Science Explains One Key Way Women Are Fitter Than Men

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Science Explains One Key Way Women Are Fitter Than Men

It’s not sexism but a matter of biological fact to say a man is likely to be stronger than a woman. Ladies on average have less total muscle mass in comparison to their male counterparts. Men have higher levels of testosterone which is responsible for increased muscle mass.  

Furthermore, it has been established men have bigger bones and higher peak bone mass and, following exercise, achieve higher levels of new connective tissue formation.  

The research might suggest guys are physically superior to girls in every way. Ongoing research has revealed there’s at least one exception to this general rule. A woman can work out for longer than a man before she gets tired. So why is it so and what are the implications for health and fitness? Science explains one ey way women are fitter than men.

Stronger fatigue resistance

According to Dr. Sandra Hunter, associate professor of exercise science at Marquette University, when it comes to fatigue resistance, the ladies definitely win over the gentlemen. Although guys are usually more powerful than girls of similar fitness levels and so are stronger on average; women’s muscles can sustain the same relative intensity for a longer period of time. 

The paper notes a lady might not be able to bench-press the same amount of weight as a muscular man. However, she should be able to do better if both were tested on holding isometric contractions; (such as flexing a bicep or making a fist); at 100% of their maximum strength and sustaining it for as long as possible. Understanding how exactly this happens; why one sex enjoys this particular advantage over the other; was beyond the scope of the study.

One-sided focus

Dr. Hunter’s study included a review of papers that focus only on men; she encourages scientists to incorporate both sexes into future works. Hers isn’t the only study that’s demonstrated the so-called “gentler sex’s” greater fatigue resistance. 

In a similar way, numerous studies have shed insight on the gender discrepancy in fatigue resistance. What these do is also assist in highlighting the fact many scientific researchers focus on men exclusively. This is true for exercise and workout performance reviews. Only a small number of studies incorporate and review both genders. 

This could mean workout programs that rely on scientific studies are inappropriate for the ordinary woman. In turn, recommended workouts may fail to assist ladies in optimizing their physical activity; putting them as a whole at a disadvantage in terms of well-being and health.

Potential applications

What are the potential applications of these findings on differences between the genders? They may also be relevant in applications rather than purely athletic ones, to those concerning physiotherapy and injury recovery. 

Dr. Hunter explains muscle fatigue is an important factor because achieving that state of enervation is key to building strength. If the genders have different capabilities in this area, optimized workouts, such as the best movements for strengthening the core or specific regions, should take this into account. 

This can be particularly significant for people who are pursuing physical therapy after an injury or surgery. Or after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis or other related conditions. It’s been found the fairer sex benefit more from running marathons or cycling for an extended period of time; from the perspective of retaining more power in the legs.

Everyone relies on isometric contractions to some extent in daily life. When standing, sitting upright, gripping something, or walking around, individuals make use of this type of strength. The fact, those of the fairer sex tend to enjoy more endurance in this respect might be significant for other avenues of investigation. Including, varying mobility requirements as people age. 

Women can also have an edge when it comes to different activity types. During sustained exertion, they burn more fat and fewer carbohydrates; which may potentially provide a more powerful basis for longer periods of activity. 

On the other hand, they have smaller hearts and muscles and higher body-fat percentages than the typical man. Which could affect performance relative to their male counterparts in activities such as running. For sports such as swimming, these disadvantages could have less impact.

So, what does the evidence ultimately show?

Is one gender tougher than the other? Not in all the ways one can measure. Women are certainly better at resisting muscle innervation, but the typical man is likely to be stronger in other ways. 

What’s clear from the evidence is; instead of focusing only on the gents, more exploration of each gender and applicable differences should be done. What’s also apparent is how much the research has to cover; especially, concerning specific activities and differing levels of power in the limbs. Inevitably, helping support individuals in reaching their full potential.

Featured image: Unsplash
Taylor Machuca-Koniw

Born and raised in Australia’s beautiful Geelong, Victoria, Taylor has always loved reading and writing.

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