ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

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

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

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

Sexual dimorphism effects physical fitness capacity.

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

 

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

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

Motor neurons

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

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

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

Hypertrophy

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

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

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Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

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

Strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ESSOP Vs. Women’s Strength Training

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

Why Women Should Build Muscle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self defense is important for women.

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

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

Mina Farook: The Main Reason Women Should Build Muscle

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

Dr. Mark Griffiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Best Bet For Boosting Women’s Brawn Is Traditional Strength Training

Boosting Women’s Brawn

A study conducted by the University of Ohio performed an experiment about what was the best method for women seeking to build muscular strength and endurance. What was confirmed in this 2008 experiment was that traditional strength training was the best method. To many women athletes and consistent gym goers this is not a surprise. Normally, exercise physiology experiments are conducted on male athletes. This one was different, because it wanted to see specifically the changes in women’s bodies and how they react to training stimuli. Low velocity routines may not be as effective as strength training. A total of 34 women who were of college age were examined. Over a period of six weeks they were to perform a training program. It was once though that the female body was not designed for strength. As exercise physiology progresses, the frailty myth has been proven false through scientific evidence. Doing studies that take into account women’s physiological and anatomical differences can best allow for a more efficient training regimen to improve athletic performance. The study was published Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research .

         Sharon Rana associate professor of exercise physiology  with her colleagues conducted the experiment with a particular approach.  The traditional strength training group lifted heavier loads with fewer repetitions. The low velocity group was to lifted lighter weights with more repetitions. Professor Rana stated “what made the research a little different is that we put the various methods of resistance training all in one study and added a control group, which hadn’t been done before. The endurance group also hadn’t really been studied in conjunction with low velocity type training,”  This allows for a through examination of changes over a period.

Participants performed a number of exercises including leg presses, back squats, and knee extensions. The traditional strength training  group was able to lift 499 lbs for leg presses and 121 lbs  for squats. There was a 117 lbs for leg extensions. Compared to the traditional endurance group the lifts were lower. Their maximum lifts were 341 lbs for leg presses, 64 lbs for squats, and 48 lbs for knee extensions. The low velocity group produced 365 lbs for leg presses, 79 lbs for squats, and 55 lbs knee extensions. The subjects did three sets of each exercise during the session. A rest period for a total of five minutes was given between each set and exercise.

The women had their absolute strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, and body composition measured. What the experiment demonstrated was that the traditional strength training group gained the most physical strength. The data showed the traditional strength group increased to 61.8 % in total strength for the leg press. The low velocity group saw a 26.9 % increase and the endurance group was at 23.4%. However the traditional strength training group did not see a dramatic change in the squat exercise total. The traditional strength training group saw did see a 51.3 % increase in the knee extensions.

       There should be some considerations for possible factors that effected the outcomes of the experiment. The first is the physical fitness level of women who participated. If the women who participated were either athletes or had experience with weight training exercise, this would effect the outcomes. Women with high fitness level my make the strength gains larger or more exaggerated. The only aspect about the subjects is that they were all devoid of serious health problems. A mix of ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body types would produce different results. The best subjects would be women with the lowest physical fitness levels to document the effectiveness of training.

Women with more natural strength prior to the study could have caused some distortion in data. There would be a clear difference between the average woman and physically fit woman. Both would be able to gain strength, but to what extent depends on genetics and somatotype.

        The experiment showed a small decrease in body fat. This was not as significant in number compared to physical fitness improvements in muscular endurance and strength. Body composition would not dramatically change mainly due to endocrinology. Women produce more estrogen and progesterone which allows for more fat. Women need a certain level of fat to ovulate.

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sry 4

Fat does not contribute to strength or muscle power. This has implications on physical fitness between men and women. The reason men have more absolute strength is due to higher free testosterone production in the testes. This hormone allows for greater protein synthesis. The thinnest woman or the most muscular woman would still carry more body fat  percentage compared to a man of similar physical fitness level. The difference in body composition means women have less total muscle mass.

Gonadal differentiation happens to developing fetuses. They appear by the sixth week not defined. The change happens by the seventh weeks when the gonads are either testes or ovaries. While this does not have an influence over the physical fitness capacity of boys and girls the shift happens during puberty. The change in endocrinology does not give women a strength spurt compared to males. Knowing this means women would have to train harder to build significant strength. This may take longer compared to men who are following a similar regimen. An approach tailored to women’s  physiology and anatomy will be the most effective training regimen.

        The experiment also demonstrated that cardiovascular endurance  did not increase significantly.  Neither group saw an increase. Professor Rana  stated her reason for focusing on this element of physical fitness : “we tested cardiovascular endurance because a lot of the lay literature, the articles you might read in magazines, said it would improve.” The experiment revealed that such claims may not be accurate. Merely lifting weights would not improve cardiovascular endurance. While strength gains would improve the power of the leg muscles, running involves the heart and lungs. This means cardio exercise would be a better method for aerobic endurance. The comparison can be seen with sprinters and marathon runners. Sprinters have more power compared to the higher endurance of the marathon runner.

Large muscles do not automatically mean a person can be skilled at any sport. This depends on the nature of physical activity and specific biomechanics involved. Kinseology is critical to understanding movements of the body and essential to developing effective training programs. It seems this assessment is correct that traditional weight training would not improve cardiovascular endurance. Although to be sure an experiment would have to be conducted to further verify. One control group could just do cardiovascular exercise, while the other engages in traditional strength training. They will then run a specific distance and the times will be recorded. The marathon results will show which group was had the most endurance. The obvious prediction is that  the subjects that did the cardiovascular exercise would have the best times.

      Low velocity training is not a pointless activity. It builds better muscular endurance. Low velocity training does provide strength gain, but it is limited compared to traditional strength training. The question depends on whether the goal is to build more strength or endurance. Sports that depend on strength like powerlifting, weightlifting,  or shotput traditional strength training would most likely be the best.

Low velocity training could have better application to endurance sports like ultramarathon or Olympic marathon  events. The selection of method depends on the particular sport. The experiment made this conclusion by Professor Rana : the low velocity training obviously helps you,” Rana said. “You can gain some strength and muscle endurance, but the traditional methods are going to do a slightly better job for those two things.” This does not only apply to the athlete trying to improve their performance. It can be beneficial to the average person. Any amount of exercise can be good for physical health. A sedentary life style can have negative effects on the circulatory system. Muscle mass gradually declines with age. Being at least moderately active can reverse some of these changes associated with aging. Women can gain more benefits from building strength. With more exercise physiology studies focused on women, female athletes can have a means to enhance their performance in their sport of choice.

The Best Bet For Boosting Women’s Brawn Is Traditional Strength Training

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?

Female bodybuilders train for muscular hypertrophy and aesthetics. The present an image of strength, yet the question  is what is their strength compared to men. This article from Spot Me Girl attempts to answer this question. There are women could can be stronger than men, however their is a different outcome if both men and women are on the same fitness program. The reason is due to sexual dimorphism which is shown in size, weight, and body composition. Potential between both sexes in terms of fitness capacity can vary vastly depending on health, somatotype, genetics, and method of training. There is a range of strength levels that can be documented. While physical strength is not the goal of the female bodybuilder, the development of more type II muscle fibers may result in them gaining strength. Microtrauma occurs in the muscle causing hypertrophy. This process happens to women who engage in serious weight training for such a sport. The difference is in degree and extent. The average woman could gain some strength,  who trains on a regular basis. The female bodybuilder who trains for years or decades could reach a strength level either equal to or slightly above the average man. The untrained man probably would not depending on their weight or height be as strong as a woman who trains regularly for strength. Other exercises are useful, but some are more effective at amassing strength. A Female bodybuilder would probably not reach the same level of mass or strength as a male bodybuilder. This does not mean there cannot be overlap, but this is an exception unique to a woman’s individual physiology and physical fitness capacity. Female bodybuilders would thus be stronger than average men, but would have less compared to their fellow male competitors.

         It should be clarified that endocrinology as plays a role in sports performance. The text states that testosterone does not play as big a function in muscle building as one would presume. This contradicts the following statements about initial strength. The reason that this natural strength disparity is present is due to the difference in testosterone. Prior to puberty there is no difference in physical strength between the sexes. Boys and girls have roughly the same physical fitness capacity. Girls will grow faster and end their growth spurts sooner. Boys are slower to grow having two stages. The first growth spurt could happen as early as 10 to 11 years old. The major change comes around age 13 when testosterone production increases and the testis become larger. Between these two growth spurts, males will have a strength spurt. The spurt in strength is the result in increase testosterone production. Estrogen creates more fat storage on the female body when the ovaries produce it. Sex hormones also effect the bones, ligaments, and tendons which also contribute to body strength.  A majority of girls reach their adult height by age 15, while men continue to gain more. Women do not gain a strength spurt form puberty due to the endocrinological changes related to estrogen and progesterone. However estrogen does have benefits. It can contribute to muscule repair, protects joints as well as bones, stops muscle loss, and aids in metabolism. Testosterone aids in protein synthesis which changes the rate of how muscle reacts to exercise. It also effects growth factors. This explains why it would be harder for women to build strength and muscle when starting a training regimen.

The image above shows children and at this stage in life, there is limited physical capacity difference. The adults on the right would show the aftermath of the physical changes from puberty. The athletes at the bottom have to work harder to achieve these physiques. 

It should be understood that it is not the total amount of testosterone that produces greater strength . The amount of free unbounded testosterone in the body makes part of the determination.The majority of testosterone in the body is either bound to proteins or sex  hormone binding globlin. Endocrine function does have a significant fact in strength, yet it is not the only one. There are also considerations at the beginning that has to do with a woman’s body structure.

        The upper body region differs for males and females in terms of structure. Men have broader shoulders meaning a larger frame to store more muscle on. Women can have an estimated 40 % to 70 % upper body strength level compared to a man. When men train they can add more upper body strength. A female bodybuilder’s shoulders would not increase in size. The muscle would develop relative to her frame and size. The skeletal structure including  clavicle, scapula and the rib cage would be denser in the male body. That means an average man would have an upper body advantage over the untrained woman. Assuming the female bodybuilder had enough muscle for forceful recruitment and contraction her upper body strength could be close to or equal the average male, even if the bone density was not equivalent. There would not be a way for her to challenge a male bodybuilder because the bone and muscle mass is greater.

The female bodybuilder compared to the male bodybuilder would not reach his level of strength and mass. The less muscular women would not have the same strength as the men they are next to. The average man at the bottom would not be in the same strength range as the female bodybuilder. 

Tendon and ligaments have to be factored in when discussing functional strength. Women have looser joints, which allow for greater flexibility, but this comes with the added problem of possible injuries.The lower body women tend to be closer to men in body strength. This is probably easier for women to build up compared to the upper body. These estimates in body strength can be represented in estimated percentages. Women are 27% weaker in the lower body and 63% weaker in the upper body in terms of averages. Greater upper body strength can be essential to sports like weightlifting or boxing. The difference in upper body strength only gets more pronounced with training. If women were to match the upper body strength of men it would require more bone mass and broader shoulders. Narrow shoulders mean that there is a decreased articular surface. Before considering other biological and physical factors to answer the question, there has to be a precise method of measuring physical strength.

         There are ways of measuring strength. There are methods that are more precise than others. Hand grip measure would not be the most precise measure. The chart used in the article only used women hand ball players and judo martial artists. The study conducted by The Journal of Applied Physiology . They used a total number of 1,645 men and only 533 women. This data could be distorted considering women’s numbers were small in the sample. While hand grip strength can be an indicator of manual lifting and the ability to carry loads this does not give a full assessment of absolute strength. The subjects they used were not training for physical strength, like weightlifters. Only with precise measures can a determination be made. Looking at men and women’s weight lifting and powerlifting records shows more.

Weightlifting World Records (men and women)

Powerlifting World Records (IPF)

The records demonstrated the difference in  absolute strength between men and women . The difference calculated in weightlifting is 120kg  compared to 327.kg in powerlifting. There still remains a difference in absolute strength. Bodybuilders do not train the exact way as powerlifters or weightlifters. So, if one wants to get specific about strength levels it would be best to collect data on some of the lifting records of individual athletes. When Kristy Hawkins competed in bodybuilding her lifting stats were 205 lbs (92.9 kg) for incline bench, 315 lbs (142.8 kg ) for squats, and deadlift. She could also do 245 lbs (111.13 kg) barbell rows. When she became a powerlifter her lifts became significantly larger. She broke records with a deadlift of 650 kg and a 225 kg squat.  Kristy had strength as a bodybuilder,but gained more of it through powerlifting techniques.

A person can gain some strength from bodybuilding, yet powerlifting and weightlifting provide a greater potential in terms of absolute strength gains. The goal of bodybuilding is not too bench the most, but to present a physique that has definition, shape, symmetry, size and conditioning. It is rare that women reach the strongest trained male range.The comparison of how strong a female bodybuilder is also depends on the man she is being compared to in terms of strength capacity. The average male lifter can roughly squat  125 lbs (56.7 kg), benchpress 135 lbs (61.2 kg), and deadlift 155 lbs ( 70.3 kg). Compared to Kristy Hawkins the average man would not be as strong. This is based of the Lon Kilgore strength standard. Another comparison could be made with Desiree Ellis during her career. She was able to perform 225 lbs( 102 kg ) bench press and 315 lbs squats (142.8 kg ).

The average novice male  lifters weighing 198 89 kg) pounds with several months of training could reach a 230 lbs (104.3 kg) squat, a 175 lbs (79.4 kg)  bench press. These gains are modest, but still not in the range of a female bodybuilder. Several years a male could reach the intermediate level which could see a 215 lbs (97 kg ) bench press and (129.3 kg) 285 lbs for squats. The intermediate level range of male strength is normally were women reach their maximal strength. Advanced male lifters can reach 290 lbs (131  kg ) for bench press and 390 lbs( 176.9 kg) for squats. Kristy Hawkins deadlift is higher compared to advance male lifters, but this is a notable and rare exception.

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This comes down to body size. women weigh less than men and on average are smaller. Examining deadlift data from a small sample of athletes show the difference in body weight. The smallest males weigh in  at  is 114 lbs (51 kg ) compared to the smallest woman at 97 lbs (43 kg). The largest woman would only reach 199 lbs (90 kg )compared to the male 320 lbs (145 kg )  and over. Female bodybuilders often seem bigger than they actually are. One of the biggest female bodybuilders to compete was Lesa Lewis who competed at 193 lbs (88 kg). Phil Heath the 2015 Mr.Olympia weighed about 240 lbs (108 kg). The biggest  women are comparatively small to their male counterparts.Other female bodybuilders may even weigh less than an average man when in competition. The average weight of the American man over the age of 20  is at least 191 pounds. Female bodybuilders rarely reach this weight even during the off season.

These weightlifting statistics are more precise than a basic hand grip study. While lifting any amount of weight can induce change there is a training technique that is more efficient in building strength. Strength increase can happen from bodybuilding,but powerlifting and weighlifting can increase strength even more.

       Another factor is body composition and somatotype. This is an estimation of possible muscular strength gains that can be made. Many female bodybuilders have a mesomorphic body type prior to starting their sport. Having that base can enhance the body further through training. For people with ectomorphic and endomorphic body types this poses more of a challenge. Muscular gain would be more difficult for naturally thin or larger people. When related to body fat percentages it makes a difference. A thin man would still have less fat compared to a thin woman. Fat does not add to strength, rather it can add to mass. Although from basic kinematics the more mass the more force can be generated, having more fat does not correlate to more functional strength. This explains why a the weakest man would still have more strength than the weakest woman. The male body has more muscle composition compared to the higher fat composition in women’s bodies. Muscle fibers generate more force compared to fat.

Both the men and women in these photos are very strong. However, the women are carrying more body fat compared to the men. It is hard to tell my just looking. 

Normally a female bodybuilder can reach at least 8% body fat. Men can reach as low as 3%. These low body fat levels are only done for a contest. Keeping the body under such conditions could be harmful. Body fat levels need to be low enough to show definition . Fat is necessary for the cell membranes. The recommended body fat levels for men are around 15% compared to women’s 21%. Seeing as athletes are pushing their bodies to a limit, they would actually have more physical strain during contest time. This is tougher for women, because if body fat levels become to low it can disturb the menstrual cycle. This can be avoided as long as there is recovery during the off season. Body composition also has a role in strength.

         Another consideration is muscle fiber type. Simply having large muscles does not equate to more strength. There are weightlifters and crossfit competitors that lift more compared to some female bodybuilders. The reason is based on type II muscle fiber distribution. This muscle fiber type is designed for more explosive power. Type II muscle fibers can either be classified as moderate IIa  or fast twitch IIb. If one is looking to increase strength and muscle mass these fibers are essential to the body. A bodybuilder may have large muscles, but depending on their type II to type I ratio a smaller person could be stronger.

At first this can be confusing. it only becomes clear when comprehended from the perspective of full muscle recruitment. Each of the muscle fibers must contribute to the physical task at hand. Men tend to have more type II muscle fiber, while women contain more type I fiber. Although such type I muscle fiber is not as strong, it is more fatigue resistant. The amount of muscle fiber type can vary among individuals, yet it is clear that sex is a factor in muscle fiber expression, which results in distribution.

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The general muscle fiber classification demonstrates power and energy levels.
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The type IIa muscle fiber expression in hindlimbs of a man and a woman.

Type II muscle fiber has the ability to contract rapidly. There are case when both type I and type II are used during physical activity. Type I muscle fibers are used first and when they reach their limit there is a switch to type II. The muscle fiber types act as an auxiliary support for the body under physical activity. Men and women have the same muscular system. The difference is that men have a grater amount concentrated in the upper body. The more fibers available in that area means the greater chance for more force from recruitment.

Blood supply is also different for certain muscle fiber. Slow twitch muscle fiber has more blood supply compared to fast twitch. A large blood supply enables more oxygen. As a result their work out put can last longer due to the blood difference. Fast twitch muscle has a lack of blood, which means less oxygen delivery to the tissue. Fast twitch muscle fiber has less mitochandria. Mitochandria is responsible for energy production by means of adenosine triphosphate. This explains the secret to type I muscle fiber’s endurance it utilizes blood supply and adenosine triphosphate more efficiently. Type II muscle fiber has a bigger diameter compared to type I fiber.

Strength can come in various sizes and body types. 

The challenge for type II muscle fiber is the lactic threshold. ATP uses glucose as a fuel source when under physical activity and work. Activity that goes from a range of 10 seconds to three minutes ATP is formed from incomplete breakdown of stored glucose known as glycogen. Lactic acid is produced as a result. Lifting weights requires energy faster than the body can deliver oxygen to the tissues. During this process glucose can be metabolized into  pyruvate. Pyruvate will then be converted into lactate for energy production to continue. The lactic threshold almost acts as a defense mechanism telling our bodies to stop strenuous activity. Lactic acid is not responsible for muscle soreness after work outs. Metabolites have been thought to cause such soreness, but it is unclear which ones. This explains why an athlete cannot exercise non-stop.

During exercise intensity levels are a factor in fatigue and lactic acid build up. Slow twitch fibers are reliant on a mixture of fat and glucose. Women who have a higher fat percentage can use some of that for energy. When intensity levels rise for slow twitch fibers fat metabolism will subside, while the carbohydrate metabolism increases. This induces assistance from fast twitch fiber.

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The muscle cell types
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Basic muscle fiber structure

What can be extrapolated is that not all muscle fibers are the same. The muscle cells also differ.  The three types include cardiac, smooth, and skeletal muscle. It is skeletal muscle that contributes more to strength and type II fibers that make it physiologically possible. The motor neurons are bigger in type II muscle fiber. The difference relative to size means that more fibers are activated during muscular contraction. Sarcomere length also contributes to maximal force of the muscle. Filament length if too short or too long will not produce the highest amount of force. Sarcomeres are the smallest units of contractile sections of muscle. The thin and thick filaments overlap one another when producing action. There is an estimated 600 muscles in the human body which requires the myocardium, voluntary, and involuntary muscles to collaborate. Women contain the same anatomical structure, however the difference is in body composition and total muscle fiber type.

       The nervous system is a factor in strength. Neural activity and its function translate into motor skill movement.The nervous system transmits impulses to the muscles. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. Strength level can be effected by the total number of motor neuron units and the rate of activation. This process is known as rate coding. When an athlete reaches a high level of rate coding they reach a classification known as explosive.

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The motor neuron and muscle fiber link as displayed anatomically.

There are certain methods employed to increase strength training wise. Lifting heavy weights can cause a change or lifting light weights at fast intervals. There are also factors of coordination and synchronization. Inter-muscular coordination refers to how efficiently multiple muscle work together to perform a task. Intra-muscular coordination requires the firing patterns of individual muscle fibers for a particular physical task. The process functions similar to gears working together in a clock. The gears will move to get the hands of the clock to move. This collaboration in action results in a synchronization. Motor neuron units will fire in accordance to the training load. Synchronization describes how particular muscle fibers are used depending on the physical task. Neural adaptation also is just as important as muscle fiber type. Technically, if a female bodybuilder has mastered this neuromuscular efficiency she could have considerable strength.

Some bodybuilders actually do have powerlifting backgrounds that contributed to their success. Bev Francis was a powerlifter before competing in bodybuilding. Her training in that sport gave her a great base to compete. Her maximum lifts were 335 lbs bench press 501 lbs deadlift and 500 lbs squat. Becca Swanson has been considered by many to be the strongest woman who ever lived. Her statistics include a 600 lbs bench press, 683 lbs deadlift, and 854 lbs squat.  Jill Mills also competed in bodybuilding before becoming a World’s Strongest Woman competitor.

If there were to be a comparison of strength levels, they would probably be stronger competing as powerlifters than when they were bodybuilders. That is due to the fact that the nervous system, just like the muscular system is responding to stimuli. The neural adaptation develops new pathways for the purpose of functional movement. This indicates that lifting higher loads would be more effective than lighter ones. If  any one wants to gain strength weighlifting would be the best method to reach that physical fitness target. Bodybuilders do lift weights, but the intent is not to gain the most strength. It is designed for body sculpting.

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The nerves and neurons serve many functions in the human body. Voluntary movement would not be possible without the effort of the motor cortex. The nervous system is a network of nerves and sensory receptors working to provide the brain with information. The nervous system is divided into two parts : the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system contains the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves responsible that transport impulses from to and from the nervous system. During exercise or sporting competition the nervous system is diligently working with other organ systems. The muscular system, endocrine system,and nervous system contribute to physical strength, but it goes beyond that. Physical strength can also come from the genes.

          There are genes that are linked to physical strength. The genes that are responsible for muscular strength ACTG 1, STY 1, PEX 14, and TGFA. Genes are just units of deoxyribonucleic acid. ACTG 1 provides instructions for the formation of gamma y actin proteins. There are six types of actin and four of them are present in the muscle cells. This contributes to muscular contraction. TGFA also has involvement in protein coding.Genes can be expressed in different ways depending on various factors. There are multitudes of genes that influence body structure and their is a possibility that there are more. Actin alpha 3 and ACE influence muscle fiber type and even endurance. Alpha actin 3 is found in mostly fast twitch muscle fiber. This protein is essential to the fast twitch muscle fiber. ACE instructs the production of angiotensin-converting enzyme. Angiotensin I becomes Angiotensin I I, which may contribute in some manner to skeletal muscle structure. The ACE gene can have variation resulting in the ACE I/D polymorphism. Having two copies of this version of the gene could result in the D allele. This may result in a greater portion of fast twitch muscle fibers in the body.

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Genes and environment can influence an individual’s physical capabilities. While it is true genes are important, this should not mean that genes determine everything. Training method is important. A woman who spends more time doing cardiovascular exercise or aerobics probably would not see a dramatic increase in strength compared to a woman doing weight training. The physical fitness potential could vary immensely among individuals.

        There is an exact answer to this question if approached from a perspective of biology, physiology, and anatomy. Then one must have precise measurement. If one wants to be exact, this is an essential part of the experiment. The use of the hand grip measure was not as precise as weightlifting or powerlifting measures.  The conclusion that can be reached is that men are stronger than women, however a physically fit woman has a strength level either equal to or beyond average men. The Spot Me Girl  article does come to an incorrect conclusion. It states “even if we are biologically the weaker sex regarding muscle, at least we have some pretty good conditions for lifting because of our physical resilience!” There is no such thing as a biologically weaker sex in regards to muscle. The real difference is in maximum physical fitness capacity. Men’s fitness levels are just higher due to differences in genetics, anatomy, biology, and physiology.

    What can be  gathered from this information is a rough estimate of strength levels. An untrained woman would have less strength than an untrained man. A female bodybuilder would be stronger than both an untrained man or untrained woman. However, the female bodybuilder would not have a similar physical fitness capacity of a male on her same training regimen.

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The depiction of strength levels from weakest to strongest going from left to right. 

These women have achieved considerable strength that clearly would surpass a man less active.  

The article is correct in the fact that women require less time for recovery and have an advantage in endurance. The full extent of women’s physical capability may not be known. A majority of exercise physiology research focuses on male athletes. Thus women may not be training in the most efficient manner tailored to their biology and physiology. This makes questions such as these more difficult to answer. A prediction which may be correct can be made. The exact answer could be that female bodybuilders could be stronger than many men depending on the man’s weight, size, health, and physical fitness level.  The female bodybuilder is stronger than the average man, but the weightlifters and powerlifters could achieve strength levels much higher. While men’s physiology allows for greater physical fitness capacity, this does not automatically make them better athletes. Skills, training, and experience can make the difference in athletic competition. Female bodybuilders can be very strong depending on their genetics, training method, and diet.

Exactly How Strong Are Female Bodybuilders Compared To Men?