ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

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

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

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

Sexual dimorphism effects physical fitness capacity.

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





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

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

Motor neurons

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

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

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


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

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


Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

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




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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

Lesa Lewis

Female bodybuilding does have athletes that may not win as many  contests, but they definitely are remembered fondly by fans. Lesa Lewis was such an athlete. Her competitive record was nine years in total. The unique part about Lisa Lewis is that to date, she was probably at the time from 1993 to 2002 the biggest female bodybuilder to ever  appear on stage. Lisa in her physical prime stood at a height of 5 ft 10in and weighed 193 lbs pounds in competition. Her off season weight was close to 215 lbs. Lisa Lewis was literally an amazon in both the height and strength sense. It does not seem so far fetched that she also worked in construction during her competitive career as an athlete. Lisa once said ” I love the competitive part [of the sport].” Lisa also stated ” I love looking in shape and being fit.” She also has expressed she enjoyed traveling around the country to contests and expos. Based in Kansas City, she was probably at the time the most famous female bodybuilder known to fans in the area. Born in 1967 she be came a professional at the age of 30. Lesa retired from competition in 2002 at the age of 35 and some believed that it was too early for a woman with such potential. It is a real shame she never won the Ms.Olympia title, but she demonstrated that a large physique could be balanced.

Her best wins include the 1993 Missouri State, 1994 Heart of Missouri, the 1995 Red River Classic, 1996 Lone Star Classic, and the 1996 NPC Junior Nationals. Her professional debut came in 1997 when she came in first place at the NPC USA Championship. There was a mishap in 1998. That year Lisa was disqualified in the IFBB Ms.International for testing positive for a banned diuretic. This was only a minor setback and she won the 1998  Jan Tana Classic. Lisa Lewis only was able to get a 4th place in the 1998 Ms.Olympia and a  5th place in the 1999 Ms.Olympia. It is shocking that she did not win at least one, but there may be a reason for this. The 1990s to early 2000s was a transition period in which female bodybuilding judging standards were changing. This period was the Lenda Murray and Kim Chizevsky period, so the competition was formidable. Lewis competing as a heavyweight was a dominating figure. Her arms measured 17 1/2 inches and a chest of 43 inches. Lesa consumed a total 7,000 calories to maintain such a body.

lesa Lewis78

There were times that Lesa had mixed feelings about her size. Sometimes she was shocked looking at past competitions at how large she became. She once said that in response to a question what she could change about bodybuilding was “don’t let the women get too manly.” This seems like a ludicrous statement, because muscles do not make women manly. Strength and power have been associated with men for so long many forget that women can be that as well. Lewis presented a physique and grace that was exceptional on stage. Lisa Lewis also made an appearance for the TLC documentary Bodybuilders in the year 2000.  During the interview Lesa’s mother and sister were interviewed.  They were not as supportive at first. Her mother admitted that she thought it was an activity that was more suited for men. Lesa’s sister thought it was weird. They became supportive, when they saw her perform and that changed their minds. Lesa’s mother revealed that Lesa was the tomboy growing up.

Lesa’s mother was her greatest role model. When Lesa was asked who was her favorite bodybuilder. she did not have one. She cited various athletes which body parts that she wanted to emulate on her own physique. She liked Lenda Murray’s shoulders. Lesa also liked the look of Puala Sukzi’s back and Vicki Gates’ biceps. Sue Price she proclaimed had impeccable vascularity and cuts. Lesa also cites Laura Creavalle and Kim Chizevsky  as excellent bodybuilders. Women can carry mass and make it look good. Staying in that kind of shape requires a strict diet. However, Lesa just like everyone else loved certain foods. Donuts were her favorite junk food. Turkey and salads were also some of her foods of choice.

lesa has stated that her legs and shoulders were her best body parts. However, it is hard to say that the overall physique she presented was not excellent. Her efforts created an impressive aesthetic of both size and symmetry.  This is difficult to master and present on a bodybuilding stage. Her observations of other competitors paid off. She also for her training incorporated walking and running into her fitness routine. Lesa would do this for at least 45 to 60 minutes. Other than working out, Lesa enjoys jazz music and movies. Normally, there are a section of fans who say the larger aesthetic is too much, but even detractors have to admit that Lesa Lewis was impressive. By the early 2000s  there was a move in the direction to a female bodybuilder with less mass. Lesa said in the Bodybuilders documentary that it was not a negative development, but the judges needed to give some time for the women to make adjustments. Lesa Lewis retired from the competitive stage in 2002 with nine years as a bodybuilder. It was an incredible number of years and ever since it seems Lesa has been away from the fitness industry. She was a talented IFBB pro.

Lesa Lewis

Varying Weight Training Intensity Increases Growth Hormone In Women

How Weight Training Increases Growth Hormone

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

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

Hormone function

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Varying Weight Training Intensity Increases Growth Hormone In Women

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Why Women Should Build Muscle

Mina Farook a weightlifter and athlete explains why women need to build muscle. This is not for the purpose of a fitness trend or sudden leisure activity, rather for the improvement and maintenance of women’s health. As more information is being uncovered by biology and health science, there are more techniques to combat chronic illness and other health risks. Women should be physically active to have a high quality of health. Women on average live longer than men. Having longevity also increases the risk of getting age related diseases such as dementia or heart disease. Taking the necessary steps to preserve health can reduce risk factors. Mina Farook hopes that women building muscle will be the next beauty trend. To a degree it has, with crossfit and women’s involvement in sport at a record high. Farook gives a basic explanation of strength training and proceeds to give the benefits it gives in terms of health. Strength training can improve not only muscle and bone health, but protect the body at a cellular level.

       The general definition of strength training as Farook explains involves using resistance to induce muscular contraction. This results in the building of strength, anaerobic endurance, and skeletal muscle. One misconception must be addressed. A persistent myth is that women’s bodies are not designed for strength and that such training is not for women. These ideas are false and based around the frailty myth. Women’s muscle cells are the same compared to men’s muscle cells. The difference is related to muscle fiber type, size, and endocrinology. Women could benefit more form strength training. Another myth is that women cannot not build muscle. This is incorrect as well. Muscular hypertrophy can be induced by weight training. Depending on diet and training method women can gain considerable size on relative to their skeletal frame.

Women’s bodies can respond to training stimuli. There has been a longtime stigma about women and exercise, which as been decreasing over the past decades. The old pseudoscientific convictions are being discredited about women’s physical abilities. Women can now enjoy the health and psychological benefits of physical activity. There is a possibility that strength training may be a good anti-aging technique. Besides the obvious health benefits there is also a paradigm shift that women go through in the fitness culture. Farook explains it best as “imagine a process of living that actually makes you super human.” She delineates further : “imagine a lifestyle that makes you better, stronger, and smarter and keeps on improving your personality.” As Farook articulated it is more than just working out to look a certain way rather, it is a transformation in mentality. Women just do not want to look strong they want to be stronger mentally and physically. There is a new found sense of self and confidence. This spreads to other areas of their lives.

There has been a new era of human history reached. Women are enjoying more power and living longer lives than ever before. There are still some areas, which women lag behind. There are nations in which gender disparities are wider. However, it is only a matter of time before these problems will be reduced. Reproductive rights and access to adequate healthcare are challenges facing women globally. There is a means of taking control of ones health. Women are becoming more active in sports and fitness. Strength training is no longer considered a male only activity. Women can lift weights, use kettle bells, and other exercise equipment.

It can be more than just a hobby or serious sports endeavor. There are enormous benefits that can improve and maintain health. Mina Farook only examined the benefits from the point of mitochondrial physiology, but it goes beyond that aspect. Keeping the skeletal, muscular, and circulatory systems healthy protects a person for chronic illnesses.

       Mitochondria are essential to life. These organelles must take carbohydrates and fatty acids then break them down for energy production. This allows fro the generation of adenosine triphospahte. Mitochondria also have the ability to synthesize proteins for their own use. They are involved in the transcription process of both DNA and RNA. Ribonucleic acid then does transcription for amino acids. Amino acids are the components of proteins.



ATP has to transport chemical energy to allow for metabolism. ATP cannot be stored so this requires consistent production within mitochondria. This explains why mitochondria can take up to 25 % cell volume. Mitochondria are so important to biological function cells certain cells can have as many as 2500. The average cell can use up to 10 billion ATP a day. An average adult would needs 3.0 × 1025 ATP to be functional. The typical athlete would be using more considering their activity level would be higher compared to an average person. The athlete requires more, because the higher activity level demands it.

This is no simple feat, seeing as ATP has to be recycled from ADP close to a 1000 times a day. There could be close to 250 g of ATP present in the cell. This correlates to to at least 4.25 watts. When calculated that means a person can produce up to an estimated total of 1200 watts. Health is important even at the cellular level. Cytology does not only reveal the world of  cells, it provides clues to the true nature of health and physiological function.

       The mitochondria are vulnerable to nutrient deficiency. Toxins and oxidative damage are also responsible for health decline. There are nutrients that are necessary for ATP production. These include   riboflavin , niacin, and CoQ10. Carnitine is required for fatty acid transport. These nutrients are part of the β-Oxidation of fats.


The citric cycle needs iron, magnesium, manganese, B1, B2, B3, lipotae, and  cysteine. ECT has other requirements. CoQ10 must transport high energy electrons. Magnesium assists in the final phase of ATP production. Riboflavin complex II and NADH also contribute. If there is a long term deficiency or disorder with mitochondria, this can lead to chronic illnesses. Such disorders with mitochondria have been linked to dementia, autism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Amytropic lateral sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome , and Alzheimer’s disease. Mitochondrial disorders have even been hypothesized to have links to migraines and early aging. It is possible that mitochondrial health can be the key to increased longevity. The body requires a certain level of exercise and a proper diet.

        Weight training has the the ability to increase ATP production and the amount of mitochondria in the human body. Damaged mitochondria can be replaced when new ones emerge from training. High intensity training has even been found to improve muscular and mitochondrial function in people with Parkinson’s disease. Such a discovery will revolutionize medicine and health science. While some people have this knowledge, many do not act on it.

Busy schedules and certain obligations may get in the way of consistently exercising. Then lifestyle choices can effect health. The prevalence of high fat and sugar saturated foods combined with limited physical activity has caused an increase in health problems. Another problem is related to medical practice. Over prescribing medicines has created a level of dependency. The increase of opioid use occurred under medical professionals, using it as a cost effective method for pain medication to patients. As a result, a large portion of American citizens got addicted. The philosophy about treatment must change. Patients should not be loaded up on multiple medications. The goal should be to have a little as possible and change health habits. If there is no change in habits a person could end up taking multiple medications which could induce more health problems as the result of side effects. While some aliments require medication, others can be controlled through exercise. High cholesterol can be dealt with through this method, depending on its severity. Weight training is a simple way to avoid certain age related health conditions.

         Bone health is critical more so for women. On average, women have lower bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bone mass is lost and does not produce enough to maintain a strong structure. Bones become weak and are susceptible to fracture. When women go through menopause, bone mass can decrease. If women have lower bone density then that means osteoporosis could be more severe for there bodies. While skeletal mass develops as a person goes from youth to adulthood, bone formation is higher. The problem is that this does not continue and the rate of bone formation and breakdown are now set at different rates. Lifting weights can also contribute to building bone mass.Women overtime could lose up to 35% of their bone mass. There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting osteoporosis. This includes having a thin body type, smoking, having a sedentary life style, a low calcium diet, high caffeine, and alcohol intake. Family history is also a factor including race. White and Asian women may have a higher risk of osteoporosis.


The total mass of calcium decreases with age. This is why it is recommended that  older women get at least 1,500 mg per day. Vitamin D is just as important as calcium. That is why low fat milk can be helpful,because it is Vitamin D fortified. Seeing as women have lower peak bone mass in terms of grams of calcium, it important to make load bearing exercises or simple jogging a part of a general health routine .

Having a healthy bone structure will allow an aging person to have more independence later in life. Senior citizens may not want to go to retirement communities or nursing homes. Some want to remain in their own homes, yet are not healthy enough to remain independent.

      Women report having better body image and improved self -esteem form weightlifting .  It also challenges gender stereotypes. For a longtime the female body has been associated with weakness or inferiority. Even though these ideas are falsehoods they persist. Body image conformity is constantly projected over media outlets. This causes in some women to have body image issues and it may result in psychological disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are more prevalent in women than in men. This could become a public health crisis if unchecked. Thankfully, there is change that has prevented such an event from happening. There has been the rise of a new body positive movement. It wants women who are larger to accept themselves and reject a single paradigm of beauty. This also needs to be extended to women with muscle. Even female athletes are criticized for being “too big.”


If women are becoming more powerful in other areas of life, why should they be denied the physical power of their body? There is no rational argument against women developing themselves physically. It may offend certain preferences or be repudiated by traditionalists, but there should be no reason they should be denied control of their bodies. There is the dated and conservative idea that women and muscles do not mix. Even the most liberal or people who consider themselves open minded either repudiate such a look or are apprehensive about it. It is time for society to realize that a woman is more than just her appearance. The double standards must be challenged. Strength is not a masculine or male only attribute. Women can be strong and they should not have to be vituperated for demonstrating it.

Women should also partake in the benefits of physical fitness. This is a dramatic statement and a very empowering one. Some third wave feminists use the term empowerment ad nauseum, but do not seem to put that into practice. Here women have taken that message literally and have made their bodies strong.  Besides this benefit of improved self-esteem and more positive body image to can go beyond just mere health improvement.

          Women are not physically safe in many societies around the world. Domestic violence, sexual assault, or physical abuse is directed at them.  There is the false idea that men are the protectors of women, when it is more likely they will be their abusers. Women have absorbed this idea thinking they need a man to feel safe and for protection. The harsh reality is that their partner could end up being their abuser. This is why women need self-defense and physical strength. Having such precautions can contribute to reducing the problem of violence against women.

Map3.1NEW_Womens_Physical_Security_2011_compressed Women must learn to take control of their own security. One problem with the # Me Too Movement is that it does not emphasize an offensive approach. While institutional and legal changes can combat rampant sexual harassment and assault, this may not be enough. Part of being proactive is that women must learn physical skills and build the strength to properly execute them. Doing this will deter violence as well as more strict laws.

Self defense is important for women.

Having at least some strength will help women combat violence directed at them. Violence against women is a major public  health crisis. There have been improvements in regards the rise of women’s shelters and rape crisis centers. However, these services are not evenly distributed throughout the world. There was a time in which the practice of wife beating was not considered a crime. Women in many societies were considered property and such violence was not considered criminal. There are still countries in the world that do not have domestic abuse laws. There are even some nations that want to reverse them. The Russian Federation decriminalized some domestic abuse laws. Women attempting to flee from violent abuse or protect themselves have a more difficult time in Russia. The push came from the Orthodox Church to change the laws. Normally, women are worse off in a traditionalist or religion based cultural atmosphere. Now more than ever is the time for women to understand they are responsible for their own protection. The legal system or government may not be there to provide protection against violence. Learning physical skills and building strength can ward off some of these attacks.

            There is also the problem of the growing rate of obesity. This is no longer confined to the developed nations, but is spreading to developing nations. The prevalence of fast food and high sugar based diets has caused weight problems across the world.Sedentary lifestyles and limited physical activity have also contributed to this development.   The United States and the United Kingdom may find themselves in a huge public health crisis if this is not addressed and if the healthcare systems are not functional. Combine with the fact that people will live longer and beyond the age of 65 this poses a financial and social problem. Relevant to women’s health, they would be more vulnerable to obesity due to their endocrine function. Naturally women have more body fat no matter what their physical fitness level is. Differences relative to metabolism are significant, because women burn less calories compared to men in a resting state. This would mean obesity could harm women more in comparison to men. If women have lower bone density, adding large amounts of weight to the skeletal frame could cause more severe joint issues. Obesity has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Being active has long term benefits. It can prevent such diseases and disorders that occur later in life. Women on average live longer than men, so it is a wise investment. Most importantly it will prevent possible strain on healthcare systems and improve the level of public health.

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Dr. Mark Griffiths – Pulling Muscles A Beginners Guide To Sthenolagnia

Dr. Mark Griffiths

Dr. Mark Griffiths is a psychologist and professor of behavioral addiction. He teaches Nottingham Trent University . Dr. Griffiths writes on his website providing information on psychology and topics related to addiction and the science of the mind. This article examines sthenolagnia from a perspective of psychology. Psychologists have in recent years taken an interest in human sexual behavior and fetishes. Sexology examines the scientific and biology basis for  intercourse, but psychology is fascinated by the motivation and behavior. Although Dr. Mark Griffiths’ writing is not elaborate it does provide a general outline. The definition is debated and can be easily confused with other terminology. The unique aspect of this post is that it is an actual psychologist providing analysis of a least know  sexual fetish. There is limited data or serious investigation in regards to sthenolagnia . The text is reliant on newspaper articles and a few psychology related manuals. This means the source of information is limited, only providing one perspective. The majority of the information would most likely be theoretical or at best speculative. There have been monographs that have attained interviews from men and women related to the bodybuilding and fitness culture. This may be a small sample, but it does give an insight into an unknown world.  Dr. Mark Griffith’s analysis may appear to be rudimentary, yet it is a work in progress. Presenting this behavior by  this way a reader who has no knowledge of it can gain some comprehension.

       Dr . Mark Griffiths first defines the sexual fetish using the definition by   Dr. Anil Aggrawal  Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. The text defines sthenolagnia as “  a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from displaying strength or muscles. ” The problem with this definition is that there is a difference between paraphilia and a sexual fetish. Paraphilia can be defined as “a condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities” or ” extreme sexual deviation.”  There still is a debate about what is normal sexual behavior. However, a disorder hinders function of daily life and health. A sexual fetish just induces arousal either based on an object or body part. Sthenolagnia would fit under the classification of sexual fetish.

Such a fetish is not classified as being overly extreme. Paraphilia and sexual fetish are mistakenly used in an interchangeable manner. That is why  Dr. Anil Aggrawal ‘s denotation is incorrect.There is also a difference between cratolagnia and  Sthenolagnia. Cratolagnia induces arousal from acts or feats of physical strength. A woman could have large muscles, but may not be as strong as a powerlifter or weightlifter. These two fetishes are related, yet differ in this regard. One puts emphasis on appearance and the other relates to what the body can physically do.

It is very possible that a person with such a fetish could have both. This is when the definitions become blurred. Some may say it is a debate of semantics or confusing jargon, but terms are designed to describe an object or concept in a certain manner.  The term sthenolagnia was coined by German psychologist and early sexologist pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld. Both men and women can have this fetish. It can hardly be considered an abnormal condition, yet such a view may indicate bias in regards to gender role scripts. While the general public would have no qualms about a woman being attracted to a strong man, this is not the case for strong women. The gender role script is that man is suppose to be powerful and the woman should be dainty. A man that finds a physically strong woman attractive is seen as bizarre, a predator, or sexual deviant. These are exaggerations, falsehoods, and a combination of stereotypes that have no basis in reality.  Many men who are lovers of female muscle come from various religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. This fetish can be found in people with different sexual orientations.

Maria Wattal
Maria Wattel stands at 182 cm. She has to be one of the tallest female bodybuilders.

The definition that Francesca Twinn  provides is not accurate in her book  The Miscellany of Sex. She defines it as ” the love of giant overpowering women.” That is a separate fetish known as macrophilia. This is arousal from people who are larger or taller compared to themselves. Strength and muscles are not the factor it is size. Yet, it puts emphasis on giants in fantasy related art or fan produced stories. Macrophilia could relate to the other fetishes, but its is it own entity. There may be individuals that have all three. There are also women who fit the description of being tall,muscular, and physically strong. Psychological terminology can be confusing. The female muscle fandom is a much larger culture that goes beyond a mere fetish. This is why The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices confuses it definition of  sthenolagnia. It states ” that is wrestling for erotic purposes.” Session wrestling and mixed wrestling are not always erotic. It does not always have to involve an athlete. Fantasy wrestling could involve any woman who has a basic knowledge of wrestling techniques and moves. This is a practice that may have people with particular fetishes, but it is another activity that requires more study. There is a habit of layman and academic alike to use definitions and connotations interchangeably. This is why wrestling itself must be separated from cratolagnia and   sthenolagnia. There is obvious overlap and relation between these terms and practices, but specifics account for variation.

         Session wrestling has been associated with the female bodybuilding culture. Women will charge clients to either wrestle or do muscle worship. Not all sessions are muscle worship. Others can be competitive wrestling in which both the woman and man seek to win a match. This is the least common due to the possibility the female athlete may hurt there less physically powerful client. Semi-competitive matches are when a the client puts up some resistance. Fantasy wrestling involves women of various skills and sizes just performing wrestling moves on a man who does not resist. Female athletes do session wrestling from all physique and bodybuilding divisions. Seeing as the sport does not get the same financial support than men, women had to figure out another business model to sponsor their activities.  Female athletes may prefer having just muscle worship sessions, because it involves less physical activity.

This is what a competitive match looks like. Both are trying to win. 

Session  wrestling can be exhausting for an athlete. Normally sessions could last an hour or sometimes longer. Some athletes could wrestling clients multiple times a day. The rates are high to cover the cost of travel  and other expenses. Sometimes athletes who do sessions are based in the area of  their residence and the client could come to them. There is the possibility of risk. Women are meeting with complete strangers. It is unknown what could happen. So far, as much as some know there have not been any major incidents with women doing sessions.

This is a semi-competitive match. The man is putting up some resistance, but not trying to win. 

The male and female wrestling  matches can be referred to in general as mixed wrestling. This is separate from muscle worship, but muscle worship can be a part of  session wrestling. Dr. Griffths states ”  although there is little in the way of academic research on the topic, many sthenolagnia devotees appear to be sexually aroused by an equalization (or reversal) of the stereotypical power relationship among heterosexual couples. ” This is a theme is writings and artworks, but women do not need to be physically strong to have a change in power dynamics. Access to education, employment, and freedom in the public sphere has altered the power relationship. The sexual revolution and women’s rights movement also change the why power dynamics function in relationships between men and women. Equal treatment and negotiation are expected. While preached, but not always practiced it is at least widely accepted. Some cultures believe that male authority should be absolute and women should submit to it. This seems dated and women are being more accepted in other areas of life. There can be women business owners , police, astronauts, and heads of state; people just cannot fathom a woman with physical power.

This seems to be the last area in which the public just needs to accept that women look different. It should also be accepted that all men are not attracted to the same paradigm of beauty. Sthenolgnia does not have subcategories. What Dr. Mark Giffiths is describing is a much larger subculture of female muscle fandom. While this encompasses people with various fetishes  it can be vary broad.

        The female muscle fandom is a fascinating phenomenon. It can be traced back to the 1970s in which female bodybuilding emerged. There had always been men who liked the muscular physique on women, but there was very few places one could go to see them. When women became active in the sport female muscle fans had a space to communicate and admire physically strong women. There are two factions of fans that are present in the female muscle fandom culture. There are fans who like any amount of muscle on women. This can range from the fitness of bikini competitor to the largest bodybuilder or female athlete of any sort. Schmoes like the most muscular women are just associated with the female bodybuilding subculture. They are the support base of the female building sport in which larger sports corporations have either ignored female athletes altogether. Though these zealous female bodybuilding fans are sometimes seen in a negative perspective, they contribute much financial aid to athletes. They buy tickets to contests, become members of athletes websites, and purchase mixed wrestling videos. Seeing as there remains a stigma about men liking physically powerful women, ,many men are not open about their love of female muscle. The internet provides at least some idea of possible numbers. There are multiple websites and social media related pages that feature muscular women and athletes. They generate huge amounts of traffic and it could be that many of these are men who are secret admirers. Publicly they will not admit such attraction to avoid ridicule, but they collect various materials. Other fans are open and honest about their love of female muscle. The subculture is both material and non-material. Photography has a large importance. Fans collect pictures of well known athletes  or muscular women in general.

The photography can range from competition pictures, artistic based images, candid non-professional shots, and the more borderline  lascivious pictures. Women are also contributing to this aspect of female muscle photography by adding such images to their websites and social media platforms.  The collection of photographs is not just a hobby for some. It acts as historical documentation. Women who are like this are rare in number. The collector wants to get a large amount as a personal archive. Videos are also a part of the material culture. Competitions are not just the only videos female muscle fans watch. Some videos are just the women performing posing or simply doing a workout session. The age of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter also provides exclusive content of athletes in their journey to competition. The most popular videos involve mixed wrestling. Some female muscle fans rather watch mixed wrestling than being an active participant. This is an option for someone who cannot afford or is unwilling to pay for session wrestling. Video purchases  from websites are  much cheaper in comparison to having an actual session. Sometimes it is not a question of money. Observers rather not risk getting harmed by a woman twice their strength level. The non-material aspect of the female muscle fandom is related to forums and debates over aesthetics. Fans constantly discuss their favorite athletes and what the image of the muscular woman means to them. This discussion expands into a wider fitness culture that has become global.

The reason is that the internet has made communication much more simple. People can see websites all over the world. Women are slowly realizing the fun and joy of fitness culture. This is an important paradigm that is often ignored by academic investigation and commentators. These athletes have produced an image that has never been this wide spread in human history. Women are not just becoming socially and politically powerful there is a small movement for empowerment of the body. There are those who are opposed to this, but a portion of men have embrace the idea of the physically strong woman. All female muscle fans are not female muscle worshipers. This is only a small section of men ( or women) who like the idea of a muscular body.

        The arts are also part of the female muscle fandom. Art which can either be drawings, paintings, or computer generated imagery are done by fans. The muscular woman as subject does not seem out of place in this regard. Art had in the Western tradition  presented the male body in a muscular model. The female body was presented in a more voluptuous and soft paradigm. This has roots in Greek and Roman civilization and was revived during the Italian Renaissance. The difference with the female developing her body for physique sports is that they combine those two paradigms of the body. This can be seen in the art of female muscle fans. They often call a woman’s body a work of art, because it is referencing classical sculpture of the past. Female muscle growth is the common theme in the artworks produced, but not always. Some could be simple portraits or cartoon renditions. The art may depict an actual person or be fan art in which a female character has a muscular physique. Morphs and photo manipulations  have over the decades become more popular. This involves the use of Photoshop manipulating picture to make it appear as if women have large muscles, who do not in reality.

Muscular women are depicted in cartoons, comics, and other entertainment media. It is no surprise that female muscle fans would produce artwork in response to this. Superheroes are a popular subject, because they are depicted as muscular in comics. The depictions of physically strong women can range from certain tropes like the amazonian beauty or the brawn hilda. Such portrayals can be either negative or positive in mainstream media and entertainment others may just be neutral. Writing is also a part of the female muscle fandom. Stories either involve the muscular woman as the protagonist or the antagonist. These writing can either be erotic in content or simple adventure. Seeing it easier to put material on the internet, writings can be on multiple websites. Such writing would not be found in a bookstore. However, with e-commerce writers can make kindle based stories that users can buy. There have been instances were female muscle growth stories have been found for sale on

These writings being on expose FMG to a wider audience. Although it does not have a mainstream audience, the following could be possibly growing. The amazing part about this development is that such women inspire creative works in this small circle. There are accusations that such works are pornographic. While there is the erotic element present, the question is what would be the line? The majority of such works would barely even count as softcore material. Human sexuality and behavior has become a major source of interest to psychologists . Although this may seem like a mere preference there may be a reason for it.

          There is a reason for why men and women engage in muscle worship or have a fetish for muscular strength. Dr. Mark Griffiths extracted one explanation from an article : ” The psychology of muscle worship is not fully understood. The practice developed from envy, jealousy, or profound appreciation for excellent muscularity. It is a relatively modern social activity that began to gain popularity with the rise of competitive bodybuilding. When the worshiper is of a less-muscular stature, the aspects of envy or jealousy are more pronounced. Typically, profound appreciation for the achievement of exceptional muscularity and stroking of the muscle god’s ego remain the primary motivations, particularly when muscle worship is done between two or more accomplished bodybuilders in a session.” It is difficult to place jealousy or envy in this assessment mainly becasue these are attributes that are found in detractors. Some men are threatened by women’s power in any sense whether it is physical, mental, or social. Jealousy comes from feeling that a individual is not deserving of the same things that other people have. There are men who believe that women do not deserve the same rights or treatment and get extremely offended when women enter a predominately male sphere of influence. Such men would not be seeking women of great strength. Appreciation seems to be the more logical answer.

Appreciation comes from admiration of the diligence and effort it takes to achieve such athletic feats.

   Besides sexual attraction these women fascinate female muscle fans mainly due to their athletic prowess.  Prior to their bodybuilding activities these women were involved in other sports. This gives them a good structural base to build size. The flaw in the examination of this fetish is that women are not focused on enough. It has been assumed that men have more fetishes compared to women, but this may not be accurate. Female sexuality has not been examined to the full extent compared to male sexual behavior. The rise of modern sexology reversed this and one of its pioneers was Alfred Kinsey. During the 1940s his research also gathered data from women on their sexual practices in the United States. It was once believed that women did not have sexual urges or sexuality. This falsehood was developed to control female sexual behavior. The Sexual Revolution challenged the more conservative perspectives about human sexuality and behavior as well as the traditional gender role scripts. How this relates to sexuality is that men and women have a psychological motivation for sexual activity and expression .  Psychology also has an interest in studying motivation from the most basic which included hunger, thirst, and sex to the more complex social behaviors. The women who do this may enjoy throwing men around and get some thrill from it. Women can also have various fetishes and their could be for the session wrestler the enjoyment of overpowering a man. Domination may be an arousal inducer for the strong woman. Nothing can be known for sure due to the fact women’s reasons and motivations are multiple. Many just see it as a way to finance an athletes expenses in competition, but there are other ways income can be generated.

There is more to this than just a source of funds required to compete. Women do get gratification out of this as well in some manner. The explanation of ego boost does seem credible. Women during this practice can gain  a high level of confidence from their strength training activities, but more esteem can be generated from fan attention. The image of submissive men is normally attached to the image of schmoe or female muscle fan. This is not always the case and they could experience an ego boost with such encounters with physically powerful women. There is a belief that a man who is with a powerful woman becomes stronger. While there are men who favor the aspect of being part of a power loss in this dynamic, there is a section that sees it as a demonstration of fortitude. The reasoning could be that it shows they can handle a very powerful woman. This gives the muscle worshiper a sense of  increased power. The infantilism association may not even be a part of this. This is another fetish altogether in which adults get aroused by form acting like an baby or infant. Muscle worship or mixed wrestling rarely involves this fetish. There may be a youthful play like element to mixed wrestling reminiscent to childhood. This mixed wrestling could be a way for adults to relive a carefree time in life of unrestricted play and fun before taking on the responsibilities of maturity. Whatever the reason it may be this could be more wide spread than previously thought.

There is a tendency to jump to conclusions about particular activity  that is little known. The reason there may be so little information is that people are not willing to be open or honest about their sexual practices.  Surveys are hindered by this, because they are dependent on whether or not participants give honest answers. Another large study on human sexuality was conducted in the 1990s known as the The Social Organization of  Sexuality: Practices in the United States. The survey give in the study was a project known as the National Health and Social Life Survey. The age range was between 18  and 59. The study revealed that more youth were sexually active. This marks a big cultural shift compared to Alfred Kinsey’s era. Sexual behavior is not entirely biological and can be both environmental as well as culturally based. Attitudes toward sex and fetishes vary among liberal or conservative cultures. There is a sociological dynamic that operates differently in societies that favor arranged marriage or support free love. Psychology holds that most people function on three major motives which include achievement, hunger, and sex.  Sex is a biological drive that can be influenced by learning. It is not homeostatic. There may be a possible unconscious process to it.  This could be the reason men and women are involved in muscle worship activity is due to the unconscious drive for sexual expression. Such theories are only speculation and without an experimental process it cannot be seen as a scientific fact.

            Body image is a subject of interest to psychology mainly due to the mental basis of eating disorders. Stress and depression can effect eating habits. Relevant to the topic of  sthenolagnia, it reveals the psychology about observers viewing it from the outside. There is a beauty standard that varies across cultures, but when a person does not fit that paradigm they are ostracized. Even the people who claim to be open to different ideas or people may have an unconscious bias. The muscular woman is seen with either unconscious bias or open hostility. This is also directed at supporters and admirers of such women. There would be no question of the men who liked the conventional or popular beauty standard. However, if one deviates then they accused of being eccentric or a person with a perversion. Society just needs to realize that there are different forms of beauty.

A common misconception is that female muscle fans only like one body type. Their predilections could be vast. Society is slowly catching up with a larger visibility of plus sized women in modeling and advertisements.  

Bias is an interesting topic in psychology. Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor evidence that  favors a particular perspective. Emotional bias describes making assessments based on feeling rather than on facts or evidence.  Both concepts could be applied to the examination of women of various body types. Muscular women would be subject to both biases if a serious study were to be conducted about the nature of such a fetish. There also is the problem of expectancy bias, which could effect a survey for psychological research.  Researchers can affect a study’s outcome by their own personal expectations. If a researcher has a personal bias against women who look different that would alter such experiments. The topic of body image continues to be a widely examined topic in the age of  prevalent mass media.

            Female muscle worship would not constitute being a phenomenon of abnormal psychology. The question of what is normal can be debated. There are attributes of mental disorders. Dr, Mark Griffiths main focus in psychology is addictive behavior. Gambling disorder Dr. Griffiths has written extensively about. The love of the physically strong woman or the sthenolagnia fetish would not be considered an addiction or a mental disorder. Mental disorder can classified in a spectrum. These include no disorder, mild disorder, moderate disorder, and severe disorder. The classification of mental disorders is imperfect and has in the past had a level of controversy. Homosexuality was once considered a mental disorder according to American Psychiatric Association. This was dropped from the DSM in 1973. Science is not a completely unbiased or objective pursuit. Based on the general classifications a mild disorder can display itself in difficulty in relationships or behavioral change. Moderate disorders can project themselves with inappropriate behaviors during a particular situation and more pronounced difficulty with other people. Severe mental disorders hinder function of daily life. These descriptions are vague so this only complicates what the true nature of mental disorder is. Addiction is a mental disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association addiction is “a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use.” It is possible that this could range between a moderate to severe mental disorder.  Sthenolagnia  would not be an addiction or a mental disorder. There is a possibility that an individual could become addicted. Addictions could range from work, to sex, or even gaming and internet use. Considering female muscle fandom is not as large as compared to gambling or gaming, there may not be a specific addiction to strong women.  Sthenolagnia is nothing more than a harmless fetish.

Dr. Mark Griffiths – Pulling Muscles A Beginners Guide To Sthenolagnia

100 Women : Thai Woman Fights Stigma To Become A Bodybuilder

100 Women : Thai Woman Bodybuilder

Penpraghai Tiangngok  was the subject of a BBC report in 2017. To fans of female bodybuilding this athlete is familiar and is known better as Fon in her video work as well as competition appearances . This was significant because women athletes, especially ones in subculture like sports do not get much coverage in mainstream outlets.  Female bodybuilders and muscular women in general are not presented positively by the mainstream press. This report is different and at times seems to laud her accomplishments. Tiangngok is the first Southeast Asian woman to compete in the Olympia, one of the most prestigious of all bodybuilding competitions. The report discusses the struggles Penpraghai  has being the one of  very few female bodybuilders living in Thailand. It is a cross section between sexism and subtle racism. Being a pioneer adds pressure when dispelling old stereotypes. The 100 women series spotlighted women making strides in various fields. The series wants to introduce readers to women who are inspirational and influential, while asking them questions related to the challenges women face in the 21st century. This could range from the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, disparity in education, or sexism in sports. Penpraghai Tiangngok  is the subject of  women in a sport not widely embraced by Thai society.

       Thailand is an Southeast Asian nation that for the past decades been in a state of political turbulence. Coups and political factionalism have been persistent problems including racism. Thailand has either been discriminatory to hill tribes or had xenophobic attitudes in regards to foreigners. Penpraghai  stated that some Thais do not speak to her when returning home assuming she is Filipino or Brazilian. Ethnocentrism has been a growing problem with Thailand. Colorism is also an issue in numerous Asian nations in which lighter skin color is preferred to darker skin.

Although being mistaken for another racial or ethnic group is not an act of racism, the behavior is an indication. Penpraghai  being treated differently demonstrates that there is an racial or foreigner related bias. There is much disunity among Asian nations with ethnic and political problems dividing them. Exposure to different types of people can challenge prejudicial attitudes. Penpraghi even states that ” when foreigners look at me they just go wow.” This could either be a voice of approval or possibly more prejudice based. Westerners may have the  racist stereotypes embedded in their minds  of weak and helpless Asian woman, dragon ladies, tiger mothers, model minorities, or china dolls. When people do not fit in either of these racially prejudiced categories  this creates a shock to the observer. Penpraghai Tiangngok’s rise or appearance should not be a shock. Asian women are becoming more involved in sports and fitness. Women becoming more involved in sports is a global phenomenon. Women from around the world are competing in various sports and have more visibility in the Olympics. This is a positive development which challenges some of the racist stereotypes that are common in media.

       The status of Thai women has been for the most part based on a traditionalist domestic family role. Thai women were raised to be either wives or mothers in the past and their legal status was not equal to men. Polygamy was practiced in Thailand and women did not have many educational opportunities. The major change came with the revolution of 1932 in which the government was transformed into a constitutional monarchy. The new constitution gave women more rights and called for the end of polygamy. Plaek Phibunsongkhram the third prime minister of Thailand made it policy to raise the status of women. He served from 1938 to 1944 and again from 1948 to 1957. Since that period women’s status has improved, but there are still conservative attitudes. Women still are underrepresented in government. There are some advancements in the workplace. Knowing the history of sexist discrimination explains why Penpraghai Tiangngok’s statement ” they are surprised of how big I am and think I look transgender.” There are some Thais that cannot accept that women are no longer following traditional gender roles. Objections do not only come from men, but also other women. Penpraghai also explains “there weren’t many women lifting weights [at the time I started], but nowadays you have both men and women.” She delineates further : “In the past, female bodybuilders looked strange in the eyes of Thai women.” There is a double standard women no matter which country they are from face when becoming physically active.

There are some nations in which the stigma is worse. Although there objections in Western countries, there are very few statements saying women should not be allowed to do such an activity. Penpraghai  says that people in her home town of Pattaya  consider her to be a “freak” and claimed when she “goes to market , I get different looks.” Sadly many are not open minded about women looking different or not following the cultural status quo. Women are taking on new roles and Thailand. They are becoming involved in the workforce due to an expanding private sector and even entrepreneurs.  Penpraghai is also an owner of a gym and a personal trainer. Women being this independent was no possible 80 years ago. Thailand even had its first Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but was removed by a coup and court decision. Although her actions were legally questionable,  it is apparent that she will not be treated fairly in the current political climate. She is currently in exile and this was another demonstration of how transfers of power and political stability eludes Thailand. The women who are active in various sectors can be role models to young girls to make effective change.

What holds the nations back in the Global South is not allowing women to contribute to society both economically and in leadership roles. If a country wants to be competitive in the modern post-industrial  world, they must have women part of their workforce and in the public sphere. Women should enter fields and activities that are male dominated. Overtime, there may be at least some sex balance in such fields.  The most important part of this process is that attitudes must change. The idea that women only serve a domestic function must be discarded.

        The BBC report does not exclude the controversial subjects such as steroids, but did not mention others about the bodybuilding subculture . Acquiring steroids in Thailand is easier compared to other countries. The Thai press reported that Penpraghai Tiangngok had been arrested for selling steroids. She was contacted by a Thai police officer who asked her to bring them to a bus stop. Penpraghai Tiangngok was selling them and did say she was not authorized to do so. Bodybuilding gets a reputation for steroid use, but it can be found in various sports from baseball, soccer, and competitors in the Olympics. Penpraghai Tiangngok  told the BBC that drugs do not create champions : “many people ask me whether or not I use steroids.” She then continues ” I ask them why they don’t ask me how I train or how many hours I work out… I want others to know that using steroids doesn’t help you to get bigger.” Steroids may cause better recovery and some muscle gain, yet ultimately it is related to workout intensity, exercise regimen, and diet. The unfortunate part is some have such limited knowledge they automatically think that a person who is muscular must be using.  Drugs are a part of sports, but that does not mean every athlete is using them. Many fans do not even care what an athlete uses, yet there still is controversy. One controversy that the BBC report ignores is the practice of muscle worship. This is even bigger than the topic of performance enhancing drugs.

MW-61-4 MW-61-P1a Bodybuilders, physique athletes, figure and fitness models have been known to do sessions. This was not mentioned by the BBC report probably because it is the more secretive element of the female bodybuilding subculture.To an extent it was unknown to mainstream media, but has gotten more exposure with the rise of the internet as a popular entertainment medium. The public can be exposed to different people and cultures by a mere click of a button. A search on Google shows that there are more men into female muscle than previously thought. The exact number is not certain, but it may be increasing due to visibility over social media platforms and websites.

The muscular woman has become something that is in popular demand at least on the internet. Numerous athletes have their own websites and do photo shoots for others. This may get criticism from the more conservative elements of society. While a muscular female body can generate controversy, there is also the debate about the nature of these photographs and video materials. Some make the claim that fitness is becoming borderline pornographic. Such claims are spurious. Female athletes posing for photos is no different from models posing for ads or appearing on television. Whether it is film, TV, or other mediums from time to time sexuality does appear or at least a particular innuendo is implied. Women should not be criticized for posing or being in videos. Bodybuilding is a sport in which the body is assessed for certain criteria related to aesthetics.   Penpraghai Tiangngok  is a representative for Thailand in the bodybuilding sports. Sometimes having the image present can inspire other women to follow a certain path. It is important that women of other nations have a presence in various activities to encourage wider participation. Thai women are already making progress in business and education. Penpraghai Tiangngok ‘s rise in the sport’s ranks just proves Thai women can advance, doubtless of wider societal bias.

100 Women : Thai Woman Fights Stigma To Become A Bodybuilder