are books and academic journals that state women in Minoan civilization also did running, swimming, and hunting.  Opposing views are that the women depicted in art were performing religious ceremonies. Both perspectives could be valid, but there needs to be more exploration and research.

       The monograph also reveals to the readers the myth of the Olympic rings. The rings did not have their roots in ancient history. David C. Young revealed in “Myth About The Ancient Games ” that the rings myth can be traced to two American authors. Lynn and Gray Poole had mistaken an inscription from a movie prop and others copied their work. The rings have their origins in the 1936 Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl was the film-maker responsible for their existence. the rings were part of a prop used for her film Olympia. The stone was paced in the film at the stadium at Delphi. The Pooles erroneously thought this was genuine. The Olympic flame runner may also be a myth. Yet, there is reference to hearth that would be lit in the Prytaneum  discussed by Pausanias. This building was in the Altis and led to the exit of the gymnasium.

The passing of the torch is a creation of the modern Olympics. This tradition was not needed in the ancient world because the games were held in the same place. The modern Olympics can be hosted by various nation-states around the world. The propagation of this myth just demonstrates how fast misinformation can be conveyed. Athletries provides an explanation into myths and common misconceptions about ancient sports history.  A modern day invention was thought to have ancient roots. Through a mistake and incorrect information a myth of the Olympic ring origin was born .What makes the book enjoyable is that it reveals these little known facts.

      There were multiple games that women were competitors in. This included the Panhellenic Games, Olympic Games, Pythian Games, Nemean Games, and Isthmian Games. The Panhellenic Games refers to competitions held across Greek civilization. These athletic competitions were local, but expanded to include other city-states. Women could have been charioteers. The evidence found of women being part of the games is revealed in inscriptions with the names of women athletes. The inscriptions found at particular sites also reveal which event they competed in and the game she won. The games were held in honor of gods and goddesses such as Hera, Demeter, Zeus, and Apollo. Games were held in different years to prevent possible conflicts of overlap. The reason this was done was to allow high participation and attendance. All the games ended by 394 C.E. due to Christian belief they were pagan rituals. Emperor Theodosios I wanted an empire of Christian culture. Relevant to women in sports, the Heraea Games was a competition for women. Athletics were also part of festivals, which included poetry and singing. The cult of Hera was widespread, so it was no shock their was a festival and athletic events organized in honor of this goddess. The inscriptions leave us names of the athletes, but other than that there is no other biographical information. One inscription reveals a winner by the name Hedea who excelled at footraces in both the Nemean Games and Isthmian Games. Queens also may have been chariot racers. One inscription commemorates Egyptian Queen Verenike’s victory in the Nemean Games.  Athletics served an important purpose in ancient civilization.  It was not only a sort of binding adhesive to these societies, but a religious celebration.

       The authors propose one theory about the exact date of the Olympic games . A reader should be skeptical of the information they receive. They base this theory on the end of Troy VII around 1190 B.C.E, using Homer’s Illiad  as a marker. They are right to assume that 776 B.C.E is correct for the first recorded Olympic Games. However, there are still questions.  There is a possibility there were records of previous games that were lost to history. If the authors were to make such statements more evidence is required. This is a challenge for archaeologists considering the Olympiads were at various points continued or discontinued.  The renewal date of the Olympic Games was 884 B.C.E.  This appears to be the least cogent argument the text makes. The reasoning may be sound, however it does not meant it leads to the correct conclusion. The most reliable sources are taken from the writings of Pausinias. He claimed that the games were discontinued by King Oxylos ruler of Elis. The origin of the Olympics is not entirely certain, but there are numerous myth surrounding  the ancient athletic event. One myth is that Hercules stated the competition with his brothers. Another involves Pelops and Hippodamia. Mythology and stories have served a pivotal purpose in the transfer of cultural value systems in various societies. Greek civilization was no different in terms of that function. The authors should have provided more concrete evidence to support their claim.

     The monograph concludes with delineating the history of the modern Olympic Games. The first attempts at revival were in 1859 and 1870. This was under the auspices of Evangelos Zappas. This was funded out his own pocket, so the games at a certain point were no longer able to continue. The successful revival would come only with the help of Demetrios Vikelas and Baron Pierre de Coubertin. These individuals had connections to sports organizations and news editors. It was mostly Coubertin’s contacts that made revival of the games possible. The Olympic Games were revived in 1896 with competitors from around the globe. Women were not banned from competing, but there were efforts to exclude them.

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This did not stop Stamata Revithi from participating in a marathon in the 1896 Olympics. The IOC refused to recognize her running time. Women were competing in the Olympics by 1900, but it was only in golf and tennis. Pierre de Coubertin made it no secret that he did not want women to be competitors in the games. Sexist prejudice was keeping women out of sports. However, by the 21st century more women would become competitors from around the globe.  Decolonization that followed after World War Ii created new independent nation-states in Africa and Asia. From there more athletes would appear on the Olympic stage. The female athlete is not a recent phenomenon, There were women who participated in sports during the ancient period. Athletries  is a great book for anyone interested in ancient civilization, women’s history, and sport. Although an academic text it is not so pedantic  or intricate that a reader would become confused about what they are absorbing. The brief discussion of Greek myths will entertain those with an fascination with the classics. Certain theories they propose should be questioned. It should be understood that there remains more to be discovered. Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes is a book worth owning.

Athletries The Untold History of Ancient Greek Women Athletes