The Camelita Jeter Story

Carmelita Jeter  is an three time Olympic gold medalist, who holds records in sprinting. She was born in 1979 a resident of California. Her talent was revealed early in her life. Prior to excelling in sprinting events, she was a skilled basketball player. During high school she began to be a track athlete. From there, her skills and talents only grew. Jeter is a graduate of California State University earning her degree in physical education. She remains the school’s most decorated track and field athlete to date. Her professional debut was in 2007 in the World Championships. This competition brought her a great victory in which she won her first medal in the 100m. That same year she won a silver medal in the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships. The year 2008 was a turning point in which she changed her coach and running technique. Jeter stands at 5-4 and a weight of 135 lbs. Her athletic credentials are immense and impressive. Her runs times include 10.64 (100m), 22.20 ( 200m), 10.92 ( 2008 London Grand Pix), and 10.83  (2009 World Championships). Faster than the Flash or Sonic the Hedgehog, she has become the ultimate sprinter. Besides her athletic endeavors she also is involved in philanthropy. She continues to be involved in fund raising for breast cancer research. She was in 2014 the official ambassador for Susan G. koleman ‘s California Circle of Promise Initiative. This program was designed to raise awareness about breast cancer in the African American community. Track and field fans however are more familiar with athletic feats.

      The 2012 Olympics was an event in which Jeter amused audiences. She was the pillar of the 4X100 relay. Carmelita Jeter became the first athlete to win medals in both the 200m and 100m race  at the Olympic Games. These spectacular feats come as no surprise. During the mid-2000s she had been gradually improving. Jeter has successes in the World Championships of 2009 with a record time 10.67. That made her the third fastest woman in history. The 2010 saw Jeter win two gold medals and silver in the World Championships. At this point was clear that her performance could only increase.

That was what made her performance so special. Jamaica produces great runners, but their dominance has been threatened by US talent. Her performance earned her a Jesse Owens Award one of the most prestigious track and field accolades. Jeter has revealed many thoughts and feelings about her career, sports, and live through various interviews. Her views on the student athlete are different from the common perspective. She once said “enjoy college and high school because you don’t get those years back.” Jeter delineates further ” you have plenty of time to become professional.” Too often the student athlete is regimented so they miss out on the simple joys of youth. Carmelita Jeter felt she made a sacrifice at the expense of the care free times of being a young adult. She also emphasized that education is the main goal of being at a university, even if  you are an athlete. If an athletic career does not work out she explained, you need to have a back up plan. Jeter believes that it is best to balance your life, athletic activity, and school work. Jeter revealed that getting to the 2012 Olympics was not a simple task. She admitted “that nobody thought I could make it at my age.” This was around the time she lost her beloved aunt Brenda Washington to breast cancer. This caused her much distress. She was able in her own words turn negative events into positives.

Normally, athletes have a person that inspired them in their career. Jeter said it was her aunt who was her inspiration. Her aunt was not an athlete, but a person that was close and encouraging in her life. The women in her family were her role models. Jeter described her aunt as ” whitley of the family ” ( from the TV show A Different World ). Carmelita Jeter revealed that “the women I look up to are every day women.” However, she does have favorite athletes she likes to see compete. She is a fan of Serena Williams, and Candace Parker. Being a former basketball player she love watching the WNBA. Jeter has much respect for Becky Hammon assistant coach of the Spurs. She is not just an athlete, but also a sports fan. This should be no shock. Carmelita Jeter recalling her childhood stated ” I grew up in a sports household.” She would play basketball with her dad and brother on the weekends. Her beginnings were humble as she revealed ” I didn’t come from a family with a whole lot of money so if we knew we weren’t going to be super smart in the class room we had to be athletic and get scholarships.” Track and field gave Jeter more of a competitive drive and a desire to push herself further. At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow she was able to compete with a torn quadricep. She won a bronze medal in that 100m race.

          Carmelita Jeter during her athletic career followed a particular training and diet regimen to enhance performance. When preparing for competition her diet consists of vegetables and some baked goods. Eating three meals a day with two snacks in between, rest was also important. Jeter claimed that her focus was intense starting her day early and being in bed by 9:00 pm.

London Olympics Athletics WomenJeter said staying hydrated is also critical to her training. Also Carmelita Jeter incorporates weight training into her fitness program. Her schedule goes as follows : in the weight room from 6:30 to 7:45, trains in UCLA, and has cryotherapy. Jeter does this to have her muscles relax from exercise and completes this six hour a day training by 12:30. Jeter also likes doing pilates saying ” that’s why my abs look the way they do.” This training regime produced an impressively powerful body. As she said “when I hopped on the scene I was very fast and very muscular.” She also believed in her own assessment “that it turned people off.” She did not let dated and old fashioned beliefs deter her. To Jeter there is nothing wrong with women being strong. The track and field athlete has embraced the movement of physically strong women saying “I love that women want to strong not just mentally, but physically.” Carmelita Jeter  also clarifies ” it is definitely  inspiring to see the movement to be strong is relating to women and is trickling down to young girls.” Her philosophy is “that is okay to be muscular and it is okay to be buff.” She has started from humble roots to Olympic champion. She certainly will inspire many young women athletes.

        Currently Jeter was set to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, injury pulled her out of the trials. It was clear that if she was not sustain the injury to her quadricep, she would have been excellent. Carmelita Jeter at age 37 is still in great shape. Normally athletes reach there physical fitness peak around this time frame. Jeter has made no indications about whether she will continue to compete or attempt to appear in the 2020 Olympics. The year 2017 she did not run at all instead focusing on mentoring young athletes. It seems that quadriceps issues continue to be a hindrance to her competitive streak. It is too soon to say that she is retiring or done with the sport. If 2016 was the last year fans see her actively compete, she went out with an impressive accomplishments.

The Camelita Jeter Story

Can Women Build Muscle Mass ?

It is commonly believed that women cannot build muscle. This does not seem to be accurate when examining the matter for an exercise physiology perspective. Women can in fact build muscle, because muscular hypertrophy does operate in the same manner in the female body. The level compared to men would be less in relation to size. There is a fear that some women have of “bulking up.” This term bulking also is not accurate either. The word bulky can be defined as ” taking up much space typically inconveniently” or ” a person that is heavily built.” This description  could be used for various body types if applying these definitions. A person who is overweight could be bulky according to that definition. The best terminology would be muscle mass gains. It seems what is bulky can vary depending on what a person’s aesthetic preferences are. The term bulky just like the term tone has limited scientific basis. These terms are either used to deter or encourage women specifically in their fitness goals. There is a taboo against women with muscular or strong looking bodies. Ideas about women’s physical capabilities are still based on dated notions that the female body was not designed for strength or endurance. Popular fitness literature states that women cannot “bulk up” through heavy weight lifting. Basically this is saying that women cannot build muscle. Fitness literature does correctly state the health benefits, but denigrates the muscular look on women. The ability to gain muscles mass does not only depend on sex, but factors such as body type, genetics, exercise regimen, and age are also factors.

         Muscular hypertrophy is the process in which skeletal muscle will increase in size including the associated cells. This does not only increase muscle mass, but the cross sectional area. Individual muscle fibers increase in size. Cardiac muscle can even adapt to increased work load. The heart can become more efficient at squeezing blood out of the chambers of the heart and the skeletal muscle can push more force through the tendons of the body. Skeletal muscle must contract to produce body movement, but also functions in maintaining body posture. When doing progressive overload intermittent levels of stress is applied to the skeletal muscle. This allows for the muscle to adjust for the enlargement and amount of contractile proteins. This effects the myofibrils in each muscle fiber.

Women have the same muscles as men. Anatomically and physiologically the muscular system of women is similar to that of  males. To understand the nature of muscular hypertrophy one must examine satellite cells, growth factor proteins, and immune system responses.   The satellite cells are responsible for repair of damaged skeletal muscle tissue and they are facilitators of growth. Their location is on the surface of the muscle fiber between the sarcolema and basal lamina.


These cells contain one nucleus which has most of the cell volume. They are only activated in the case of injury or trauma. Resistance training only cause some micro-trauma. The daughter cells respond, while there is an increase in satellite cells. The daughter cells merge to the damage site. This results in the increase in myosin and actin proteins. Simultaneously the daughter cells will donate nuclei. Muscular hypertrophy can be induced by high intensity anaerobic resistance training. The changes it causes result in neural adaptations, muscular endurance, and strength. The total amount of satellite cells differs depending on the type of muscle fiber. Oxidative   fibers have at least six times the satellite cells. These muscle fibers are in use more frequently. They have an are larger blood and capillary supply which explains this function. This physiological process is the same for people, but potential varies when considering other factors. The initial fitness level and natural strength capacity are critical. People of ectomorphic body types will struggle to build muscle, while mesomorphic bodies can easily gain. Endomorphic body types would benefit in terms of weight loss, because muscle burns fat.  This means that women can vary in the level of muscular gains they can make depending at their starting point before hypertrophy.

Somatotype plays a major role in physical fitness potential in terms of muscular gains. Proteins actually have the ability to govern growth rates.

      Growth factors include hormones and cytokines. Growth factors maintain division and various characteristics form the original cell, which are acquired . This process is known as differentiation .  The major growth factors of skeletal hypertrophy include insulin growth factor, fibroblast growth factor, and heptocyte growth factor. Insulin growth factor regulates protein synthesis including insulin metabolism. This growth factor appears in two forms which include IGF I and IGF II. IGF I must proliferate the cells as well as cause differentiation  IGF II must spread the satellite cells. IGF responds to progressive overload during resistance exercise causing it to increase in level.

Fibroblast growth factor is present in the skeletal muscle. FGF has nine forms, but only five cause the proliferation and the differentiation of satellite cells. The amount of fibroblast growth factor is proportional to the degree of trauma or injury.  Hepatocyte growth factor has numerous cellular functions and is also a cytokine. The role of HGF is to get the satellite cells to migrate to the areas of trauma. Besides cytokines, the endocrine system and hormones also contribute to the growth of muscle.

         The endocrine system has the function of directing hormones in the body. Hormones are a group of chemicals, which are designed to regulate activities in organs or cells through out the body. Hormone function can be effected by nutritional status, food consumption, and lifestyle factors. Life style factors include stress, amount of sleep or rest, and general state of health.Testosterone is an androgen that also contributes to muscular hypertrophy. The sex hormone is produced more in males which effects the nervous system, skeletal muscle, bone marrow, skin, hair and sex organs. Women produce more estrogen, which effects the body composition to produce more fat. The endocrine system contains ovaries in women which is responsible for the ripening of eggs and the thickening of the uterine wall. The reason men find it easier to build muscle or lose weight is because they are producing more androgens  in the testes. Testosterone has anabolic effects on the body and can generate more protein synthesis. This explains why it is harder for women to build mass. Even when the training regimen is the same for both sexes male absolute strength is higher.

  However,  it is not the total amount of  testosterone in the body. The amount of free testosterone that is not bounded in the body.  As confusing as this can be it explains that a woman who trains can be stronger than a man, even though their is a hormonal difference. Hormones are not the only factor involved in muscular hypertrophy. It should also be understood that other hormones such as growth hormone and cortisol contribute to the endocrine elements. Growth hormone is classified as a peptide, which causes stimulation in IGF. It has been suggested that GH is more responsible for enforcing connective tissues. Growth hormone also needs to be involved  in the process of activation, proliferation, and differentiation. Cortisol is categorized as steroid hormone, produced in the adrenal cortex and kidney. This stress hormone causes gluconeogenesis. The process allow for formation of glucose from other areas such as amino acids and free fatty acids. Cortisol has the ability to stop the use of glucose by cells of the body. Protein catabolism can be caused by this, which allows amino acids to focus on more protein production. If this process happens too much it can inhibit skeletal muscular hypertrophy. Steroid hormones are critical because they have a nucleus than can transport through the cell membrane without a receptor.

 The endocrine system is a combination of glandular tissues and glands within organs that manipulate hormones to regulate the body. The endocrine system and the interactions of hormones do plat a role in muscular hypertrophy. These hormone interactions are complex and simply saying women cannot achieve muscle gain would be incorrect. Testosterone does provide an advantage, but IGF and GH add to the anabolic role to compensate for lower levels in women. Estrogen may also be helpful in some regards. Studies have shown that estrogen can aid in muscle repair and may have the ability to protect joints and bones from injury. Estrogen and testosterone are both important to the health of the human body.

       Women have the same muscle fibers. There is a belief that there are “men’s muscles” and  “women’s muscles.” The force than can be produced from muscle fiber is dependent on size and particular composition. Slow twitch and fast twitch fibers are different in terms of metabolism, contractile velocity, neuromuscular activity, glycogen stores, and capillary density. They do respond differently to hypertrophy. The fast twitch type II fibers are capable of more force production. Type IIa fibers are oxidative glycolytic fibers, which can be a combination of type I and IIb fibers. They need both need anaerobic and oxidative metabolism to support contraction. This type of fiber can be the product of both endurance training and resistance training. Type IIb fibers have the ability to convert into type IIa fibers. Fast twitch glycolytic fibers require anaerobic metabolism for energy needs. Contraction in this circumstance requires an amount of glycolytic enzymes. The reason this type of fiber generates more force is due to the enhanced size of the nerve body, axon , and the muscle fiber. The conduction of velocity of alpha motor nerves becomes higher, while simultaneously causing more of a response in terms action potential. Although this type of muscle fiber has more power, it has less long term endurance.

 Depending on the sport there are muscle fibers that are more helpful than others. Fast twitch fibers would be more helpful for weightlifting and slow twitch would be useful in running. The slow twitch muscle oxidative muscle fibers contribute to maintaining skeletal support and body posture. These fibers have more endurance and can generate tension for longer time periods. Slow twitch fibers have the ability to use fats and carbohydrates better compared to fast twitch fibers. The require less excitement for the sake of muscular contraction. The explanation is that oxidative metabolism provides an efficient means of breaking down fuels from energy with the help of oxygen. Type I fibers can grow with progressive overload including resistance training. Aerobic exercise to a small extent can cause hypertrophy in type I fibers. There is no difference in structure and physiology of the muscular system of women. Men have can develop larger muscles in terms of total body composition. Muscular development comes from a training regimen and the result of that particular stimuli.

        The type of exercise and training method also influences how women gain mass. There are numerous types of exercise. Weight training is the most effective method to building muscle mass. cardio vascular exercise, while still good for health will not cause mass gains. This is also true of aerobics, which does not aid in significant strength increases.

The muscular system of women contain the same muscles as men.

   Women either avoid weights for fear they will “bulk.” Basically, it is a fear of becoming muscular, which is very possible. Looking like a professional athlete or female bodybuilder takes decades to achieve. Thinking that such strength and power can be acquired with minimal effort is ludicrous. Such athletes have a genetic advantage unique to their physiology, a strict diet, and train over a number of the years. Some athletes resort to performance enhancing drug use to reach fitness or performance  targets. There still is a huge amount of cultural bias against women who do not fit a societal body image paradigm. Women have various body types and the ability to enhance physical fitness capacity. There still continue to myths about women’s bodies that were based on 19th century eugenics and pseudoscience. The female body was thought to be too weak for vigorous activity and  exercising would cause infertility in women. These concepts have been disproved, but research is still needed in terms of training of the female athlete. Exercise physiology has not examined female athletes as much as men, so it still may be a mystery about women’s total physical fitness capacity. This makes it more difficult to figure out what is the best training method for women. There are two factions that emerge in this debate. The first claims women should not train like men and the other advocates similar methods between the sexes. The one reason some argue women should not train like men is due to endocrinology. Estrogen can help women recover faster from training and reduces fatigue. Women would need more isolation work in the upper body to gain strength in that section of the body. Adding muscle to the upper body would be the most challenging element, which means there may need to be adjustments in exercises. When women do bench presses they use more of their triceps compared to their shoulders and back. Seeing as women are closer to men in lower body strength, they respond just as well to a mix of high volume and high intensity squats.

Other advocates say that women should follow the exact same regimen as men. That means lifting heavy and doing this at high intensity.  Both positions have their well argued positions, but may be there are some deeper considerations. The choice may not be either selection, rather a combination of both methods. Individuals vary in somatotype and this will effect on the results of training stimuli. The only way to find out the best training program is to determine your body type and experiment with a regimen. The only practical way would be to document or record changes to see if it is fully effective. Training should be tailored to the physical characteristics and attributes of an individual.

      Nutrition and diet are also critical to building muscle mass. For women, this becomes more complicated due to differences in how food is metabolized. If one is to consume more calories activity level should be high enough to utilize them or else it could become extra fat stores. An active woman should consume close to 2,400 calories per day to maintain mass. A diet should consist of protein and carbohydrates. Protein is required for muscle growth and repair. Foods that should be consumed for required carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. It is best to consume carbohydrates prior to and after workout sessions. This diet must be consistent to be effective in producing results. This may be the mot challenging aspect, other than the training itself. Dietary proteins can be found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs,whey, and dairy products. There is another limitation here in terms of knowledge. It is not entirely clear how much protein an active sportswoman should consume. The recommended suggestion is 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This may require a level of modification. Besides food, there are supplements that can gain in strength and muscle mass gain. Creatine  has been shown to be very helpful with women in their training regimens. Supplements and diet can allow women to build muscle mass.

        Genetics plays a role in how muscular a person can get. There is not one gene responsible for a single attribute, but a combination of genes. Eye color can be affected by  15 different genes. A gene is a single unit of DNA required to form a protein. They consist of sections of DNA that code for all the amino acids of a particular protein. Lengths of DNA are referred to as introns and exons, which transcribe  to form immature mRNA.

ADN gene

The mRNA has sections that are made from introns, which will be removed. After the removal the mature mRNA  will remain for the purpose of translation. Regulatory DNA sequences code for their own proteins and this affects the gene transcription rate. Introns can be sliced out, leaving the exon section. That remaining section will allow for protein production. Relevant to muscular hypertrophy, the MSTN gene plays a significant role. This gene provides directions to the protein myostatin. Myostatin is part of the transforming growth factor beta super family. This protein is active before and after birth and is found mostly in the skeletal muscles. It has the function of  regulating muscle growth. Athletes with low myosatin could therefore find it easier to build muscle compared with individuals with higher levels. The often used phrase ” they have great genetics” actually does have credibility. A natural physique suited to a particular sport does provide an edge in certain competitions. Genes are not a compete explanation either. Organisms interact with their environments and it can also influence biological states. There could be an athlete with great potential, but they do not work as hard. There could be women of high potential that do not have the opportunity to enhance physical skills.

 Humanity is a combination of genes and environment. Muscular potential from a genetic standpoint is inherited to a degree. Whether it can be extended further is determined by dedication, access to certain facilities, and nutrition. As science continues to uncover the nature of the human genome and gene interactions,  there still are unanswered questions.

        Age also does play a role in how much mass can be gained. The muscular system like other organ systems is effected by senescence. The aging process changes the skeletal and muscular system at different stages at life. Girls  during puberty attain their full natural skeletal and muscle mass growth faster than boys. The growth process for most people ends by age 25. Men may be slower to grow, but when it is done they are taller and have more total body mass. Muscles can change depending on use and level of exercise. Muscle will reach its full potential in size, strength, and contraction rate by the mid-20s of the human life cycle. When the muscular peak reaches a certain level, it will decline with age. Body fat  will increase throughout life. Muscles by middle age become weaker and stiffer, which can affect voluntary and automatic body movements. Bones have a more difficult time with reconstruction, leaving people more vulnerable to osteoporosis. Age causes muscle mass reduction. Between the ages of 45 to 70 muscle strength declines about one third. However, exercise can prevent muscle mass and bone loss.

 Linda Wood Hoyte started to compete in her 30s  and in her 70s still has a good physique. 

Load bearing exercises can build strength and bone mass. Besides those benefits, it might also aid in keeping a  healthy circulatory system and controlling blood pressure. It is true it would be difficult for an older person to build muscle, but not impossible. Doctors once believed that the elderly should not engage in vigorous exercise,because it could be too much for them. Seniors should be physically and mentally active to improve the quality of life. Seniors can see an increase in strength and bone mass.

        When examining these factors the question becomes to what extent are women’s capabilities? Growth rate in muscle gain for women does not differ. Women respond to training stimuli, but the difference is starting point. Men will appear that they grow more, because they have more lean body mass to start with. This may not be the case , because appearances can be deceiving, without precise measurement. Studies conducted show that women can enhance their physical fitness over a number of weeks.

Rate of Gain.png
Both male and female subjects gained 10 lbs of muscle.
Women saw dramatic increases percentage wise in squats and bench press. Arm curl percentages were lower because of the vast difference in upper body strength.

Women seem to see higher percentage increases. This does not mean they go beyond men in absolute strength, rather they gain more because the have less natural strength to begin with. It seems that women have more endurance than men when doing an exercise session.  Studies suggest women can utilize fuel reserves better and are less reliant on carbohydrates during training regimens. Women can burn more body fat relative to their size. Understanding these biological and physiological differences can contribute to making a training program more effective.

          There still is unscientific and incorrect ideas about women gaining mass. Some of these views are simple misconceptions. The term “bulky” is nothing more than a colloquial term that does not accurately describe the athletic or muscular female body. The athletic female body can come in numerous forms being either smaller or larger.

Their bodies look a particular way depending on which sport they compete in. A gymnast will not have a body of a weightlifter. A track and field athlete will not have a body like a swimmer’s. Women are still scrutinized more about appearance and body image. Even athletes have to be subject to such ridicule and derision. The irrational fear about becoming “too big” or looking “mannish” still plagues women in sports and fitness. The fitness industry promotes mostly weight loss plans to women, rather than programs that enhance physical conditioning. There are guarantees of “you can never bulk up from weight training” or “its simply impossible for women to build muscle.” There is a bias against women of different sizes. Muscular women or physically strong women face these biases. Critics either call it unnatural or unattractive. Most of these sexist claims are based on pseudoscience from 19th century  Victorian Age  medicine. Women were thought to have naturally frail bodies and rigorous exercise could harm their health. At  this time, women’s sole purpose in the eyes of Victorian society was to direct all her energy to childbirth. Getting an education, working, or doing physical activity would according to medical professionals would take away body energy for childbirth. This was false, but these myths were designed to control women’s bodies and deny them reproductive rights. Women developing their bodies to the highest physical condition has become a major statement about what a woman can be and achieve. Although the concept of female biological inferiority has been proved false, prejudice remains.

          The women that are commonly referred to as “bulky” are female bodybuilders. This should be interpreted  from a point of height and weight differences. The women who appear on stage are not as large as they seem. During contests their body weight is lower depending on what weight class. The off season is a rest period in which body fat levels will go back up. The stage body is different from  the out of contest body. Fat levels are low to show as much definition and vascularity  as possible. This condition can only be maintained for a short period of time. When body fat levels get too low it can cause problems for the cell membranes. Specific to women it can cause issues with the menstrual cycle. That is why competitors do not remain in contest shape year long.

A combination of tans and low body fat produce a body uniquely sculpted. The look is different from any other female athlete. Depending on the category, muscularity, size, definition, and conditioning vary. There are numerous weight and height classes in the physique, bodybuilding,  figure, fitness, and bikini classes. These women sculpt their bodies to a particular aesthetic. Bodies can either be lithe with some muscle, a middle range, or the hypermuscular version. While to an extent their is a level of acceptance of some muscle on the female body, there remains a bias in sports and in the whole of the fitness industry. Most fitness magazines for women encourage diets and weight loss rather than specific exercise programs. The fitness industry even blamed female bodybuilders and weightlifters for making women fearful of lifting weights. This is not true, because many publications promoted the thin body as an image of health and beauty. They were the first women to lift and spread this activity. The industry they contributed to now wants to disown them. There is a change with a the rise of crossfit and more women wanting to use weight rooms in their local gyms.

Seeing women in other sports the spectrum is much bigger. On average women are shorter than men and adding muscle to a smaller frame makes it seem as if they are gigantic. Women of this physique are often criticized as being as large as men, but this is not necessarily true. As revealed previously men have more muscle mass and larger skeletal frames. Also depending on which man you are comparing a muscular woman to she may obviously be bigger. Somatotypes vary between men and women. Comparing a muscular woman to a thin man, she would obviously look bigger. Men with endomorphic body types would be larger in terms of total body mass. The mesomorph however would be larger than most women depending on their height and weight.

The one who would be considered  bulky according to the denotation of the word would not be the muscular woman. 

Terms like bulky and toned are gender based fitness constructions. The only utility it serves is to present what types of bodies are acceptable to a dominant cultural perspective. The another myth that needs to be challenged is that some how muscles turn into fat when training or competition ends. Muscle only goes through atrophy meaning they decrease in size. Hypertrophy as discussed earlier is the opposite of this process. Maintaining a muscular physique requires high calorie consumption. Women have to work harder to achieve higher physical fitness levels. Looking like a bodybuilder or fitness model take an enormous effort. For the average non-athlete, how one looks could be completely random. The fitness industry tries to present a claim everyone will look a particular way after a training regimen, but this has no scientific basis. Their main purpose is to sell a training program, not realistic expectations.

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Looking like either one of these women  may not actually happen. However, weightlifting can improve health.

 There are women who think touch a heavy weight will make them a Lenda Murray and the others who think they can look like a smaller fitness model. It is clear that these women are professional athletes who have talent and genetics to produce such appearances. The diligence and number of years required would certainly deter a majority of people. Women who see some muscle develop and do not want it become fearful that it is permanent. Obviously it is not. The body does change when exercise is  either stopped completely or adjusted depending on goals. Muscle atrophy when it happens in women may theoretically go at a faster rate, due to body composition. Former competitors are not as large as they were when in contest. That is because the body is no longer being challenged by exercise stimuli. The only way excessive weight gain happens is when calorie consumption is still high, but physical  activity level is still low.

The photographs above show former competitors Dawn Riehl and Laura Creavalle in their post athletic career stage. Their muscles did not transform into fat, they merely shrank in size compared to when they were competition. The general public has a weak comprehension of science, especially the anatomy and physiology of their own bodies. Having a grasp of basic exercise physiology would make many understand why bulky is really not a precise term to describe a muscular body.

      The term as one can see is relative to a perspective of an individual.Another aspect that should be realized is that the claim women with muscle look like men is false. Simply having muscle does not make women look like men. This is distorted logic, because it assumes that all men have physiques that are like men on the cover of fitness magazines. Another problem is that it ignores the fact that women’s muscular systems can be developed through training. The only reason a woman would exhibit male secondary sex characteristics is from long term anabolic androgenic steroid abuse. This type of performance enhancing drug alters the endocrine system, which can enhance strength and aid in workout recovery. Virilization and other negative health consequences can be a result of use depending on the type of steroid, dosage,  and length of use.  However, it should not be assumed that all muscular people are on some drug. Training and diet are more effective in comparison. Drugs will not produce a quality athlete if training and diet are inadequate.  Women do have the ability to build muscle mass depending on age, type of exercise, somatotype,  and genetics. While much has been discovered, there could be more to learn about the full extent of female muscular physiology.


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

Kravitz, Len. “The Mystery of Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy.” Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy, University of New Mexico , 7 Mar. 2006,


Henselmans,  Menno. “The Muscular Potential of Women .” Bayesian Bodybuilding, Bayesian Bodybuilding, 12 Jan. 2015,
Jacob Wilson. “Are Women Stronger Than Men?” The Muscle PhD, The Muscle PhD, 25 Sept. 2017,
Samuels , Mike. “How to Bulk Up for Females.” Healthy Living, Healthy Living , 8 Dec. 2007,
MSTN Gene – Genetics Home Reference.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 7 Oct. 2017,
Chee April 01, 2015, Rosie. “Muscle Building: Hypertrophy And Physiology – How To Lift Weights To Maximize Mass!”, , 1 Apr. 2015,
Can Women Build Muscle Mass ?

Girls Sports : On the Right Track (1975)

This is an excerpt from 1975 from Phoenix  Films and Videos. It discusses the positive impacts of Title IX passed as part of the Education Act of 1972. Sex discrimination was prohibited in school programs. Sports programs were the area in which women and girls faced the most sex discrimination. If it was not for this legislation many women athletes would not have gotten the opportunity to compete professionally or in an international setting. There still remains challenges in terms of enforcement and ethnic as well as class disparities. Far-right presidential  administrations continue to attempt to dismantle it. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos wants to dismantle Obama era additions, which has caused much controversy.

Girls Sports : On the Right Track (1975)

No love for women’s sports? RT Segment (2011)

This segment from Russia Today exposes the often sexist treatment women face in sports. While men’s teams normally get invited to the White House, while women’s teams on rare occasions do. There is also structural challenges. There are no professional leagues for women’s baseball or  American football. These are the team sports which get much attention and commercial investment. Then there are those on the extreme end of the spectrum that say women should not play sports, because they were designed for men. James Preacher a  religious fundamentalist believes that women should not be involved based on scripture. Such archaic ideas are still prevalent. There is a level of misogyny that has been a part of the sports world and women’s entry as professional athletes has not erased it. Only when women become owners of teams, develop their more organizations, and challenge the pay gap can women reach equality in sport.

No love for women’s sports? RT Segment (2011)