Do Female Athletes Have To Train Harder To Reach a Particular Physical Fitness Level ?

It is common knowledge that the body of the female athlete differs biologically and physiologically from male athletes. This has implications on training and athletic performance. Women have certain obstacles they have to overcome to achieve a particular physical fitness level depending on which sport they play. Due to differences in body composition, cardiovascular fitness, endocrinology, and bone density women have to work harder in terms of training. The assumption is sports are too rigorous for the female body to withstand. This is not true scientifically. While performance levels are not as high as a male athlete on the same regimen, relative to their starting point women can achieve immense physical fitness gains. The common misconception is that women train more and show little from it. At the cellular level, there is no difference between male and female muscle and bone tissue. Histology has proven this, but myths about the physical limitations of women’s bodies still remain. The only difference is women will have to train harder to reach their peak physical fitness level.

       The reason it becomes harder for women to reach a physical fitness target for athletic performance is related to puberty. Prior to puberty body composition and skeletal structure is not that different for women. Estrogen and progesterone are produced at higher levels resulting in more body fat rather than muscle mass. Girls see their growth spurt at ages 10 to 11. Girls by age 18 have reached their full height, while boys finish growing by age 20. Women do not gain the strength spurt that comes from androgens in males. Total muscle mass and bone density are lower, which means this has implications for training. When the pelvis widens this also effects women’s running speed. As girls mature into women, they may find they cannot run as fast before. However, once the body has done maturing it is possible to reach higher running speeds. Female athletes have to beware of the triad, which can effect health if one over trains. Although it seems puberty increases men’s physical fitness peak, there are advantages to higher body fat levels. Fat can be useful in long distance swimming allowing for more bouncy . When the this stage of the human life cycle is over, the female body will be rounder and smaller.

       Muscular strength is essential to athletic performance. A novice female athlete will have to incorporate weight training into her regimen to gain strength. Women have lower levels of natural strength to begin with, which means it will take longer to reach a particular goal. One would assume that women do not respond to training stimuli, but that is far from the truth. Seeing as the muscular system is the same for women and men, muscle fibers will respond to exercise resulting in muscular hypertrophy. The difference is in extent and initial starting point. Women start off with less muscular strength, but relative to their size they can make significant progress. Men’s absolute strength is higher due to function of testosterone in the body and generally larger size. Women in particular will find it more difficult to build upper body strength rather than lower body strength. The reason is due to narrow shoulders, which means less area to house muscle on the upper body. Sports that require upper body strength, women have to train this area the hardest. Biceps, triceps, and the pectoralis major are areas the female athlete will find the most difficult to develop. Women have a harder time building muscle due to endocrinology. To achieve a certain level heavy lifting is required for a long period of time  and  supplements. Women with mesomorphic body types are at an advantage in building muscle. Women of endomorphic and ectomorphic body types will struggle. This does not mean they cannot increase their physical fitness level. Depending on the sport there are certain types of muscle fibers that are more helpful. Type II muscle fibers are great for sports that require explosive power. Weightlifting and rugby would be great examples. Sports like marathon running type I muscle fibers are more helpful in maintaining the necessary endurance.

There is not a perfect system of training, but there are different methods that can be used. Isotonic training requires both free weights or machines. Doing concentric and eccentric muscle contractions happen during this type of training. Isokentic training involves overloading muscle at various points during a range of motion. The resistance can change on the force exerted. During the process the speed of contraction is controlled. This can either be done at slow or rapid pace. Women’s muscles due respond to training. Overload can cause micro trauma in the muscle and make it rebuild stronger. Metabolism differs for women,but more muscle will burn fat. However, even the most muscular woman still retains a higher body fat percentage. Women can build muscle, it just will be more of a challenge. The training sessions have to be consistent.

When the muscles are not trained they atrophy. This means women who do training irregularly would lose more of their gains strength due to physiological differences. At minimum, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends two sessions a week including 12 repetitions for each exercise. The number of repetitions can increase for a particular exercise, but it is suggested not to work the same muscle group two days in a row. If there is no struggle in lifting, then the muscle is not being challenged. The muscle must be gradually worked up to higher load volumes to increase strength. Women’s muscular potential and training effort  thus depends on several factors. Genetic endowment,  training methods, substances used ( supplements or performance enhancing drugs), and total time in training sessions. Women’s muscles can become stronger, but amount and  body composition are a factor in total strength.

          Cardiovascular fitness is also another challenge in regards to training. Women have smaller hearts and lungs, which means they would have to work harder for total aerobic output. Oxygen is essential to aerobic energy. Muscle cells need oxygen for energy. The heart is a beating muscle and its strength contributes to the delivery oxygen to the muscle tissues. Cardiac output is the product of both heart rate and stroke volume. Stroke volume shows the amount of blood pumped per beat. Oxygen transport can be modified through aerobic conditioning. A training regimen must focus on frequency, duration, intensity, and mode of exercise.

 

There is a difference is VO2max in regards to women. The female athlete must take into consideration certain factors. Body composition effects the VO2max  due to the fact body fat is not active metabolically. This causes more energy to be spent in the total body reserve. Hemoglobin levels are 10% lower in women runners. This protein is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs directly to muscle tissue. This means training frequency and intensity is essential to improving aerobic performance. Women through proper training stimulus could at least a 25% increase in VO2max. Women athletes may have to train at least six times a week to see a difference in aerobic levels. Training more than recommended will not produce better results. This comes down to the level of intensity during training sessions. Intensity describes how hard an athlete exercises. Exercise duration should range from 15 to 60 minutes. It appears in races women may be better at pacing themselves in the longer term. This could men men and women fatigue differently. A study released in 2015 discovered something about women’s fatigue during marathon races. When examining marathon paces women slowed down 11.5 % compared to men’s 15.6 %. The men tended to take rapid pace, while women adjusted to a slower pace causing slower fatigue. The problem is most research on athletic performance has been done on men and there are still discoveries to be made to see how to best train the female athlete.

         Generally athletic training requires the enhancement of  the muscular, cardiovascular, the skeletal system,  and nervous system. Movement requires the nerve cells to produce impulses for locomotion. The body using all these organ systems is out putting energy. Power out put is critical when performing a physically demanding task. This strength and cardiovascular reserve women have to use more of. The difference in javelin throwing is 30% according to Olympic records. Yet the 100 meter sprint is only a 10% difference. This demonstrates in which areas women have to use more of their physical power reserve. The upper body including the shoulders and neck have less muscle. So women would have to work harder to provide the necessary force in that area of the body.

Running would require less of the force output, because this area is only effected by the shape of the pelvis. This also reduces running speed besides differences in VO2max. What this means is that women would have to train their upper body more for sports such as tennis, golf, cricket, boxing, or weightlifting. Maximum physical force is needed to complete the athletic task. Having a reserve of energy, prevents exhaustion and fatigue. Women would have to use more of their physical potential to complete an athletic task. A woman running a 100 metres in 11 seconds would have to use 100 percent of her potential. To hit a gold ball a female golfer would have to use 90% of her maximum force compared to 60% of a male golfer. Given the same task in terms of athletic objective, women must utilize more force.

This means women have to use more energy to produce close results of a male athlete. The gap in physical fitness levels narrows in athletic populations, however sports performance of women does not match exactly that of men. There can be overlap, but is very small given the total aggregate. The physiological, biological, and anatomical differences explain why the athletic performance gap may not be closed. Yet, it could be in the future narrowed if there are not social or cultural barriers preventing women from gaining access to training facilities. Further study is needed to fully explore how to increase women’s athletic performance.

         Training stimuli has a different effect on the male and female body. The response differs sue to the function of the endocrine system. Men produce more testosterone from the testes and the leydig cells present in that organ of the reproductive system. A female athlete can acquire muscle and strength, but will still maintain a higher body fat percentage. One should not assume that men’s muscles are better, its just more present relative to body composition.

This difference also explains the difference in sports injuries. Women athletes have higher injury rates in the knees and shoulder areas. Less muscle and skeletal mass in the upper body makes it more vulnerable. Anterior cruciate ligament tears are common in female athletes. Looser joints may enhance flexibility, but make them susceptible to tears. The more demanding the athletic competition and higher physical demand the higher likelihood of injury for women. That is why weight training and general strength conditioning should be part of any female athlete’s training program. It is essential that bone and muscle mass be built to help with sustaining various forces and impacts from athletic competition. Tendons and ligaments are also strengthened through a weight training regime. Besides these sex specific considerations, female athletes have the same challenges as their male counter parts such as exercise associated hyponatremia, career ending injuries, and keeping motivated under stress.

        Women athletes have to train harder to reach peak physical fitness. Sexual dimorphism effects the physiological function of the body of a woman, which has implications of athletic potential. This does not mean the female body is biologically inferior, but different. As seen by the impressive women who have competed in various sports both internationally and in their native nation-states their bodies are far from frail. While some myths still persist, science has proven them incorrect. For many years it was thought that women were too physically weak to handle the demands of athletic competition. Now it is known that women can benefit from exercise and sports competition. Relative to women’s initial physical fitness starting point, they have more to gain. Physical activity benefits women in terms of bone and circulatory system health. Women may have to work harder, but the rewards are still just a plentiful. When the peak physical fitness level is reached an athlete has to focus on developing skill. When beginning competition certain factors must be taken into consideration. Training regimens should not only be designed in regards to sex specific differences, but tailored to an individual’s unique physiology.

 

References

Gurthie, Sharon. Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Long Beach,

CA : Human Kinetics, 1994 .

Netto, Kevin. “Should Women Athletes Earn the Same as Men? The Science Says They Work as Hard.” The Conversation, The Conversation , 9 Aug. 2017, theconversation.com/should-women-athletes-earn-the-same-as-men-the-science-says-they-work-as-hard-57210.

Netto , Kevin. “Female Athletes Work Harder than Men, and Science Can Prove It.” SBS.com, The Conversation , 1 Aug. 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/zela/article/2016/08/01/female-athletes-work-harder-men-and-science-can-prove-it.

Do Female Athletes Have To Train Harder To Reach a Particular Physical Fitness Level ?

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

In The Future Women Will Be Amazons

This article written Matt Novak explores an newspaper released published in 1950. The name of it was “How Experts Think We Will Live in the Year 2000 A.D.”  and it makes predictions based on thoughts from the editors. Futurology and future studies became popular in the 20th century due to rapid technological and sociological change. When the Associated Press ran this piece, two World Wars had happened, cars, airplanes were in use and computers were gradually developing into what they are today. Futurism and futurology more specifically attempts to postulate possible outcomes , perspectives  or futures. It these academic fields are more related to the social sciences. What this branch of study seeks to do is understand why the world changes and the probability of change. To the futurologist there is a pattern in past and present. This method however has its limits. The problem with prediction is that it almost becomes the equivalent to a person reading tarot cards. Some cases these prediction about human society can be completely wrong. There was a time in which humanity was excited about the future. There was an idea that technology, progress,  and the elimination of conflict would create societal utopia. Some believed that by the 21st century humanity would have mastered interstellar travel and cured most diseases. This has not happened. While humankind has reached the moon, there are still the some sociological problems plaguing the world. There has been some advancement in terms of human rights, public health, and the availability of education. War, poverty, and racism threaten human advancement. When discussing the state of women there is a fluctuation. Dorothy Roe one of the editors of the article, described what the typical woman would be like in the year 2000. Her prediction about women entering the world of business and government has occurred. Roe states that the average woman will be six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, and have muscles like a truck driver.” It is now the year 2017 and the average woman does not have the muscles of truck driver or is above six feet tall. There are obviously stronger and faster women athletes who fit this description. Her futurist prediction was partly off, yet not entirely wrong. Examining this futurist prediction from a sociological, anatomical, biological, and physiological method could have provided a more precise picture.

      Women have been in some instances in a  subordinate role through out human history. This however was not always the case. Before the rise of long lasting human civilization hunter gatherer societies in some respects were more equal. The rise of agriculture, land ownership, and property created the inequality that is present in modern society. Men had access to more property and land. Simultaneously, women were denied education, equal rights, or full employment. This did not mean women simply accepted oppression. Before feminism, there were female leaders, scientists, and mover’s of history. The tragic element was that historians did not think enough of women to include their narratives. Thankfully, women’s history seeks to reverse this mistake. Historical figures such as Hatshetpsut, Nzinga, Queen Elizabeth I, and Joan of Arc are notable women who had risen to prominence in male dominated societies.

The news piece states the amazon of the future “may even be president.” The way in which that though was expressed made it seem as if a female leader was a new concept. The futurist prediction only examines that world through an American perspective. Other countries have female leaders, but at that time it was far less. Now it has increased across the world. Some female leaders have left their mark on history for good or bad, but have shown they have mastered the art of politics. The United States has not yet elected a female president, despite its rhetoric of supporting women’s rights. Although Hillary Clinton lost, it encouraged more women to run for political office. Women have even been leaders in countries, which do not value them as citizens or protect their rights. Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi  governed nations in which had an ultraconservative view of women’s roles. Benazir  Bhutto was the first female leader of a majority Muslim nation, while Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. The US still lags behind compared with the UK which has had two Prime Ministers to date which included Margaret Thatcher and currently Theresa May. The irony is that their policies are not in alignment with women’s rights or causes. Ellen Sirlef  of Liberia and Tsai Ing Wen of Taiwan represent a new female leader of the 21st century. They vary in political ideology, do not refer to themselves as feminists, and are tactical.

One cannot not say women are not capable politicians. Largely a culture of misogyny has kept women out of politics. There have been biological explanations for why men have domination of society. These theories normally just are designed to justify sexist convictions. History disproves this, because women have been involved in science, politics, warfare, and the building of civilization. The gender gap is still present even when women make progress. The world of business and finance is a place where women have reached a glass ceiling. Discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment are the sociological reasons why women may not advance in certain fields. Even under these unfavorable conditions women are present in occupations that were thought to be male only. Law enforcement, firefighting, the military, construction,  and sports are physically demanding occupations. Due to differences in physiological and fitness capacity women would remain small in number in these occupations. However, despite such obstacles women have become part of these professions. While sociological factors are relevant, biological factors cannot be ignored entirely.

If a society has less technology a majority of jobs would be manual labor based. This could theoretically exclude many women, beside the obvious prejudice. The rise of the industrial revolution saw the replacement of brawn power with machine power. This should have benefited women the most, but cultural mores and gender roles prevented it. Women were regulated to the domestic sphere excluded from public life and participation in it. The working classes had women in menial occupations, with even less independence. Women’s status and roles have fluctuated through out history. There were periods in which they had some freedom and as time passed society degenerated. Ancient Egyptian civilization allowed women to own property and have some legal rights to it. They were not burdened by male guardianship and navigate freely, which Greek historian Herodotus called unnatural. As monotheistic religion emerged, women’s status was then lowered. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam demanded that women have a subordinate role in their religious texts and belief system. Women were regulated to property and not people. The rise of the suffrage movement in the 19th century evolved in the feminist movement of the 20th century. Women then gradually regained their status as free people, while facing  backlash to change. The sudden change in women’s status is part of a consistent pattern in human history. There may come a time in which women create large corporations and companies of their own. Society and civilization is never static it is always evolving.

        The article predicts that the average woman in the year 2000 will have proportions that are perfect though amazonian, because “science will have perfected a  balanced  ration of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency and a minimum of fat. ” Dorthy Roe then says “she will compete in all types of sports- probably compete with men athletes in football, baseball, wrestling  and prize fighting.” There is no denying that women in sports and athletics have become very strong, but competing with men on average seems to be inaccurate.

Women now compete in most sports, however there are no organized teams for baseball. Women have teams for softball, but there remains work to be done in some areas. Women do have organized football teams, yet they do not have the coverage comparative to the NFL. The strength sports thought to be out of women’s physiological capabilities, are active in. Mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, weightlifting, track and field are areas in which women are showing their talents. Women’s participation in sport has increased, yet mixed competition has not occurred. The reason is anatomical. There exists an athletic performance gap between the sexes due to anatomical factors. Men on average have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Generally men grow taller than women. While the muscular and skeletal cells are the same their structure changes athletic outcomes. Denser bones and larger muscle fibers mean males would have more absolute strength. The smaller hearts and lungs of women mean that their aerobic capacity would be lower. The major organ systems that contribute to athletic performance include the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, the nervous system, endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal  system. Movement is not just dependent on muscle, but the impulses of the nervous system. The hormones produced by the endocrine system do influence athletic performance. Testosterone allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. Women with lighter bones and smaller muscle mass in comparison means they are more susceptible to injury the more intense the physical competition. There is a point in which absolute strength levels are equal. Prior to puberty boys and girls do not differ in physical strength. Girls may experience thier growth spurt earlier compared to boys. When gondadotropin releasing hormone is produced by the pituitary gland it then signals the production of lutienizing  and follicle producing hormone. Thus begins the production of sex hormones and growth hormone. Estrogen makes the female body retain more fat. Even the most muscular woman and the thinnest woman still retain a higher fat percentage compared to a man of a similar physical fitness level.

Tendons and ligaments are also contributors to body strength. Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training, but their looser joints make them more flexible. This means women would dominate gymnastics and figure skating even if their was mixed competition. A wider pelvis and lower aerobic capacity means that women would struggle to keep up with male speeds. Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men, but are relative closer in strength in that area. However, despite these differences, women can still acquire physical strength through training. Genetics do play a role giving women of a mesomorphic body type more of an advantage. The average woman has not morphed into an amazon quite yet, but there is a group that could fall into Roe’s description. While nutrition has improved, there is the problem of abundance. Foods high in sugar, fats, and high fructose corn syrup have created a problem with obesity and weight related diseases. Women are particularly effected more by this, considering it is more of a challenge for them to lose weight. The modern age has produce a very sedentary lifestyle, with limited physical activity. As a result heart disease, diabetes, and weight management issues have increased. This has not only happened in the United States, but is spreading across the globe. A low vegetable, fruit, and protein diet can result in poor health. It seems if this is not addressed the average woman and man will look similar to blobs. This can be reversed through diet, exercise, and honest nutrition labeling. Roe’s other prediction seems to have realized the effectiveness of supplements for athletes. Women can benefit as much as men from the use of vitamins and supplements. This has become a lucrative industry and has greatly benefited athletes and the general public. Recent investigations into the importance of vitamin D and it is now believed it is essential to muscular and skeletal function.

The women who are involved in athletic competition, not only have to focus on training but maintain a strict diet. This requires a good knowledge base of of nutrition. From the early 20th century to present exercise physiologists have figured out the role of nutrition in athletic performance. Understanding that women’s metabolism functions differently has led to the structuring of  more efficient training programs. Women still must eat to feed growing muscle,but is should be understood that more of that food could be metabolized into fat. That is why activity level should be adjusted to compensate for the endocrinological function. Even though women have proven to be great athletes, male performances levels are still higher. This extends beyond anatomy, but to biology.

          The difference in physical fitness capacity is rooted in biology, through human evolution. Sexual dimorphism is the reason why on average men are stronger. Most primates demonstrate a degree of sexual dimorphism. These are attributes that are secondary sex characteristics, which exclude the reproductive system. During the course of human evolution the size and strength difference may have been a natural selection tool. Male authralopiths most likely fought each other for access to mates. Larger size and strength would have given an edge to the hominin who wanted to spread his genes. The females did not have to fight, so therefore it was easier to just pick a victor in a struggle. While it is hard to test this theory, it can be seen in mating strategies of modern primates. Gorillas function with a male who heads a harem of females. When another gorilla challenges him he will fight to maintain dominance. So, over time the strength and size genes continued to be propagated in the primates species. A changes in environment can influence evolution. When our early ancestors got access to more protein based diets, endocranial  volume increased. Between six and two million years ago brain size increased. Around 17,000 years ago homo sapiens became the only survivor on the evolutionary tree. Evolution was not a linear progression, but a series of branches that came from divergence.

human-evolution-family-tree-with-skulls-graphic-hero

Humanity occupies the homo branch, with the other species becoming extinct. Relevant to the future woman is it possible that given the right conditions that average woman can become stronger? Evolution has the power to change the body structure of organisms so it would seem like a possibility. During the process of human evolution the body went from being heavily built to adapt to colder climates ( 400,000 years ago) to a lighter body ( 50,000 to 20,000 years ago ). Internally the intestines became shorter to accommodate an omnivorous diet. Assuming what is known about human evolution is correct, theoretically it could take millions of years for women to change their physiology. This certainly could not be witness in our current lifetime. Still with a sudden change it will also effect men as well. The article predicted that women’s height would increase. If women changed it would men could see an increase in height as well due to the genetic attributes of sexual dimorphism.

If men already have the genetic trait for more  height, it is likely it would not disappear because natural selection has favored it. Only when it is no longer favored will it disappear. It should also be understood  many elements of a species can be adaptable. There are women who are stronger than men and taller. They are not the average, but have inherited traits that have been passed down generations. The reason that certain species survive is that they have a variation in genetic information, can acclimate to various environments, and pass on genes through offspring to ensure survival. The phrase “survival of the fittest ” is not a correct description. By all standards homo neanderthalensis should have survived based on the fact it was physically stronger. They survived a colder climate. but died out after 30,000 years ago. They could not adapt to the changing environment. Homo sapiens did mainly due to their increased reasoning skills. Nature favored brains over brawn and humanity began to spread through out the Earth, except Antarctica. Sexual dimorphism continues to be a physical trait that proves human evolution. Humanity and other organisms continue to evolve depending on the condition of their environment. Humanity has acquire such a vast knowledge of science it will be possible to manipulate our own biology. This could be done through genetic engineering, surgery, and technology itself.

            There are physiological difference that exist that products of sexual dimorphism. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Muscular contraction is essential for movement or any athletic performance. Muscular endurance describes how long the muscular contraction can last. Men  and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Women may have more, because they fatigue slower. When comparing men and women of a similar size men would still have more upper body strength. When the size is held constant it is estimated that women could be at least 80% as strong. The remaining percentage points account for the upper body disparity.  Cardiovascular physiology  plays a role in oxygen transport. During exercise oxygen is transported to the muscles to form adenosine triphosphate. This then provides energy for muscular contraction. Hemoglobin housed within red blood cells has to transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body. Larger lungs and hearts contribute to men’s 50% greater aerobic power. Women however may have an easier time converting glycogen into energy, which aids in endurance. Women’s higher fat levels are useful in long distance swimming and running, because it can aids in metabolism. Estrogen-B could also be responsible for fatigue resistance during muscular contraction in women. A combination of biological, anatomical, and physiological factors explain the gap in athletic performance. There can also be overlap, but this is explained by unique physiology of particular individuals.

Women's growth

Tall
Women have grown taller, but the average height is not six feet tall. 

Dorthy Roe’s prediction make the mistake of not taking into account particular factors. If this were to be average as she claimed it would mean that every woman would have to have the same nutrition and access to certain opportunities. Then genetics plays a role in the possible maximum physical potential. Then it also has to do with choice. How many women would actually want to achieve that level strength? The hilarious aspect of this prediction was the statement “muscles of a truck driver.” Driving a truck requires little physical strength. The job is mostly sedentary and therefore would not be the best for your health. Sitting too long for extended periods of time has been linked to heart related and weight issues. The question remains why are there not more women truck drivers? Again, discrimination is an obvious answer, but personal choice is another. Job seekers will only go to jobs that could benefit them the most economically. Companies may just not try to recruit women, even if they have positions opened. Despite this, there are women who are involved in trucking.

The only difference is that the truck has to be ergonomically designed to suit the female driver. All trucks have to in order to make the seat comfortable for the driver. Driving long periods of time in one particular position could cause back and neck issues. Part of the problem is that people still think their are men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the workforce. This dated concept not only harms women, but could be hindering economic growth. A functional economy must have a low unemployment rate to keep consumption up. Women must be part of the workforce to maintain economic stability. There are some occupations in which women’s numbers may still remain smaller relative to men’s due to differences in maximum physiological capacity. This does not mean there will not be any women in those positions. There are women who, even with the noted sex differences can outperform many men.

The female athlete will be in better shape or either just as strong or stronger than the average man depending on which training regimen is used. So, in this sense the prediction was only a part truth. A group of women have become stronger physically across the world who compete in both local and  international sports competition. The total number of women on Earth have not become physically stronger. Health has improved as indicated by women’s increased life expectancy . Women have the edge in terms of durational strength, living longer in most cases. The wonderful element about humanity is that it is diverse and can be flexible with its environments.

There can be strong women who are short. Tall women who are not the strongest or women of average build. The same can also be with men as well. The genetic variation protects the human species from genetically inherited diseases. That diversity helps, but has not completely eliminated such ailments. The article does not say that the average woman will become physiologically similar to a man, just that she will reach at higher fitness level. The implication that women will be able to compete en mass with men in mixed competition does not seem probable. However, there is a possibility that individual elite female athletes could beat an elite male athlete. There it would be presumptuous to say that it could never happen. It is just at the moment is not happening in the future Dorthy Roe predicted. A hypothesis should not be a mere prediction, but thoughtful estimation of probable outcomes.

Women still have to work harder to attain a high level of physical fitness. While their are women who have more natural strength than others, they are a unique exception. More training just enhances their physical potential. There is a new phenomenon. Women are now competing in sports at larger numbers compared to the past. Women’s involvement in sports dates back to the ancient world being documented in Greek and Egyptian civilization. There has never been a period in history to date in which women have embrace sports and physical fitness to this extent. Not only that, but women are seeking to build as much muscle and strength for their particular sports. While their is traditional backlash and divide in public opinion there is a portion of people who are embracing this change. The physiques that women display across various sports would be inconceivable  to many 200 years ago. Some women it seems have become the amazons of the future.

       It is clear that women have enter areas that sole were male domains. The change in women’s status is spreading not just in the West, but in the Global South. Status and progress in a society depends on the historical, sociological, and political situation. There is a possibility that civilization could collapse from mass global warfare, dramatic climate change, pandemics, or economic instability. Such events would mean the reversal of progress and even the end of humanity itself. When the fabric of society is unstable women and other marginalized groups suffer the most. Women could lose the little rights and opportunities they have if there were a change in political regime. Active organizing and vigilance can prevent such occurrences. A faction of futurist believe that in the coming years the world will become a better place. Like the utopian science fiction of the early 20th century, it seems out of reach. Both World Wars and the following Cold War proved that The Jetsons like future seems more imaginary. There is more advanced technology, but with it comes other problems. Roe’s predictions fall into the more utopia version of futurism. Her predictions would not seem so outrageous if she did not say that the average woman would be an amazon in terms of physique. As for height, women have not on average reached the six foot range. The tallest women in the world live in Latvia and the Netherlands. When Roe was writing this, she was only thinking about America.

Height chart

The US does not place in the current record of tallest men and women. This does not mean we do not have our own tall people. It should be no surprise that experts writing this in 1950 were off. They did not have a vast body of knowledge to base predictions on and human evolution was still though of as a linear progression rather than a series of branches coming from a root. The more precise assessment that could have been stated is that women of the future would greatly enhance their physical fitness capacity. Title IX was and continues to be an important law that allowed for many American women to become active in sports. Those women who first benefited from it went on to be top performing Olympic athletes and  the law still continues to make this possible. That is an example of how when barriers are removed  the numbers increased. Then another development happened that was not just in the US, but seems to be spreading around the world. Women who are enthusiastic about weightlifting are becoming serious competitors. It was not until the year 2000 that women’s weightlifting was added to the Olympic Games. Maybe the prediction of Roe’s amazons was not entirely incorrect.

Prior to women’s weightlifting, women had worked out with weights. This was mainly in bodybuilding, which had its origins in the 1970s. The early pioneers of women’s strength sports worked out with weight even when the gyms tried to prevent them from going to such sections and faced harsh ostracism. Now, it does not seem so abnormal to see even the average woman doing some weight training. Their intent may not be to be a professional athlete, but to simply maintain and control body weight. Women are no longer afraid to show physical strength or actual muscular development. Dorothy Roe may have predicted accurately what the average female athlete would be like. The average woman could vary between ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body structure. Height as well will vary as seen from sets of data. The conclusion would thus have to be modified. The average woman will be participating in various fields in the future. Improved health, physical activity, and nutrition will mean some women will reach physiological capacities greater than previously thought. Technology although helpful may cause adverse health effects that lead to a sedentary life style. The tendency for futurologists to be sensationalist leads to imprecise conclusions. To make precise assessments, one most take a rational method of analysis.

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

A General Introduction To The Muscular System

The muscular system is responsible for movement in collaboration with the nervous system to form impulses for motion. Muscles also contribute to internal functions of the human body which include motion in the intestines and circulatory system. Exercise of this organ system is critical to prevent wasting from age or the possibility of disease. Muscles are placed under the body’s skin sorted in overlapping layers on the skeletal system. All muscle is not the same and be placed into three different types. This includes smooth, skeletal, and cardiac muscle. The human body can contain up to a range of 640 to 650 voluntary muscles. Like other organ systems of the human body, it functions almost like a machine. Various parts and structures perform a role to produce an output.The human body is capable of complex movements due to various organ systems . The muscular system also serves an essential role in athletic performance.

         All muscle is not the same. There are three major muscle tissue types responsible for various functions. The muscles that are the most recognizable are the skeletal muscles. These are connected to bone and produce movement. These muscles can sometimes be referred to as voluntary muscles. Under the microscope they appear striated. Skeletal muscle contains multiple cell nuclei located around the periphery of the cell. Not all skeletal muscle is under voluntary control. The chest wall of the body is automatic to allow for breathing.

Skeletal muscle
Skeletal Muscle ( microscopic image)

Smooth muscle often referred to as non-voluntary is responsible for actions of the nervous system. An example of this would be the dilating and constriction of arteries or movement in the stomach. These actions require automatic response to assist other organ systems. The smooth muscle cells have spindle like shapes. Narrow at a point to both ends attaching to one nucleus in the cells center.

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Smooth Muscle (microscopic image)

Cardiac muscle is the most essential. The responsibility of this tissue is to transmit electric messages fast and in the most efficient manner. Heart muscle is designed to be branched out. The heart needs this type of muscle tissue to ensure it beats correctly. Cardiac muscle can have two or more nuclei at the center of each cell. This demonstrates that organ systems do not work in isolation, but in a coordinated effort.

Cardiac muscle

Muscle cells are the smallest units of the muscular system. Together they form part of the human body mass. Muscle can account for close to 50% of total body mass. This depends on the physical fitness level of the individual and the amount of fat that is also stored in the body. There is a difference in muscle mass between men and women. Men’s muscle fibers are slightly larger in size. Women have higher body fat levels which can range on average 11%, which is higher than men’s range. At the cellular level, there is no difference between male and female muscle.

      Muscles can have a superficial layer and others are deep with in the body. The names of muscles do correspond to their shape. The trapezius obviously takes its name from trapezoid. The muscle that rotates the shoulder blade has that distinct shape. The human body contains many muscles from the face down to the lower body.

Muscle anatomy

Muscular anatomy 2

Each muscle moves are particular part of the body. The muscles of the arm include the deltoid, biceps brachii, triceps, flexor carpi radialis, and barchiordalis. The biceps brachii flexes the forearm at the elbow and can pull the palm upward. The deltoid is capable of moving the away from the body to the front, side. or rear. The triceps have a medial head which covers the forearm at the elbow and can straighten it. There is also a long head of the triceps that allows for straightening of the the forearm. The brachialis brings the forearm to the shoulder. The arm when flexed at the elbow happens due to movement by the brachiordalis. When the hand is flexed at the wrist it is done by the flexor carpi  radialis.

The trunk of the body aids in the movement of the neck and other limbs branching out from the human body. The pectoralis major moves the shoulder blade. The internal intercostal pulls adjacent ribs together while the external intercostal elevates them. The scalenus has to maintain proper assistance in breathing and  the flexing of the neck. The rectus admoninius  flexes the spinal cord, while directing the pelvis forward. The linea  alba separates divides the abdominal muscles .The serratus anterior has to pull shoulder blades away from the spine. Despite its long name the sternocledomastoid only serves the function of tilting and moving parts of the neck.

There are also muscles of the back. It should be noted that while muscles are named in accordance with shape, sometimes names come from the bones they are connected with. The illocostalis runs from the one back muscle to the ribs reaching ilium. The tres major and minor contribute to lifting the arm and stabilizing the shoulder. The infraspinatus allows for rotation of the arm the stabilization of the shoulder joint. The supraspinatus can raise the arm when needed. The rhomboideus major and minor are designed to retract the shoulder blade and return it to a rest position. For the spine to be straightened it require the use of the erector spinae. This muscle is made of three other muscles, which include the spinalis, longissimus, and  illocostalis. The latissimus dorsi rotates arms and pulls shoulders back. It has the largest surface area of any muscle in the human body.  the obliques assist in breathing and abdominal wall stabilization. Internal obliques must focus on pressure inside the abdomen. Obliques both internal and external have the ability to flex and rotate the trunk.

Continuing further there are muscles of the lower body and legs. When humans became bipedal during the course of evolution, this was a major milestone. Humankind is the only primate species that can walk upright. The hamstring consists of three muscles which include the biceps femoris ( rotates the leg ), semitendinosus ( extends thigh, hip and flexes the knee), and semimembranosus (extends thigh, rotates leg and flexes the knee). The hips get stabilization from the quadratus femoris. The muscle also allows for rotation. The gluteus maximus has to straighten the hip by pulling the thighs back in the event of running, walking or jumping. The muscle is not alone in the locomotion process; the soleus has to flex the foot when walking happens. The gastrocnemius which is a calf muscle must contract to flex the ankle and pull the heel up. This is done when standing on a tip-toe position. There is a muscle that also gives the leg thrust when walking called the flexor hallucis longus. The toes and foot itself need control and that function falls on the flexor digitorum longus. The knee also has more assistance with movement with the popliteus. The adductor brevis  rotates thighs in toward the body, while the adductor longus draws into the body. Gracilis also flexes and rotates that leg as needed. There are also muscles in your face which aid in expressions you make. Whether it is a smile or grimace muscle once again work together.

The muscles of the face can be either attached to bone or connective tissues known as aponeuroses. The presence of this fibrous and sheet structured tissue means that facial muscles are connected to one another. The muscles of the head and neck interact to produce facial expressions, which can vary depending on emotional state. The facial muscles are controlled by a nerve known as cranial VII. If damage is inflicted on this nerve facial mobility would be lost, making it difficult to communicate. The structures such as the occipitofrontalis raise the eye brows and zygomaticus major pulls the corner of the mouth up and out. The sternohyoid depresses the larynx, while the platysma  lowers the mandible and covers the mouth. The muscles of the face and neck are critical for speech and even a function as simple as chewing. Facial muscles can fill the role as sphincters ( such as the orbicularis oculi  that allows your eyes to close). The function of sphincter is to open and close a particular orifice. Besides basic functions of eating, talking, or drinking the head must be balanced on the body. The average adult head weights about 5kg ( 11 lbs). Muscles of the neck , back and shoulders must act as a stabilizing force. They are active in a constant fashion tensing and contracting based on particular movements.

The rectus capitis posterior( minor and major) ,  oblique (inferior and superior) , levator scapulae, semispinalis captis and splenius captis are needed for balance of the head on the body. When moving the face and the neck it is hard to image such labor has to be put in to make a simple action possible. Chewing requires the force of the masseter muscle. Without it the mouth could not close the mandible when eating. This is only a general delineation of the structure of the muscular system. While the estimate of skeletal muscles is placed at 650, more could be classified as such. This depends on if a muscle is classified individually or part of a much larger skeletal muscle.

         Skeletal muscle tends to be the majority of the muscular system, when compared to cardiac and smooth muscle. Skeletal muscles have extra classification based on their unique shape. The two bellied parallel muscle contains two separate muscles separated by an intersection of sinew. Three headed parallel muscle is designed to attached to three different places. The quadrate muscle forma a flat four sided shape, which acts more like protective covering.  The straight muscles run parallel converging at a tendon point. Orbiculars are muscles that function like  sphincters and triangular muscles form a fan shape. The reason for this is to allow for the maximum force of contraction. These muscle also have a common site of attachment. Two headed parallel muscle splits at a point nearest to the body. Flat muscles serve mostly as a covering. The abdominal wall would be considered a flat muscle. Fusiform muscles have fibers that are positioned parallel to each other in the middle then meet to form a tendon at one or two ends. These muscles are responsible for moving the fingers, specifically the flexor pollicus longus. The last type of skeletal muscle is the pennate muscles. They contain strong muscle fibers, but fatigue quickly. They have a feather like appearance.

      The physiology of the muscular system is just as impressive as its numerous structures. The skeletal muscle is connected to tendons, which means they can only pull when contracting. During this process they shorten. Muscle in a controlled setting can achieve a threshold stimuli and can respond to the next stimulus without relaxing completely. Tetanus happens when full sustained contraction is achieved. The tetanic contraction happens when muscles are actively used. Even when there is no active motion muscles still exhibit tone. Muscle tone refers to fibers still contracting while at rest. if this did not happen during rest the body could collapse around the neck, trunk, and legs.

Muscle tone is the key to maintaining good posture. The muscle fibers are packed into bundles. The muscle fiber cell has various components. There is a plasma membrane known as the sarcolemma, which forms a transverse system. The T tubules move down into the cell making contact with the sarcoplasmic reticulum. There are storage sites present for calcium. The sarcoplasmic reticulum is home to thousands of myofibrilis which are contractile muscle fiber tissue. The myofibril has sarcomeres which are contractile units. The myofibrils are cylinder shaped and can be as long as the muscle fiber. On the tissue itself are striations, which are formed by the sarcomeres. When in a state of rest dark lines known as Z lines. What should be understood is that the muscle fiber functions on different protein filaments. Actin filaments slide past myosin, which induces contraction. Myosin pulls the actin through cross bridges including split ATP. The process can be described as the sliding filament model.

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Adenosine Triphosphate  (ATP)

The sarcomeres shortens causing the actin filaments to slide past the myosin filaments. The I band will shorten and the H zone disappears. This is how muscle contractions behaves. Like two people doing a short of tug of war, this shows how the filaments move. Besides ATP, myoglobin stores oxygen and phosphocreatine helps with energy needs. Phosphocreatine does not directly get involved in muscle contraction, but has the ability to anaerobically regenerate ATP.  This helps supply enough energy for muscular contraction. Once the phosphocreatine is depleted the mitochondria can produce enough ATP for muscular contraction to proceed. Another method for supplying energy is fermentation. This does not require oxygen, but can happen during strenuous exercise. ATP can only be supplied for a short period. Lactate then amasses and there will be fatigue. Lactate may not cause muscles to ache, but rather act as a protective measure to prevent harm to the muscle.

This explains why at some point when exercising intensely muscles will fatigue. Breathing patterns even change during long term intense exercise. The oxygen debt has to be restored. This means cells must return to their original energy state. The intake of oxygen must complete the metabolic process for lactate. The lactate must be transported to the liver, where it will be broken down into carbon dioxide and water ( 20% ) . There will be ATP gained from respiration, in which 80% of the lactate will be converted into glucose. People who consistently train ( athletes for example ) the number of mitochondria increases which decreases reliance on fermentation. As a result ATP is produced more efficiently and there is less of both lactate and oxygen debt.

        While there is very little difference in structure and function of the muscular system between the sexes, there is one aspect that effects athletic performance. Men have more type II muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers generate more power, but fatigue at a faster rate. They are not oxygen dependent. Women have more type I muscle fibers which are more resistant to fatigue and can contract for longer periods. The slow twitch fibers get their energy for contraction  from the break down fat from blood, muscle cells, and adipose tissue. This explains why women have more of these muscle fibers, because estrogen means women will have higher body fat percentages. Fat breakdown needs only oxygen and some glycogen . Fast twitch requires phosphocreatine and glycogen reserves in the muscle itself. Glucose remains stored in the blood and glycogen in the liver. Sex is not the only factor in muscle fiber composition. It can be based on either genetics or physical fitness training. Marathon runners would have more type I muscle fibers, compared to the type II weightlifters. The difference in physical strength is not just due to the size of the muscle fiber, but endocrinology. Men produce higher levels of testosterone which allows for a greater amount of muscular hypertrophy. This explains why a man and a woman who do the exact same training regimen, it is more likely the man will have more absolute strength.

It is not just the difference in size of the muscles or endocrinology. The difference in absolute strength comes also from the nervous system. Men’s nervous system signals faster when muscle contraction is occurring. The common misconception is that women would not benefit from weight lifting because they have smaller muscles. Women’s muscles still can experience hypertrophy. The difference appears to be mostly in quantity, rather than quality of the muscular structure. Then one must considered starting point. If men have lower body fat levels and more muscle mass to begin with their total strength would be higher. Women would gain more relative to their size, seeing as their natural strength levels are lower. People with mesomorphic body types will have a natural advantage when engaging in a train regimen. The female body is capable of developing strength. The muscular system is almost like a multilayered puppet with tendons and muscles working in collaboration. This organ system is pivotal to athletic performance and overall health.

 References

Mader, Sylvia. Biology. New York : McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Parker, Steve. The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing, 2013.

Brewer, Sarah. The Human Body: A Visual Guide to Anatomy. London: Quercus, 2012.

 

A General Introduction To The Muscular System

Will Women Out Run Men in the Future?

It was once predicted that women in track and field would reach or surpass men’s performance levels. These predictions were made in the early 1980s. The examination of Olympic records demonstrates a different outcome. Women’s Olympic records were stabilizing by 1983. After more drug testing it appeared women were reducing in speed. The use of performance enhancing drugs can not be the sole explanation for the increase in performance. Women at this time were still relative newcomers to international professional sport. Women were again gaining higher times by the 21st century, which sparked interest in possibilities of performance in female runners. While it is true women and increase their speed and strength, does this mean they will out sprint men in the future ? Some exercise physiologists have made predictions based on current data. There are claims that women will outrun men by 2156. Predictions can be wrong and many times unscientific. Stating it would never happen also causes some errors. To discover the answer to this question, it must be approached through methods of biology and physiology.

       There is a point in which athletic performance between men and women is equivalent. Boys and girls are at the same level of aerobic and strength capacity. The skeletons and bone structure has not been changed due to the effects of puberty. Puberty in terms of endocrinological changes works in the advantage of males. Men will gain a significant strength spurt, denser bones, larger lungs, and bigger hearts. The changes in women result in more body fat and the development of a wider pelvis. This means girls on a high school track team would see themselves getting slower. Girls who are on high school track and field teams normally seem to peak athletically as  freshmen and sophomores. This differs for various individuals. Average female runners may struggle more with the hormonal changes, than the more genetically advantaged. It has been noted that girls who have low body fat levels and exercise strenuously  may have delayed puberty. With gymnasts and sprinters this could result in a delayed growth spurt between the ages of 17 and 18. Training has to be adjusted to account for these changes. Weight training that concentrates on the hip areas can help prevent possible injuries. Weight management will have to be incorporated to account for the change in metabolism. Estrogen allows for more fat storage and extra weight does not contribute to increased acceleration.

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Despite these changes there are girls who attain higher speeds in adulthood and even go on to international competition. Although endocrinology explains the change in performance, it should not be forgotten that girls still face obstacles in sport. Title IX may not be enforced in certain school districts as it should. This would mean that girls would not have access to training facilities or even a team of their own. Other countries may keep women out of sport completely. Biology is not the sole factor, but environment. Women were only allowed to run in Olympic event starting in 1928. Men entry in running events in the modern Olympics began in 1900. During that time many argued women simply did not have the strength and stamina to run vigorously. This has since been disproved by exercise physiology. Still the influence of hormones on athletic performance cannot be underestimated.

       The legs of the human body allow for running to be possible. Men and women’s legs differ little  structure and anatomy. They contain the same bones and muscles. While men have more upper body strength, women are closer to men in the lower body. This does not mean women by default have stronger legs than men, rather it is easier for them to build strength in this region of the body. This does not mean women cannot build powerful legs through training. Type II muscle fibers would be best for sprinters who require short bursts of power. Type I muscle fibers are best suited for long distance runners. Men have larger muscle fibers, which means this would useful to the leg muscles. A runner uses a multitude of muscles when running.

 When moving the leg in the forward motion the quadriceps are utilized. This muscle is located at the front of the thigh and is responsible for straitening the knee, while bending the hips. The quadriceps also have the ability to absorb shock from impact as one lands on the ground. The hamstrings will straighten the hips and function to lift the knee behind you. Simultaneously, the soleus and gastrocnemius will flex and extend for each foot during launch and landings. The soleus and gastrocnemius contribute to absorbing shock, but also provide the stride in the rum. The gluteus maximus plays a role in running allowing for the stabilizing the trunk of the body. The hip  flexors and extendors collaborate with the quadriceps and hamstrings to keep the legs in motion.  Runners focus on building leg strength mainly to prevent injuries. When one muscle group is weak than the other this could to one over compensating and poor alignment. This could also result in repetitive motion injuries occurring in the knees, hips, and feet.

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plyometrics can be employed to improve performance. These exercises involve using jumping and bounding. These merely use hopping motions, while alternating legs to exercise deeper muscles of the legs. A muscle when exercised will increase in size. Muscular hypertrophy can occur in women through training, but men see a higher level of gains in total muscle mass. The reason is that higher testosterone levels allow for more protein synthesis. This results in a difference in absolute muscular strength between men and women. This even effects the legs.

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The muscles of the legs include the hamstrings, quadriceps, soleus, gluteus maximus, and gastrocnemius  which are essential for running.

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It is not just muscles that are responsible for strength, but the bones, ligaments, and tendons. The skeletal structure is critical when looking at running speeds. Technically, women can have larger leg muscles,but there are other reasons they may not attain the same speed levels.

        Women have lower bone mass compared to men. One factor that causes that explains women’s slower speeds is the structure of the pelvis. The female pelvis is different from that of men. It is wider for the purpose of childbirth. This also creates a level of risks in running . Women are more likely to have knee ligament injuries, due to a wider pelvis which forms a larger angle between the thigh and the shin bones. This means the knee will experience more pressure. The pelvis consists of the hip bones, sacrum as well as coccyx. It connects the lower limbs to the axial skeleton. The symphsis pubis, which is a disc structure of cartilage separates the left and right pubic bones. The main differences between the female pelvis is that it is lighter, more shallow, and the sacrum is much  shorter. Both ilium are less sloped, which means the anterior superior iliac spines are wider apart. The coccyx is more flexible in the female skeleton. The actual hip sockets are smaller and are directed more so to the front.

These differences do not seem to be advantages in terms of increasing running speed. If women’s pelvis’ were even wider they would not be able to walk. Men’s narrower pelvis contributes to faster speeds. Besides the actual pelvis, the bones of the legs are pivotal. The femur, tibia, and fibula are support structures for the muscles of the legs. The extra angling can make women more vulnerable to anterior cruciate ligament tears. Women just like men can also suffer from overuse of tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges. Women ‘s looser joints allow for more flexibility, but in running it could pose problems. Muscles and bones are pivotal to running. There is also the importance of aerobic capacity and its relation to the respiratory system.

      Aerobic capacity differs between men and women. The VO2max is the amount of oxygen that is used during exercise. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which means their total aerobic out put would be lower compared to a man of a larger size. The muscles need oxygen to have it form adinosine triphosphate. The larger the heart means more blood pumping through the body, while larger lungs can oxygenate tissues. Realizing these differences in both the heart and respiratory system means women would require a specific training program. Women’s ventricular hypertrophy may not increase as much as a man’s given duration and intensity. Women do have an advantage in terms of pacing. Men may be more susceptible to muscle glycogen depletion, which women’s fat reserves can contribute to endurance exercise. One would assume this means women, may not be able to run any faster. The conclusion would be to design training tailored to these specific physiological and anatomical differences.

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The human heart can pump up to 80ml of blood with each beat.
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The respiratory system consists of both upper and lower tracts. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that contracts and flattens. The reduction of pressure on the thoracic cavity allows the lungs to expand downward. This will force air out and the lungs go back to regular position.

The heart anatomically and physiologically is the same in men and women. The heart’s structure is that of a muscular pump which is divided by the septum. It is further divided by two pivotal chambers. The upper atrium is the first chamber followed by a lower ventricle in which the blood will be pumped. The Vo2max  capacity is reliant on several factors. The heart’s total capacity to pump blood is essential. The lungs ability to oxygenate blood transported active muscles and other tissues also contributes a role in aerobic capacity. Then hemoglobin levels and the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood effect total aerobic output. Smaller lungs and hearts of women means that oxygen will be slower getting to tissues of the body. An athlete can breath up to sixty times or more per minute. The lungs are cone structured containing a narrow apex and base. There are only two, but the right has three lobes. The left lung has to make room for the heart and only has two lobes in total. The trachea acts as an airway, while the bronchi (left and right), their subdivisions,  and other lung tissues work on gaseous exchange. Besides the muscular system playing a role the cardiovascular and respiratory system are a major part of running performance.

       The anatomical and physiological traits are averages. It is important to this question to examine data of female runners. The samples are limited due to certain factors. The first problem is that women’s participation in sports are lower, which means their could still be women in the global population who would not be counted in data. Then there is the question of performance enhancing drug use. Men account for more of the users of performance enhancing drugs and women have used the same substances as well. The theory holds that women benefited more from performance enhancing drugs. Anabolic androgenic steroids some sports scientists say was the reason certain records were being set in the 1970s and 1980s. That cannot not be the only explanation for these records. It could have been a combination of training and use of performance enhancing drugs. However, if anabolic steroids were so effective women should have closed the difference in performance. The fact is that drugs would not turn an athlete superhuman. Steroids only alter the endocrine system, but will not change the individual at the genetic level.

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Women’s and men’s records as recorded in the 1980s.
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The change in records through the decades.

Testosterone is helpful in muscular hypertrophy, but not the only factor. A woman with a naturally mesomorphic body can develop muscle. A woman on steroids would not have the equivalent strength levels of a male athlete. The reason being is that the testes produce more free testosterone as compared to the estrogen produced in a woman’s body. This explains why when boys grow into men their natural strength becomes higher. The graph below shows some records of boys and girls, then men and women. The dramatic change happens around ages 14 and 15. The teenage boys seem to have higher records to adult women. This is a small sample gathered from women and men from childhood to puberty .Women do not gain a strength spurt, rather estrogen produces more fat. Whiles testosterone is a significant component it is not the only one. There was a slump in records after new testing procedures emerged, but women’s records began to rise a little once more.

record times

What can be extrapolated from this is that drug use was not the sole reason. The idea that drugs can produce victories without proper and precise training regimens is false. There are periods in which new talents emerge. Then it must be considered that there are attributes unique to an individual’s biology. An athlete would have a genetic advantage, which means other athletes attempting to break their records would find it insuperable.

       There are athletes due to their biology and genetics have an edge in competition. There are women through their performances have demonstrated this. Paula Radcliff finished the London marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 25 seconds in 2003 (running a 26 mile). This was an impressive leap forward. It also shows who records are altered by sports federations. The International Associations of  Athletics Federations declared in 2012 that they eliminated her time from the annuls of marathon records, because she was running with male pacemakers. That means women who run in mixed groups cannot have their times archived. This again is an example of how you cannot get precise data. There could be women like Radcliff running in mixed groups, but are not documented for records.Even though sexist prejudice does not recognize the record, it still is a documented time.  Florence Griffith Joyner was another remarkable talent. If we were to compare her fastest time (10.49 S) to Usain Bolt’s (9.58s). Joyner would still be slower yet the difference is only by 0.91s. That means she would still be close to him if this were a tack meet. Despite the anatomical and physiological differences Joyner was able to obtain a high level of physical fitness.

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Elaine Thompson during the Rio 2016 achieved a time 10.71s. Compared to Joyner’s record it is a difference 0.22s. Assuming that Elaine Thompson can improve her training, it would simple to reach or beat Joyner’s record. Usain Bolt’s record would be more difficult for her to reach. These are not your average track athletes, they a professional Olympic competitors. These women are not average; they are exceptional. What they achieved may not be in reach of every women who decides to compete.

This not only applies to women, but men as well. Every man would not be able to reach Bolt’s level of performance. Joyner, Thompson, and Radcliffe  are a few examples of how genes and training can develop a high performing athlete. Being female is not a limitation in terms of developing physical prowess.  There has to be consideration of biology and the physiological attributes of sex  when training. While it is clear these women can run faster than an average man, they still have yet to achieve speeds of the fastest men. One can assume that women will never do. Yet, just like making predictions it is fast conclusion. Human evolution has show that the body has changed over millions of years. The most dramatic is that humanity became bipedal. developed a more complex brain, and shorter intestines. Assuming that humanity could still be evolving physically, the question becomes more expansive.

       Oxford University produced a study in 2004 stated that in 2156 women will outrun men. This was a study led by a professor of the name of Dr.Tatem. Readers should again question material that they receive. Similar predictions were made in 1992 saying women would be out running men by 2000. The error they made was that performance would follow almost a linear model. The data shows more of a sinusoidal fluctuation. The Oxford study states that women sprinters will reach times 8.079s in the 100m. The authors then claim that 2064 will be the year in which women sprinters shall achieve higher performance levels. Their assessment was that women would not overtake men, but reduce the gap in performance. That seems more realistic, rather than the 2156 prediction of women dominating sprint performances. There is still much to be explored about sports performance. Women are often ignored in exercise physiology studies, because most are designed for men. There are efforts to change this now that women are entering this field. The mathematics of this study may not be as precise, but Elaine Thompson’s 10.71 second record makes it seem as if it is achievable. It would almost be impossible for a human being to reach a time of 4.5 seconds. There is a point in which the body reaches physiological peak. This means that there can no longer be improvements to strength, speed, or endurance because maximum levels have been reached.

         This question has several possible answers. The first could be that women will narrow the gap  and some will even overlap with men. The more conventional answer is that women will not out run men in the future and they have achieved all they can. The third answer may be that women will surpass men either by new training techniques, changes in human evolution, or changes in genetics. The third answer would be difficult to prove due to the fact evolution takes millions of years. There still genes being identified and it is still questionable which ones form a great athlete. Training techniques are revised overtime. There is considerable debate which results in the best performance. The second answer seems to just assume results will stay stagnant. Although looking at the data now shows that it seems unlikely women would out run men, one should never just assume. The situation could change, but not in this period. It was in the 1928 Olympics than many believed women were too weak for running. Now, women are running faster than the men of the 20th century. There is possibility of improvement or maybe women have reached their full physical capability. The reason men could be still improving is that they have not reached theirs yet. Examining performance from that perspective men would be behind. The more realistic conclusion is that women would narrow the gap. It would not be closed nor would women en mass outperform men. However, it it not impossible that individual women could reach male performance levels in the future.

References

Brewer,Sarah. The Human Body A Visual Guide to Anatomy.  London:Quercus, 2012.

Mcdonagh, Eileen and Pappano, Laura. Playing With the Boys : Why Separate Is Not 

   Equal in Sports. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

“UK | Women ‘may Outsprint Men by 2156’.” BBC News. BBC, 30 Sept. 2004. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3702650.stm&gt;.

George, Brandon. “Track Skills Often Decline as Girls Mature into Women | SportsDay.”SportsDayHS. SportsDayHS, 19 May 2010. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. <http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/sportsheadlines/2010/05/19/20100513-Track-skills-often-decline-as-girls-6083&gt;.
Tucker, Ross. “Women vs Men Part II: The Physiology of Difference | Science of Sport.” The Science of Sport. The Science of Sport, 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. <https://sportsscientists.com/2007/10/women-vs-men-part-ii-the-physiology-of-difference/&gt;.
Will Women Out Run Men in the Future?

What is an Alcoholic by Kortney Olsen

Kortney Olsen bodybuilder and champion armwrestler explains what alcoholism is in this video. Modern medicine now has come to the realization that addiction is a disease. It has both biological and sociological factors. Chemical dependence alters the function of particular neurotransmitters. There is also a human cost. Families become dysfunctional when a member becomes subject to addiction. Children with parents who are alcoholics live in unstable households. Kortney speaks about her struggles with addiction and being a child of an alcoholic parent. Alcoholism is a broad based term, but is not specifically a disease. It can sometimes be classified as a psychiatric condition known as alcohol dependence syndrome. There are many reasons why people become alcoholics. Stress, life trauma, genetic factors, and availability of substances. Then there is limited self control. While Korntey says it has nothing to do will power, this is not entirely true. Living in a society of abundance encourages people to over indulge and be excessive in various areas of life. Through counseling, interventions, and medical research alcoholism can be effectively fought.

What is an Alcoholic by Kortney Olsen

The Shake Weight

The Shake Weight is a dumbbell with the ability to oscillate. The claim by the company that produces the product is that it has the ability to give more of a work out than a traditional weight. This exercise device was created by Ben Kunz for the company FitnessIQ. There have been many contraptions and machines that are for exercise, but many of them do not work. Then there are products that are minimally effective compared to traditional methods. The reason these products sell well is that advertisements are persuasive and the public has a lack of knowledge about exercise or the human body. Gullibility and a fast solution explains why exercise equipment  such as this sells well. When examined in a scientific manner the shake weight is not effective. There are also some of the common pseudoscientic convictions in regards to female body and fitness. This was originally marketed as a female exercise product, but later release a “male” version. The difference between the female and male version is weight. The female shake weight is 2.5 lbs and the male version is 5 lbs. Again, it seems the frailty myth is presented in a subtle manner. There is no reason that the women’s weight should just be 2.5 lbs. Five pounds is no so immense that women could not handle it. That is about the equivalent of a bag of flour. Anyone who cooks realizes these bags are not that heavy. FitnessIQ claims that the shake weight can tone biceps, shoulders, and triceps. The official comment of the company is ” The product’s technology has been scientifically proven to increase muscle activity more effectively than similar size dumbbells or push-ups.” A general understanding of exercise physiology disproves the effectiveness of the Shake Weight.

         The Shake Weight was introduced to the market in 2009. During its first year being available it sold 2 million units. The following years it reached 4.5 million sales.The Shake Weight is commonly found at Walmart and Walgreens. This exercise product since being introduced has made its way into popular culture. The motions it induces and the way in which it is held has suggested sexual innuendos. Parodies and spoofs have appeared on the Daily Show, South Park, and Saturday Night Live . These references could have increased sales. Exposure is important to the success of a product. The commercials and infomercials are known for their exaggerated claims of effectiveness. They state the Shake Weight can burn calories five times faster than normal weights.  This is simply not biologically possible. Working out with regular weights would require more energy, if done at a longer period of time. The Shake Weight recommends that an individual only exercise for six minutes. They claim six minutes with the product can be more effective than a 32 minute work out. This does not prove to be accurate when testing it in terms of exercise science, physiology, and biology.

          The Shake Weight functions on a series of vibrations. There are spring loaded weights at both ends. The vibrations are designed to “tone ” muscles in a six minute work out. There is a problem with the marketing terminology. The term “tone” is not a real biological process. The fact is toning is building a small amount of muscle. This term is directed at women rather than men, because society still thinks muscles and strength are for men only. The term toning is used to not scare average women away from fitness or ones who are closed minded about muscular women.

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It is dubious that a serious woman athlete would even use this device. Looking at its five and two pound versions its clear that this does not build muscle. It uses high repetitions at lower weight. Immense weight with fewer repetitions promotes growth in muscle. Women are normally discouraged from lifting heavy, but this is a mistake. Smaller weights will not produce effective results. The weights have to be heavy enough to provide at least some resistance. Smaller weights at two pounds or less will not be helpful in building strength or burning fat. Lighter weights could possibly be better for muscular endurance, but larger ones at lower repetitions are better for strength.

 The Shake Weight would only be effective for a person who has not had training or exercise prior physical activity. At best they would see modest or minimal gains. A person who weight trains regularly would not see dramatic gains in terms of musculature. The woman who is either a weightlifter, crossfit competitor, or bodybuilder will not see improvements in performance from the Shake Weight. The average woman considering her exercise and strength levels are lower may see some improvement, but not as effective as free weights. Part of the public relations slogan is that the Shake Weight “allows you to exercise without leaving your sofa.”

   Exercise takes effort and consistency. These two values are something people have lost living in modernized society. The desire for results with limited or no effort is what the American public in particular likes the most. That is why there are consumers that are drawn to this product, that clearly does not produce the effects it claims. There are some who even think that it has the ability to burn fat right off the arms of the body. The American Council on Exercise has stated that the Shake Weight does not provide necessary stimulus to the arms. The 2 1/2 pound weight is too light to be effective the council discovered. The added five pounds may not make much of a difference either. Muscle has the ability to burn fat and this device is not inducing the level of muscular hypertrophy to make that possible. This becomes even more humorous as this is also marketed to men. The image that is constantly used in advertisements for exercise equipment usually features a very muscular man. It is clear that the man or woman in question did not develop that upper body through the Shake Weight.

  It is not possible to just burn off fat in a single area of the body. It does not work like a heat seeking missile. Building muscle or losing weight requires a specific diet or certain strength training exercises  bicep curls, tricep extensions, and push ups. These activities should be enough to reduce weight. At this point, an observer should realize that there would be no need for the difference in weight for the product. There are women who could handle the five pound version. Calling it the “male version” is an attempt to market it as something intense and add a machismo to a device seen as feminine. Fitness advertising wants to tap into that male machismo, thinking the product can transform the male buyer into an Adonis like figure. This fantasy is shattered, because there are women out there who are lifting more than 5 lbs.

Weightlifting - Olympics: Day 7

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It is also recommended at the very least an individual should try to strength train three times a week. The difference in weight size is based on the notion of the frailty myth. It states that women’s bodies are not strong enough for physical activity. There are still myths that women should not train heavy, because they will get injured. Injury only happens when exercises are not done correctly or a person over trains. There should be consideration in the difference in tendon size, which may make women more susceptible to joint injuries. Women can handle a five pound weight whether it vibrating or not. You certainly do not need to be He-Man to use the five pound version. There is no such thing as men’s muscles and women’s muscles, because at the cellular level they do not differ. The design is awkward and the manner in which it is held. One problem is that users of this device did not go through the full range of motion when using it. The only way to see improvement is to challenge the muscle by adding more weight. Exercising for just six minutes will not produce effective results.

           The defenders of this product say that it can at least improve muscular endurance. This requires an increase in training frequency. That means adding more training sessions to your regimen. Simultaneously, training volume should be gradually increased. The number of sets and repetitions must increase for the body to adapt. Static contractions are also useful. This requires doing a full set of an exercise, then holding the in a fully contracted position. This should be done till the individual can no longer hold it. The Shake Weight cannot do any of these tasks. None of these exercises listed would be compatible with the Shake Weight.

The vibrations are not as powerful as straining against the weight of actual iron. Even if there were no vibrations the Shake Weight would be not even be useful for static contraction. There would have to be added weight to the device, but then it would just be a regular weight. Muscular endurance will not be attained through the use of the Shake Weight product.

       If one were to switch a person who exercises with weights and have them use the Shake Weight, they would lose strength. A woman who regularly exercises and then uses this device solely with see a dramatic reversal. Women could lose muscle in just a month, who are already at a higher fitness level. The advertisements use the term “dynamic inertia” to describe the process of the vibration movements. Anyone with a basic understanding of physics would realize inertia can occur during any form of exercise. Matter can continue in an existing state or follow a path of uniform motion until effected by another force. This is the definition of inertia. Dynamics is merely the analysis of forces and torques which is considered a branch of applied mathematics. Adding this term just glorifies the item being sold, making the consumer think it is doing something incredible.This why the knowledge of science, physiology, and anatomy are important. It prevents individuals from making poor decisions. If you are a person attempting to add mass this exercise equipment would not perform as well as free weights. A woman for example already trained would see a loss in results. Muscle atrophy only occurs when one stops an exercise regimen or ceases to challenge the muscles being worked.

         The American Council on Exercise did conduct a study. The alleged study that Fitness QI did never was peer reviewed in an academic journal or produced by an exercise physiologist or scientist. The study done by the University of Wisconsin by exercise scientists . They wanted to see the amount of muscle activation versus a traditional weight compared to the Shake Weight. The volunteers of the study were between the ages of 18 to 30, which included men and women. They continued to use the five pound for men and the two and a half pound versions for women. Electrodes were then placed on the biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pectoralis muscles.  The utilization of electromyography allowed the intensity of the work out to be recorded. The result was fascinating. The findings by Dr.  John Porcari and Dr. Jennah Hackbarth  were not what one would have expected. Muscle activity was greater 88% in the biceps, 65% greater in the triceps, 50% greater in the chest, and 59% greater in the chest. It would appear that the bicep curls, chest fly, tricep extensions, and shoulder presses are less efficient. This is not true. The physical fitness level of the individuals in the study was not recorded. They may have seen results only because they were at the very low spectrum of physical fitness. The study also found that it worked mostly the triceps rather than the entire arms or upper body.

 The thinner or non-exercising subject would probably benefit from the Shake Weight more than a physically fit woman. 

When conducting an experiment one should be careful when considering factors that effect results. The physical fitness level of the subjects is essential to the results. These individuals of the study were of course healthy, but not at a high spectrum pf physical fitness. There was a 66 % EMG increase, but this was not the increase that infomercials have said claiming a 300% increase. The vibrations from the Shake Weight may not even be safe. They work muscles, but could be causing unnecessary soreness.

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The results as shown in the graph are misleading. For a person who does no physical activity anything would induce improvement. Two or five pound weights are simply not heavy enough to cause significant muscular hypertrophy. Subjects of this study did not expect the device to be as exerting. The ratings for perceived exertion were higher for the Shake Weight than it was for traditional weights.

        After explaining the physiological and anatomical basis for the Shake Weight one reaches a conclusion. It is not a useful piece of exercise equipment. This will not target the arms and upper body, but forces the triceps to do more work. Muscle activation was limited in the biceps. The level of resistance is so minimal that a physically fit person would not see any gains in lean body tissue. This would give only diminutive improvements to a person who has never done exercise at all. There are limited benefits to the exercise movement. There are very few times when a shaking exercise is useful, compared to push-ups, sit-ups, and weight lifting. The Shake Weight is something that is a combination of false advertising and hyper-consumerist culture. There are some goals that cannot be achieved by simple short cuts. That means effort, which many people do not want to do. The reason this sells so well is due to the public’s ignorance, lack of consumer advocacy, and the manipulation of human psychology. If statements sound credible enough people will accept it even though it may be mendacious. As long as the consumer knows about basic exercise science, they can make better decisions. The Shake Weight is a product that a consumer should not buy.

Further Reading

Hackbarth, Jenneh. “Does the Mega-selling Shake Weight Live Up to the Hype?” ACE Fitness. American Council on Exercise, 7 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2016. <https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2000/does-the-mega-selling-shake-weight-live-up-to-the&gt;.

Agondoni, Laura. “Can You Get Muscles With the Shake Weight?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 15 July 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/492363-how-long-does-it-take-to-get-muscles-with-the-shake-weight/&gt;.

Wood, Heather. “Does the Shake Weight Take Fat off Your Arms?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 18 Dec. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/421688-does-the-shake-weight-take-fat-off-your-arms/&gt;.

The Shake Weight

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat

This blog post from Big Bad Uber Mother Hen gives the reasons why women in their view are not suited for combat. It was originally published in 2013 when the Pentagon announced that women were no longer banned from military occupational specialties. Women have been in combat before this announcement, because the nature of warfare is changing. The frontline has disappeared and conventional warfare may no longer be the standard. Women have fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq with little recognition. While it is clear physiology and sexual dimorphism can be a factor in combat performance, the argument to maintain the ban or exclude women completely lacks a forceful basis. The author seem to want to prevent women from at least even trying. The ironic part about this is that this post was written by a woman.  She state “while there are undoubtedly some women who are quite capable of performing combat duty, men are better suited to combat duty.” Then goes on to say  “It’s not a matter of discrimination, it’s a matter physiology.” There are been numerous cases through out history that women have served in combat roles across the globe. Being female does not make you a less effective soldier. Training and strategy are essential in producing a functioning military.

           The evidence she provides is accurate in terms of physiological capability. The problem is she uses it to distort information in favor of her position. The muscular strength difference is apparent even in equally trained men and women. The approximations given by physiology academic papers show women were 52 % as strong in the upper body and 66% as strong in the lower body. The difference in skeletal mass is also greater in men. Men can have up to 33 kg, while women have 21 kg in absolute terms. When the weight is the same or relative it can be estimated 38.4% (men) and 30.6% (women). Endocrinology is a factor, because testosterone allows for more protein synthesis. Type II muscles fibers are larger in men, which are responsible for more explosive power. The author fails to recognize that women can gain strength through a weight training regimen. The amount of strength a woman can gain through weight training depends age, fitness level, diet, and specific exercise program.

Mesomorphic body types will have an easier time doing tasks that require strength. Ectomorphs may not be able to build large muscles. They can still build strength through weight lifting. Women and men’s muscles at the cellular level are identical. This means they still respond similarly to microtrauma induced by weight lifting. The training must be consistent to be effective. The rate of gain documents the total muscle mass accumulated from exercise. The American Council on Exercise has reported a woman can gain 40% muscular strength after months of weight training. It is possible for a person to accumulate a half pound of muscle per week. Diet is critical as well from gaining strength. Protein, unsaturated fats, whole grains, and fresh produce contribute to muscular hypertrophy. Sugars, processed foods, trans-fat, and saturated fats will cause the increase in fat. Women seeing as they produce more estrogen, need to pay extra attention to diet. Training must be conducted in a specific manner. Women must lift heavy enough to cause fatigue. This has to be done in 8 to 12 repetitions. Lighter weights will only improve muscular endurance, rather than muscular strength.

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Adding new exercises and gradually increasing the weight will help in improving strength. Increasing the weight every 4 to 6 weeks will help stimulate the muscle and allow for greater hypertrophy. If women are seeking to get into a military occupational specialty, they should look at the physical standards and design an exercise regimen specific to the job. Even before basic training women should exercise prior to entry. The author presents an the frailty myth in a new way, attempting to be objective. It has been discovered that women’s involvement in resistance training  allows for significant gain in strength. Proportionally, their muscular strength gains are greater. Men are still stronger, but comparatively further muscle strength gains are lower. The reason for this may be that women have lower strength levels initially, which makes the data seem immense. Then again, it could be genetic uniqueness specific to certain women.

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The influence of periodized resistance training on strength changes in men and women.

Having the right training and exercise plan can reduce physiological barriers. The author wants to make a convincing argument but never mentions other elements of physiology.

        aerobic capacity she failed to mention. Oxygen consumption helps tissues during work. This also is essential in running. There are physical standards in which women have to run at a certain distance and time, which could be a bigger challenge. Women have smaller hearts and lungs than their male counterparts. The heart allows for the transport of blood and oxygen to transported to muscles of the body. This means their aerobic power is lower. It is established that women have legs muscles that are closer to men in strength. The assumption would be that they could run just as fast. The structure of the pelvis makes women’s running speeds slower as well. The heart is a muscle and through aerobic training it can increase in size. Males see greater increase in heart size through aerobic training. This also has a risk of cardiac arrhythmia with increase in heart size. This seems to be a physiological difference that may no be overcome as easy as strength gain. One method is to tailor training specific for women. Knowing these differences can help design such programs. Lactate threshold training allows a runner to store enough energy to run at a maximal pace. Interval training with a lactate threshold pace 10 to 15 seconds per mile can improve performance.

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A woman does not have to be Elaine Thompson to meet the running requirements. Training like her could benefit women planning to enter military service. She was not born a runner, she had to work her way to gain Olympic accomplishment. Part of the problem is that exercise physiology mostly has focused on the male body. Women’s bodies through out medical history were either considered too taboo to examine or were not worthy of investigation. This has only changed in the last decades.

           Physical strength has been used as a justification to keep women out of combat occupations. These similar arguments were used by fire fighting departments, police, and construction. The common argument is that a woman does not have the strength to lift a grown man. There are women who can perform a fire man’s carry and it can be easily learned. The issue also is combat armor and gear. This has caused a high number of musculoskeletal injuries.

Detractors use this as evidence of  why women should be banned from certain MOS. Women have higher injury rates, because they have less natural strength. Men’s injury rates are higher now due to the fact the gear weighs more. This by all ergonomic standards is not healthy and is causing osteoarthritis in many soldiers. Armor has to be reduced in weight so it does not effect mobility or bone health. Women must pay extra attention to their joints considering they are looser in comparison to their male counterparts.

ACL tears should be prevented through training. One solution to this issue is that women must train also to gain as much upper body strength. There is a limit. Men have broader shoulders allowing for more muscles to placed there. That means more muscle tissue for recruitment. The disparity can even be seen in men and women of similar size. Women will have to work harder to achieve certain results. Women must acquire enough strength so that they can perform casualty drags, while not fatiguing quickly.

 The added weight of gear and the combination of poorly fitting armor are a problem for the US military. The production of armor that fits the female frame better has been going on since 2011. Armor that actually fits will prevent injury and reduce weight burden. If weight load is too much the result will be a stress fracture. The good news is that progress has been made now that women are entering combat jobs. The vests needed a redesign especially. The upper body section was so wide in the Kelvar vests women when they sat down it could rise up ti their chin. A colloquial term known as turtling  was developed by female soldiers to describe the phenomenon. The torso length had to be adjusted as well. The update means the shoulders are narrow on the armor and the torso fixed. This redesign has gotten praise from women in the military. Armor that fits has allowed them to run faster and do it efficiently through obstacle courses. This will reduce injury rates. This distribution of armor will take time. As more women enter the military, the rate of production will have to drastically increase.

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A notch will be added to accommodate the bun and pony tail women wear, while securing the helmet. Hip injuries from armor will end due to two inches being removed from the waist line. The waistline was also an issue. Women’s waistlines are not as large as men’s. The waistline in this version of armor has fewer plates. They will weigh about 25 lbs each. They are lighter than previous versions and that will take strain off the body. It will fit tighter in the structure of the darting.  It will be built into several sections of the vest. These improvements are welcome and should be lauded. Technology is helping soldiers in new ways. This is only in an experimental phase, but is possible that wearable technologies would solve the overload in terms of military gear. The Natick Soldier Development and Engineering Center are continuing to explore various technologies. What sounds like something out of science fiction will become a reality. This is known as soldier-borne  energy harvesting technologies.  The Bionic Power’s Knee Harvester collects kinetic energy. It makes of the loss from walking. That is not the only capability, but it can recharge electronic devices. It will help with communications equipment, sensors,  and battlefield situational displays. This technology was first shown to US government officials on Fort Devens, Massachusetts in April of 2014. Marching under load can be less of a strain for the average soldier. This becomes more of a problem for women. The gear that that they carry is close to their body weight. Hip and leg fractures are common in the Marine corps  experiments in 2015. Marine corps jobs include armor, artillery, and infantry. Soldiers are expected to carry up to a 100 lbs or more.

  Women who are smaller may be at a disadvantage. However, some solutions involve shifting the weight of the pack off the hips and closer to the shoulders. This means the upper body would need significant conditioning. Doing so would reduce injury rates. Women who are used to intense exercise or have athletic backgrounds would probably perform better than the average woman. The numbers will most likely be lower, but that does not mean there are few women out there would could be capable combat soldiers.

         It should be noted there is a level of biomechanic skill in lifting a person. The fire man’s carry does not require mass amounts of strength. The there are other methods, which would be less comfortable for the person injured. There are cases in which a soldier could be so badly injured ( neck or spinal cord damage) moving them would do more harm than good. Sliding a person on to the shoulder takes minimal effort. The over the shoulder method puts more pressure on the rib cage of the person injured. Depending on the nature of the wound it could cause an exacerbation of condition.

Using one shoulder, just puts more strain on that shoulder and the neck. Distributing the weight is the only way to prevent injury. That is why the fireman’s carry is preferred. It places weight on both shoulders.  This way one arm is not doing all the work. Narrow shoulders means it will less space to house weight when a woman is performing a casualty drag.

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The ability to lift someone in a particular situation depends on certain factors. The weight and height of a person should be considered. A larger person will not struggle carrying a smaller person. A short person carrying a tall person could pose problems of its own. The legs and arms of the tall person could end up being dragged stifling movement. Weight needs to be considered to. If the person is so large and outweighs the person who is lifting it make beyond their physical ability. The Marines are concerned about weight. The US has a physical fitness issues with obesity and weight problems at record levels. Most Americans would probably require a weight management program before basic training. The body fat percentages are being adjusted so that women can have higher weight. When women stated doing weight training it caused them to gain more lean body mass, but disqualified them because they fell out of the acceptable weight range for women . These weight ranges are dated. People are much larger now, women included. They should not penalized for gaining extra muscle that will help them doing physical task.

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Cindy Phillips ( from Canada, which allows women in combat positions) would be cut even though she appears to be physically capable. Her weight would be considered too high for her height read here : Marines Permit Women to Bulk Up.

This has to be practiced several times, so it is almost ingrained into muscle memory. Women would therefore need to have enough strength so that they do not utilize reserve strength in their bodies.  Maximum strength is the total force the body can generate from the recruitment of muscle fibers. If a woman has to use all her maximum strength, she will fatigue quickly. Holding enough reserve strength will allow this. Once the biomechanics of the evacuation are understood, women can be more effective as combat soldiers.

         The author discusses endocrinology, but does it in the context of gender stereotypes. It cannot be denied that sex hormones do influence behavior. They have an immense influence on the body after puberty. What the author says is that women and men are emotionally different and that women may not be able to handle stressful or precarious situations. She indicates that indirectly that men are more aggressive due to their testosterone levels and that aggression in women is lacking. Aggression is needed to be a combat soldier. It is true that testosterone could cause men to seek dominance in social circles. This is not really aggression, but establishing status. Competition is more of a psychological need to accomplish a goal rather than a product of endocrinology. The desire and motivation are mentally based. Testosterone is not the sole factor in aggression. Violence cannot solely be explained by high testosterone levels. Violence can be learned and taught to children. A combination of biology and environment create the differences in the sexes in regards to aggression. Boys at a young age are taught that fighting and anger is normal for them.Girls are taught that fighting or expressing discontent is inappropriate. Sex hormones fluctuate through life and it is now understood. Testosterone levels rise in responses to certain situations in men. This can happen even to women in positions of authority or competitive environments. The idea that women cannot be violent and that nurturing is natural to them is based on a sex stereotype.

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There are women who can be aggressive and men who are peaceful. The best way to explain this phenomenon is through fight or flight response. Military training is designed to deal with such a psychological response. Women going through military training will not be peaceful. Hand to hand combat and weapons training are part of every soldiers program. The argument women are not emotionally stable enough seems to be lacking considering women have been in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Through out history, women have served in combat. Although recently scholarship has uncovered this often ignored fact. This brings into question of men being better combat soldiers. If training and determination are of high quality there are women who can handle it. There are examples of women warriors in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. This starts from the ancient world to the contemporary period. Queen Zabbi ruled Palmyra (modern Syria) and led her troops into battle against Rome. She ruled the Palmyrene Empire from 267 to 272 C.E. and refused to be Rome’s client. During her rule, Palmyra’s territory expanded. Nzingha  was another warrior queen who ruled Ndongo and Matamba ( modern Angola) from 1631 to 1633. She successfully fought the Portuguese, while using the alliance with the Dutch to her advantage. When she died, their was nothing stopping  Portuguese  colonization. Africa and the Middle East have had  long traditions of warrior queens.

Boudicea and Joan of Arc were European women warriors who are well known to historians . Boudica  was  the queen of the Iceni tribe that rebelled against Rome. This tribe in what is now the UK  decided to turn against Rome, when the kingdom was gradually being annexed. Boudica’s  husband died and Roman legions came. Boudica was according to accounts flogged and her daughters raped. She then waged a campaign to punish Rome and take back the kingdom. Joan of Arc was known for her service in the Hundred Years War between England and France.

These are only individuals, but women have served in combat units. The mino warriors, were fierce soldiers of the Kingdom of Dahomey ( modern Benin). Women were formidable and in the 19th century they were instrumental in expanding holdings of the kingdom. King Ghezo was confident in their abilities to fight and undermine his enemies. The Dahomey amazons a name they would later be called were critical to his success. The Oyo Empire was defeated by Ghezo and his newly expanded armies. The Dahomey amazons were initially place guards, but Ghezo wanted their full loyalty to prevent internal dissent and coups. Abeokuta was never fully subdued, but that never stopped the Dahomey amazons.

ahosi-or-mino-dahomey-amazons During the 20th century, women still fought in wars. The Soviet Union had women in combat as snipers and in the air force. Soviet Russia faced the worst onslaught by Nazi Germany compared to the other Allied powers. Their loses were immense an the vexation grew. Soviet women could no longer watch their land be destroyed and got involved in combat.The Yugoslav partisans had women fight in their ranks. Nazi Germany invaded in 1941 and a resistance movement emerged. Just like the Russians the outrage of occupation by German and Italian forces induced action. The wars in Indochina (1945-1975) saw women fighting on both sides of  the Cold War conflict. The Indochina war included the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

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Women fought in the Sandinista uprising against the Somoza regime in Nicaragua. It was estimated that they composed 30% of their fighting force. Women in Latin America were also involved in the wars of independence in the 1820s. Women served as spies and messengers in Argentina, Peru, Columbia, and Brazil. Women were more active in wars of liberation and revolution. Women have been in combat at multiple points in history. It should be understood that this history has been either ignored or forgotten. Only in recent decades has military history taken an interest in the women warriors of the past. Women warriors are not just something of legend, they are around the world. The Peshmerga has been fighting ISIS since 2014. What is not known to the general public is that the Kurdish force mobilizes women. The Kurds have faced ethnic cleansing  during various periods in Iraq. The recent outbreak came from ISIS seeking to take over Iraq.

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The Peshmerga appears to be doing more of the fighting against ISIS. The US is arming factions of ISIS a way to depose Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. Once again ,US foreign policy has destabilized an entire region.

 The Kurdish women in a similar manner of the Russians and Yugoslavs decided to arm themselves to challenge what could escalate to a larger genocide. This is fascinating for a number of reasons. While the United States constantly questions women’s competence, the Peshmerga has no problem having women fight ISIS. The West normally looks down on these nations and people as being backward or misogynistic, yet they are fixing a mess created by military intervention. Iraq’s army and militias have been weakened since the fall of Saddam Hussein. They are ineffective and have limited progress. These women of the Peshmerga are fighting and well against an extremist movement.Murder,oppression, and violence is what ISIS spreads. They are a dangerous fighting force and certainly it takes great courage to confront them. These women fight, because there is the hope it will lead to a better future. The a Kurdish nation  is a longtime aspiration. Combat takes many forms and modern warfare has reached a new apex.

          The author has a limited understanding of combat. She attempts to use the fact that women’s low numbers in the IDF mean that women are horrible at combat positions. The reasons for low numbers are part sociological and biological. Women have been banned from certain occupations on the basis of legal protectionism. This meant even if a woman was qualified for a particular occupation, she would still be banned. The idea was that women needed too be protected from the harsh realities of the world. This was more so an excuse for sex discrimination and to guarantee men would not have to compete for jobs with women. There were also cultural beliefs. Women were not expected to do anything physically demanding or have dexterous skill. Biologically, men have more natural physical strength. Having more type II muscle fibers, denser bones, and more height give men an advantage. The average woman has a smaller frame and less upper body strength. Low numbers do not mean there are not women who can fight. The author provides statistics  at the time of the post(2013). She says “only 3% combat soldiers are women.” Since that time 7 % of women serve in a combat role in the IDF. There are a total 2,100 women serving in combat roles as of August 2016. That is a 400% increase in comparison to the previous decades. When the Defense Services Law ruled in favor of women having the right to serve in combat in the year 2000, the numbers increased. Women fought in the Anglo-Jewish War, but after 1948 were banned from combat. Israel is not progressive on women’s rights and  being an extremely religious country it does not believe in them having wider roles. When legal barriers are broken, nothing can stop people from achieving their potential. This data shows it. If progress is not reversed the numbers may go up. The US could learn from this model, if it can swallow its pride. War involves fights from the land, air, sea, and in the modern age cyberspace. Hacking and cyberwarfare are going to be conducted against belligerent nations in the future.

              When the author tries to undermine the positions of combat it demonstrates a lack of knowledge. She claims certain roles, which involve fighting are “hardly combat.” Air force pilots are more imperative than   ever. One US strategy is to bomb selective targets such as military installations and communication centers to undermine a country’s ability to fight. When that is done ground troops are deployed. Air power can be an alternative, if ground invasion is too much of a risk. Dogfights and secret missions are the common form of combat an air force pilot will see. During World War II  when Germany lost control of its air space its factories became vulnerable. American, British, and Soviet bombers hit war production plants essential to Germany’s war effort. Striking targets degrades a nation’s ability to fight. Air power is just as pivotal as sea power. A nation cannot be a powerful military force without a Navy. Controlling the sea means having access to strategic trade routes and areas. The reason the British Empire was so potent was that it dominated the sea. Through their navy they were able to have colonies in Asia, Africa, North America, and Oceania. When Germany started to build its Navy to compete with the British Empire in 1900, this caused alarm. The air force, navy, marines, army, and special forces work together in a synergy in combat. Wars are also going to be engaged in cyberwarfare. The wars fought will not only be fought in physical space, but on the internet. Hacking will become a standard in warfare. It is in a prototypical phase as the US, China, and Russia attempt to hack one another to steal intelligence secrets. The definition of combat has expanded as warfare has become more intense.

          The author does not understand the importance of the combat divisions. The units have specific jobs, which are still dangerous. The labor is distributed differently depending on the situation. The Caracal Battalion’s role has expanded with the political changes in Egypt. The Sinai insurgency could spill over the border, which the battalion has to guard. The fall of Hosni Mubarack  caused mass destabilization and armed groups are becoming bold. What is fueling the insurgency is the discrimination against Bedouin. Simultaneously, the Palestinian people are resisting Israeli occupation in the West Bank and attacks in the Gaza Strip. This battalion will clearly be engaging in conflicts in Egypt and Palestine. Their responsibility is to patrol the border, but if Israel continues an anti-Arab foreign policy and general belligerence this will conflate.

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Women in the IDF are held to the same standards as men. They have tour requirements of 36 months.

     The Snapir units are critical, because the attack on naval bases could undermine war efforts. OKetz functions more like a police force searching and arresting enemy combatants. The 76th Battillion of the Combat Engineering Brigade have the task of disabling unconventional weapons in the battlefield. ABC weapons are the major target for destruction. This makes it difficult to resist Israeli aggression. Opening up these positions to women just allows for more soldiers in the Israeli military. The author then in a condescending manner states : ”  all these jobs are considered ‘combat’ by the Israeli army, and many of these jobs are already available to women in the U.S. military.” Women before 2013, were excluded from 22,000 combat jobs in the US military. This does not make sense. Since 1978 women entered the US military in an official capacity. There is no reason to ban a woman who is qualified from a combat job. This obvious discrimination was legally challenged. The author sees that these occupations are part of combat, but then says its not genuine due to her bias. The roles both support  and direct fighting are part of waging war. It is a mass collaborative, coordinated,and  meticulously panned event. That means all soldiers must do their part to make it function. Then the most contradictory statement comes in the conclusion : “Jobs should be assigned by who can perform the job better, not because someone wants to do the job and it would be politically incorrect or discriminatory not to give it to someone because of gender. ” The women who apply and meet the standards are not doing this for the sake of political correctness. Women will not be handed these jobs, without qualifications. Ray Marbus Secretary of the Navy said he was not looking for average women to enter these jobs, but those who meet the physical demands. Jobs are not given in a workforce they are selected out of pool of applicants. The conservative or traditional perspective has an argument lacking factual support. Israel is used by both the American left and right to justify their stances on women in combat occupational specialties. The left says it is model that should be replicated, while the right  says that is an unrealistic assessment. These two perspectives do not fully grasp the rapid changes occurring. Warfare will become more technological and expansive. Israel is one of the most powerful regional players in the Middle East, but it will struggle not because it allowed women in combat. It continues to fight wars of aggression and expansion in the Middle East. It will fall into wars of attrition and the Israeli public will no longer stand for it. A nation can have high performing soldiers and still lose wars if their strategy is flawed.

           The physical strength argument is used by detractors constantly,but one must consider other factors. It is important in these occupations including a high level of physical fitness. The only problem is that muscles become worthless when fire arms are involved. Assuming a stronger person could yank away a rifle fast enough, before the trigger is pulled, the situation is still precarious. Physical strength is almost impotent compared to the power of tanks, bombs, grenades, mortars, fighter jets, artillery cannons,  assault rifles, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. No longer do armies fight with simple swords or chariots. It is more efficient to kill with weapons rather than with one’s bare hands.

A smaller person with little strength could still kill a stronger person. The scenario women would be rendered helpless without weapons does not hold merit. If they go through the same training in hand to hand combat, this would not be a problem. Training is being updated to reflect these changes in procedures. West Point finally allows women to take boxing as a requirement. When women first entered West Point it was not offered to them .   Women face women in matches during these classes. There is also sparring between men in women in a controlled setting. Learning to punch and take them is essential for women. The same principles that are emphasized in self-defense courses are implemented into training. The more aggressive the better chance of a woman soldier fighting off a male combatant. Women’s punches can still hurt if they are taught how to do it effectively.The martial arts such as karate, judo, and aikido are useful fighting styles that should be incorporated into training. This can help in narrowing some of the strength gap if a woman soldier finds herself disarmed and in confrontation with a combatant.

It should be noted simply being strong does not make a great fighter. Skills and body movements can make a difference in the outcome of a physical confrontation. A bodybuilder may have more muscle, but they would have trouble fighting a boxer in a ring. These two types of athletes would both have trouble fighting a mixed martial artists. The physical skill set is different. What the US military can do is teach soldiers multiple fighting styles in hand to hand combat, which can be utilized by a soldier given a particular scenario.

        The only rational statement in the writing is what readers already know. She states “If the United States is going to allow women in combat roles, those women must pass muster with men equally.” The author then expounds further: “they need to perform the job as well and not be allowed to perform on a lower scale than her male counter-part.” Standards should not be lowered. They are normally adjusted overtime to the specifics of battlefield conditions. Technology also alters training overtime. There are a minority who want the standards to lower for the sake of equality. There is a problem with this for two reasons.The first problem is that it creates a group of under performing workers. As a result the fighting force will be less effective. It also is an insult and a disservice to women who can meet the existing standards. The only way physical tests could be discriminatory to women is if the standards are immensely high. Many times occupations such as firefighting and law enforcement would do this to stop women from getting jobs. This eventually backfired, because they made physical standards so high  that many men were excluded as well. The argument that standards need to be lowered lacks logical basis. Kristen Geist was one of the first women to graduate from Army Ranger School. She participated in the same training and obstacle courses as her male counterparts.

0615rangers-630x473 She will now be serving as an infantry officer. Officer Geist was able to meet these standards, but if the ban were still in place that talent would have been lost. Then there are restrictions in the US military that are now being lifted. People who have tattoos, are slightly out of the BMI requirement, or have some drugs in their system could be accepted for service. The military is targeting women and other ethnic groups in the United States for recruitment. The unfortunate aspect is that the poor mostly are going into the military, so they can get access to a university education. The white men of the US military despise the presence of women and non-whites. When ever an oppressed group enters an occupation that has been historically guaranteed to white men there is both fear and hate. They fear that women and non-whites are taking their jobs. The hate comes from a pathological racism that views anyone different from them as lower beings. People will no longer be restrained by dated intolerance. If anything, it is a vast improvement to the US military. Citizens of various backgrounds can enter and decide a military career.

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Marcia Anderson became the first African American woman major general in the US Army.

Doubtless of what the author believes women are not performing at a lower scale. Their numbers have been increasing in various branches in the US military. The air force, navy, marines, and army have seen more women in their ranks in the past decades. Although the ban was lifted in combat jobs, the numbers may not be that large. This depends on several factors. Choice is an element and whether or not these occupations are positions women want entering the military.Then there are smaller pools of women in the US military, which also gives a limited amount for women in certain military occupational specialties. Recruiting efforts have to reached the same levels like males. Then the biggest challenge is finding women who can handle the physical fitness standards. The average man may find it easier to handle tasks of physical strength. Women would either have to train before basic training  to be successful. It should also be understood that gender integration will take some time.

          Given the long history of women’s participation in warfare, it is not accurate to say women are not as high quality as males in combat. The changing nature of warfare means that women will be a part of it. Frontlines are disappearing and world powers are readjusting to erratic shifts in the geopolitical climate. Maintaining sexist or traditional values in the military is unrealistic. Individuals regardless of sex can be capable combat soldiers. What makes a great combat soldier is a person who is intrepid, resilient, resourceful. and  tenacious. If low quality soldiers are able to reach high levels in the military, then training must be adjusted to screen for better candidates. Instead of disparaging women in the military, they should be encouraged. Integration of the US armed forces has always been a difficult challenge from desegregation of the races to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Women’s entry into combat jobs is just another saga. It will happen and be a success, if it is conducted in the correct manner. The US military has the ability to adopt and acclimate its self to rapidly changing environments. Women entering combat will just be another addition in a powerful military machine.

 References

Jones, David. Women Warriors. Washington D.C. : Potomac Books, Inc., 2005.

Nanos, Janelle. “Armor All: New Body Armor Issued for Women in the Military.” Boston Magazine. N.p., 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2013/09/26/new-body-armor-women-military/&gt;.

Sisto, Jeff. “Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power .” Soldiers of the Future Will Generate Their Own Power |. N.p., 4 July 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://armytechnology.armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2014/10/31/wearable-technology/&gt;.

“Women of the Israel Defense Forces: History in Combat Units.” History of Women in IDF Combat Units. N.p., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/femcom.html&gt;.

Cespedes, Andrea. “How Much Muscle Can a Woman Gain With Strength Training?” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 28 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/198318-how-much-muscle-can-a-woman-gain-with-strength-training/&gt;.

Even the IDF Agrees: Men Are Better Suited Than Women For Military Combat