Self-Defense : Physical Differences Regarding Training

Physical Differences Regarding Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An attack from this man would not be successful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Self-Defense : Physical Differences Regarding Training

Women Closing the Strength Gap in A Big Way

Women and the Strength Gap

This article published online for Women in the World. com was discussing a physical fitness measure between the sexes discussed in a Washington Post piece produced in 2016. There was an analysis of hand grip strength between average men and women. This is used as a measure of strength, but is not the most accurate. The study reported that women between the ages of 30 to 34 had the hand grip strength equal to men of the same age. The right hand was measured for men and women between the ages of 20 to 30. It was compared to data collected in 1985. The average woman compared to the sample could produce 79 pounds of pressure compared to the 117 pounds of pressure of men. The results from 2016 show that women produced 98 pounds of pressure. That is the current male total pressure as well in the 2016 sample group. There was a decline in male grip strength. It should be questioned how accurate hand grip strength measure is as a predictor of physical strength. It has been suggested that it is an accurate predictor cardiovascular disease and life expectancy. These claims need verification to be considered fact. Women are not becoming overall stronger than men, but have improved their physical fitness. Men as indicated by this sample have declined in terms of that element of physical fitness. There are environmental factors that could explain this including changes in health condition. Women have been getting stronger, but closing the strength gap has not happened.

         The subjects used were 237 full time students attending universities in North Carolina. Pinch strength was also measured. The problem with this is that the sample is small compared to the rest of the population. If the study included a wider selection of the population the results would have been different. The results may have looked different. It may still would have shown that a portion of the population in the US is unfit. Obesity and weight related health problems are gradually becoming a public health crisis. The methodology could also be flawed. The 1985 study was conducted in Milwaukee from students who participated in the experiment. This took one cross section of the population. At best this only shows that the average male university student has lost strength. Then one must consider the attributes of subjects used. If it is a test for the average man and woman, students with athletic backgrounds may have to be excluded. This may have distorted the data. Obviously, the female athlete has a physical fitness capacity beyond an average woman.

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Today’s Men Are Not Nearly As Strong As Their Fathers  is the original article in the Washington Post. If a woman like Elizabeth Akenwale was used in the study it would distort data.

  If all the women had athletic or fitness backgrounds it would alter the data to make it seem like they acquired immense strength rapidly in two decades. Also the male subjects the studies used could also result in data that is exaggerated. If some of these subjects were student athletes, their activity levels would be higher. This would result in them having a higher physical fitness capacity relative to their inactive counterparts. The 2016 showed that younger millennial women scored lower in grip strength compared to older ones in the 30 to 34 age range. This resulted in the total average of grip strength of women being 75 pounds. The 20 to 30 age group may have done poorly because the body still goes through physical changes during this age range. It is possible for people to still grow up until the age of 25. Muscles reach their full potential in strength, contraction speed,   and size also by the mid-20s. Muscle mass will  plateau and then will decline with senescence. Bones and muscles can change depending on the amount of stresses and strains they have to endure. Muscles can respond quickly to changes  and patterns in use. This means that if younger women are going to be a part of the study, they would need to be a least 25. This is the stage in the the human life cycle that growth is fully complete and the body is at its physical peak.

Age does have an effect on fitness through the human life cycle. Prior to puberty girls and boys are at the same physical fitness level. The changes in endocrinology alter the bodies of men and women. The male body has more type II muscle fiber and the female body stores more subcutaneous fat. This results in differences in strength. Physical strength is not solely determined by sex, but genetics, somatotype, and exercise regimen. The subjects used in the 2016 study were described as healthy. This could have many connotations. If they all were disease free, that would mean they were healthy no matter what their fitness level was. One could be slightly overweight and be disease free, if one follows the exact definition. Knowing the exact body types and activity levels of subjects could have provided more insight. This experiment if scientifically true, should be able to replicate the same results. If not, it cannot be considered fact.

         There is a problem using hand grip strength as a measure. This method only is an approximation. The text reveals that it is not the same as functional strength. Testing hand grip strength only demonstrates relative strength. This is the force generated by one muscle group or area. Only a measure of absolute strength can be a more precise assessment. This examines the entire muscular force that can be generated from the body. It is not impossible that a person could lift more weights and still produce minimal hand grip force. Weightlifting uses more muscles of the body and would be a better measure of strength.

hand-finger-tendon-injury

Such an activity uses multiple parts of the body rather than just one. Hand size could be a factor. It could be possible that difference in hand size could make a difference in the grip data. Absolute strength is the culmination of both the upper body and lower body. This gives an idea about estimated strength ranges in body. Women can have an estimated 50 to 60 percent strength level in the upper body compared to a man of a similar weight and height. The lower body women are closer ranging from 70 to 75% in terms of absolute strength.

 These estimates could not be extracted from a simple hand grip measuring test. It is not that men have better muscles. Their muscle fibers are larger. This results in a major difference in power. Doing work and generating force is what power is. It is critical in sports such as sprinting or long jump. Examining weightlifting or crossfit records show the differences in strength between the sexes in a more precise manner. As seen in the charts above, men still have higher performances compared to their female counterparts. These measures are better than hand grip testing. Approximations are not helpful in a scientific inquiries.

        Besides problematic methodology, there may be an environmental  reason for this result. The article describes it as work habits. When the first study was produced in the 1980s more men were involved in manual labor. This meant they were getting more exercise hence the hand grip generation. Factory or construction work has been gradually disappearing ever since. Globalization and a knowledge based post-industrial society has caused such laborers a struggle to find work. For those who have transitioned into it, it has had some negative consequences. Sedentary lifestyles and excessive consumption of junk food has caused health problems. Obesity, heart disease, and cancer resulted in this shift. Rarely do Americans get the recommended amount of exercise by the CDC. A materialistic and work obsessed culture causes mental stress as well. Increasing rates of anxiety and depression have become prevalent. Over consumption of alcohol also has increased among the young. Limited life work balance has produced poor physical and mental health. There are some changes being made in workplaces. Standing desks help prevent employees from sitting too long. Some Americans even get gym memberships. It may be too late to reverse such a trend. This will eventually cause strain on a healthcare system already under strain. Environmental factors do influence health. It is not solely biology. Everything cannot be reduced to biological determinism.

            It should be clear that women have become stronger. The measurements in strength show that women are probably doing more physical activity, which resulted in the increase.  Women were less likely to do manual labor jobs in the past. Now that has changed with women working in construction, firefighting, law enforcement, and the military. Some men have become weaker and women have become stronger due to their activity levels. This does not mean women have closed the strength gap. It reflects that women are either getting in better shape or men are becoming less active. It is rare that women who train with men reach the same level of strength. There of course can be overlap in the population. The indication  is that to extent social policy did help women’s health. Title IX gave women opportunities at young ages to become active in sports. Since then the numbers have increased. It is not just the professional female athlete that is becoming more active; average women are exercising and becoming a part of fitness culture.

 There has been to at least a small degree a change in attitudes. Strength may no longer be seen as a male only attribute and women are not afraid of building it. Women seem to take better care of themselves compared to their male counterparts. American women tend to keep up with doctor’s visits and engage in lower levels of high risk behavior. The men who scored low on the strength test may not all be obese or have a weight problem. They could just be out of shape or at a lower fitness level.

The American man has not become a puny weakling or a gluttonous blob, rather just more inactive. American women seen either stabilization or improvement, because historically physical activity and sports was not considered gender appropriate. Now that such barriers are gone and attitudes have changed women are full participants.  Biases remain,yet this does not stop women from pushing their bodies to their physical maximum. There is a revolution going on yet it is a small one. Women who are not afraid to display or demonstrate physical power. There are women who are in various divisions of bodybuilding, crossfit, weightlifting, powerlifting, and numerous sports. This is not just happening in America. The year 2012 and 2016 saw more female participation in the Olympics. Women have become stronger, but en mass not so. It seems to be the age of the amazon. American women have entered the world of law, business,science,  and politics yet there still is a general taboo against women enhancing their physical strength. There is a small shift in cultural attitudes, but more progress has to be made. The excellent development is that some women are embracing strength and fitness.

The rise of the modern fitness woman is a phenomenon. It has not been recognized or studied seriously. There has up until now no point in history in which women have developed themselves physically to this extent. There muscular women prior to the rise of modern fitness, but they did not have an outlet to display their talents. The boom of physical culture from the late 19th century to early 20th century did involve women to a lesser degree. Strongwomen either performed in circuses, vaudeville acts,  or smaller venues. This was not the athletic competition they craved. The rise of the feminist movement and the challenge to institutional sex discrimination  opened the path for the female athlete to get mainstream exposure. From the 1970s  to present there has been an increase in women’s participation and women have gained notoriety as sports stars. While this rise is impressive some made erroneous predictions that women would be out performing men in the 21st century. Some even said women would become stronger than men in the future. This is disputable when examining the biological, physiological, anatomical dimensions.

            Women are not closing the strength gap as a whole. Certain women are able to do so. It is not impossible for a woman to be strong as a man. A man who does not exercise would most likely not be as strong as a woman who does. However, that depends on body type. The mesomorphic somatotype is prone to building more strength compared to ectomorphic and endomorphic body types. Men of ectomorphic and endomorphic body types would not exceed the strength of the female mesomorph. Even

though the men are producing more androgens they are limited by the genetics of their body type. When comparing these body types in a sense women have closed the strength ( or rather exceeded )gap with average men and men of a lower physical fitness level. The strength gap is wide even when male and female ectomorphs are compared. The weakest male would still have more strength than the weakest female. This relates to body composition. If estrogen and progesterone produce more fat, compared to muscle this changes total strength capacity. The thin male has limited body fat and although their little muscle, the few fibers present can still generate force. Fat does not generate the same force as type II muscle fiber.

 Simply having large muscles is not an indicator of strength. There is a difference in training for strength versus training for muscular hypertrophy. The first is the desire to lift more without the goal of developing muscles. Training for hypertrophy is designed to make the muscles larger, doubtless of what the final strength result will be. A weightlifter could be stronger than a bodybuilder because they have trained for different goals. This relates to two different forms of muscular hypertrophy. Myofibrillar hypertrophy causes the growth of contractile parts of the muscle fiber. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy causes growth of organelles, plasma,  and non-contractile proteins. This increases muscle volume, but does not grow the fibers to their maximum extent. This could be an explanation why a less muscular weightlifter could lift more than a bodybuilder.

Women can see at least a 40% increase in physical strength from resistance training if the intensity is high and the diet is adjusted. The muscular system is the same for men and women the difference is in body composition. Testosterone plays a major role in protein synthesis.  This explains why men are more likely to gain more mass compared to women on the same training regimen. it also has to do with starting point. Women have more body fat to lose relative to men. It is however not the total amount of testosterone that accounts for the difference.

 It is the amount of free testosterone that  is present in the body. The majority of testosterone is either connected to sex hormone building globulin and non-specific proteins. A thin man could still produce more testosterone and not be stronger than a female athlete. This reveals that there are other factors besides endocrine function that contribute to strength. The MSTN gene dictates directions to the myostatin protein. This regulates muscle growth and individuals who have low levels can build larger muscles.

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The location of the MSTN gene

Being female does not limit strength potential. Men have some physical advantages which just means their physical fitness capacity will be higher. There are obviously exceptions to the general rule, simply because genetics vary among individuals. Charley Craig and Naomi Kutin were lifting heavy weights when they were children . it is clear they have a natural advantage which aided them in their athletic endeavors. As they mature and if they decide to continue they will have impressive athletic careers. It would not be a shock if they will be seen in the Olympics years form now. Strength does not just involve the muscular system. It related to the actions of the nervous system as well.

It seems that men are destine to get easier  stronger just from the difference in hormone function. The testes allow for greater testosterone production making this possible. The gonads in both men and women perform different functions.  The testes produce sperm and the ovaries produce eggs to allow for sexual reproduction. This requires a surge in sex hormones that change the bodies of girls and boys. The effect is more dramatic in men. Bone, tendons, ligaments, and muscle tissue will gradually increase causing a strength spurt. This also causes an increase of about 40% more heart muscle in the male body. The male growth spurt happens at the end of puberty, while women reach their full growth earlier. As boys mature the amount of free testosterone increases in the bloodstream. Bone density increases and the chest as well as shoulders become broader. This is done by age 20. Women do not see an increase in physical strength during puberty. Muscle fibers do not increase in number, they widen and extend to a greater length. Ligaments are thinner in women compared to men, however they are relatively lax. This means women can be more flexible, but makes them vulnerable to joint injuries.

Women’s hips widen which effects total running speed. Other than that, there is no significant growth in the lungs and heart to the extent of men. Testosterone also increases the amount of hemoglobin in the blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the muscles. If men have more that means they get more oxygen to the muscles during exercise. This means the average male would have a higher fitness level with little or no training assuming they are in good health. There is obviously a reason for the difference in athletic records between male and female athletes. The idea that women are closing the strength gap en mass is not correct. Despite the physiological differences, there is the possibility that  the strength difference can be narrowed. There has been calculations that  if the average sports records of women stay below .85 percent women van make more improvements in accordance with the 90% ratio.Training can not eliminate all of the differences in physiology. The average woman’s muscle weight without training is 35% compared to men’s 50%.

So far, it is clear that women are not closing the strength gap, but are becoming more fit. The article’s commentary seems to either have a vague or limited understanding of exercise physiology. It was fascinating that it did not expound further on contents of the Washington Post article, because it gave a lucid picture. This article was written for Women in the World an organization that promotes live journalism events.It has third wave feminist leanings, which may explain why the title of the article is such a hyperbole. If one were to read the article with limited knowledge of human anatomy or physiology, they would believe that women were as strong as men. This is not the case, but there are some very strong women. The third wave feminist movement would benefit from learning science rather than branding it a tool of patriarchy.

           The topic regarding sex differences had been a controversial issue. It has been complicated further by those who still promote and believe pseudoscientific biological sexism of the past. The opposite end of the spectrum is faction of third wave and power feminists who think that sex differences are entirely sociologically based. To them the differences in strength among the sexes is nothing more than an example of patriarchy. The reality is that on average men are stronger, but that does not mean men are stronger than all women. Biology is not patriarchal or sexist. It is a science, but it seems that this small group of women want to wage war on it. Ignoring or pretending that differences do not exist is irrational. Differences are not evidence of inferiority. Misogynists normally use the fact men are stronger as a justification men should have more privilege and power in society. This argument is ludicrous, because that would mean a stronger woman should have more rights and privilege than a weaker man.

As seen previously, strength is not male only. Arguments that truly to prove biological inferiority have no basis in scientific fact. The reason power feminists and factions of third wave feminists focus on this is because it is an area in which they cannot not fully compete with men in .  They claim to want equality, but rather they seek power and an abnormal amount of influence in various spheres of society. There is nothing wrong with women being a part of areas in which their numbers are low, but there is the problem of conducting it as an invasion of male space. An example is that of the electronic entertainment and video game industry. While women do not play as many video games as men a small group of third wave feminists are attacking video games. This was started by Anita Sakeesian of Feminist Frequency, which presented the gaming community as sexist woman haters. Sexism is a problem in the industry just like other areas of society, yet the trend now is to focus in on a particular section or group as a root cause. There seems to be a desire to demonize attributes or activities traditionally considered masculine by this faction of feminists. If  it is not condemnation its third wave feminists entering a sphere and using it as a vehicle to advance their  agenda.   The mentality is compete with men and promote gender antagonism. The only reason this has not occurred in the sports world is that women’s participation is low and there are biological obstacles that make it a challenge.

They claim that  their is sex segregation in sports and that there should be an integration. This is not segregation, but making competition fair. If men are stronger and faster than women having a separate division is just like a weight class. Women if there were no divisions would be pushed out of contact sport. Men weight more and are taller giving them a physical advantage. The only way this would constitute discrimination would be if it were separated when there was no physiological or anatomical advantage that favors men. There would be no need to have separate archery or equestrian teams for example. There are women who just want to challenge men for the sake of promoting gender antagonism. There may also be another reason for this concern about strength and physicality. The fact that men are stronger than women may induce a level of trepidation in some women considering the rate of domestic abuse. While one does not need to strong to be  physically abusive, it makes it simpler for a person to inflict damage.

 Some feminists erroneously believe that if women were as strong as men this would end oppression. That is not true because oppression is reliant on control of resources and property. The reason women were held back in human history was due to the fact they did not have property rights and were denied education . Employment was limited and healthcare was of low quality due to restrictions on reproductive rights. Regulated to the domestic sphere they had limited access to politics or the affairs of state. This was reversed in the 20th century. Although some nations lag behind in terms of women’s rights, women have become more powerful politically and socially. Many women are enjoying opportunities that their great grandmothers could only dream of. Women are getting power politically and socially so the obvious next step is to develop the mind and body. The problem this the power feminist is that they want to use a new found power as a tool of vengeance against men.That should not be a goal. The point is for women to enjoy sports and fitness not demonize men. Recognizing that sexual dimorphism exists is not sexism. It is the result of millions of years of evolution. However, the influence of environment cannot be ignored. Women at a young age are discouraged from the use of the their bodies and body image conformity has a negative consequence on health. There is a reason anorexia and bulimia are higher among women compared to men. The idea of a single body image for women is being challenged in America and it is a welcomed change. It is imperative that men and women have a healthy perspective about their bodies. Physical activity should not be done for the sole reason of cosmetic purposes. Maintaining health should be the goal. The strength difference is a combination of nature and nurture. If one examines the number of women in physically demanding occupations this demonstrates interactionist  theory. If women on average have less strength it means their numbers would be lower. That is not the only reason, because discrimination has kept women out of certain fields such as these. The numbers still will not be equal even if social barriers are removed.

        unless biology and physiology of women change dramatically, law enforcement, construction, firefighting, and the military would remain mostly male. Biological determinism is not the only reason. It also comes down to behavior. Men take more risk and are raised to be more competitive. These jobs do require a level of risk that many women may try to avoid. The challenge therefore is not solely biological, but social behavior.  This probably is the major obstacle to reaching actual equality. It will not be realized with the current version of feminism that is visible in American public life.

       Although hand grip does not give an exact measure of health it is obvious that American health is declining. The decline in hand grip strength is an indirect indicator of low levels of physical activity and fitness. American life expectancy has declined reaching a plateau when this article was published in 2016. There factors could include high fat, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar based diets. Making no time for exercise can have major consequences on health. Children are even having health problems with an increase in unbalanced diets. The cuts to public education have also harmed physical education in schools. There also has been a disparity in healthcare. The US is one f the few nations that does not have a government program for healthcare, but instead relies on private companies. Most Americans get their health insurance through their employers. Those who are unemployed or could not afford a plan had to pay out of pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act was suppose to be a means for which all Americans could get healthcare no matter what their socioeconomic status. This needs to be developed into a universal healthcare system in which all citizens can be covered. Now with a Trump presidency it is being dismantled and medicaid as well as medicare will soon be under attack. The removal of such programs will ultimately cause a public health crisis.

It seems like the study only demonstrated that women are taking better care of themselves. Men are neglecting their health. 

This would impact men worse in particular. On average the male life expectancy is lower even when conditions are favorable. A woman with a particular health aliment may survive longer compared to a man. This also depends whether or not a citizen lives in an urban or rural area. Urban areas have more hospitals, while rural areas are dependent on health clinics. Hospitals located in rural areas may require long distances to travel to. Health clinics in rural areas are shutting down due to lack of funding, while simultaneously there is an attempting to dismantle government healthcare. There must be a drastic revision in public policy to reverse years of neglect of these populations. Women’s longevity does come with a price. The longer you live the more likely it is to have more health aliments related to age. Cancers and dementia become a threat to seniors. If elder care is not funded or functional this will add to the mass public health crisis induced by poor diet and inactivity. Social security, medicare, and medicaid will not be able to handle the medical costs from advanced age related illnesses. This can be prevented, but it starts with a change in eating habits, lifestyle, and a new attitude in regards to exercise.  It can be concluded that women have not closed the physical strength gap, rather they have closed the durational strength gap. Women’s life expectancy exceeds men’s even in countries that have the lowest average. When compared  in this regard they do have greater strength.

Women Closing the Strength Gap in A Big Way

Physically Fit Recruits Are Hard To Find

Not Fit Enough

A recent study has shown that a large portion of the American population is not physically fit enough for military service. Obesity and lack of exercise are culprits in this health and military issue. The interesting discovery is that the people with the worse fitness were in the South. This has been traditionally the largest area of military recruitment. Compared to other parts of the country, it demonstrates a disparity in health. Unfit recruits are more at risk for injury. The report done by the US military ( by researchers at Citadel Military College) wanted to determine if certain states could be a burden in terms of military readiness. They used body mass index as an indicator, however this measurement can be misleading. Cardiovascular measurement seems to have more precision. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured with incidents in relation to injury during training. The examination used Spearman correlations. While it is true the US has a weight problem, this can be reversed. Doing so will solve high injury rates in military recruits.

       The use of the body mass index for the study may not be the best measuring tool. BMI can classify people who are muscular as being overweight. It also can classify individuals who are thin as being underweight. The study was unclear about the morphic body types of the populations surveyed. The southeastern region which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia ,Texas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina had people who were in worse shape compared to other regions of the US. Some of the people in the data may not have a weight problem. People with endomorphic body types are not technically obese. Their body fat levels are higher, but it is not enough to have a deleterious effect on health. Knowing this it means that some of the data is more of an approximation.

Adding weight to the body will not always result in poor health. Women who are now joining the  military understood that they needed the strength to do certain task. However, when doing weight training they added mass in terms of muscle, which pushed some women out of the weight range. The Marines reversed this decision and women can be at a higher weight. Using the calculation of BMI its flaws can be seen.

 Margie Martin and Colette Nelson’s BMI provides an inaccurate picture. Margie would have a BMI of 27.4 and Colette stands in the 29.11. Both values are in the overweight range of the chart. They are not overweight, because they just have more muscle mass. The BMI scale does not account for different body  types.Although the BMI is not a great clinical tool it is obvious that Americans are suffering from obesity and weight related illnesses. According to the CDC there  is a 35% rate of obesity in the South. This increase is dramatic compared to previous decades.  America now has a poor diet that consists of sugar and high fat. Simultaneously, Americans are getting less physical activity. These are contributors to a growing public health problem. This explains why the injury rate increased 28% among the least fit states.

        The problem is that the military does not examine the issue from a physical fitness perspective. Besides just being overweight, many may not be in shape. Men and women who are not active, but do not have weight problems would probably have injuries. This is proven by the fact the report shows that even the recruits from fit states had injuries increase by 22%. Physical fitness capacity varies depending on health condition, genetics,Somatotype,  and sex. A person who is obese or overweight is going to have circulatory or skeletal joint issues. Strenuous work would be difficult and it makes it harder carrying excess fat on the body. The opposite end of the spectrum is the ectomorphic body type. Thinner people would have trouble doing tasks that require large amounts of physical strength.

 The man pictured is not overweight, but may not be in the best of physical shape. The lady however is at a high physical fitness level and would have an easier time meeting physical demands. 

Sex becomes another factor in military physical fitness. Due to biological and physiological differences the total physical fitness capacity is higher in men. Men are on average stronger than women due to endocrinology, body composition, and difference in body size. Men have more skeletal and muscle mass. Testosterone allows for a higher rate of protein synthesis. Protein is essential for muscular hypertrophy, but that is not the sole factor. Insulin growth like factor 1 and human growth hormone play roles in muscular hypertrophy other than just sex hormones. Aerobic capacity differs due to the fact men have larger lungs and hearts. Women would run slower due to the shape of their pelvis and the difference in the rate tissues are oxygenated. The difference in hemoglobin between men and women is also a factor in physical fitness. What this means is that there will probably be more men in combat jobs, even though more are open to women. Women’s numbers may continue to remain smaller. Lowering standards is not a solution. It means women will have to train to meet the physical fitness standards. If the average woman has lower physical fitness capacity, that means she will have to train harder to reach a particular level compared to a man.

These men and women shown are fit, but the average American does not exercise as much as they do. 

Women would have to train before attempting basic training to prevent injury. Women’s injury rates are higher due to the influence of sexual dimorphism. Relevant to obesity women are at higher risk and would find it more difficult to lose weight. Women have higher fat percentages due to estrogen and progesterone. Despite these differences weight training can increase a woman’s strength. During World War II only 50% of young men were qualified to join. Today even with the expanding roles of women in the service it has dropped to 23%. The number may also be a dramatic shift due to the fact it includes people without a high school diploma and a criminal record. It seems that allowing women in combat is a wise decision if the recruitment selection becomes low. While physical fitness is important, a woman or a man does not have to be Rambo or GI Jane to become a soldier.

The mental aspect is also a pivotal element. Then there is translation onto the battlefield. Collaboration and coordination are keys to a successful fighting unit. This means each soldier pulls their own weight and fulfills obligations as needed. There is also the factor of leadership and tactics. Soldiers even though some armies have the benefit of modern technology still need to be in an optimum health condition .This does not mean just being fit and strong will win wars. There were many powerful nations, states, and empires that should have won conflicts, because their armies were strong. Germany by examining its military strength could have won World War II. The United States from the strength of its army should have won Vietnam. The Roman Empire did not fall because of military defeat, but due to internal corruption and a series of weak emperors. The barbarian invasions were just another small nail in the imperial coffin.The US could have a military of the strongest men and women ever, but that does not guarantee victory.

Just being strong and fit does not produce a high quality soldier. It takes the acquisition of numerous skills in combat and survival to do so.  Maria Anderson is a major general  and  matched against Kristy Hawkins , kristy would not be prepared because she does not have military training.  

It is an exaggeration to say America’s lack of physical fitness is a national security risk . The US military will have to get recruits to enjoy physical activity and learn to control eating habits. There is also another factor that should be considered. If there were to be a draft of women they would need an extensive physical training program. The average woman’s upper body strength is lower and doing exercises that target those muscle groups is essential. The obese and overweight would have to go through a weight management program to meet before going into basic training. Drafting women would have challenges simply because of differences in physiology. It would most likely take longer to get the unfit into shape. Although it would be longer, there would be more soldiers at the end of the process.

The average woman would struggle to meet physical demands. The female athlete would not have such problems. If women had programs specifically designed to increase their physical fitness levels this would reduce complications of a draft of women. 

The portion of  people eligible for the selective service may decrease unless a new policy is implemented. The US military should employ personal trainers who task is for focusing on soldier fitness and health. Educating recruits about diet and exercise may help reduce  the amount of injuries. The task will be difficult. Physically demanding occupations do have an attrition rate for employees. Age and strain will eventually take its toll on the body. That is why it is preferred to get younger recruits between the ages of 18 to 49. As seen from higher performing athletes men and women reach their physical peak in their 30s. Training can reduce age related decline to an extent. Understanding fitness can prevent permanent or short term injuries in basic training.

        A improvement in the American public’s health must start at an early age. This includes putting an emphasis on physical education, healthy diet, and a new attitude in regards to exercise and physical activity. Many may be turned off at the thought of physical activity, because a sedentary lifestyle is all they know. The first step involves improving physical education. Children will start to develop their attitudes in regards to exercise first in a PE class. Making PE fun and amusing will get children moving as well as developing a positive attitude in relation to physical activity. Doing this would make the children who become adults maintain health, if these habits are reinforced.

Mark Herling a retired three star general stated that “recruiting challenges are going to get tougher for the military.” 

Making a gym class an unpleasant atmosphere will influence children for life. They will associate exercise and physical activity with something negative. There also needs to be another issue addressed with physical education. Girls are not encouraged to exercise as much as boys. Even at a young age their standards are lower. At this point there are very little physiological differences prior to puberty, so having lower standards in terms of physical activity makes no sense. The sexist notions about women’s physical capabilities still remain present in physical educator’s minds. This can impact women worse. If women have lower bone density and rarely do anything to build it they risk higher rates of osteoporosis. Simultaneously, there remains a cultural bias in terms of women’s roles. The backward notion that women developing strength and physical skill is unfeminine must be discarded. Exercise, sports, and fitness are viewed as a male only pursuit. While this has gradually changed with more women involved in sports and the passage of Title IX  there is more to be done. Besides obvious bias and discrimination, women will have to change their attitude as well. There are some women who shun any form of physical activity. They do this even with simple tasks such as opening a jar or shoveling snow. The idea that there will be a man there to do something for you will not always be the case. Women should learn to embrace exercise and develop physical competence. A dramatic shift has to be made in terms of attitudes toward exercise. This must be done, because it appears that American society is beginning to see obesity and be overweight as normal. The strange element is that fat acceptance has evolved into a movement. The reason this probably emerged is because of the weight loss industry presenting another unhealthy image of  extra thin body type.

 Body size is not the sole factor in determining health, but carrying excess weight can cause health problems. The skeleton will suffer extra strain combined with a circulatory system vulnerable to heart disease. Depending on the individual’s diet, there could be a risk of diabetes. Fat acceptance may not be the best for health. When living in a country of abundance it is simple to over indulge. Food, smoking, and alcohol are commonly over consumed. People must learn restraint and self-control to solve weight issues. There is a psychological element to changing habits. It must be done with the encouragement of friends, family,doctors, or fitness professionals. Shaming or scolding a person will only result in failure; positive reinforcement and motivation will be a pathway to success. There should also be a revision of goals. The sole purpose should not be only loss of weight, but rather improving physical fitness capacity as well as maintaining an active lifestyle. Clients may go on diets lose weight, then regain it. They may become discouraged attempt multiple times or simply quit. The only way improvement in health can remain permanent is that behaviors and lifestyle changes are persistent.

    Rather than just losing weight one should seek to improve overall physical fitness.

The most difficult part of this is maintaining a healthy diet. The nation is filled with fast food restaurants and supermarkets filled with junk food. To say that it is entirely  an individuals fault for weight related problems is not true. Healthy food such as fruits and vegetables cost more compared to junk food. The high obesity rates in the South could reflect the dire economic situation of that region of the USA.  Poor families would not be able to afford healthier food. The combination of poor diet and limited access to healthcare or reasonably price insurance means life expectancy could decrease.

If affordable healthcare is under attack and could be dismantled it will have devastating consequences on public health in the future. 

If obesity and weight related illness becomes so immense the government will have to act. The conservatives and far-right Republicans claim to be pro-military, but rarely do anything to address this issue or veteran’s needs. The only solution to a population that is less fit is to encourage exercise. This will have to be done at the state and federal level. Building better sidewalks to encourage walking is a start. The construction of recreation centers and parks may also encourage physical activity. The UK has experimented with putting taxes on drinks high in sugar. Office buildings are adopting standing desks. The data gathered from this study was accumulated between the years of 2010 to 2013 and  ever since there has not been any major change to policy.  It was reported in 2005 each soldier lost to attrition cost the government up to $31,000. If ignored expenses will only increase. The wider population may become a financial burden with mass decline in health.  The Department of Health and Human Services should take this matter seriously. Only a public policy based solution and address the rapid decline of health and fitness.

Physically Fit Recruits Are Hard To Find

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fitness standards for special operations in the US military 

ability-chart

An example of Police Department fitness standards 

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

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

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

The Kettlebell

A kettlebell is a type a type of weight that is either cast iron or cast steel. It has the appearance of a spherical object with a handle on top.  This type of weight can be used for ballistic exercise and combines other types of training. The use of the kettlebell can incorporate strength, cardiovascular, as well as flexibility training. The kettlebell differs in structure as well. It contains a handle, two horns, and a window. The window is what the user’s hand will go in to lift it. The body of the structure is called the bell. The bottom of it is referred to as the base. Thought to be an invention of the 19th century its origins date back much further. Today, it once more has become a fitness tool that has generated interest again. Kettlebell lifting is even a sport that distinguishes itself from regular weightlifting.

          There are different versions of kettlebells  and the way  it developed in other nations took a different path. This was a widely used strength training tool. The kettlebell was just called by a different name in various countries. The common name was stone padlock or ring handled weight. There are documented cases of athletes of the Highland Games in Scotland  and Shaolin monks in China using them.

The use of the kettlebell may have ancient roots. Jan Todd historian and former powerlifter has stated that the use of objects similar to this type of weight date back to classical Greece. The 5th century B.C.E saw the development of various forms of weights and the haltere had handles indicating it was a prototypical version of the kettlebell. While there were other versions appearing around other world civilizations, this reveals much about the nature of innovation. Ideas are formulated, the prototypes are built, and later they are perfected upon. Ideas and inventions can take decades or even centuries to develop. There are cases in which technology can be lost and would have to be rediscovered.

 The haltere looks different from the modern kettelbell 

The haltere also demonstrates that ancient civilizations had at least a basic understanding of exercise physiology. Although they did not have the benefit of modern science, they were using the pure science technique of observation. They realized that using some form of resistance training increased strength. There could also be versions of  handle based weights that are not known about. The problem is that information about it is lost overtime or there is no interest in academic investigation of the subject.

       Russia is traditionally the home of kettlebell sport and its modern incarnation. The kettlebell was referred to in Russia as giro and girya. The word appeared in dictionaries there as early as 1704.  The word itself  originates from a Persian word gerani and the  ancient slavic  word gur . Translated gerani  means difficult. The word gur means bubble. Russian farmers used these objects as a counterweight to measure out grain at markets. Russia at the time was still an agrarian society, so such a device was critical. Farmers looking for some form of entertainment began doing feats of strength with giros. This began to gain popularity in farm festivals. It was not until the 19th century that kettlebells were then introduced into sports medicine. A Russian doctor, Vladislav Krayevsky popularized its use. Being the czar’s personal physician he influenced him to make the use of Kettlebells a part of  training in the Russian army.

Kettlebells were used in various parts of the Russian Empire. It was not only in Russia, that this type of weight was found. Germany also developed its own kettlebells. Gradually it became an object that was iconic of strongman routines and the emerging physical culture. The Kettlebell is not something that is purely an invention of one state or continent. There are multiple versions, depending on the time period and place. Women were also a part of the new physical culture of the period earlier than thought. Elsie Serafin Luftmann was a strongwoman who toured all over central Europe performing various feats of strength. She was known to juggle cannon balls, to much amusement to her audience. There is a lithograph dated from 1830 depicting her training featuring a kettlebell. There are depictions of kettlebells that also appear in German physical training manuals and documents. What is known about Elsie was from a German speaking region of Bohemia. Germany had a large history of physical culture and bodybuilding related sports.

Elsie Luftman as she appears on a 19th century lithograph demonstrates her strength feats. It appears as if the fitness woman is not a new phenomenon.  

The problem in trying to decipher this information was that the kettlebell was called different names. Freidrich Ludwig Jahn  who was considered one of the major developers of gymnastics was also a harbinger in kettlebell training. He created the Turner System of Gymnastics, which would later evolve into exercise programs that are used today. Many crossfit athletes still use these methods and they are the foundation of  physical education programs. There is a possibility  that   Vladislav Krayevsky  met German trainer Theodore Siebert in 1898 when visiting Vienna. The ideas he learned of he brought back to the Russian Empire. This is only speculation and requires more research, but it is clear that this device of fitness was spreading. When European strongmen and strongwomen came to the United States, they brought kettlebells with them. They opened gyms and Americans got exposure to kettlebell training. Oddly they would disappear in American gyms in the 1940s and 1950s. Kettlbells were still popular in Russia, becoming an official sport in 1948.

           Russia began to recognize kettlebell events  as an important sport. The reason the use of this type of weight disappeared in the US may be because the fitness fadism died down. Fitness is no stranger to fads that are popular and then dissipate overtime. The Soviet government at the time used the kettlebell events as a way to promote national unity and socialist values. It was considered the sport of the working class, because it did not require expensive equipment or vast training sites. There was still however a lack of standardization among the sport. Different rules and training styles were used and it was not until 1985 that rules and standards became uniform.

Kettlebell contests at their most basic form would have the long jerk and the biathlon. The long jerk was is a clean and jerk done with two weights. The biathlon includes snatches with a set of jerks. Kettlebells were a part of Soviet sports schools. These sport schools would produce high performing Olympic athletes through out the 20th century.

         Kettlebells would later reappear in the US, with the emphasis on fitness training. It never has to date caught on as a sport unto its self in America. Pavel Tsatsouline has been given credit for introducing the kettlebell as a tool for fitness. Beginning in 2001, Pavel continued to market the idea kettlebells could be used for fitness. since that year they have made their appearances in US gyms once more. Even with the immigration of Russian athletes to the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union, kettlebell as a sport has not become popular like MMA or American  football. The kettlebell shows how material culture can spread transform. What could have started in other lands made its way to Germany and then Russia. It made its way across the Atlantic remaining in America. The kettlebell was dormant, then reemerged. People who have been involved in fitness think this a passing trend, but this type of weight may have more benefits than previously thought. Kettlebells are not available in all gyms. Small boutique gyms and independent trainers provide instruction to individuals who show interest.

         There have been documented benefits from Kettlebell use. It can be used by all people of various ages, physical fitness levels, and genders. This may be an attempt to change the fitness industry away from focusing on an aesthetics and minor improvement in health to functional training. Advocates claim that it provides full body conditioning. This means the body can work all its movements together in a coordinated synergy. Theoretically it is working more muscle groups, so they may mean one could spend less time on workouts. It is dubious that using kettlebells reduces possible workout injuries. Doing exercise incorrectly or being careless can result in injury.

The higher the physical intensity level the higher the risk of injury. There is not a huge amount of data to prove that using kettlebells is any safer than other exercise equipment. There is also the claim that with kettlebells you can add strength without bulk. If it does involve some form of resistance training in its motion, then what its doing is similar to a regular weight. Breaking down the muscle and casing muscular hypertrophy. Muscular hypertrophy is not dependent on what type of weight you lift. Genetics, somatotype, diet, endocrinology, and specific training method are factors in the growth of muscle tissue. It is possible to add mass if you are using other methods of training with the kettlebell.

Women with mesomorphic body types could find themselves gaining mass with little effort no matter what the exercise. The American Council on Exercise reported that using kettelbells burned up to 1,200 calories and hour. This may seem like an immense amount, but can be achievable without a kettlebell. One aspect the kettlebell is excellent for is mobility and range of motion. An athlete requires a set of skilled and dexterous movements. The kettlebell allows for both anaerobic and aerobic workouts to be done simultaneously. Although it is unclear how effective the kettlebell is. there are enthusiasts who love to use it in fitness circles. Crossfit makes use of the kettlebell in its contests. Organizations such as the American Kettlebell Club, Art of Strength, International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation, including  Agatsu and Kettlebell Training Academy offer instruction and promotion of the kettlebell sport. The reason also kettlebells are becoming popular is that video streaming sites and social media have given them more exposure.

References

English , Nick. “Kettlebell History Goes Back Much Further Than Russia.” BarBend, Barbend, 22 Nov. 2016, barbend.com/kettlebell-history/.
Nicolas , Nicole. “The Iron Truth about Kettlebell Training.” SparkPeople, SparkPeople, 21 Oct. 2008, http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1222.
The Kettlebell

Neolithic Women Were Probably Stronger Than You

Popular Science

There seems to have been discovered a breakthrough in paeloanthropology. Rarely have women been studied from the Neolithic period, but this has now changed. When researchers from the University of Cambridge compared the bones of women living during  the first  5,500 years of farming they were stronger compared to modern day female athletes. This discovery changes what we know about female physical capabilities. It also reveals much about how environment can influence biology. These fossils from Central Europe are a fascinating look into the ancient past and the rise of civilization. This also has implication on human health. The modern day rower or soccer player if they had to compete with Neolithic women may have found themselves out matched. Although there is no preservation of muscle tissue, a large skeletal structure indicates that these women did no manual labor. Framing during the Neolithic Age required more manual labor. There was not the benefit of modern technologies such as tractors, plows, or cultivation based machines. This study will not only tell us more about the evolution of the female body, but also generate more interest in the study of  paleontology and anthropology.

            The study published in the journal of Advanced Sciences  compared the athletes and average non-athletes bone density to that of the Neolithic women.  These women living 7000 years ago clearly had impressive upper body strength. The study used rowers that do use much upper body strength and also did use soccer players to examine the lower body. Runners were also included.  However, it is curious to know if weightlifters would come closer to Neolithic strength. The study did not use this type of athlete, which may not compete the whole story of the physicality of Neolithic women.

The powerfully built arms of these women may have developed from repetitive motion in farming. Grinding grain was more laborious before the rise of the treadmill. This study was the first of its kind, because most research focused on the fossils of early man. This may alter the way in which the rise of civilization is described. It was often believed that men were the makers and movers of civilization, due to their greater strength which they used to maintain dominance. This is hypothesis is not correct due to the fact we clearly see that women were capable of manual labor and that dominance in society is not related to physical strength. The roots of inequality are based on the rise of property and the surplus it created. Hunter gatherers would be at a disadvantage compared to those with a permanent settlement.

Allison Mactintosh does reveal that just examining the bone is not a precise measure of strength. She is the author of the study, which and based on her background in archaeology she explains that there is a biological basis. Bone as known by anatomists is living tissue and supports the muscle that encases it. Physical activity and the type of workload done can alter the shape, thickness, and total density of the musculoskeletal system. This is not the same for men and women based on difference in the endocrine system. Testosterone allows for more bone density and differences in bone surfaces structure. The changes in male skeletons is more dramatic due to the influence of hormones. Testosterone causes bone to grow on the outer surface, while estrogen causes growth on the inner contour. Inner core density does not contribute much to musculoskeletal enforcement. What this means is that Neolithic women were probably not stronger than Neolithic  men. It seems sexual dimorphism was still acting on evolutionary history, but with minor adjustments.

There is not a linear relationship between workload  and bone damage as the study demonstrated, but there are problems when comparing bones. Comparing Neolithic women’s bones to a modern day male skeleton would not tell much about women’s strength or fitness capacities at the time. It would be interesting to see how different the results would be. It is described as comparing apples to oranges , however there could have been a level of variation among Neolithic women. There exists variation in individuals and this could have held true for the past. A possible conjecture is that the Neolithic woman would be stronger than the average modern man, but may not exceed the physical capacities of the highest performing  elite male athlete. To get a full assessment one would have to compare Neolithic men and women’s bones as well as modern day humans. The results were fascinating. Women living 7,400 to 7,000 years ago had arm bones 16% stronger than rowers. Women of the Bronze Age ( dated 4,300 to 4,500 years ago)  had only 10% more arm strength and 12% weaker in the legs. The Neolithic women would have been 30% stronger than your sedentary Cambridge student. There was a variety in terms of the tibial bone. Some of the Neolithic skeleton’s resembled that of modern day sedentary women.  This data shows that women did lose strength with the passage of time. This can be explained by technology, cultural shifts, and change in societal structure.

             The Neolithic Age was different from the high tech society of the 21st century. Women during this age had to grind grain by hand by means of pounding two stones together. This had to be done with a saddle quern. This process can take hours a day.

There still remain places in the world in which women do this, but in the Neolithic it was much more physically demanding. This was not the only activity that contributed to Neolithic woman’s physical strength. Women were known to milk cows, get water, and made hides and wool into clothing. These were not simple chores. Before the washing machine, dishwasher, or household appliances chores were vigorous workouts. This means women were doing more than just childcare. It was assumed that most of what women did during this period was either being pregnant or watching children. There duties extended beyond that as this new information reveals. Misleading conclusions were based on biases based on sexist prejudice. It would only make sense that women who have to have some strength too meant the demands of an environment that was rugged. The Neolithic Age or the new Stone Age saw the rise agriculture. Human societies went from hunters to food producers and this revolution happened in the Near East. Framing and animal domestication would become the foundation of emerging civilizations. It is believed that society at this point functioned through elementary families, extended families, and a much larger clan. Clans would then form a bigger tribe. Clans were identified by a totem, an animal or object that was revered. The Neolithic revolution spread to Egypt (4000 B.C.E), the Balkans ( 5000 B.C.E),  India ( 3000 B.C.E), Central Europe ( 4000 B.C.E) , and Britain (3000 B.C.E). African, Asian, and Mesoamerican civilization developed Neolithic culture independently. There is the possibility that labor divided by sex was not as rigid as thought. Evidence suggests that women were involved in the construction of dwellings and making tools even during the Paleolithic stage. The idea of “women’s work” and “men’s work” does not exist. Roles between men and women vary overtime and culture. Women doing physical tasks at this period was not seen as something gender inappropriate. There is a mystery on just how it was decided which sex would be assigned to a particular task.

 Neolithic society was very religious and based around animistic beliefs. What is known about Stone Age culture is based off the artifacts uncovered from Catal Huyuk (6500 to 5400 B.C.E)  in southern Turkey. This preserved village contains pottery, woven textiles, mud-brick houses, and plastered walls with murals as well as carved reliefs. Prehistoric art in caves and elsewhere gives archaeologists a record of the past. It can even be argued that Neolithic humankind  were the first historians. There remains speculation about the type of governance and social system that was used in the Neolithic. Some scholars believed that these societies were ruled by a council of elders. This did not mean women did not have any status. Catal Huyuk reveals that Neolithic societies did believe in a mother goddess. Uncovering more female fossils will add to the growing knowledge of women’s history.

        The condition of human health changed with the rise of farming and the end of hunter gatherer networks. The bone structure began to change. The bones became less rigid and straighter in comparison. This was confirmed in the study by means of  a computerized tomography scanner and 3D   laser imaging system. The arm bones and shin bones were scanned giving visuals of this gradual change in body. Looking at the twists and shape of the bone revealed how the muscle was placed on the body. There was more variation in strength among early prehistoric women compared to the modern day.  It is hypothesized that men split their time between hunting and farming.  Hunting required at least some running, which may explain why their was a change in men’s shin bones, while women’s did not change much. Evolutionary anatomy is now telling scientists much about the shift in health. Our bodies were designed for physical activity, which explains if we do not get enough our health suffers. The modern day health challenge comes from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This provides clarification for why more women as they age are vulnerable to osteoporosis. The musculoskeletal system needs exercise.

Women of this type of physicality are rare in modern society. However, there was probably more variation in the prehistoric past .

There also has to be consideration of nutritional changes throughout history. Alice Macintosh notes that eating less meat and replacing it with more grains and vegetables would have an effect on the body. Protein is essential for muscular hypertrophy. An active to sedentary system may have caused women’s bones to weaken overtime. Men were also effected by this change, but seeing as they had more bone and muscle mass it may not have been as dramatic. Another health consideration for Neolithic women was pregnancy and childbirth. Women were vulnerable to complications in the past due to child birth.

Changes in health and physical fitness can happen either rapidly or in this context millions and thousands of years. There are some indicators of health that modern humans out rank the Neolithic peoples on (Life expectancy was estimated to be at least 25-40 years in the prehistoric era ) . Life expectancy has increased. This will be trend that will continue globally, unless other factors do not stop it. Warfare and inadequate healthcare systems can dramatically reduce life expectancy. Access to clean drinking water and medical care are factors. There is a trade off with living longer, Age related illnesses such as dementia or  diseases related to the circulatory system become more common. Women on average live longer, so this has major implications for their health. The advancement of biomedical science has improved the quality of life for many. It must be remembered that it has roots in the ancient past. Before medicine became came the science that its is today there were the herbalist of the prehistoric times. Medicine could be as old as humankind itself. Medicine has its origins 50,000 years ago, when people began experiment with various plant life. The fossilized teeth of Neanderthals contains traces of herbs chomomile and yarrow. The conjecture is that these were some of the first medicines to treat various aliments. One can deduce the fact that humans are still vulnerable to disease and various aliments is that the human body was not evolved to be healthy. The sole function was to spread genes and reproduce offspring to have those genes propagate further in a biome. Environment, genetics, and technology can influence the condition of human health. Framing may not have improved the quality of human health as previously thought.

          Further research could put an end to the idea that certain jobs men are just biologically better designed for. One of the arguments of keeping women out of particular occupations is that they are too physically weak for ones that require strength. As the prehistoric past is being uncovered it is now understood that women were not living entirely docile lives. Ridged gender roles and strict divisions of labor were products of early civilization and ancient empires. Societies became more divided along pyramid hierarchy structures with the leadership and upper class at the top of the order. Women were excluded from the public sphere depending which civilization they lived in. Women who lived in Egyptian civilization had more rights relative to women in Greek civilization. Status varied,but got worse with the rise of monotheistic religion. The former mother goddesses were discarded in favor of one male God. This placed them in a subordinate role, which would later be overturned. Women had to struggle to equal access to education, employment, and basic rights. When women started to enter occupations that were mostly male dominated, pseudoscientific rhetoric was used as a justification for excluding them. While women have proven themselves in the military, law enforcement. firefighting, and construction misogyny still remains. women as we have seen in the past did not shun manual labor. They were deliberately excluded from it because some men did not want to compete with more people for jobs.The argument was that women were taking away jobs that men needed. The problem is not that there are more women or people entering the workforce. The issue is that capitalism and the economic structure it created is naturally unstable. What started with farming in prehistoric times lead to property, then a barter system, and from there actual currency. Resources will always flow more to the ruling class, while the majority get the least amount. The division of labor is not biologically based; it is a display of a male dominated structure that was born out of the industrial revolution. Women were thus regulated to a domestic sphere unable to take part in public affairs of the industrialized nations. Women’s subordination or physical weakness is not their natural state. This came about through cultural and sociological shifts in various societies. Women had various roles in history. It is just up until now it was not given much academic investigation. Women of the prehistoric world are a new mystery. They could have been laborers working for other tribes or fulfilling more duties or responsibilities of the wider community. Just like today women are active in numerous occupations, but if civilization were to collapse it would be difficult to know what they did. The artifacts uncovered only tell part of much expansive stories. Archaeologists, paleo anthropologists, evolutionary anatomists and historians are now embarking on a journey to understand woman’s prehistoric past.

Neolithic Women Were Probably Stronger Than You