The Biomechanics of Women in Combat

The Biomechanics of Women in Combat

Dr. Pamela McCauley is a biomechanics and ergonomics expert who is also professor and director of the Ergonomics Laboratory in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida.She applies her knowledge to the question of women in combat. If it is known that women are physiologically, anatomically, and biologically different this means training will have to be adjusted. She approaches the problem from a biomechanics and physical fitness perspective. Ergonomics also serves a use from preventing long term injuries or medical discharges from the US military. Combat position ban were lifted, which means women can serve in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. Physically demanding jobs may be harder for women who on average have less physical strength and speed. This fitness requirements can be met, without lowering standards. However, gender parity in all branches may not be possible. This text was originally published in 2014, a year after the ban was lifted on women in combat. The US military was using the physical readiness test. Currently there is a shift to make the physical fitness testing be more relevant to the military occupation specialties. Dr. Mccauley’s assessments are mostly correct, but there may be some jobs that women would struggle to get because the physical demands are high.

           To understand Dr. McCauley ‘s perspective one must have an understanding of biomechanics and ergonomics. Biomechanics is the examination of biological systems related to their motion putting emphasis on structure as well as function. This subject of science dates back to the Italian Renaissance when Giovanni Alfonso Borelli pioneered it as an academic discipline. The Italian physiologist was the first to describe muscular movement in terms of dynamics and statics. He also studied other body functions and physiological phenomena of the human body. Biomechanics has become a multidisciplinary science incorporating biology, medicine, engineering, and physiology. There are multiple branches which include sport, human movement, occupational, cell, and cardiovascular biomechanics. Relevant to the discussion of women in combat, this would be classified under human movement and occupational biomechanics. A soldier on the battlefield will be doing the physical requirements of a job and various movements when fighting. It could be argued that some techniques from sports biomechanics can be utilized as well.

Sports biomechanics may help in enhancing women’s physical fitness performance, by understanding the function of the female body under physical activity. Ergonomics also has a relation to biomechanics. It is an applied science which objects are designed so that people can use certain machines or other objects safely as well as efficiently. The goal of ergonomics is to reduce the risk of injury in the workplace. This discipline also examines how workers interact with systems. Ergonomics can sometimes be referred to as human factors engineering.  The US military is in dire need of ergonomic redesign. This is more of an issue with body armor, which has been a culprit in high rates of musculoskeletal injuries. Overloaded gear could cause joint and knee injuries. There is also the problem of poorly fitted armor. This problem is specific to women. If there are mostly men in the branch of the military, the armor produced was mostly for males. Women had to wear male sized armor, which did not fit. This was changed a few years ago when women began receiving properly fitting body armor. This could have been avoided if there was an ergonomic approach. Biomechanics and ergonomics must be applied to combat and training to decrease injury rates.

         The sex difference in physical fitness capacity must be considered. It was revealed  by Dr.  Pamela McCauley  that 55% of women failed the upper body strength testing in marine boot camp. It would be erroneous to take this as evidence that women can not be capable combat soldiers. If the frailty myth were true, then no woman would be able to pass. Another aspect of this would be that the failure rate should be much higher. The 55% statistic would  have to be 90% or higher to make such a general statement that women would make terrible combat soldiers. The physical fitness level of a person matters depending on which branch of the US military is going to serve in. The Air force, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and Marine Corps have a different set of physical fitness standards.

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The updated fitness standards for the US Air Force.

The average male at maximum can have up to 57 lbs of muscle compared to women’s 33 lbs. The average male depending on their health condition and fitness  can carry close to twice his weight. The average woman can carry half of hers. There is not just a difference in muscle mass, but weight. An average man can be 10% heavier than the average female. The average male body is estimated  to be 30% stronger than the average  female body. Dr.McCauley acknowledges in her statement ”   women tend to have less skeletal muscle mass than men, especially in the upper body (arms, shoulders and chest) though there are conflicting research studies on whether or not skeletal muscle mass alone is actually the best indicator of performance.” Bigger muscles do not automatically mean more strength. Mass does protect from physical trauma. This explains why women experience more injury marching under load. Lower bone density and mass would make marching with 80 lbs  or more difficult for a smaller person. Muscular mass is relevant, but not as significant as muscular strength.  Women must focus on both building strength and mass to prevent injury. Specifically building the mass of type II muscle fibers, which are designed for explosive power.

 Sex differences

Relevant sex difference that could effect combat performance .

 The question becomes here is how physically strong can a woman become with training. Women can experience muscular hypertrophy and gain in muscular strength through weight training. This is the best method to increasing physical strength. Seeing as the average man has more muscle and bone mass their natural strength is higher. Natural strength is the power that can be generated without training. This means women would be starting at a lower physical fitness level in terms of muscular strength. If they lift heavy their strength levels could be equivalent or slightly above that of an average man.

Women rarely reach the same physical fitness capacity as an equally trained man. It is true as Dr. McCauley articulated one does not need to be an elite professional athlete, but certain military occupational specialties require a certain level of physical fitness.  An elite female athlete would not have a problem meeting certain standards compared to the average woman. Women have to train harder to reach a particular fitness level.Physical fitness indicators such as muscular strength are not equivalent among the sexes. The largest disparity is in the upper body. Men have broader shoulders which means they have more space to house more muscle on the upper body. Dr. McCauley has the solution based on physical fitness prior to entry and making assessments match the occupation at hand. Physical fitness would have to be at a particular level for women before they even attempt basic training. Doing this would prepare them for the physical demands of combat.

The average woman would struggle more compared to the physically trained women. This means it would take longer for an average woman to meet particular fitness standards depending on the military occupational specialty. Men who are unfit or out of shape would even struggle with physical tasks. It would be erroneous to believe that every man in the United States would be a capable soldier.  Even with elite female athletes it takes a number of years for them to perform at top levels.

          The difference in muscular strength is significant. Seeing as women’s shoulder joints would be looser compared to men’s this is a greater risk for injury. Strength can be dependent on certain factors which include genetics, age, sex, and endocrinology. Women have less muscle fiber in their upper bodies and produce lower amounts of testosterone, which can be a contributor to muscular hypertrophy. Building upper body strength would be more of a challenge. This requires an understanding of the anatomy of the muscles and bones.

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The muscles of the arms. Such limbs will be important in shooting and hand to hand combat.

 The muscles of the upper body include the pectoralis major, trapezius, deltoid, triceps brachii, brachioradialis, rhomboids, rotator cuffs, abdominal external obliques, pronator teres , and the iliopsoas. Women have these same muscles. A the cellular level there is no difference between male and female muscle. Women are working with a smaller amount of total lean body mass. This would mean that a consistent weight training program would be need to be taken before basic training. This would ensure a higher score on the Army Basic Training  Physical Fitness Test. The goal should be to enhance muscular strength to be able to perform tasks, without using maximum energy reserve.

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Muscles Of The Trunk 17 Best Images About Shoulder Examination On Pinterest | Magnetic
The muscles of  the upper body and thorax.

Muscular hypertrophy does result from an exercise regimen. Men’s muscles may be more fatigue prone considering type II muscle fibers are not built for long term endurance.Women may have more of endurance advantage with type I muscle fibers. It should be noted that the composition of muscle fiber type and vary depending on genetics and exercise regimens used. The female body can respond to training. Men will find it easier due to the hormonal difference and their size. Male muscle is bigger, but not of higher quality when examined from a perspective of cross sectional area. If a fit woman can reach the strength level of an untrained man or a little higher, it would seem as if this is a realistic target. The muscular system of men and women is similar enough in which training can have an effect on it. Strength is not only based in the muscular system, it involves neural activity. Nerves throughout the body control movement. Muscle memory does have a basis in the brain and how efficiently muscles can produce power output.Building strength can prevent hospitalizations. According to the US Army musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 31% of hospitalizations for both male and female soldiers. Congress did conduct a study in 1994 looking at the ergonomic,biomechanical, and fitness issues effecting women in the US military. This led to improvements to prevent injuries, but more must be done to maintain the health of the soldiers. Women must engage in upper body exercises. This would include lateral raises, pull-ups, bench presses, triceps extensions, and biceps curls. The entire body would have to be challenged with progressive overload.

          While technology has reduced the complete reliance o physical strength, fitness is still necessary. There may be cases in which a soldier id disarmed of weapons and would need use hand to hand combat.  Guns are in a sense a great equalizer, including planes and other combat related vehicles. If a military does not have these items, the will not be as powerful.

Hand to hand combat is taught to all soldiers just in case of the event that their fists are the only weapon they have. Women are at a disadvantage in terms of  size and brawn. Male brute strength surpasses female physical force.  Men tend to be more physically aggressive. Women’s aggression is more verbal compared to a more physically violent response. The reasons are part biological and sociological. It has been hypothesized this difference are the attributes of the human evolutionary past in which hominids had to fight for mates and hunt. What emerged was sexual dimorphism. Women will have to be trained to be as aggressive as possible and undue both the social and biological restraints. Women can build strength, but they must be good fighters. Learning martial arts can enhance women’s combat ability. Women must be taught how to fight and master a high level of skill to counter attacks that do not involve weapons. It should also be noted that training is a simulation of what battle might be like. The environment is controlled, so that recruits can learn skills.

The battlefield is more unpredictable. There could be a circumstance in which one must literally fight to the death to survive. This is why having fighting skills is essential to soldier training.Simply being physically strong does not make one the best fighter, if they do not have skill. These overlap with similar principles governing self-defense. One does not have to be large to defend themselves. Judging your opponent, learning certain moves, and avoiding freezing during attack are essential elements in combat.

Dr. McCauley states that pull-ups and flexed arm hangs are a good measure of upper body strength. Pull-ups can be, but the flexed arm hangs are not. This was an alternative offered to women, because at one time it was thought that pull-ups were not physically possible for them. Physical fitness standards were different for both men and women on the assumption that women could not meet higher standards. This is why with the movement for a uniform standard is underway. It will eliminate training that does not pertain to requirements to an military occupational specialty and reduce total training time. If women do not meet the same standards and requirements this will only cause a reduction in quality of the armed forces. The standards should not be lowered to merely add more women to particular branches of the military. Dr. Mc Cauley agrees with such an assessment. The increased risk of death an injury would result in a less effective armed force. This would only cause a human resources issue with more anger directed at women as a whole. Women must show they can fight and be competent in their occupational position. This means women have to challenge the long held frailty myth, which continues to be used to keep them out of physically demanding occupations.

          There are some aspects of the female physiology and anatomy  that will not be changed through training.  Running and aerobic capacity will not be drastically altered. The female pelvis is much wider, which reduces total running speed. When women run the rotation of their legs differs. From a biomechanical perspective, a male pelvis is more suited to faster running speeds. The disparity in upper body strength can be addressed easier compared to the difference is total running speed.

Although women are closer to men in the lower body, it is not just the difference in muscle size that effects running speed. The heart and lung play a role in running as well as other physical activities. Women have lower hemoglobin levels compared to men. Smaller hearts and lungs mean that there is less oxygen being transported to energize the muscles. This aspect of fitness may require that women train similar to a professional athlete. Knowing these facts about biology,physiology, and anatomy reveal several points of interest. A portion of women would need to engaging in exercise and physical activity prior to even attempting basic training. Another complication is that America in general struggles with weight related issues and illnesses. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are becoming public health concerns, which would exclude many from possible military service. A large section of the American population would have to go on a weight management program. Women would be effected more seeing as body composition and endocrinology makes it more difficult for them to lose weight. Women would have a harder time reaching a particular physical fitness target, even if they were not overweight. There is no exercise or method to increase female lung and heart size to make them faster runners. Such differences lead to other considerations.

          Strength in diversity has become a new maxim in the American workplace. This seems to be more of a token and superficial image promoted rather than evidence of progress. There still remains discrimination, social stratification, sexism, homophobia   and intense racial hatreds. The lugubrious reality is no matter how well women perform they will always be treated with hostility or viewed as inferior by their male counterparts. Tokenism should not be evidence that the US Military values diversity or all who serve. The Trump administration has attempted to ban transgender service members. Such a blatant act of discrimination could later be extended to other groups. Such attitudes make integration of the armed forces even more difficult. The introduction of women into US combat positions will not reduce effectiveness. The only reason it would fail is if US Military leaders deliberately sabotage it.

The real failure comes from policy from the government and the military. The United States was not designed to be an imperial power, but has been moving in that direction ever since the Louisiana Purchase. The thirteen colonies expanded across the North American continent growing bigger with the Mexican War. The American Civil War halted expansion for a brief period and then it resumed. The Spanish American War marked the the rise of American empire. Ever since 1898, the US has been invading or intervening  in  various countries around the globe. This behavior will be the undoing of the nation. Financially it is not sustainable and has already cause political strain. Diversity of the US Military does not hide the flaws or sinister intentions of particular leaders. A nation has the right to defend itself, but not the right to wage aggressive war. Women who do enter these positions should not be used as pawns or propaganda. Women and men should join the US Military with the intention of defending the nation, not being foot soldiers to a successor British Empire. The ideological direction must change in military ranks and US foreign policy. Anti-discrimination should be the goal in hiring and employment related to the US Military. Token chants of diversity will only be reduced to filling quota targets. Doing that would mean two possible scenarios. Standards would be lowered to accommodate larger numbers of women or less physically demanding positions be created. The first option would be a terrible idea, the other may develop due to the changing nature of warfare. Cyber warfare will be common place with hacking being used as a means of espionage and attacks. There is one factor that also effects women’s total numbers in combat occupations. Personal choice is a large factor. Many women are not interested in such jobs or they do not want to take risks. Women may not like manual labor or occupations that involve being physical.

While training can increase women’s physical fitness capacity, there may be some areas too demanding physically. The Navy SEALS have a high training drop out rate. If it is hard for an all male unit, it would be more challenging for women. Attrition rates do effect all soldiers depending on the level of physical activity and exertion involved. This also complicates a draft of women, if a majority are not in the physical condition or shape to even complete basic training. If there is to be true equality, then women should be required to register for the draft. Every male has done so and there is little justification not to do so. Women would need a specialized fitness program to get them in proper fighting condition. However, even with such programs the numbers of women in combat arms would not equal that of men. Men have been a part of the institution since its establishment and women were officially recognized as members of the armed forces in 1978. The combat ban was only lifted in 2013. Attempting to increase numbers rapidly would only lead to disappointment; there should be gradual increases as well as recruitment efforts. Only with a biomechanical approach to training and a rational affirmative action policy can the integration of women into combat positions be successful.

 

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The Biomechanics of Women in Combat

Varying Weight Training Intensity Increases Growth Hormone In Women

How Weight Training Increases Growth Hormone

This study produced by the American Physiological Society found that women who are involved in a long term weight training program will produce more growth hormone. The study involved  the following scientists and universities : Kraemer, Jeff S. Volek, Barry A. Spiering and Carl M. Maresh of the University of Connecticut, Storrs; Bradley C. Nindl, U.S Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Mass.; James O. Marx, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Lincoln A. Gotshalk, University of Hawaii at Hilo; Jill A. Bush, University of Houston, Texas; and Jill R. Welsch, Andrea M. Mastro and Wesley C. Hymer, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn.  It seems that the female body is more complex than previously thought. This study was produced in 2006 and was published the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism. The investigation shows that women are capable of building strength and muscle. It also allowed physiologists to understand to a greater degree how weight training in general improves metabolic function and muscle mass. Growth hormone was responsive to moderate and heavy exercise under regimens that contained 3 to 12 repetitions with varying loading. If women are attempting to build as much strength as possible then their load bearing activities must vary. This is also beneficial for building a stronger skeleton and avoiding bone related diseases. The role of endocrine function is more intricate than previously thought. This is why women’s endocrine physiology must be considered to create training programs to enhance performance.

         Hormones are chemical messengers that are transported through the blood stream. They are directed by an endocrine gland  or isolated gland cells which allows for a physiological response to be triggered. This happens in cells that contain receptors for a particular hormone. Hormones can be categorized in three different classes.

Hormone function

These classes are peptides, monoamines, and steroids. The pituitary gland must labor hard to maintain  Hypothalamic–pituitary–target-organ axis. Hormones are just one way in which the human body can communicate from cell to cell. Gap junctions, paracrines, and neurotransmitters perform these functions. Growth hormone acts as a repair worker acting as a builder. Its function is anabolic based. Somatotropin (growth hormone)  expains why children rapidly grow when the reach a particular stage in puberty. The pituitary gland is the conductor, which resides near the hypothalamus. It has a posterior  and anterior  section which both sections produce hormone for the body.  Hormones are not only important to communication between organ systems, but they do effect the performance and training of an athlete.

     The endocrine function is different for females compared to males. It was once believed that women were at a physical fitness disadvantage, because they produced more estrogen. Men’s greater testosterone allows for a body of lower body fat percentage and more muscle mass. However, it seems that when women train at a certain intensity, growth hormone acts a source of muscle and bone development. So, there is not a hormonal disadvantage rather a physiological difference. If the female body does not produce high amounts of testosterone, it merely relies on another hormone to produce bone and muscle growth in response to stimuli.  Depending on the fitness training stimuli the results would be better for building strength on ones that cause growth hormone to respond. Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and has other functions. It contributes to halting tissue break down, fighting stress fractures, and improves metabolic function.

Growth hormone molecules  are composed of 191 amino acids. These molecules are capable of fragmenting into smaller units. These fragments can attach themselves to other molecules. Growth hormone can also attach itself to binding protein. There exists 100 variations of the growth hormone molecule. Growth hormone comes in different forms depending on its function and role in a particular task.  What researchers did in this study was to used the technique of measuring immune response. Immunoassays are examinations that are conducted by physiologists to detect changes in the immune system. The   tibia line rat growth assay also detects biological function of hormones.To find out more the experiment involved subjects doing exercise for a certain period of time.

        The experiment involved subjects separating into two groups. The first group would train upper bodies only. The second group of participants would perform total body training . The reason for separating the training in this fashion was obvious. If women have lower levels of upper body strength and can increase it through training, it would be easier to detect hormonal or physical changes in this region. Women do not have stronger legs than men, but are closer in strength to men in that region of the body.

There was also a subdivision within those groups. Half used heavier  weights with fewer repetitions. The other sections used lighter one with a more repetitions going up to twelve. Blood samples were acquired both prior and after the training experiment. This experiment lasted for 24 weeks. This was enough to make several conclusions and assessments. The presence of growth hormone depended on the exercise or training regimen used. Growth hormone’s appearance varied with the test used  for detection. This implies that the pituitary gland adjusts the amount of growth hormone relative to weight training stimuli. The body possibly has the ability to adjust the amount of growth hormone or type depending on the activity. The larger sized variants of growth hormone will be produced more if a woman does more heavy lifting.

sperling_fig2_450_288_42087 Growth hormone has multiple functions in the human body. There is a possibility that it has an effect on muscle fiber distribution fiber itself. Growth hormone also contributes to both amino acid transport and metabolic tissue energy expenditure. There are different types of growth hormone, but they will not respond in the same way. It is unknown what effect oral contraceptives would have on women in relation to this. The authors of the study intend to investigate that further. There should be some factors that could have effected the experiment. The tests given may not be as precise when measuring hormone changes in the blood stream. It does not seem like a major factor, however could women’s menstrual cycles effected them during the training sessions? Also it should be accounted for the fitness level of the participants. If there were women who had weight training experience, this may cause an alteration in data. If another experiment were to be done it may have to be another subdivision with women in an experienced or non-experienced weight training group. So far, it looks as if this is correct, but it needs more study.

           This would seem like an advantage in terms  of endocrinology in regards to women embarking on fitness programs. This would not be enough to close the physical strength gap between the sexes. Growth hormone as the study indicates functions similar in a role of what testosterone who do in a male under a particular training regimen. It is not an exact substitute, rather it is a difference produced from sexual dimorphism. Puberty and the physical changes that come from it explain the differences in elements of physical fitness capacity. Women produce lower levels of testosterone, but it does serve a purpose in their bodies. Bone strength and ovarian function are the roles testosterone plays in females. The hormone may also be important to women’s sexual functioning as well. The physical changes are documented by the Tanner scale, a chart that displays the gradual development of the body during puberty. James Tanner developed the modern growth chart as a guide for pediatricians. He also was a pioneer in using human growth hormone to treat children with endocrine disorders related to body development. During the tanner stages men’s testicles will increase in size increasing the amount of free testosterone in the body. Ovaries produce more estrogen compared to androgens. There are five stages on the tanner scale in which genitals and body composition will change due to the function of the endocrine system. Pubic hair emerges in both sexes and physical growth will transition a child’s body to a full grown adult. Men get their strength spurts around the fourth and fifth tanner scales. Women do not get strength spurts during this stage of the human life cycle.

Prior to puberty there is no difference in strength levels between boys and girls. When puberty causes hormonal changes which increases men’s physical fitness capacity. This mean under the same  training conditions women would not reach the same strength levels. Theoretically, if a woman were to train with a method that increased her somatotropin levels, she may get stronger than she would have with another technique.There still is a question about what are the full extent of women’s physical capabilities see as it has only been recently that there has been study on this subject. The nature and function of hormones relative to training seems more intricate than what exercise physiologists would have expected. This new information could also contribute to medical advancements as well. There is still more to learn about the human body and women’s bodies in particular.

 

 

Varying Weight Training Intensity Increases Growth Hormone In Women

Whey Protein Supplements and Exercise Help Women Improve Body Composition

 Whey and Women

Whey protein products have been known to be effective for men, but now it appears that it is useful for women. A study conducted by Purdue University revealed that women can benefit from Whey. Nutrition experts also contributed to the study. There has been more attention directed at how supplements react in a woman’s body. Most exercise physiology and nutrition or fitness related studies are done with men. Seeing as women are more active in sports and fitness it is important to do such studies that take into account biological and physiological differences. According to Wayne Campbell professor of nutrition science : “”There is a public perception that whey protein supplementation will lead to bulkiness in women, and these findings show that is not the case. “Simply taking a supplement would not increase muscle mass without a particular exercise regimen. However Whey can as the study discovered can allow for modest gains while not influencing fat mass. The study like any scientific investigation should be questioned, but it becomes more suspicious when the Whey Research Consortium financed the study. Robert Bergia  a Perdue  graduate research assistant led the study. Joshua Hudson a Purdue postdoctoral research associate who also contributed to this examination.

       Whey protein is used as a supplement to contribute to muscle protein synthesis. It consists of beta-lactoglobulin, alpha lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobins. Using too much can cause headaches or nausea if not consumed in the recommended amounts. These are the only side effects and it does not pose a serious health risk. Some may experience cramps, fatigue, stomach pains, or reduced appetite. There are several different types of Whey protein. This includes concentrate, isolate, and hydrolsate. Whey may have health benefits. It could possibly help with lowering    cholesterol. Oddly enough, it may also be a method in combating asthma. Whey protein may have the ability to improve immune response in children with asthma.  Other studies suggest Whey may also be a way to manage blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease. Whey is not the only protein supplement, yet it has gained popularity in fitness circles. There has yet to be a massive comprehensive study that compares various protein supplements and powders. There must be one that is better than the other . There is no scientific literature that proves which supplements compared to Whey are better, so consumers have to do their own research. It becomes more confusing when one is a neophyte reading fitness materials.

      The need to study women and supplement effects is necessary. More women are becoming active in fitness and this also has business potential related to expansion of new consumers. Most importantly female athletes need supplements and training methods that are suited to their physiology. Taking this into account it can maximize athletic performance. Women are underrepresented in studies related to Whey protein supplementation. A majority of studies focused on men with 68% in total. Women are different in terms of biology and endocrine function which have an effect on physical fitness capacity. Knowing this training regimens and supplements can be designed to be more efficient. Otherwise women could be using methods that may not work for them. The reason why there is this underrepresented statistic is for a long period of time women were excluded from sports and discouraged form physical activity. Supplements were once seen as a male only consumer product. The only exception to this was diet pills marketed to women.

The fitness industry still markets weight loss and weight management to women, when there is a increasing interest for women who want to gain musculoskeletal mass. Women are no longer afraid to use weights despite persistent traditional gender expectations.  This phase of study is still in a state of infancy. There are some issues with the study that can be noted. The method seemed logical, but there may be a problem with replication providing different conclusions. Other variables must be accounted for when conducting an experiment.

         The study involved screening about 1,800 articles from journal databases. From these databases 13 studies were identified  along with 28 intervention groups that were relevant to the supplement studies. The selection process involved obtaining studies that included healthy women participants , consumption of whey supplements, exercise activity, changes in lean body mass, and a minimum duration of six months of training. The question here is what exactly were the health conditions of participants? Health could simply mean that their is absence of disease from the body. This does not equate to physical fitness. There can be people who are healthy, but not physically fit. Women who may have been part of this study could have altered the results if they were athletes. Depending on what sport they are active in, their body fat levels could be lower than the average woman. This would distort the results of proving effectiveness.

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The study if it wants to be precise it would have to use women with no athletic or fitness background as one group. Then take another sample group of physically fit women and give them Whey protein. Doing this for the same duration would produce a true result of Whey’s effectiveness. Then there is also the question of exercise. Which types of exercise were performed in these studies? This is significant due to the fact that other types of  exercise is more effective at burning fat. It was once thought that just using a treadmill could be more effective at reducing weight or altering body composition. Although this can improve cardiovascular endurance it will not dramatically reduce weight. Weight training seems to be more efficient in this regard. If all of the participants were either exercising using treadmills, weights, or a combination of both this also may distort results. The six week duration seems like enough time to witness significant change and thus should not be changed in another attempt. Multiple factors matter when conducting a scientific inquiry. The first step would be to get a large sample of women then make detailed observations of progress.

There may be different results depending on a person’s genetic body type. The only way to know for sure would be to document the changes in women with endomorphic and ectomorphic body types. If changes can be seen in them it is at least moderately effective. If there is a change in women of high physical fitness level, then it can be said this is highly useful supplement. Bergia concluded: “Although more research is needed to specifically assess the effects of varying states of energy sufficiency and exercise training, the overall findings support that consuming whey protein supplements may aid women seeking to modestly improve body composition, especially when they are reducing energy intake to lose body weight.”

          Whey can work on women. The question remains can women “bulk up” from it. The term bulking up in  a colloquial and inaccurate term. The process of building muscle is muscular hypertrophy. The previous statement from  Wayne Campbell may be premature. Changes related to the body depend on several factors. Genetics has a powerful influence relative to body type. Women who are naturally mesomorphic will have more potential for muscular hypertrophy. Exercise and training method are also pivotal in this equation. Women who are either using solely a treadmill will not get as strong compared to a woman lifting weights. Fitness goals are also a factor. Some women may merely want to burn fat, rather than build muscle mass gains. Sex has an impact relative to endocrine function. Seeing as women produce more estrogen and progesterone this means they will always have a higher body fat percentage. Hypothetically it is possible for a woman to make muscle mass gains if she does heavy resistance training, supplements with Whey, and eats a specific diet. This regimen must be consistent to produce a changes in muscular strength and size. Male and female muscle does not differ at a cellular level. The difference is in total mass. Supplements are not just for men. Women could probably benefit more from supplements. Whey may not be the sole protein supplement that is best, but this study could encourage more research into female athletic potential.

 

Whey Protein Supplements and Exercise Help Women Improve Body Composition

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

Women In Combat Debate

The article published from The Federalist written by Travis Scott in 2016 questions women’s ability to meet physical fitness standards for combat positions. While sexual dimorphism, biology, physiology, and physical fitness are factors to the success of combat integration, Travis Scott makes it clear he is no advocate of women in combat roles. The Federalist has a conservative perspective and the majority of such political orientation are opposed to women in combat. It seems odd that conservatives and a Republican Party in particular holds women in such enmity who merely volunteer for service. They are thought to be the political group with a strong emphasis on national security and being pro-military. The reality is the opposite. Service members would have a worse time under conservative administrations that follow flawed foreign policy and engaging in aggressive war. Scott argues that it is possible that presence of women could effect military effectiveness. His reasoning is that women are not physically capable of being effective combat soldiers based on sex differences. Science does not state women are less capable, it only shows that men and women have a different physical fitness capacity. The only reason women in combat would not work is that women are given a lower standard resulting in the men doing more labor for the sake of women being in such military occupational specialties. Travis Scott states ” feelings don’t matter, effectiveness does” but his argument is based on emotion. Through out history women have been involved in combat in various societies and nations around the globe. While males on average men have a higher physical fitness capacity, it is not impossible for women to meet standards if instructed in the proper manner. Women who fight will not endanger national security, rather perpetual warfare, a belligerent foreign policy, and a corrupt political system.

          Before one just uses the term science the definition should be comprehended. Science can be defined as the “exploration and study of the natural world through observation and experiment.” How this is done is through the scientific method. Under this system a hypothesis established, an experiment is conducted, and data is then collected. The experiment is observed for particular characteristics. At the end of the process, a conclusion is produced.  The experiment must be reproducible and then it can be considered fact or scientific law. Travis Scott’s position that women are not suitable for combat is not based on science, rather a confirmation bias. First it goes off the assumption that no women could possibly meet the physical standards. The second problem is that also assumes that all men are at high level of physical prowess. If such an experiment were to be developed to see how mixed gender combat integration could work several conditions would have to be met.

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The women would need physical fitness  training prior to even attempting. The mixed combat Marine study had issues because women were coming in volunteering for the experiment at various fitness levels. According to the study the women volunteering had too meet only the minimal male standard to be part of the experiment in 2015. They were compared with experienced all male units. The problem was that it did not take inexperienced men and women and see how performance develops. The problem is that men and women for training on different physical fitness standards. That is why a unified fitness standard needs to be established that meets the demands of a particular occupation. There reality is that women have fought in wars both past and present. Certain women may be able to perform at a level higher than some men. Women have been in combat seeing as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had no distinguishable front line.

        It is obvious that sexual dimorphism is a factor in physical fitness performance. Travis Scott basically uses the difference between male and female bodies to indirectly say that women are low quality soldiers. This assumes that all women are weaker than all men. Men are on average taller, denser bones, more muscle mass, and stronger tendons. This also include more strength in the ligaments of the body. Not all men are built like Rambo, which is why physical fitness before entry is the key.  If women’s fitness level is lower, it would mean they would need to train prior to even entering basic training. There are several factors that contribute to physical strength. Sex and endocrinology are two of them. Muscle fiber type is essential. Type II muscle fiber is more suited for physical strength and men on average have more of this type, but the distribution between various muscle fibers vary among individuals. Genetics can also play a role in somatotype. A mesomorphic woman will have an easier time developing strength compared to an ectomorphic woman. Size can also be a factor in muscular strength. A larger skeletal frame means more area to house muscle on the body. Men and women have the same muscles and they can respond to training. They will not reach the same fitness level of a man who does the same training regimen. These factors are important,but not the only element essential to combat. Other skills and knowledge are also required for a modern military.

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The Navy, Army, and Air Force have a specific set of standards that are not just physical fitness. Soldiers have to have an education beyond that of high school and be in good health. This does not mean physical fitness is not important. The higher injury rates women sustain in the US military are due to particular factors. One common problem is that their physical fitness level is low prior to entry. Women would have to build enough strength and endurance before basic training, then prepare for their military occupational specialty. Every person who enters will not perform to the highest level. Travis Scott give the impression that the US Military is full of super soldiers.  Women at the time of the study were not fitted in the correct body armor. Knowing that female and male bodies are different a change was made to make female body armor more ergonomic. Gradually, improvements have been made to correct such problems.

The strongest women will not be as strong as the strongest men. This does not mean you have to be a top performing athlete to be a soldier. Women need weight training programs to build their strength. The problem with Scott’s sports analogy is that sports are also separated by weight class for both sexes. When soldiers meet in combat they do not organize themselves based on weight classes when confronting one another. While warfare and sports have similarities in terms of collaboration and strategy, there is a major difference. It is about killing and defeating enemy combatants. Sports has rules that regulate unfair play or general fouls in a game. The Geneva Convention is designed to prevent abuse by armed forces adhering to certain rules of war. The issue is there is no enforcement of it and certainly no sports like referee to ensure fairness in terms of conduct. Jobs that require a higher level physical activity do cause attrition rates. Both men and women can fall victim to it. Many soldiers get knee and various joint injuries because they are overloaded with gear. This has to be adjusted to prevent high rates of medical discharge or veterans who are in poor health. Even the most physically fit soldiers return with either joint or head injury trauma. This can be stopped with the engineering armor that is strong and light as well as reducing soldier carry load.

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The US soldier is put under unnecessary physical strain, when the strenuous activity should be mostly done in the actual fighting. Too many are getting injured during training. The American population has an overall lower level of physical fitness. Sedentary life styles and obesity could complicate recruitment efforts. There may come a time in which women are needed, because there are not enough men to fill such positions. The US military has was not able to meet its recruitment targets in 2017. The US birthrate has been declining and the trend may continue. These are considerations that must be accounted for in the coming decades. Even if there are men who do not have weight related issues or poor health, they may not be in the physical fitness condition to meet particular standards for a job. It would make no sense to ban women who are qualified simply on the basis it makes some men uncomfortable.

The frailty myth still seems to be present in general thought in regards to women in physically demanding occupations. This falsehood is repeat multiple times : ” women who physically exert themselves too much over extended periods of time will be subject to muscular atrophy and other biological complications.” Female athletes do exert themselves to a higher degree, but their bodies do not just collapse. Women are vulnerable to the female athlete triad, ACL tears, and too low levels of body fat can effect the menstrual cycle. Male bodies can deteriorate depending on intensity, it is just slower due to size and body composition. Saying that women’s bodies were not equipped for combat seems ludicrous. There are female fire fighters, police officers, and construction workers who have too meet a physical fitness standard. The same arguments were used against women in these professions was they were not physically capable. After such discrimination was challenged women began appearing more in these professions. It has been proven with female athlete women can increase their strength and with proper knowledge can prevent injury. The issue of muscle power can be negated to an extent through exercise and nutrition, yet there is one element that may not be changed through an exercise regimen. Running speed depends on the size of the heart and lungs. Women’s pelvic structure is wider which does not contribute to speed. Oddly enough, Travis Scott does not mention this.

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Scott does admit that even if women were to meet the standards, he claims the victory would be short lived. Attrition becomes an issue for all soldiers, but it can be addressed with proper medical care and an emphasis on maintaining health. Women may have to train in a manner which increases their upper body strength. If they are closer to men in the lower body, this should be an easier task in comparison.  Sex differences do not mean women are not capable of certain jobs; it means that the most physically demanding would be harder for them. Reaching a certain physical fitness level for a female athlete can be a difficult task. It is possible, but it will take longer compared to males. This comes down to the stages of physical development during puberty. Prior to this, the sexes are equal in terms of physical strength. The male strength spurt occurs around age thirteen in which there is a divergence. Muscle cells and muscular hypertrophy operates the same in women which means they can be responsive to stimuli induced by exercise.

The question about whether or not combat integration is possible has to be answered relative to the standards of various branches of the US military. The position that women are not good combat soldiers ” because science says so” is faulty reasoning. The foundation of science is that it uses logic and reasoning to come to a conclusion about a problem. Travis Scott has a confirmation bias, rather than a genuine inquiry. Biology and physiology cannot be ignored in this equation, but there is a deliberate distortion of history in other sections of his position of women in combat.

        The only way women in combat will be successful is if women meet the same physical demands and requirements. The approach has been a practical one in which a  unified physical fitness  standard shall be used . The Marines are  attempting to devise a revision to the  physical fitness test  . This discarded the flexed arm hang and required that female recruits do pull-ups. Scoring was adjusted as well. There was a dip in performance, but this was to be expected considering it is harder for new Marines to adjust to these standards. This time around more women performed better on pull-ups than years past. The new standards are not lower, rather that are designed to be specific and focus on functional fitness. The US military had introduced a new test called the Occupational Physical Assessment. When it was introduced it reduced injury rates during basic training. This has helped soldiers immensely. Not only does it reduce the cost of dealing with such injuries, it improves soldier fitness by a more efficient method. Women still had higher injury rates. However, there was another problem holding women back. Women needed to meet weight requirements. Some women who engaged in weightlifting exercise gained weight that was muscle, but under use of the body mass index it would classify them as overweight. Women gained mass from training, but fell out of the requirement based on their height.

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a sample of Army weight and height requirements. This would put women at a disadvantage when they build muscle, because the BMI does not distinguish it from fat.

The problem was addressed and change has occurred slowly. The Army Combat Readiness Test will replace the Army Physical Fitness Test. The Army Combat Readiness Test measures muscular strength, explosive strength, and agility. The test wants to simulate combat tasks rather than making it a series of workout sessions. Fighting is different from simply going to a gym or competing is a sports event. This is why the old standards must be abandoned. A separate standard based on sex , does create resentment among male soldiers who think women have it easier. The are seen as less competent or qualified. These prejudices can be challenged with a unified fitness standard. Lowering standards is not the solution. This has been avoided so far.

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The physical fitness standards are now being changed to train recruits to meet the exact criteria for various occupations. Although it is based an decades of research, the battlefield is unpredictable. The nature of global politics has changed dramatically.

          War has been erroneously been called a male only affair. History proves otherwise. There have been multiple times in which women took up arms and fought in various wars. Scythian civilization, Celts, the Iceni  and Arab civilization had women warriors. The West tends to only think of a warrior as male. This had not been true for ancient history or the contemporary period. The Soviet Union had female soldiers who served as snipers, fighter pilots, and were involved in combat operations during World War II. Dahomey ( Benin ) during the 19th century had women warriors. During the wars in Indochina (1945-1975) women fought in both North and South Vietnam. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the women who fought in war have been lost in history. Only recently women’s history has attempted to rectify such a narrow view of history.

Women in combat is certainly nothing new. It also is nothing new to America. During the American Civil War women disguised themselves as men to fight in the conflict. They did this both for the Union and Confederacy. There are also cases of women being active in the American Revolutionary War. Mary Hays McCauley fought in the Pennsylvania State Regiment of Artillery. She fought alongside her husband, loading cannons, and distributing water to other soldiers.  She acquired a nickname which became something of American legend : Molly Pitcher.  McCauley was not the only woman to serve. Women would appear in combat and the military onward. Cathy Williams was the only African American female Buffalo soldier. She served from 1866 to 1868 and was only discharged when her sex was discovered. Although Williams was denied recognition during her service, a monument stands in her honor at the National Infantry Museum. The major shift came when women could officially work for the US Army under the Women’s Army Corps. This women’s branch of the US military began in 1942 and was disbanded in 1978 when women became fully integrated with male units. It would seem that the next logical step would be opening combat jobs to women. Although the Gulf War ( 1990-1991) saw women taking part in particular operations a combat ban was imposed in 1994.

The woman warrior can be found in various places and points in human history. 

This ban was not because women were incompetent soldiers. It was designed to keep them out of particular occupations. Claims of incompetence or inferiority were used as justification for discrimination in the US military. When the US military became integrated African Americans were face with vicious hostility. When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed there was conservative backlash. Under the Donald Trump administration there are attempts to ban transgender service members. The hostility women face in the US military is just another part of a long legacy of institutional intolerance and prejudice. So far, the increased diversity of the armed forces has not caused a break down in US military strength.

Today women are fighting in conflicts just not in an official capacity. FARC, the Peshmerga, and the Tamil Tigers had female combat soldiers. Rebel groups or insurgent groups across the globe may use women as fighters. They fight with less resources and aid compared to women soldiers from the US. This is why the thesis ”   Everyone up to this point in history has understood why: If the fighting were left in the hands of women, this country’s spaces for freedom and the pursuit of happiness we hold so dear would not exist ” is a flawed analysis of history. The only reason freedom or liberty can exist is if government power and military force is restrained. The Posse Commitatus Act limits the power of the federal government using the armed forces to enforce domestic policies or law. Law enforcement is left to police officers, not generals. This is also why there are three branches of government to regulate political power. Travis also distorts another element in history saying “ideas of fairness and equality are social constructs that are upheld solely by the might of men.”  This is incorrect, because such concepts are enforced by constitutions and the rule of law. It is the over emphasis on might and the obsession with power that enables authoritarian systems.  This is why the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement was important.

It made sure that civil rights and civil liberties were for all citizens of the United States. This comes to another problem with this mode in thinking when Travis says :   “if  women receive fair treatment in public or civil life, it is because strong men have provided safe arenas so society can grant this to them. ”  If women waited for men to make society safe for them they would have never gotten the right to vote, own property, or have equal education. Violence against women is prevalent in the West as well and women had to resist to improve their status. Saying that men gave them rights is ludicrous. If America waited for independence from Britain it would have still been a colony. Rights and freedom must be fought for, because an oppressor will never give them willingly.  Women have been motivated in multiple points in history to engage in armed conflict if they felt the cause was important enough.

            There is a concern that physical differences could have an effect on close quarters combat and unarmed combat . Normally, the conservative argument is that women are not good fighters. The focus them comes to muscular strength. The detractors are convinced that there no women who could beat a man in fight ever. The difference in strength can be closed to an extent,but there is more to being a good fighter than having strength. Skill can be an equalizer and particular martial arts like judo can be utilized to overcome larger opponents. Women are not taught to fight or defend themselves. They are not even taught basic physical skills. Physical education courses have different standards, even when there is limited strength difference between boys and girls. There is a bias that is shown, which believes women are physically inferior. when women of high physical skill display their talents they are ostracized as anomalies.  Travis Scott holds this position: ”  There are anomalous handfuls of females who, with sufficient training in hand-to-hand combat, can handle themselves in and around their weight class, or effectively fend off larger assailants who do not know how to actually fight. ” He then articulates the following : ” Also, there are probably biological markers for why these woman have such a physical capacity in the first place, which most women lack.” Travis Scott argues that women not be great fighters compared to men with the same training or in a similar weight class. Men who are smaller would be at a disadvantage in hand to hand combat, but no one attributes that to their sex. The military teaches soldiers of all sizes how to fight effectively with hand to hand combat techniques. This should work just the same for women.While it is true men can women in pure brute strength fighting skills can give women an advantage.

The problem is a fitness and fighting skills issue. To solve this problem one must ask the question how strong can a woman get through training? This depends on the factors related to physical strength and the specific occupation task. The average woman with a consistent weight training regimen can attain at least a 40% increase in muscular strength within months of training  according to studies on the American Council on Exercise. This is less than half, but it is a significant gain. What this means it will take women longer to reach a fitness goal. Lifting heavy will increase strength, while lighter weights are more effective at endurance. Women will have a harder time build upper body strength, which is an area that should be focused on. A smaller rib cage and narrow shoulders mean there is less room to house muscle. However, it can still be built. Women have the same muscles as men, which do not radically differ anatomically.

Muscles Of The Trunk 17 Best Images About Shoulder Examination On Pinterest | Magnetic
The muscular system of  trunk of the body.

Women have to make fitness their top priority if they want to be part of combat units. While long range weapons make hand to hand combat seem dated, there are times when it is necessary. A soldier could be disarmed or run out of ammunition. Unarmed combat is different from hand to hand combat, because no weapons are involved. Hand to hand combat would refer to weapons such a daggers, spears, or batons used in battle.

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Female soldier learns Krav Maga

Krav Maga has been used by the IDF in Israel as an effective hand to hand combat fighting technique. Women also learn this in the IDF also with their males counterparts. The US Navy, Marines, and Army have various hand to hand combat training systems. If women can punch and kick nothing should hinder their success. The one element in physical fitness capacity regarding strength difference could be a challenge. Differences are not an indication of inferiority. Travis Scott’s assertions become more bizarre when emphasizing that war is a man’s job: “The vast majority of women (if not literally every woman you know) will boast that they can do everything a man can do—until it involves fists. ” If  vast wars could be solved with simple fist fights maybe so many people would not die. Wars are fought with guns, planes, tanks, bombs, and it is even going into cyberspace. He further pontificates “women retreat from this domain, falling back on some moral code that says, while woman are “equal” in the highest ideological way, they are not physically equal to men.” All people are not of the same strength, intelligence, or skill level,but this did not stop armies from drafting different types of men. While men are on average stronger than women, there are women who can be stronger than men.When a person enters the military they have to molded to be a soldier. There has to be an expectation that all will succeed with their training otherwise make functioning units will not be possible.

A person does not need to be physically strong to kill. It must also be noted that ” biological realities constantly reinforce the physical inequality of men and women.” Women were traditionally excluded from certain occupations due to discrimination, strict gender roles, and cultural pressure. While sexual dimorphism can be an explanation of why there are few women in manual labor jobs, it is not the only one. The author seems to believe in the gender stereotype that women are more peaceful. While men are more aggressive which has a biological and social basis, there are cases in which women show aggression. Men express it in a physical way compared to women. However, this does not mean women will not use their fists in some instances. Although it is a smaller statistic, women do engage in domestic abuse.

These cases are often overlooked and not taken seriously. This is due to the notion that some how female equals victim, which does not represent the entire situation. Travis Scott ignores this by stating “from here many will infer that it is a man’s moral imperative not to strike women, ever, because it would be sadistic, evil, and “unfair.” This is not an ethical imperative it is based on dated chivalry and gender stereotypes. It is wrong for a person to assault anyone, but if a woman does it to a man there is no repercussion. A woman being an attacker or aggressor breaks the gender role script. Women are suppose to be helpless and dependent on men for protection in this frame of thought.

These women look like they could take on some guys in a fight. 

This is why many are still trying to accept the fact women have been in combat in both the past and present. The only reason more women were not involved in certain areas of public life was that they lived in cultural and political restriction. There were individual women who overcame such obstacles and there periods of history in which women’s status was higher. While lack of opportunity can be to blame, there are certain realities that must be noted. Women’s numbers may never be equal to men’s numbers in the US military. There has been dramatic increase in numbers of women in various branches, but there may be some areas in which women will be a very small minority. The Navy SEALS has a high drop out rate for its vigorous training program.

Weightlifting World Records (men and women)
Doubtless about what the common held belief is, women are not weak. Women and women of exceptional ability can attain high levels of physical strength : How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men.

If men are having a difficult time with that it would be twice as hard for women. Making a quota based system adds a level of complication. A rational target goal of recruits for military branches would have to be done if numbers are to increase. Even the fittest woman could struggle with the training in elite special forces units. These only make a small portion of the US military. There have been thousands of combat jobs open to women that were once closed to them. The solution to the fitness issues related to women in combat is follow certain health recommendations. Women must build their upper body strength. They need to train in a manner that prevents joint related injuries. All the sex differences will not be eliminated through training, but it can make women into competent combat soldiers.

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It is not a medical or biological impossibility that a woman can be stronger than a man :  Can A Woman Be As Strong As A Man ?

Scott’s assessment lacks credibility when he says ”   In the past, more often than not a society would send little boys off to die at war before they would send women,and adds “This is because even grown women are not as physically reliable as adolescent males.”  The reason child soldiers in the past and present are mostly boys is due to the idea that man’s sole function is to be protector and fighter of the community. There was the shared belief that men should be happy to go off and die no matter what the cause of the conflict or reason. This idea of male sacrifice has put men in unfavorable positions. Adolescent males are not on the same strength level as a fully grown woman. Only with their last strength spurt and added height by age 20 does a man reach his full muscular strength. Puberty is slower in males relative to growth. Women do not get a strength spurt, yet reach their full height by age 16.

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A chart showing the grip strength difference between boys and girls of different age groups. It can be seen here that the strength spurt changes the male body dramatically around age 15.

 The muscular strength  level of an average woman would be higher than a teenage boy. It is at the age of 20, that the gap is vast. A woman who trains can reach the strength level of a man who is average or slightly above that level. There is advantage in terms of women’s higher fatigue resistant type I muscle fibers.The strongest women would not have problems with the physical tasks required of a combat force. Sex differences or the presence of women will not put the US military at risk. The United States has pursued a policy that enables danger and a series of foreign policy failures.

         The United States wants to remain the dominant world power. Doing this has caused numerous conflicts around the world. The US has taken on the role of world policemen, except this is not about the enforcement of justice. The wars Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Somalia have degraded the health of the nation in a political and military sense. The War on Terror is nothing more the excuse to wage perpetual warfare across the globe. The challenge is not insurgency or terrorism, rather a military industrial complex. America’s economy has been centered around permanent warfare. Without it, there could be harmful economic consequences. There is no way for this to logically continue without resulting in economic, political, and social turmoil. Functioning on a imperial system, while engaging in large power competition will cause collapse in the future. The US is functioning on a system of Cold War policies in which it believes it needs to contain an ideology or a nation.The string of military bases and presence in foreign lands has nothing to do with national security. The objective is to have economic and political domination of the world. The US is more than capable of defending itself against any country.

Military bases
Financially this will not be sustainable unless federal income tax is increased.

The US wants to stop a multipolar power system in world politics. This means that the US could no longer impose its will on countries that disagree with its policies or wage aggressive war. It explains why there is sudden belligerence against Russia and China. China is becoming a more powerful country both economically and militarily. Russia has reemerged on the international stage.  There is no evidence that these countries want to destroy the United States, but that are presented as menaces. The US seeks to interfere with various regions globally on the grounds of human rights and democracy promotion. This myth is constantly presented to the American public, which justifies war crimes and aggression. The NATO-US invasion and subsequent assassination of Muammar Qaddafi induced the refugee crisis and many still continue to flee an unstable North African region to Europe. The removal of Saddam Hussein caused the rise of terrorism in Iraq with Al-Quadea being active in Iraq and the creation of ISIS. ISIS became active in Syria along with other rebel groups. The US, the EU countries, and the gulf monarchies are seeking the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. If this is to happen there will be more terrorism, regional instability, and an immense influx of refugees to Europe. What these past and current conflicts demonstrate is that neoconservative foreign policy has endangered national security. Polices of regime change and nation building are not logical or safe. The US loses its wars not because of its soldiers. It has some of the best trained fighters among the world’s armed forces. Adding women to combat will not result in failure relative to military conflicts. Aggressive war, misguided foreign policy, and large power competition will ultimately cause the downfall of the United States. Hopefully, politicians and military leaders reverse such policies are reorient America in a rapidly changing world.

            What should be understood about war is that it emphasizes technology, tactics, and a comprehensive strategy. Travis Scott is correct to say that war is more complicated than just exploding targets. While women coming on to combat units is a major change, it may not be large enough to cause a disruption. The only reason such a problem would occur would be from the backlash coming from male soldiers who despise them. The US military has to be prepared for this backlash. Israel is an example of how a military can successfully integrate women into combat units.

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Israeli soldiers training.  Israelis of  Somali, Sudanese, Eritrean, and Arab descent serve in the armed forces of Israel, but receive little respect or praise.  Racism can hinder effectiveness of a combat unit. Sexist attitudes also cause problems. Soldiers need to understand combat is a collective and teamwork based activity. The mission comes first above anything else.

As of 2018 mixed sex units are increasing in Israel according to the IDF. Scott’s assertions that the statistics are exaggerated are not entirely accurate. The women of the IDF are serving in the army as pilots, naval combat officers, combat intelligence, and the artillery corps. Their solution to getting women fit is to give them a training program that focuses on building upper body strength. Nutrition is also the focus in which women get a iron and carbohydrate rich diet. Women’s numbers have increased, but this has not cause the IDF to be less effective. The reason Israel continues to win most of its wars has to do with its ability to change and acclimate. Along with the financial backing of the US it remains one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East. The problem with Israel is that it seeks an expansionist policy in the West Bank, blockades Gaza, keeps African immigrant in detention centers,  and could be seeking war with Iran. Here the only solution is a diplomatic one, not war.  Israel’s comprehensive strategy was to fight defensive wars against its neighbors. It began embarking on expansionist ones with the Six Day War in 1967.  Besides strategy, technology continues to have a dramatic impact on warfare. Killing machines have become more sophisticated. Tanks, guns, drones, fighter jets, naval ships, and nuclear weapons almost render the physical strength of soldiers worthless.

Tank
The tank first made its appearance during World War I. The first ones were prone to mechanical failure and were slower than later models, but it was engineered to be more lethal.
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Nuclear weapons are the most destructive. There has been concern that another arms race will occur between the US and Russia. Both countries have the world’s  largest arsenals .
drone
Drones do not even require a human in the aircraft. It can be controlled remotely.
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The gun is a common weapon of any army. Before the rise of the gun warriors fought with swords and before that clubs.

Technology does work in women’s favor if brawn power is lacking. This still does not reduce the importance of physical fitness. There  is a level of strength required for being on a tank operation crew. Combat vehicles require the loading of shells and missiles. Many of the early physical tests involved simulating battlefield tasks. The testing that occurred at Fort Stewart had women do casualty drags and barrels of mounted guns on to Bradley vehicles. These experiments were simulations of battle and required a level of strength. What can be concluded is that women can be successful if training is done in the right way.

Women In Combat

Women In Combat

The women here are lifting guns and barrels that are 65 pounds and over.

Although it is the weapons that do the work, a soldier has to be strong enough to load artillery shells and move guns. Strength is pivotal in that regard. The Navy also requires that sailors be proficient in swimming. The air force also requires its fighters to be in shape. From a logical perspective there seems no reason for qualified women to be excluded from combat positions. Tactics are also important to warfare. The United States still fights wars in a frontline environment, when the shift is going in the direction of asymmetric warfare. When the US acts as an occupying force in places like Afghanistan guerrilla warfare is used to build attrition of forces. The United States has never gotten over its defeat in Vietnam and it constantly haunts the country. The invasion of Grenada and the Gulf War the US gained in a sense its military confidence back. It then thought it was impervious to defeat and began going off in quests of military adventurism. Somalia was attacked in 1993, Iraq was struck once more in 1998, and Kosovo was bombed in 1999. When the Iraq War occurred in 2003, it shattered the illusion that the US was invincible. The only way to have true national security is with a dramatic change in America’s approach to international affairs. The new tactics that should be employed is diplomatic strategies and the reduction of US presence in multiple regions. If this does not change America will continue to see a string of military defeats.

          What can be concluded is that science does not say women in combat is an impossibility. History proves that women have been a part of warfare for a long period of time. This is why the assertion ” we have enough information to say the government is currently making decisions  based on political correctness and feminist policies, rather than mission effectiveness and scientific data” is a spurious claim. The US military has been upgrading its standards and conducting experiments to make women in combat be successful. The reason the US has a great fighting force is due to the fact it is able to solve problems and meet the demands of various challenges. Women in combat can be successful, if the military and the political  wants it to be. There should be realistic expectations. The left will have to accept that the numbers may never be equal due to the difference in physical fitness capacity and personal choice. There may be more qualified women, yet they may not show interest in a combat occupation. The right has to acknowledge that women are going to be a large part of society and the wider public sphere.

Muscles
The muscular system of women does not differ so radically from men. It can respond to training stimuli and functions the same at the cellular level.

Keeping women out of the military or combat jobs is no longer the status quo. If the third wave feminists really value equality, they should support women registering for the selective service. That is a double standard that should not remain. Otherwise what they really want is the presentation of equality, but with special privileges. There is no conspiracy of  “political correctness” or ” social experiments.” The world is changing and so is the US military. Using buzzwords or neologisms does not hide the fact that there are people who want to exclude women from combat jobs no matter how skilled or competent they are. Detractors cite science as the reason , however if they actually did research, it discredits them. What biology, physiology, and anatomy tells us is that men and women differ in total physical fitness capacity. Women can increase their fitness levels through training. One can hold the view that women fighting wars is not appropriate as their opinion. Yet, opinions are not facts. No one denies that there are biological differences, the problem is saying that those differences automatically mean women will fail as combat soldiers. When science makes a claim, it has to formulate a hypothesis based on known inferences. When Travis Scott states ” we know all female units are less effective than all male units” or that ” mixed sex units are less effective”  there is limited or no data to make this credible. The Marine Corps study would have to be replicated and produce the same results to be designated scientific fact. There has not been any through study of the performance of an all female unit. Science must be rational and objective, two attributes that are lacking in studies of women in combat.

The Science Says Putting Women Into Combat Endangers National Security

What Happens To Our Muscles During Spaceflight And When Living on Mars

What happens to our muscles during spaceflight and when living on Mars?

When humanity reached the moon in 1969, this opened the door to space exploration. The possibility of human colonization of outer space has become a reality in the 21st century. However, there are challenges in this endeavor of space exploration and settlement. Space could be a harsh environment to human health. Specifically, the muscular system could be at risk in a microgravity environment such as the Moon or Mars. Physical inactivity poses a risk to astronauts in space. A study by The Journal of Physiology  reached this conclusion when conducting a 21 day simulation. Living on Earth which has a higher gravitational field has made the body unaccustomed to microgravity environments. This could also effect other organ systems, which include nervous, skeletal, and cardiovascular system. There is also the challenge of hypoxic stress. There could be solutions to some of these problems, but long term spaceflight and human exploration could pose significant health risks. If this were to be done, astronauts would have to have a vigorous exercise program or an environment that could generate a gravitational field similar to that of  Earth.

       The experiment only used 11 subjects. What was examined was the specific mechanisms in which tissues were getting energy by means of sugars and fats by means of oxygen. The 11 active subjects would have the knee extensors examined from the exercise session. Mitochondrial respiration was determined by biopsy from the skeletal muscle tissue. Another section of the group examined whole body exercise, producing a fascinating result. The whole body exercise group result in the discovery that hypoxia could be more pronounced during whole body exercise when stress on the cardiovascular system is present. The trouble with this study is that all the subjects were male. There could be a different result for female astronauts that is not accounted for. There are going to be more female astronauts in the future and sex differences should be accounted for.

 The mitochondria and muscles of men and women do not differ. However, body composition and physical fitness capacity is significant. The potential for muscular atrophy is high, Men have a higher muscle mass percentage compared to women. If muscle loss during space travel is high in them, it would be more severe in women. Musculoskeletal mass compared to males is lower in women, which means weight training or load bearing exercise is a necessity. Astronauts must have high level of fitness to survive and  maintain health in space. The whole body exercise portion would be more of a precise assessment compared to examining knee extensions. The reason knee extensions were probably used is it would provide information even if you did not have female subjects. The problem with that is that men also carry more muscle in the legs as well. The physiology of oxygen transport behaves the same, but not the physical fitness capacity.

Fitness levels and an optimum health condition would need to be a requirement before going on a long terms space journey. So far, research has revealed much but more has to be discovered. The research and experiments were conducted by University of Udine, University of Pavia,  University of Munich, the Swedish Aerospace physiology Centre, University of  Trieste,Milano Polytechnic, and the German Aerospace Center. That impressive number of collaborators are taking the next step into space exploration. The chief investigator Bruno Grassi stated ” this research will help prepare astronauts for spaceflight and it improves our understanding of how muscles respond to long periods of inactivity in association with hypoxia.” While these gives some indications a sample size should be larger to include women. From that point other considerations should be made if space colonization becomes realized.

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Spaceflight and exploration can effect women as well as men differently.

Women may be more likely to get struvite kidney stones, more urinary tract infections, and orthostatic intolerance. Men do not have as much of  the immune system response compared to women. Being in space can also effect hearing and sight. The experiment conducted is needed to assess possible solutions to maintaining optimal health in outer space and other planets.

         Hypoxia becomes a concern in space and other planets. This condition is when the tissues of the body do not have adequate amount of oxygen. The tissues of the brain, liver, and other organ systems could be damaged if they do not receive oxygen. The study indicated that inactivity is most likely more harmful to the musculoskeletal system in space. Oxygen is essential to the human body. Which explains why hypoxia is a major concern for long term space travel. Cellular respiration requires oxygen to break down sugar for adenosine triphospahte. The by products are CO2 and water.  Oxygen can be considered the fuel of life. The Earth contains 21% oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Knowing this is essential and that the human body had adapted to gravitation this poses a challenge in attempts to create colonies on the Moon or Mars.

          Mars  does have a harsh environment. The atmosphere is 95.7% carbon dioxide, 2.7 % nitrogen and 1.6 % argon. The surface temperature ranges from 125 degrees celsius to 25 degrees celsius  . The planet does contain frozen ice caps, which demonstrates extremes of weather. Mars has volcanoes and networks of canyons. The major hazard is ultraviolet radiation.

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The air of Mars is thin in comparison to Earth. It is only 0.6 % of Earth’s atmospheric pressure, but it has enough density to allow for weather on the planet. For a space explorer dust storms pose a risk. High winds enable go through the planet moving the red sands causing both regional and planet wide sandstorms. The axial tilt of Mars is similar to Earth’s. This means Mars has similar cycles of seasons. The ice caps of Mars grow in the winter and shrink during the Martian summer. If astronauts were to go to Mars it the poles would not be a safe landing site. There would also would have to be a consideration of the danger of dust storms. If astronauts were to entering Mars when a planet wide storm happens this could mean serious peril.Mars would most likely be more harsh than some of the deserts on Earth. The planet at one time could have been Earth like and may have contained water on its surface. The evidence could be the scars seen in beds in sedate.

Physical fitness and health condition are essential to any astronaut or space traveler. 

It may be possible if Mars was similar to Earth, that over a number of years it could be made habitable with human engineering. A water supply and an agricultural development would have to develop to make this viable. The planet Mars is in a current state harsh to life that attempts to settle there. Reaching Mars is the biggest challenge at the moment. According to an experiment conducted on the International Space Station, the muscles of astronauts lost 40% of their capacity to do work. This experiment had astronauts up in space for a total of 180 days. Even astronauts in the best shape experienced muscle atrophy. NASA has made a conjecture that it would take at least 10 months to reach Mars, with an intention of a one year stay. The return home would require an other 10 months. If the rate of muscle atrophy is high then this means astronauts would not have the strength to be ambulatory or mobile. The current exercise machines in ships would have to produce more loads to prevent muscular atrophy.

Holding on to muscle mass would require a high weight and low repetition workout. There are two devices that hold the solution to the issue of musculoskeletal heath. The Interim  Resistive Exercise Device and the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device are new technologies that could provide the exercise needed to maintain strength. Machines that contribute to cardiovascular fitness are effective, but more is needed for maintaining the health of the bones and muscles. If this is not done, long spaceflights could be a hazard to health. If people were born in environments that have gravity going to microgravity will be an immense adjustment.

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Advanced Resistive Exercise Device

The skeleton and muscles need gravitation. There also is another question related to the circulatory system. While it is clear what can happen to both the muscular and skeletal system it has not been fully elucidated what living in a microgravity can do to the cir circulatory system over an extended period of time. If circulatory system health is not optimal, this will negatively impact the entire body. There either has to be a way to reduce the time of spaceflight or make the human body adjust to the tough environment of outer space.

        The Moon would be the best candidate for possible colonization. Unlike Mars, it does not have intense sandstorms. There is the issue of solar radiation and no atmosphere containing gases. Covered in craters and remains of what was likely to be volcanic eruptions. The surface gravity of Earth’s satellite is only 0.17g compared to Earth’s 1 g. The same problem with musculoskeletal  could occur if one were to stay on the Moon for a long period of time. Spaceflight exercise equipment would still be a requirement. There needs to be more studies  in regards to full body changes due to exposure of radiation or other matter in space. Animals or microorganisms could either be helpful or harmful to human space travelers.

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Bruno Grassi stated ”  the results obtained on skeletal muscles, moreover, will have to be interpreted in conjunction with those deriving from other studies of the PlanHab project, dealing with the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune and central nervous systems and metabolism.” There may even need to be an examination of  various cells of the body during spaceflight. Once these problems of physical condition can be solved, travel can be made safe. If a mission to Mars is to happen, the Moon should act as an experimental terraforming site. Spacecraft will have to be more durable if it is to go on extended missions. This means its size will need to expand to accommodate housing needs, exercise space, a work area, and sanitary facilities. Such missions will require huge amounts of finance. This project should not be the task of one nation; it should be a collaborative effort among the world’s astronauts, engineers, astronomers, and astrophysicists. Space should not be militarized, but made into a place of habitable settlement for all. It will only be a matter of time before humanity is able to travel among the stars. The biggest obstacle is getting physically prepared.

What Happens To Our Muscles During Spaceflight And When Living on Mars

New Research on the Muscles of Elite Athletes: When Quality is Better Than Quantity

Quality versus Quantity

A study conducted by the University of Southern Denmark in 2016 revealed interesting information about athletes’ muscles at the cellular level. Endurance athletes showed a change in mitochondria. Athletes who participate in soccer or skiing demonstrate that muscle quality could be better compare to mass quantity. Larger muscles do not equate to a better athlete. The mitochondria provide energy to the cell and allow people to engage in long periods of exercise . Exercise physiology has reached the conclusion that the more endurance exercise done the more mitochondria increase in the muscles. This may explain why endurance athletes have more compared to non-athletes. Muscle fatigue happens after physical activity. The study also shows that endurance is not only determined by the number of mitochondria, but their structure. Such a discovery can contribute to making more efficient training programs and possible medical applications.

      The study conducted by the Swedish and Danish team found that the mitochondria of athletes was structured to generate more energy. The human body seems to adjust to various demands depending on a particular stimuli. It was stated by  Joachim Nielsen professor of muscle physiology : ”  our measurements have shown us that these mitochondria can generate around 25% more energy.”  This provides an advantage to marathon runners, cross country skiers, and soccer players.

The involved comparing non-athletes to athletes. A muscle biopsy was then conducted. Biopsy is a procedure in which tissue is removed from the body for examination, normally for the purpose of detecting a disease. The sample size included 15 elite athletes and 29 non-athletes. While it would help that the sample size was bigger, there was no indication of sex distribution. Women are now serious athletes, however many times the biological and physiological differences are not accounted for in    training and exercise physiology studies. This still should hold the same for women, seeing as there is no difference in mitochondria between the sexes. The muscles tissue between the sexes do not differ either. Muscle cells are the same between the sexes, the only difference is in the amount and particular fiber type. Men have more type II muscle fibers compared to women having more type I.

Women can build muscle. Sex should not have an effect on the outcome if this study was only done with female athletes. When the muscle tissues was viewed through a microscope, changes could be observed.

        Research indicates that such an endurance advantage may not be inherited. There is no substantial evidence to suggest that a mitochondrial athletic advantage can be passed through generations. There could be an indication that longer periods of exercise could change the mitochondrial structure for the extended term. According to   Joachim Nielsen : “we took detailed measurements of each muscle fibre and saw that those muscle fibres that are typically most active during extended periods of physical activity are also those with the most significant changes in mitochondrial structure. ” This may also suggest that these changes may be more so epigenetic changes. The DNA sequence would not be altered like that of a mutation. Athletes are changing themselves through training. The only way to know for sure is to observe how their offspring would be like.

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It seems the cellular function in relation to sports performance is more complex than previously imagined. Training will certainly become more sophisticated and scientifically based in the coming decades. Many times training took a more trial and error approach to methods. Pure science mainly focused on observation, which in many regards athletes used that system in their training methods. There now seems to be a framework to follow based on a scientific method.Long term exercise may induce some form of permanent change at the cellular level  if done for decades. If this was to be made it into an experiment it would be difficult to test for. If mitochondrial advantage is inherited it is probably a combination of genes. The misconception is that it is one gene responsible for various traits. The function and actions of gene expression operate more intricately. Then environment can also influence how such genes are expressed. An athlete may have genetic advantage , but a poor training method could hinder their full potential.

This would require a longer study of athletes to see if there was a genuine genetic  athletic connection. Science is far away from engineering a superhuman athlete, but it appears to be getting closer.

       Such studies also offer other applications in biomedical fields. There are diseases that harm mitochondria which can result in impaired muscular and metabolic function. This may also hold the key to improving the lives of people with metabolic disorders. There are  a number of mitochondrial diseases that people can have. Normally such diseases are genetically inherited. Not all mitochondrial disease is inherited. Some can be classified as chronic. Other disease can induce mitochondrial dysfunction. Severe mitochondrial disease has particular symptoms. This could include muscle weakness, exercise intolerance, poor growth, Respiratory problems, Thyroid problems, Nervous system or brain disorders, heart, liver, and kidney health issues. The symptons depend on the cells effected. Mitochondria is very important to human health and the body. If disease can be understood at a cellular level, the possibility of cures become that much greater. Rather than just having medical treatments, particular mitochondrial issues can be eliminated through genetic engineering.

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Research has suggested that major diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and various autoimmune diseases have a link to damage of the mitochondria. If Mitochondria fails to produce energy, this will have deleterious effects on human health. The lack of critical energy harms metabolic function.  This may explain the cause of obesity or diabetes in some individuals. It has been theorized that exercise can protect the mitochondria. Free radicals if produced in a large number can create oxidative stress. The mitochondria have antioxidants, which focus on reducing damage to the cells. It is possible that antioxidants decline as a person ages. Having a diet in which the require minerals and vitamins could improve cell health.

If this is scientific fact, then there could be a means of reversing the aging process by means of manipulating the mitochondria. If immortality was to be achieved this would generate much bioethical controversy.  The secret of life is hidden in the genetics and organelles of cells. Cells and organelles can also reveal much about the history of human evolution. People inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mother. This is why biologists and  paleoantropologists are able to trace human evolution millions of year ago. The body is like a puzzle and each part fits somewhere. Mitochondrial function may be the holy grail of biomedical advancement.

       The only way to fully grasp the significance of the study is to have an understanding of mitochondria’s structure and function. The mitochondrion has an inner membrane folded shaped like shelves with incomplete partitions. This allows for an increased surface area so that fats and sugars can be released. The outer membrane of a mitochondrion is smooth with limited features. Mitochondria can be found in most eukaryotic cells. The Mitochondria must generate energy in the form of adensosine triphosphate. The number of mitochondria vary depending on the type of  cell. Muscle and liver cells can have to thousands of mitochondria. Red blood cells do not have mitochondria. The outer mitochondrial membrane is permeable  to transport small molecules with particular channels for moving  large molecules. The inner membrane is less permeable only allowing small molecules to enter the matrix. The matrix has the DNA of the mitochondrial genome and enzymes associated with the tricarboxylic cycle. This will then metabolize nutrients into by product for the purpose of energy production. The conversion happens in the inner membrane.   Cristae  house the protein components. The electron transport chain induces a series oxidation reduction reactions which move electrons from one protein to the next. The free energy produced enables the  phosphorylation  of  adenosine diphosphate to ATP. The final result is the powering of cells through  chemiosmotic coupling of oxidative phosphorylation, which allows for the fueling of various cellular activities. This also include the generation of muscular movement. Mitochondria and its properties may hold a key to more efficient athletic training.

New Research on the Muscles of Elite Athletes: When Quality is Better Than Quantity

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Female bodybuilders train for muscular hypertrophy and aesthetics. The present an image of strength, yet the question  is what is their strength compared to men. This article from Spot Me Girl attempts to answer this question. There are women could can be stronger than men, however their is a different outcome if both men and women are on the same fitness program. The reason is due to sexual dimorphism which is shown in size, weight, and body composition. Potential between both sexes in terms of fitness capacity can vary vastly depending on health, somatotype, genetics, and method of training. There is a range of strength levels that can be documented. While physical strength is not the goal of the female bodybuilder, the development of more type II muscle fibers may result in them gaining strength. Microtrauma occurs in the muscle causing hypertrophy. This process happens to women who engage in serious weight training for such a sport. The difference is in degree and extent. The average woman could gain some strength,  who trains on a regular basis. The female bodybuilder who trains for years or decades could reach a strength level either equal to or slightly above the average man. The untrained man probably would not depending on their weight or height be as strong as a woman who trains regularly for strength. Other exercises are useful, but some are more effective at amassing strength. A Female bodybuilder would probably not reach the same level of mass or strength as a male bodybuilder. This does not mean there cannot be overlap, but this is an exception unique to a woman’s individual physiology and physical fitness capacity. Female bodybuilders would thus be stronger than average men, but would have less compared to their fellow male competitors.

         It should be clarified that endocrinology as plays a role in sports performance. The text states that testosterone does not play as big a function in muscle building as one would presume. This contradicts the following statements about initial strength. The reason that this natural strength disparity is present is due to the difference in testosterone. Prior to puberty there is no difference in physical strength between the sexes. Boys and girls have roughly the same physical fitness capacity. Girls will grow faster and end their growth spurts sooner. Boys are slower to grow having two stages. The first growth spurt could happen as early as 10 to 11 years old. The major change comes around age 13 when testosterone production increases and the testis become larger. Between these two growth spurts, males will have a strength spurt. The spurt in strength is the result in increase testosterone production. Estrogen creates more fat storage on the female body when the ovaries produce it. Sex hormones also effect the bones, ligaments, and tendons which also contribute to body strength.  A majority of girls reach their adult height by age 15, while men continue to gain more. Women do not gain a strength spurt form puberty due to the endocrinological changes related to estrogen and progesterone. However estrogen does have benefits. It can contribute to muscule repair, protects joints as well as bones, stops muscle loss, and aids in metabolism. Testosterone aids in protein synthesis which changes the rate of how muscle reacts to exercise. It also effects growth factors. This explains why it would be harder for women to build strength and muscle when starting a training regimen.

The image above shows children and at this stage in life, there is limited physical capacity difference. The adults on the right would show the aftermath of the physical changes from puberty. The athletes at the bottom have to work harder to achieve these physiques. 

It should be understood that it is not the total amount of testosterone that produces greater strength . The amount of free unbounded testosterone in the body makes part of the determination.The majority of testosterone in the body is either bound to proteins or sex  hormone binding globlin. Endocrine function does have a significant fact in strength, yet it is not the only one. There are also considerations at the beginning that has to do with a woman’s body structure.

        The upper body region differs for males and females in terms of structure. Men have broader shoulders meaning a larger frame to store more muscle on. Women can have an estimated 40 % to 70 % upper body strength level compared to a man. When men train they can add more upper body strength. A female bodybuilder’s shoulders would not increase in size. The muscle would develop relative to her frame and size. The skeletal structure including  clavicle, scapula and the rib cage would be denser in the male body. That means an average man would have an upper body advantage over the untrained woman. Assuming the female bodybuilder had enough muscle for forceful recruitment and contraction her upper body strength could be close to or equal the average male, even if the bone density was not equivalent. There would not be a way for her to challenge a male bodybuilder because the bone and muscle mass is greater.

The female bodybuilder compared to the male bodybuilder would not reach his level of strength and mass. The less muscular women would not have the same strength as the men they are next to. The average man at the bottom would not be in the same strength range as the female bodybuilder. 

Tendon and ligaments have to be factored in when discussing functional strength. Women have looser joints, which allow for greater flexibility, but this comes with the added problem of possible injuries.The lower body women tend to be closer to men in body strength. This is probably easier for women to build up compared to the upper body. These estimates in body strength can be represented in estimated percentages. Women are 27% weaker in the lower body and 63% weaker in the upper body in terms of averages. Greater upper body strength can be essential to sports like weightlifting or boxing. The difference in upper body strength only gets more pronounced with training. If women were to match the upper body strength of men it would require more bone mass and broader shoulders. Narrow shoulders mean that there is a decreased articular surface. Before considering other biological and physical factors to answer the question, there has to be a precise method of measuring physical strength.

         There are ways of measuring strength. There are methods that are more precise than others. Hand grip measure would not be the most precise measure. The chart used in the article only used women hand ball players and judo martial artists. The study conducted by The Journal of Applied Physiology . They used a total number of 1,645 men and only 533 women. This data could be distorted considering women’s numbers were small in the sample. While hand grip strength can be an indicator of manual lifting and the ability to carry loads this does not give a full assessment of absolute strength. The subjects they used were not training for physical strength, like weightlifters. Only with precise measures can a determination be made. Looking at men and women’s weight lifting and powerlifting records shows more.

Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

Powerlifting World Records (IPF)

The records demonstrated the difference in  absolute strength between men and women . The difference calculated in weightlifting is 120kg  compared to 327.kg in powerlifting. There still remains a difference in absolute strength. Bodybuilders do not train the exact way as powerlifters or weightlifters. So, if one wants to get specific about strength levels it would be best to collect data on some of the lifting records of individual athletes. When Kristy Hawkins competed in bodybuilding her lifting stats were 205 lbs (92.9 kg) for incline bench, 315 lbs (142.8 kg ) for squats, and deadlift. She could also do 245 lbs (111.13 kg) barbell rows. When she became a powerlifter her lifts became significantly larger. She broke records with a deadlift of 650 kg and a 225 kg squat.  Kristy had strength as a bodybuilder,but gained more of it through powerlifting techniques.

A person can gain some strength from bodybuilding, yet powerlifting and weightlifting provide a greater potential in terms of absolute strength gains. The goal of bodybuilding is not too bench the most, but to present a physique that has definition, shape, symmetry, size and conditioning. It is rare that women reach the strongest trained male range.The comparison of how strong a female bodybuilder is also depends on the man she is being compared to in terms of strength capacity. The average male lifter can roughly squat  125 lbs (56.7 kg), benchpress 135 lbs (61.2 kg), and deadlift 155 lbs ( 70.3 kg). Compared to Kristy Hawkins the average man would not be as strong. This is based of the Lon Kilgore strength standard. Another comparison could be made with Desiree Ellis during her career. She was able to perform 225 lbs( 102 kg ) bench press and 315 lbs squats (142.8 kg ).

The average novice male  lifters weighing 198 89 kg) pounds with several months of training could reach a 230 lbs (104.3 kg) squat, a 175 lbs (79.4 kg)  bench press. These gains are modest, but still not in the range of a female bodybuilder. Several years a male could reach the intermediate level which could see a 215 lbs (97 kg ) bench press and (129.3 kg) 285 lbs for squats. The intermediate level range of male strength is normally were women reach their maximal strength. Advanced male lifters can reach 290 lbs (131  kg ) for bench press and 390 lbs( 176.9 kg) for squats. Kristy Hawkins deadlift is higher compared to advance male lifters, but this is a notable and rare exception.

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This comes down to body size. women weigh less than men and on average are smaller. Examining deadlift data from a small sample of athletes show the difference in body weight. The smallest males weigh in  at  is 114 lbs (51 kg ) compared to the smallest woman at 97 lbs (43 kg). The largest woman would only reach 199 lbs (90 kg )compared to the male 320 lbs (145 kg )  and over. Female bodybuilders often seem bigger than they actually are. One of the biggest female bodybuilders to compete was Lesa Lewis who competed at 193 lbs (88 kg). Phil Heath the 2015 Mr.Olympia weighed about 240 lbs (108 kg). The biggest  women are comparatively small to their male counterparts.Other female bodybuilders may even weigh less than an average man when in competition. The average weight of the American man over the age of 20  is at least 191 pounds. Female bodybuilders rarely reach this weight even during the off season.

These weightlifting statistics are more precise than a basic hand grip study. While lifting any amount of weight can induce change there is a training technique that is more efficient in building strength. Strength increase can happen from bodybuilding,but powerlifting and weighlifting can increase strength even more.

       Another factor is body composition and somatotype. This is an estimation of possible muscular strength gains that can be made. Many female bodybuilders have a mesomorphic body type prior to starting their sport. Having that base can enhance the body further through training. For people with ectomorphic and endomorphic body types this poses more of a challenge. Muscular gain would be more difficult for naturally thin or larger people. When related to body fat percentages it makes a difference. A thin man would still have less fat compared to a thin woman. Fat does not add to strength, rather it can add to mass. Although from basic kinematics the more mass the more force can be generated, having more fat does not correlate to more functional strength. This explains why a the weakest man would still have more strength than the weakest woman. The male body has more muscle composition compared to the higher fat composition in women’s bodies. Muscle fibers generate more force compared to fat.

Both the men and women in these photos are very strong. However, the women are carrying more body fat compared to the men. It is hard to tell my just looking. 

Normally a female bodybuilder can reach at least 8% body fat. Men can reach as low as 3%. These low body fat levels are only done for a contest. Keeping the body under such conditions could be harmful. Body fat levels need to be low enough to show definition . Fat is necessary for the cell membranes. The recommended body fat levels for men are around 15% compared to women’s 21%. Seeing as athletes are pushing their bodies to a limit, they would actually have more physical strain during contest time. This is tougher for women, because if body fat levels become to low it can disturb the menstrual cycle. This can be avoided as long as there is recovery during the off season. Body composition also has a role in strength.

         Another consideration is muscle fiber type. Simply having large muscles does not equate to more strength. There are weightlifters and crossfit competitors that lift more compared to some female bodybuilders. The reason is based on type II muscle fiber distribution. This muscle fiber type is designed for more explosive power. Type II muscle fibers can either be classified as moderate IIa  or fast twitch IIb. If one is looking to increase strength and muscle mass these fibers are essential to the body. A bodybuilder may have large muscles, but depending on their type II to type I ratio a smaller person could be stronger.

At first this can be confusing. it only becomes clear when comprehended from the perspective of full muscle recruitment. Each of the muscle fibers must contribute to the physical task at hand. Men tend to have more type II muscle fiber, while women contain more type I fiber. Although such type I muscle fiber is not as strong, it is more fatigue resistant. The amount of muscle fiber type can vary among individuals, yet it is clear that sex is a factor in muscle fiber expression, which results in distribution.

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The general muscle fiber classification demonstrates power and energy levels.
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The type IIa muscle fiber expression in hindlimbs of a man and a woman.

Type II muscle fiber has the ability to contract rapidly. There are case when both type I and type II are used during physical activity. Type I muscle fibers are used first and when they reach their limit there is a switch to type II. The muscle fiber types act as an auxiliary support for the body under physical activity. Men and women have the same muscular system. The difference is that men have a grater amount concentrated in the upper body. The more fibers available in that area means the greater chance for more force from recruitment.

Blood supply is also different for certain muscle fiber. Slow twitch muscle fiber has more blood supply compared to fast twitch. A large blood supply enables more oxygen. As a result their work out put can last longer due to the blood difference. Fast twitch muscle has a lack of blood, which means less oxygen delivery to the tissue. Fast twitch muscle fiber has less mitochandria. Mitochandria is responsible for energy production by means of adenosine triphosphate. This explains the secret to type I muscle fiber’s endurance it utilizes blood supply and adenosine triphosphate more efficiently. Type II muscle fiber has a bigger diameter compared to type I fiber.

Strength can come in various sizes and body types. 

The challenge for type II muscle fiber is the lactic threshold. ATP uses glucose as a fuel source when under physical activity and work. Activity that goes from a range of 10 seconds to three minutes ATP is formed from incomplete breakdown of stored glucose known as glycogen. Lactic acid is produced as a result. Lifting weights requires energy faster than the body can deliver oxygen to the tissues. During this process glucose can be metabolized into  pyruvate. Pyruvate will then be converted into lactate for energy production to continue. The lactic threshold almost acts as a defense mechanism telling our bodies to stop strenuous activity. Lactic acid is not responsible for muscle soreness after work outs. Metabolites have been thought to cause such soreness, but it is unclear which ones. This explains why an athlete cannot exercise non-stop.

During exercise intensity levels are a factor in fatigue and lactic acid build up. Slow twitch fibers are reliant on a mixture of fat and glucose. Women who have a higher fat percentage can use some of that for energy. When intensity levels rise for slow twitch fibers fat metabolism will subside, while the carbohydrate metabolism increases. This induces assistance from fast twitch fiber.

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The muscle cell types
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Basic muscle fiber structure

What can be extrapolated is that not all muscle fibers are the same. The muscle cells also differ.  The three types include cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle. It is skeletal muscle that contributes more to strength and type II fibers that make it physiologically possible. The motor neurons are bigger in type II muscle fiber. The difference relative to size means that more fibers are activated during muscular contraction. Sarcomere length also contributes to maximal force of the muscle. Filament length if too short or too long will not produce the highest amount of force. Sarcomeres are the smallest units of contractile sections of muscle. The thin and thick filaments overlap one another when producing action. There is an estimated 600 muscles in the human body which requires the myocardium, voluntary, and involuntary muscles to collaborate. Women contain the same anatomical structure, however the difference is in body composition and total muscle fiber type.

       The nervous system is a factor in strength. Neural activity and its function translate into motor skill movement.The nervous system transmits impulses to the muscles. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. Strength level can be effected by the total number of motor neuron units and the rate of activation. This process is known as rate coding. When an athlete reaches a high level of rate coding they reach a classification known as explosive.

Motor neurons
The motor neuron and muscle fiber link as displayed anatomically.

There are certain methods employed to increase strength training wise. Lifting heavy weights can cause a change or lifting light weights at fast intervals. There are also factors of coordination and synchronization. Inter-muscular coordination refers to how efficiently multiple muscle work together to perform a task. Intra-muscular coordination requires the firing patterns of individual muscle fibers for a particular physical task. The process functions similar to gears working together in a clock. The gears will move to get the hands of the clock to move. This collaboration in action results in a synchronization. Motor neuron units will fire in accordance to the training load. Synchronization describes how particular muscle fibers are used depending on the physical task. Neural adaptation also is just as important as muscle fiber type. Technically, if a female bodybuilder has mastered this neuromuscular efficiency she could have considerable strength.

Some bodybuilders actually do have powerlifting backgrounds that contributed to their success. Bev Francis was a powerlifter before competing in bodybuilding. Her training in that sport gave her a great base to compete. Her maximum lifts were 335 lbs bench press 501 lbs deadlift and 500 lbs squat. Becca Swanson has been considered by many to be the strongest woman who ever lived. Her statistics include a 600 lbs bench press, 683 lbs deadlift, and 854 lbs squat.  Jill Mills also competed in bodybuilding before becoming a World’s Strongest Woman competitor.

If there were to be a comparison of strength levels, they would probably be stronger competing as powerlifters than when they were bodybuilders. That is due to the fact that the nervous system, just like the muscular system is responding to stimuli. The neural adaptation develops new pathways for the purpose of functional movement. This indicates that lifting higher loads would be more effective than lighter ones. If  any one wants to gain strength weighlifting would be the best method to reach that physical fitness target. Bodybuilders do lift weights, but the intent is not to gain the most strength. It is designed for body sculpting.

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The nerves and neurons serve many functions in the human body. Voluntary movement would not be possible without the effort of the motor cortex. The nervous system is a network of nerves and sensory receptors working to provide the brain with information. The nervous system is divided into two parts : the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system contains the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves responsible that transport impulses from to and from the nervous system. During exercise or sporting competition the nervous system is diligently working with other organ systems. The muscular system, endocrine system,and nervous system contribute to physical strength, but it goes beyond that. Physical strength can also come from the genes.

          There are genes that are linked to physical strength. The genes that are responsible for muscular strength ACTG 1, STY 1, PEX 14, and TGFA. Genes are just units of deoxyribonucleic acid. ACTG 1 provides instructions for the formation of gamma y actin proteins. There are six types of actin and four of them are present in the muscle cells. This contributes to muscular contraction. TGFA also has involvement in protein coding.Genes can be expressed in different ways depending on various factors. There are multitudes of genes that influence body structure and their is a possibility that there are more. Actin alpha 3 and ACE influence muscle fiber type and even endurance. Alpha actin 3 is found in mostly fast twitch muscle fiber. This protein is essential to the fast twitch muscle fiber. ACE instructs the production of angiotensin-converting enzyme. Angiotensin I becomes Angiotensin I I, which may contribute in some manner to skeletal muscle structure. The ACE gene can have variation resulting in the ACE I/D polymorphism. Having two copies of this version of the gene could result in the D allele. This may result in a greater portion of fast twitch muscle fibers in the body.

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Genes and environment can influence an individual’s physical capabilities. While it is true genes are important, this should not mean that genes determine everything. Training method is important. A woman who spends more time doing cardiovascular exercise or aerobics probably would not see a dramatic increase in strength compared to a woman doing weight training. The physical fitness potential could vary immensely among individuals.

        There is an exact answer to this question if approached from a perspective of biology, physiology, and anatomy. Then one must have precise measurement. If one wants to be exact, this is an essential part of the experiment. The use of the hand grip measure was not as precise as weightlifting or powerlifting measures.  The conclusion that can be reached is that men are stronger than women, however a physically fit woman has a strength level either equal to or beyond average men. The Spot Me Girl  article does come to an incorrect conclusion. It states “even if we are biologically the weaker sex regarding muscle, at least we have some pretty good conditions for lifting because of our physical resilience!” There is no such thing as a biologically weaker sex in regards to muscle. The real difference is in maximum physical fitness capacity. Men’s fitness levels are just higher due to differences in genetics, anatomy, biology, and physiology.

    What can be  gathered from this information is a rough estimate of strength levels. An untrained woman would have less strength than an untrained man. A female bodybuilder would be stronger than both an untrained man or untrained woman. However, the female bodybuilder would not have a similar physical fitness capacity of a male on her same training regimen.

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The depiction of strength levels from weakest to strongest going from left to right. 

These women have achieved considerable strength that clearly would surpass a man less active.  

The article is correct in the fact that women require less time for recovery and have an advantage in endurance. The full extent of women’s physical capability may not be known. A majority of exercise physiology research focuses on male athletes. Thus women may not be training in the most efficient manner tailored to their biology and physiology. This makes questions such as these more difficult to answer. A prediction which may be correct can be made. The exact answer could be that female bodybuilders could be stronger than many men depending on the man’s weight, size, health, and physical fitness level.  The female bodybuilder is stronger than the average man, but the weightlifters and powerlifters could achieve strength levels much higher. While men’s physiology allows for greater physical fitness capacity, this does not automatically make them better athletes. Skills, training, and experience can make the difference in athletic competition. Female bodybuilders can be very strong depending on their genetics, training method, and diet.

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?