Strength Comparison Between Untrained Men and Trained Women Athletes (1981)

 

Female Athletes versus Men

There was an exercise physiology experiment produced in 1981 by James R,Murrow. It was published in Medicine and Science in Sports. The intent was to see female athlete strength compared to average men. A total of 80 subjects were used all were college students. Basketball players and volleyball players were the types of female athletes used for the experiment. Female and male strength was compared as well as strength between athlete women. Relative upper body and lower body strength was compared in the experiment. This involved as the paper stated expressing relative strength in terms of per unit weight, height, and biacromial , and biiliac widths. The assumption was that the men were stronger than trained female athletes. The result was that men had greater upper  and lower body   strength compared to  women in both relative and absolute definitions. Women basketball players had more upper body strength compared to the volleyball players. Both were the same compared to absolute and relative strength. This was only one experiment and for it it be considered scientific fact it must be reproduced. There may be certain  factors that effected results. The mathematics was correct in terms of the use of  multivariate analysis of variance. The problem is simply measuring biacromial width would not give an indication of full strength potential. Biiliac width could be more helpful, but still misleading. Weight as a measurement can be helpful if analyzed from a perspective of body composition. The female athletes used do not solely train for strength. Some sports require also skilled  movements and  quick reaction time. The experiment would have worked better with weightlifters, bodybuilders, or crossfit athletes. The challenge was at the time there was little information on how best for the female athlete to train. Certainly it is now known that a female athlete depending on her height,weight, body composition, and physical fitness capacity can be stronger than the average man. The early studies are fascinating to look back upon for improving experimental methods.

             Volleyball and basketball players have to be reliant on a set of skills. While these sports use a degree of upper body strength, the goal is knowing how to concentrate power when needed. There are many different types of athletes from cricket players, soccer athletes, swimmers, or track athletes. Certain sports require more physical strength than others. Then sports like marathon running require more muscular endurance. Athletes that have more endurance based activities would struggle with sports that require more physical power. Speed, aerobic fitness, and endurance are also essential physical fitness indicators.

Training for athletes vary depending on the sport they compete in. Volleyball and basketball players may not do as much weightlifting compared to a strength athlete. Dribbling skills and hand-eye coordination would be more important than just brute force. The experiment was done at a time when it was being debated whether weightlifting was good for women’s sport performance. This was done with college students not professional athletes. This makes a difference because professional athletes take years to acquire the strength and skill to remain competitive. Their is a point in which an athlete will make physical fitness improvements and reach a peak. At that stage they can no longer enhance physical fitness capacity. Skills can still be learned and improved seeing as their is no physical limitation. Basketball and volleyball require cooperation seeing as they are team sports. Female strength athletes were not available for the study so the result does not give a precise picture. Their are many different types of athletes ranging from race car drivers, golfers, runners, and gymnasts. These require different levels of physical fitness markers. Certain female athletes would be stronger than others. So just using any female athlete from any sport could not give good comparison of maximum physical strength.

          Some understanding of anatomy is required to decipher the experiment. Biacromial width refers to shoulder size. This measurement takes the total length from the left to right acromion. The acromion is a process structure of the shoulder blade.   This is different between men and women, which has implications on strength potential. There is very little current data on  biacromial width. The CDC gathers data on height, weight, and BMI index. There is data archived between 1988 to 1994, which gives an average. The experiment was done in 1981, but it should be assumed that between the five years there was not a dramatic change. Women had on average 14.4 inch (36.7 cm ) should length  compared to men’s 16.1 inch (41.1 cm) total. That is only a 1.7 ( 4.4 cm ) difference. That is not as large as one would assume give the sexual dimorphism in skeletal structure. The data just comes from the United States. Other countries have not really invested in doing this type of measurement.

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The only country that did a survey on biacromial with was Sweden. Conducting in 2009 it produced similar results. Women measured 14 inches compared with 15.5 inches of men. The sample was small, but what it did show was that women and men were getting bigger. This measurement is an indirect indication of  somatotype and physical strength capability. The upper body strength in men is more pronounced as indicated by biacromial width. More bone mass in that area enables more muscle to be stored on that section of the body. Biilliac width reveals another aspect of anatomy. Women have wider pelvises, yet one would assume using the previous examples women would have stronger lower bodies.  Women’s lower bodies do not surpass that of men. They can be closer to men in lower body strength,but the gap still is present. That would cause a distortion in the data showing that the female athletes in the study had stronger lower bodies than men. The experiment was able to get the right answer. The Billiac width was probably not as useful. This measurement could be more useful in showing possible running speeds, rather than physical strength.

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Although measurements may be flawed, they reveal about an approach to training. Women will have to take special emphasis on increasing upper body strength. Lower body strength increase would be simple too attain in comparison. The measurement technique is just as important as the mathematical methods employed by an experiment.

          The use of multivartate analysis of variance and multivariate analysis of covariance  were used to test the hypothesis. Both fall under the general mathematical classification known as statistical analysis of variance. The mathematics was not done incorrectly, rather how it was utilized. The anthropomorphic measurements were not as good as examining height and weight. MANOVA by definition is a statistical method involved in examining several dependent variables. It is classified as analysis of variance designed to produce a model showing difference among sample groups (estimation procedures ) . MANCOVA  refers to when the conditions of covariates are used to reduce error in data collection. Covariates are the characteristics of  the groups used in the experiment.   Health condition would be classified as a covariate in this experiment. It could be assumed that all 80 subjects were in good health. The physical activity would vary between them seeing as the women would probably do more exercise compared to untrained males . MANCOVA is preferred because of its higher level of precision. That is not to say mathematics can sometimes be victim to human error or subject to interpretation.  Relevant to this experiment the use of MANCOVA was correct. Sample size, billiac and  biacrominon measures are what what threw off  a sound mathematical technique.  Weightlifting statistics would be better sample of data.

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Volleyball players do not train specifically for strength. If Foluke Akinradewo did it would surpass an untrained man. She is 6′ 3” and 174 lbs (78.9 kg ).
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The groups variance would be men and women. The error would be that variation within untrained men and fit women. The covariates are the characteristics of individuals.
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Natlia Zhedik is 6’0 ” and 163 lbs (73.9 kg). It is possible that she is stronger than men who are smaller than that.
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Women’s bodies do respond to exercise stimuli.

MANOVA and MONCOVA could still be applied giving  providing a conclusion that would be more precise. While this was done with college students, it would be fascinating to see how the untrained college men would do with professional female athletes. The conclusion would  be different. The relative and absolute strength aggregates would have to be adjusted.

          What needs to be known is how strong the average untrained man is. The only data that can be gathered is from strength training recommendations. These are not from Olympic or professional sporting events, rather from fitness and exercise science experts. The term average is general, because people vary in size, weight, and height which may give them a higher level of natural strength prior to training regimen. According to Livestrong an untrained novice lifter could be capable of lifting between the range of 135 to 175 pounds depending on their total body weight. This is not because the male body is better than the female body rather a difference in weight and body size. A woman who is 132 lbs could be able to benchpress 64  lbs. Theoretically, a woman who trains for years can either an attain the strength of an untrained man or close to it. Trained men are stronger than most women. Even under these conditions it is not impossible for overlap to occur. Genetics, methods of training, somatotype, nutrition, and diet contribute to athletic performance. Muscular hypertrophy and myogenesis operate in the same way physiologically in the female body.

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Women have the same muscles. 
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There are some men who do not have high levels of strength. 
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Insulin like growth factor I and growth hormone play a role in muscular hypertrophy. 
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Women have to train harder to attain a certain level of physical fitness. 

The biggest factor come to the size and distribution of Type II muscle fibers. These are designed for more explosive power rather than endurance. Males tend to have more fast twitch muscle fibers, however training can have an immense impact on women’s strength gains ( Muscle Fiber Type Can Vary Among Individuals). Women’s muscle fiber distribution can vary depending on individual physiology and body structure. What this means is that being female does not limit athletic endeavors or potential. Rather the fitness starting point is lower and will take more effort to increase. It would be incorrect to say that all men are stronger than all women. Some would misinterpret the study in this manner.

        Strength has to be measured in a precise way. The study used body measurements of the upper and lower body then used MANOVA and MONCOVA. The better method would be to have subjects use weights to determine strength. This would allow for seeing how much force  type II muscle fibers can produce. Arm wrestling is not a good measure. Technique and leverage can be used by smaller opponents to win matches. That means a smaller person would easily defeat a bigger one. Hand grip testing is better,but this once more is only an approximation. Seeing weightlifting records demonstrate that there are female athletes stronger than untrained men.  MANOVA and MONCOVA could still be applied and produce a correct conclusion to the experiment. It is possible that with some samples untrained males just have high degrees of  natural physical strength. Strength levels can vary among  individuals regardless of sex. The men in the sample most likely did not all have a uniform level of strength. That is why MANOVA and MONCOVA had to be adjusted for height and body size. Instead of relying on body measurements, the average men should be given lifting tasks along with the female athletes. Then analysis of variance should be used. Seeing as data was collected from the first method, compare it to the weightlifting statistics. The 1981 study was limited by the time it was produced. Women’s weightlifting did not become an Olympics sport until the year 2000. There were few women weightlifters that a college campus would have access to. The odd aspect is why they did not seek out female track and field athletes. If one really wants to see the full degree of female physical strength subjects would come from sports that require that the most. The method was slightly flawed, but the mathematical techniques could not negate them.

 

Strength Comparison Between Untrained Men and Trained Women Athletes (1981)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Will Be Postponed

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed. Sports fans and athletes will have to wait until next year for the Olympics. Prior to this announcement it was speculated that the pandemic would effect international sports competition ( Coronavirus May Effect the 2020 Olympics). The IOC and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe thought it would be best to postpone seeing as large groups only increases the chance of people getting infected with the viral disease. So far, it will still be called the 2020 Olympics even though it will be held in 2021. The only time the Olympics were cancelled was in 1940. At that time the World War II was engulfing Europe, Africa, and Asia. Athletes were also put in a difficult position. Training facilities had to be closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cancellation was not an option considering how many sponsors are involved in the games. This would be the second time Japan has hosted the Olympics. The last time was back in 1964. The pandemic has exposed how vulnerable humanity is to new diseases. The need for universal healthcare and public health protection is dire. Hopefully, governments around the world will invest in that just as much as the Olympic Games.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Will Be Postponed

Cathe Fitness : If You Have Strong Muscles Do You Have Strong Bones ?

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Bones and Muscles

There may be a correlation between strong muscles and the preservation of bone health.This would make sense seeing as the skeleton is the frame in which our organs are placed.  Without bones our bodies would be nothing more than flesh like blobs. Maintaining bone density is important for human health. Over time bone and muscle mass decrease. Women over the age of 50 must take considerable steps to preserve bone density. The reason for this sex  specific difference is due to sexual dimorphism. Women have less bone and muscle mass than an average man. When age decreases the amount women have less to work with. The reduction of estrogen levels can also cause the reduction of bone mass. Women who engage in large amount of endurance exercise and do not get the proper caloric intake are at risk of bone loss. Gymnasts and ballerinas have this problem as Cathe Friedrich describes. Women can get osteoporosis even before menopause. Extreme weight loss is not healthy either. Weight training can be a solution to preserving and building bone density. Although there is a large amount of research on the effects on the muscular system, bones remain a mystery. Certain studies suggests there is a relation between muscle strength and bone density.

         Bone mass can be effected by a resistance training regimen. One study compared subjects who did endurance exercise with people who did strength training. The groups  was a mix of both men and women. The results showed that the strength training subjects had more bone density. Further research revealed form other studies showed that the amount of time  was also essential. The subjects who lifted on a regular basis had more bone density. While further investigation is needed to make this be a statement of health science fact, it can be assumed the link is clear.

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If we had to take a guess the woman with the bigger muscles may have the most bone density.
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Strength training can build muscles and bones.
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Lifting weights can be beneficial to women’s health.

The skeleton acts as support for organs. It houses the muscle connecting through a system of ligaments and tendons. The musculoskeletal system is the description of both the bones and muscles of the human body. Heavy resistance training is good for health in many ways. Healthcare professionals have advise the use of high impact exercise to preserve bone mass, yet have been gradually suggesting that heavy resistance training can also be and aid. Lifting lighter weights with high repetitions are not effective at building bone mass or muscle to the highest degree. Lifting light weights does still have an benefit. This can be a method of increasing muscular endurance. That is an aspect of fitness that should not be ignored entirely. Bone mass is built in an incredible why, which demonstrates how easily the human body can be manipulated. When the muscle contracts a tendon is activated. This results in the bone being put into motion. Exercise stimulus has to be large enough to induce the formation of the bone. Bones have to make adjustments otherwise, not be functional. A minimal essential strain must be reached to induce the physiological response of bone growth.  This should not be done to a dangerous level otherwise it could cause a bone fracture. The resistance must be 90 % of the one repetition maximum to see an increase in musculoskeletal mass. Bone mass can be changed allowing for the prevention of certain skeletal diseases.

         Bone formation occurs  by means of osteoblasts. These are bone cells that are responsible for creating new bone. Physical activity such as running, plyometrics, jump rope, and step training are enough to activate new bone growth. Osteoclasts have to remold the new bone into its finished product. Low impact activity can still build bone. Cycling can cause bone growth if done frequently. Osteology is the study of the skeletal system and its physiological properties. It has a wide range of applications beyond physical fitness and biomedical science. Anthropology, paleontology, and natural history disciplines use it to uncover the past.  Health science uses osteology to manage or prevent diseases of the bone such a osteoporosis, osteogenesis imperfecta, and scoliosis. Osteogenesis functions the same way in women. The difference is related to amount and how age effects bone and muscle loss over time.

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Bone formation is needed to keep up with muscular growth.
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The structure and cells of the bones. 
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Cycling is a low impact exercise compared to running.

Women have on average less musculoskletal mass compared to men. Overtime this decreases with age. This means women could be more vulnerable to bone related disease related to age and could be at higher risk for fractures. At a certain age falls could be fatal. Hip fractures can become an even greater concern. Resistance training can build a bone and muscle reserve that protects the body. Even a small amount can be good for a person.

       Strength training does have the ability to protect the skeleton. The question remains which exercises are the best. This has not been tested, so the only answer that can be formed is through conjecture. Cathe suggests that exercises that work the back and hips could be the best. Compound exercises are recommended  and isolated ones are too. The problem with doing just isolation exercises is that other areas could be neglected. The point should be to strengthen all bones of the body. Doing bench presses, bicep curls, squats,deadlifts, and lunges should be part of a workout routine. The bones and muscles have to be challenged to see physical change. When training it should be noted that results are not automatic. The process takes considerable time and effort. Bone mass increase can take years. People with osteoporosis are advised to consult their doctor before going into a strength training regimen. Post-menopausal women must be vigilant in regards to bone health. DEXA scans are available to see if a person has osteopenia or osteoporosis. These two are not the same condition. Osteopenia refers to the low level of bone density, but it is not enough to be considered threatening to health. Strength training for people with osteopenia can still possibly prevent osteoporosis.

        Having built muscle would mean that there are also stronger bones to support them. This makes sense from a perspective of morphology. The skeleton is the foundation of the building of the human body. Thinness for women has been presented as the image of health. The reality is this does not have a scientific basis. A thin body, inactivity, smoking, and genetic history are risk factors. There is no complete guarantee that all chronic illness can be prevented through diet and exercise. The human body is a complex network of cells, organs, and physiological functions. At some point it breaks down like a machine. Aging does not have to mean physical and mental decline if certain steps are taken. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and being consistent with health habits can improve the quality of life. Diet may not be enough to maintain the health of all of the organ systems. The skeletal system needs as much attention as the circulatory system and nervous system.

Cathe Fitness : If You Have Strong Muscles Do You Have Strong Bones ?

ABC News : The Secret World of Women’s Bodybuilding (2001)

 

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The Secret World of Female Bodybuilding  

ABC News produced an article discussing female bodybuilding in 2001 called “The Secret World of Female Bodybuilding.” Most female bodybuilding fans know that mainstream media does not tend to be fair to the sport or unbiased. This is not just directed at female bodybuilding mainstream media has this problem with other subcultures or things they simply do not understand. Back then, there was more trust in media. The corporate model of news has destroyed mainstream media credibility. So much so, few viewers even trust it anymore. Opinions become more important than facts. One narrative is presented as correct. Bias, favoritism, and at an extreme prejudice is actively promoted on TV and radio. The repeal of the fairness doctrine in 1987 has only caused a wider partisan divide. The internet has become a large source of information. However, the rise of fake news is a growing concern. Alternative media seeks to remedy this problem. It comes under attack from the mainstream media as being “conspiracy theory.” To be truly media literate, one must look at various sources of information. Doing this and using critical thinking skills allows a person not to be manipulated by bias or misinformation. The interesting aspect about this ABC News article is that it presents female bodybuilding as an oddity. While one can see that it does not favor women doing this, it does at least gets some statements from athletes. The writing fails the test of objectivity.  Female bodybuilding is presented as a consuming, dangerous, and sexual subculture. Anyone with more knowledge and familiarity of the sport knows that is not the reality.

       The sport can be intensive in its level of dedication. Being consuming is just part of achieving skill. No one ever says to a painter stop making  too much artwork. A boss at a company never says to their workers stop working so hard. A musician or singer has to practice vigorously  to have a quality performance.  It should be no surprise that female bodybuilders train hard to build a certain type of physique. The problem with the ABC news Article is that it gets most of its information from Katie Arnoldi. She is the author of chemical Chemical Pink a novel that explores the female bodybuilding subculture. The novel was reliant on common stereotypes in the subculture and the woman getting abused theme. This was not a positive representation of the sport and one would think it was written by a detractor. Arnoldi was actually a bodybuilder herself competing in a few competitions. She has some credibility, yet the bias becomes clear in her statements.

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Katie Arnoldi 

She compares the dedicated drive to an obsession. The only time an activity becomes an obsession is it hinders functioning and daily life. Many female bodybuilders have careers outside their sport to support their competition costs. The image of hulking woman just pumping iron in a gym is not entirely true. The ABC News claim only demonstrates more of a moral panic ” Arnoldi started bodybuilding when she was 33 to get back in shape after the birth of her second child.” The story takes another turn as if something horrible happened “But what started out as an innocent exercise plan quickly turned into an obsession as she fell deeper and deeper into the bodybuilding subculture.” Katie Arnoldi never used drugs or did sessions. These things are not as awful as a person would think. Arnoldi  did neither of those this so the worst thing that happened is that she just got in shape. Too much dedication can cause burn out or strip the fun right out of an enjoyable activity. Sports are by nature competitive. Women are competitive, yet this is seen as being obsessive to a society that prefers women to limit themselves. Professional bodybuilding takes intense energy, planning, and training. It also takes much mental strength to deal with the highs and lows with fierce competition. The unfortunate part is that most people cannot appreciate the diligence and the aesthetic being created.

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The image may not be to everyone’s taste. That does not mean should not follow certain pursuits or seek male approval. The article would take a different tone, if it was interviewing men. There is sex bias here, because women are being viewed as freaks or oddities. They are not getting respect as professional athletes. Objective journalism is a endangered species. Here the ABC news report already has decided what it should think about women’s bodybuilding. A person ignorant of the sport would already be easily influenced, because they are discreetly being told what to think. Women’s bodybuilding is given a negative image and readers are being influenced to feel that way.

            The voices in support of the sport are not even present. There is only one comment from Yvette Williams. Lesa Lewis provides a counterargument. The only other female bodybuilder that makes commentary was  Mimi D’Attomo. At the time she was retired from competition. If this article wanted to have more of a balanced view they would have at least interviewed women who were still in competition. Her story was about wanting to win so badly that she resorted to anabolic androgenic steroids  and diuretics. Competing for three years she took a mixture of drugs. Bodybuilding cannot be blamed for what appears to be an addictive behavior. Competing is not like being an alcoholic. Some people may be biologically and psychologically vulnerable to addictive behavior. Mimi D’Attomo may have been one of those individuals. This cannot be proven, but there was something else at work.

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Mimi D’Attomo.

 The constant desire to win makes people do dangerous acts. Society and our culture tells us to constantly strive for success or be the best. This one vision of success or constantly pushing yourself to unhealthy levels has devastating consequences. Mimi D’Attomo just realized that going to extremes to enhance the body was not worth it. A success and win at all costs culture can harm mental and physical health. One can be competitive with out being addictive in behavior.

          Performance enhancing drugs are part of every sport. Bodybuilding is more open about use. Women face more scrutiny for their use of  AAS. There are many myths and unknowns about steroids. The most obvious myth is that women cannot build muscle without them. There are drug tested shows that have women with significant muscle. Women who do not even compete can have mesomorphic body types. Women can build muscle without the use of steroids. Simply taking steroids is no going to make an athlete a champion. To say it is impossible to make it on stage without drugs is not correct. Certain supplements could be better or just as good. Creatine has become popular for this reason. The public has an odd relation with drugs. The general view is that there are “good” drugs and there are “bad” drugs. Any substance can be made illegal for whatever reason. Prohibition proved how arbitrary drug law is. Alcohol and cigarettes have killed more people than steroids, but these drugs are legal. Even more ridiculous is the fact that marijuana is illegal. This was not done to protect public health rather increase profits for private prisons. Steroids only became a schedule three banned substance in 1990. Objections to them or women using has nothing to do with health effects. It more so has to do with appearance. The biggest objections about women’s use is that it will destroy their beauty. The fact is that depending on the dose, type, and how long the drug was used determines the side effects. Virilization can happen to women who use steroids while others do not see any changes. It is not entirely certain if id does effect the ability to get pregnant or not. The use of steroids should not be considered a moral panic or concern.   Compared to the lives lost in the drug trade or the prison industrial complex it is insignificant. The opioid   crisis was the product of corrupt pharmaceutical industry, yet there is limited action against such entities. This is not endorsement of steroids or the use of them. It is the realization that how people feel about drugs can change over time.

         Free societies can have aspects of being puritanical. When it comes to human sexual nature there is a taboo. Drugs are called the dark part of the sport. It is not called that as much as session wrestling. Katie Arnoldi describes it as rich men taking advantage of women for sexual thrill. She claimed that many rich men were sponsoring women in competing in exchange for sessions. Session wrestling is very misunderstood. There are men who like muscular so much they want to get close. This is obviously is part of a fetish. There is more to it. Seeing as muscular women are a rare sight see one up close becomes a treat. Not all meetings are session wrestling. Muscle worship is the least physical activity in which clients feel a woman’s muscles.

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Men paying women to wrestle is not the weirdest activity have done. The image presented is something sleazy . if anything it is more comedic than some form of exploitation of women. If anything the women are exploiting the men paying for sessions. Hardcore fans of female bodybuilding called schmoes do not see it as such. Just like the women themselves they are subject to stereotypes. The view is that they are either socially inept, sexual predators, nerds, or hyper obsessed fans. These men come from various ethnic, religious, racial, and national backgrounds. There are also men who are fans of muscular women in general. They do not have to be a female bodybuilder per se. People objecting to sessions is fine. The strange part is criticizing men and women who enjoy it. For some women this finances their competing expenses and more. The IFBB does not give women enough prize money, promotion, or sponsorship so they had to go into business for themselves. While money related issues may force some women to do this so they can compete, it is not impossible to say that some enjoy it. Women may have the same feelings of arousal wrestling a man. Some women may like the idea there are many men they can just physically overpower. Sessions are not all about being sexual. There are some that are serious about wrestling. Matches can be competitive or semi-competitive. Semi-competitive are preferred because both the wrestler and client want to avoid injury.  As long as no one is hurt or being abused there is nothing wrong with session wrestling. Detractors equate this to prostitution. That comparison lacks cogency. Sex really is not a part of sessions. The major point is women overpowering the client and showing her strength.

         Bodybuilding does have benefits for women. Athletes report having higher body confidence and body satisfaction. Lesa Lewis quoted in the article said ”  I love the competitive part.” Lesa also said that it allowed her to travel to different places. A psychological change happens in women making them feel more powerful. It cannot be denied that the image of the muscular woman is an empowering one. Women were told they were the weaker sex  or inferiors. That concept literally is crushed.

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The new image of female athleticism is a more forceful and powerful . There are more traditional minded people or those who have become disillusioned  who object. The media which ideally is suppose to tell the public truthfully about people, events, and activities. That cannot be possible in a world full of media giants. Only a few corporations own news outlets. This explains why one narrative and perspective is presented in print and broadcast. People cannot detect bias or distortions if they do not have other sources of information. ABC News did not really explore the health benefits from a consistent exercise regimen. Besides maintaining bone and muscle health weightlifting could protect the circulatory system. Women need to be more involved in exercise, sports, and fitness.  Women have lower levels of physical activity compared to men, which could have an effect on their health. The prevention of chronic illness is important seeing as women will live longer than men on average.  The women of bodybuilding dared to defy cultural expectations. The media instead of questioning the status quo has become its enforcer. Other subcultures have been targeted. Video games, animation, or other forms of popular entertainment has been subject to corporate media distortion.

      Sensationalism gets viewers and helps struggling newspapers. This may explain why the article took  the approach that it did. Instead of doing an objective analysis of the sport a one sided presentation was discussed. The illusion of objectivity was a few statements from only two competing athletes. There is a reason why prejudice, panic, or misinformation spreads so rapidly. The internet and digital media provides some hope. The traditional media may disparage or condemn it. It is the wave of the future and there is a generational divide. Older consumers of media either prefer a newspaper or TV broadcast. Younger consumers are going for digital media and internet based journalism. Arnoldi expresses no one is making the women get involved in fitness culture. It is there choice so what is so terrible about that? If you think that women can be responsible adults and make their own choices this should be no problem. Women taking up bodybuilding or getting into fitness culture is not the worst thing that has happened to them. The ABC report makes it seem like it is. High quality investigative journalism examines an activity, person, or event with great detail. This was not utilized in the report. The ABC News report may be useful  for historical preservation purposes. Using it for unbiased information on the sport is not. Much has changed since 2001. The sport has expanded to include various divisions. The Ms.Olympia ended in 2014, yet revived in 2020. Crossfit has become a popular fitness craze. Thanks to the internet the female muscle fandom has grown bigger than ever. The same stubborn arguments remain despite a devoted fandom and changes in opinion. Will the muscular woman ever find acceptance among the general public ? That is difficult to answer. The media has a huge influence over people’s opinions. If the media presentation changes people may shift their perspective.

 

ABC News : The Secret World of Women’s Bodybuilding (2001)

Chis Chew: Can Women Build Big Muscles and Won’t My Muscles Grow ?

Can Women Build Big Muscles  and Why My Muscle Won’t Grow

Women and sports performance is an unexplored topic in exercise science. There is debate about women’s physical capabilities. Chris Chew answers some of these questions for Health Guidance. Two questioned asked is can women build big muscles and why won’t my muscles grow?  The first question discussed the extent of women’s muscular development. Women do find it harder to build muscle. It certainly is not a simple process.Much of it involves training, diet, and long term dedication. Women who lift may have an irrational fear of getting “big.” This term is relative. What may be large to one person could be small to another. Few women could reach the size of a Jeff Steid, which some women think they can. There seems to be an overestimation of potential. The female bodybuilders that are on stage if one compares their weight are not big. They would weigh less than the average man and definitely less than the largest male bodybuilder. Women can build muscle and not be large. Some bodybuilders are smaller than what an observer would think. Building muscle does have benefits to women’s health. What really hinders women’s embrace of strength and fitness is the attitudes directed at the female body. The idea that women should be weak and delicate should be discarded. Female athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts are embracing this by attempting to gain size. There are certain steps that must be followed to ensure progress in fitness goals. Chris Chew has good insights, yet some of his exercise science claims can be challenged.

        The first question ponders the extent of female muscular hypertrophy from weight training. Chris Chew states ” there is no way women will build big huge muscles unless you are on special supplementation and specially designed training system. ” He then goes on to state some women could also add to this anabolic androgenic steroids. There is performance enhancing drug use in sports, but muscular women are accused with out evidence of using them. Not all women who compete are on steroids. The appearance that is produced is mostly a product of hours of weightlifting and nutrition. Steroids do not create superhumans or champions.  The majority of women have lower muscle mass, yet there are some women that do have higher potential. Somatotypes and genetics can determine muscular growth not just sex or hormones. Women with more muscular bodies prior to training could see a higher degree of  growth compared to women with thinner structures. Seeing as women can differ in size, height, weight, and body type what training does to their body can vary. The same training regimen will not work for every individual. That means starting off it could be constant trial and error attempting to create a certain look. Many women who enter bodybuilding take years or decades to sculpt a particular physique.

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It would be incorrect to say the testosterone is required to build a muscular body. The difference with men and women is that males have more natural strength. When testosterone levels increase in boys body composition changes during puberty. Women do grow in terms of bone and muscle mass, but do not have a strength spurt. The male body has more muscle. Women can still increase size through training due to other hormones produced during exercise. Insulin like growth factor 1 and growth hormone are active in women which aid in muscular hypertrophy. Genetically the MSTN gene dictates myostatin function, which control how large the muscles will become. Testosterone levels can vary among men and women. Yet,men’s higher production of free testosterone allows for a greater base t start from. This explains why the the most muscular women are not as muscular as the biggest men. A woman seeking to build muscle must remain consistent with training, diet, and do the regimen for certain period of time. What a person body looks like for training depends on several factors.

          Women will experience muscular growth from lifting weights. Depending on the goal in mind this could lead to numerous directions. What Chis Chew mentions as myth is only half true. No one automatically looks like a bodybuilder from just some training. He poses this question :   So will women who lift weights in their workouts build more muscle tissue? Women’s bodies are capable of that. He insists that it will result in a “toned” body. Toning is still building muscle. It is nothing more than a gendered term to make weightlifting more appealing to women. From an exercise science perspective no such thing exists. The distinction is in aesthetics. The way the muscle is shaped and conditioned produces certain looks. Terms like toned or bulky just describe an appearance not an anatomical fact. The toned appearance is the lowest level of muscle on a female body. The female bodybuilder body has a low level of body fat with more definition.

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There are women who fall in between the bulk and toned definition. They are  not muscular enough to be considered bulky, but too big to be toned. Their bodies resemble that of figure and physique competitors. Lightweight to middleweight female bodybuilders have this appearance. At this point the terms are just arbitrary and imprecise. There really is not bulky or toned muscle at the cellular level. The reason why some women are afraid of lifting weights is that they believe muscle and strength is not feminine. Women no matter what they look like should not have to be subjected to insults about their body. There is nothing wrong with a muscular or strong woman. Sadly,some women have internalized body image conformity. Muscle can enhance the female form. It may not be the mainstream idea of the female aesthetic. The hardcore fitness and sports woman does not care about the status quo in regards to women’s capabilities.

          Building muscle requires a high caloric intake. Women have to balance this with care. Seeing as metabolism works differently in their bodies food can be converted mostly into fat. Basal metabolism in the female body is lower. Estrogen production allows for greater fat storage. This means women’s activity level must be high enough to burn calories. Restricting calories would be a mistake,because it is not providing the body enough energy for the intensity of exercise. Diets may work for a certain period. Some may find that the weight comes back either because they were not consistent or they did not exercise enough. Muscle has the ability to burn calories. A woman seeking to manage her weight can benefit from a regular weight training schedule. If a woman is seeking to build muscle protein consumption is necessary.

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There are some food that cannot be consumed. High sugar and fructose corn syrup based sustenance can cause weight gain gain. Too much fat consumption can also be an obstacle to diets. Women may notice they gain weight when lifting. This is normal. The body mass that is being acquired is muscle tissue. The scale can be misleading considering it does not tell you fat to muscle ratio. The body mass index is not the best way to indicate healthy weight.   According to calculations, many bodybuilders would be classified as obese. Obviously this is incorrect. Weight refers to the amount of gravitation pulling on the body, while mass is the the amount of matter in an object. A person who is in  Outer Space would technically be weightless, but would not have lost mass. The “large” women are stage are really not as large as they appear. The biggest female bodybuilders could either be between the 165 or a little more. Male bodybuilders can easily exceed 200 lbs. The fear of becoming “big like a man” is misplaced. Women’s bodies on stage are exaggerated by tans, low body fat, and a particular type of conditioning. This makes the body look bigger from the perspective of an observer. Eating becomes essential to maintaining muscle size.

          There are benefits to a weight training regimen Chris Chew explains. He claims that muscle can burn calories even while you are asleep. Women who theoretically have more muscle would be able to burn more calories while being awake or sleeping. Fat does not burn as many calories as muscle tissue. The reason why women have a harder time losing weight or managing it is related to sex hormones and muscle to fat ratio. Regular weight training can solve this problem. Musculoskeletal mass decreases with age. One benefit Chew forgot to mention is that weight training can also combat sacropenia. Muscle loss happens as we age and this could effect women disproportionately. If women have less muscle to start off with, this would be more devastating. Being active throughout life can build enough muscle mass so that mobility is not hindered.  Bone health can be preserved by increasing density from exercise.Osteoporosis is a health threat to women that is too costly to ignore. Besides bones and muscles, the  circulatory system can also benefit. High cholesterol and heart disease are being endemic to countries with high fat and sugar based diets. The Western diet as it is referred to could be responsible for the increase in diabetes. Exercise and a change in nutrition can prevent many forms of chronic illness. It would be a wise investment for women to take up lifting or other forms of exercise to maintain health.

          Women who are not afraid of being strong or building muscle need some guidelines for fitness. Others who are progressing may reach a road block. Chris Chew reveals some may stop seeing progress after just a few months. The reason is that a novice may be doing something wrong. Chis Chew lists seven common mistakes. Over training can reverse progress and possibly harm health. The muscle tissue needs some damage from lifting to grow. Being too intense can cause rhabdomyolysis. Muscle tissue can get so damaged it breaks down and then releases protein in the blood stream. Having too long of a training session can also be counterproductive . A sufficient amount of rest should part of the process. Drinking can also do more than just effect the liver and the dendrites of the brain. It may have a negative impact on muscle growth. This should be avoided. Getting enough sleep is not only good for  your mental and physical health it contributes to athletic performance. Muscular hypertrophy requires rest to ensure recovery so that the muscles can grow stronger. There also must be a variation in workout routine. The muscles must be challenged to ensure a change from exercise stimuli. Progressive overload has to be done increase muscular development. When a novice can easily lift a certain amount of weight, then it needs to be increased. Protein consumption must be emphasized. It has been debated what is the correct amount among nutritionists and exercise physiologists. These are just a few problems that a novice could confront when attempting to build muscle.

       Building muscle is not simple. This requires knowledge of anatomy, exercise science, diet, nutrition, and physiology. The best method has been difficult to determine. What is known is that the same regimen may not work for every single person. Women’s bodies may actually have more capabilities than realized. It is just that exercise physiology is rushing to catch up. Women should not be discouraged from being active or getting bigger. Thinness has been presented as the image of health to women. Being thin does not indicate good health. Lower amounts of bone and muscle mass could make a person more susceptible to osteoporosis or sacropenia. Muscle may actually useful in preserving women’s health. One does not need to train to the levels of professional athlete to see benefits. Daily moderate levels of exercise can be enough to combat illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and morbid obesity.  For the women who are afraid to build muscle or lift there is nothing to worry about. It can be good for your health and it can enhance your appearance. Women who are serious about their fitness should also realize that training takes time. Results do not happen overnight. Chris Chew gives just a general guideline. Be sure to consult personal trainers, coaches, and academic fitness journals for the best approach.

Chis Chew: Can Women Build Big Muscles and Won’t My Muscles Grow ?