Myth Busters: Women and Upper-Body Strength

28 01 2008

This entry is a follow-up/sister post to the one I guest-wrote on The Capoeira Blog, “6 Keys to Building Upper-Body Strength“.

So, I have a confession to make.  Originally, the guest post I wrote for Faisca wasn’t supposed to be a general guide to building upper-body strength.  Originally, it was going to be something with a title like “Upper-Body Strength-Building for Women”.  It was my idea, but it wasn’t until I actually started working on the post that I realized something like that would actually go against everything I’ve/this blog has been standing for!  Mandingueira is not for women; it is about women, and for everyone. 

The reason I changed my mind is because to write an article about “strength-building for women” would imply that it is separate from the same for men; yet a strong woman would need the same level of advice as a strong man, regardless of her gender.  By the end of my first draft, however, I realized that my post read more like a beginner’s guide to strength-building—but all my information had come from purported “women’s guides” to strength-building!  Is anyone else seeing a pattern here

Abada capoeirista shows how it's done!There was one thing in particular that nearly every article I came across had in common:

“Women generally have far less upper-body strength than men.”
“Typically women do not have strong upper bodies.”
“These statistics merely illustrate what everyone knows, that women naturally develop less strength than men.”
“In terms of inherent upper body strength, we really are the weaker sex.”
“Most women have trouble performing a standard push-up.”  (And adding insult to injury: “To perform a modified push up, simply push up from your knees.  Most women can perform a push-up in this position.”  Really, now??  Some of us actually CAN do knee push-ups?!?  That’s AMAZING!!)

Wow, I feel weaker already.  Kind of ironic, considering all these articles purported to help you build your strength, not doubt it!

The age-old myth of women having less muscular strength than men do is just that—a myth.  This excerpt from Shameless Magazine puts it best:

Many people believe that all men, as some sort of single unit, are stronger than women. And reason says that simply isn’t true. Men’s strength is just as variable as women’s. Men, on average, are bigger than women, with a higher lean body mass-to-fat ratio. But women generate the same force per unit of muscle as men. That is, muscle pound to muscle pound, women and men are similar in strength. A strong woman is strong, full stop. (emphasis mine)

This observation was confirmed by a study from the US National Strength and Conditioning Foundation, which adds that although women and men have the same muscle strength, the reason many men appear stronger on the surface is because they have more muscle mass from being bigger (as opposed to muscle strength), have a higher lean body mass-to-fat ratio, and have different fat distribution in the body than women do.

Wait a minute (I can hear someone say), aren’t we just picking nits now?  What does it matter if technically women’s muscles produce the same amount of power, if due to the other factors mentioned above, a woman’s body altogether still produces less power, on average, than a man’s body altogether?  And if this is true, what’s wrong with saying so?

First, this distinction is important to make because it’s actually a pretty big one, with implications and consequences depending on whether one makes it or not.  Stating without qualification that women have less strength than men, period, is inaccurate and suggests that this is an inherent trait in women, something that can’t be changed.  As mentioned though, women’s muscles have the exact same strength as men do, and it is in fat distribution and lean body mass where they differ—factors which are variable and can be changed through training or exercise. 

Moreover, even though muscle mass is cited as a contributing factor of men’s strength, the same studies have shown that women build strength the same way men do yet without building as much muscle mass—which is interesting, because if both men and women build strength equally, but only men’s muscles build much mass to go with it, to me that suggests that in the end, women’s muscles would actually have more power per inch/pound than men’s, to do the calculations!  And as Shameless said, if a strong woman were matched with a man with less muscle (or lesser built muscles), more fat, and less lean body mass, she would in that case definitely not be “the weaker sex”.

Second, making this distinction is important because it affects how people approach this and related topics, and this ties in to the last question above.  There is nothing wrong with explaining why many women have less net strength output than many men.  After all, a fact is a fact, right?  The problem arises when people start making unqualified statements like the ones at the beginning of this post, and making them frequently and thoughtlessly.  Although clearly I was kidding when I said “I feel weaker already”, can you imagine what the effects of reading or hearing statements like that over and over again would be on someone’s mindset, whether consciously or subconsciously? 

If you imagined the logical, you’re right: other studies have shown that women significantly underestimate their own strength, compared to men.  Because we’re told we’re weaker, we think we have even less strength than we have to begin with.  This affects everything from whether or not a woman will reach her full potential while weight training, to whether or not she’ll choose to fight off a man who attacks her in the street, or just “let it happen” because to fight back would make it worse (according to another disastrous, popular myth). 

It’s all woven into one more narrative about what women are or aren’t or should be or shouldn’t be, whether it’s a young Mestra Edna’s relatives telling her “martial arts aren’t for girls”, or today’s average female capoeira student only able to find articles reiterating how weak she is compared to all the male capoeira students in her class—which may be true, but also just as well may not, and who’s the article’s author to say?  So mulhers é meninas, remember this the next time you aim for that macaco/s-dobrado/bananeira/cool upper-body strength-requiring move!

Picture source: http://www.worldartswest.org/Assets/Performers/AbadaAndyMogg.jpg

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59 responses

28 01 2008
vintagefan

Love the the last para. I had my suspicions about what we’re being fed about strength and weakness. A lot of it is conditioning.

29 01 2008
Coxinha

Looks like you dipped your feet in HKIN XD hehe congratulations :P

For you and other who are curious, the gain in strength in women more so than men is mainly due to the adaptation of the nerves and not so much as the muscle (more synchronized nerves for muscle recruitment and contraction). This happens in men too, it takes around 4-6 months before you start bulking up (mainly for men due to testosterone). So I guess it’s a good thing, because girls won’t have to worry about looking like the hulk.

29 01 2008
vintagefan

So is this a matter of regulation, like every day and then a steady increase in weight? I’m really curious. I never really gave my upper body a chance ever.

29 01 2008
Joaninha

Hi vintagefan, thank you for commenting! I think I’ll let Coxinha take over from here… XD (Coxinha: since you’re the one who’s actually swum :P)

31 01 2008
Coxinha

Hi Vintagefan,
well it depends on what you’re working on. Say if you’re trying to gain strength, the first 3-4months you won’t notice any muscle change. You might notice that your muscle looks bigger after the weight training or whatever but that’s just because of edema and the blood in your muscles (I won’t go into details unless you want the details). For the chronic hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass) it’ll take (depending on the person, but on average) 4-6months before you notice the gain. But despite this gain, if you’re a girl, you still have less testosterone in your body, so you’re not going to look like arnold swatznegger or anything (you’ll have to take supplements) but you will still get stronger.

I’m not sure if that was your question or what type of training routine you should do? It depends if you want more endurance or more strength for the style of training. For strength the basics is to use a weight you can’t do more than 10 repetitions on (and maybe do that 3 times with a break in between). Work on that, and once it gets easy, you move up to a heavier weight and continue on like that. For endurance you’re looking for more repetitions and less weight. or you can go for a moderation in between which will be probably 20 repetitions.

31 01 2008
vintagefan

Hi Coxinha,

The second para has answered all my questions, esp. about the strength and endurance. My upper body training has been sporadic to say the least, and this has been very helpful. Thankees.

V

31 01 2008
Coxinha

You’re welcome vintagefan :) glad to help.

It’s hard to keep training consistent sometimes. For me, I’ve been doing pushups before going to bed every night to strengthen the triceps and deltoids and it works because it only takes a minute every night and I moved from 30 pushups to 50 pushups in a month.

Good luck with your training!!

31 01 2008
vintagefan

50 pushups? I bow to you.

V

23 03 2008
malandro

It depends whether you just want to cheer people up or you are really interested in the “truth vs myth”. So for people who value truth more than propaganda, food for thought:


From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces (report date November 15, 1992, published in book form by Brassey’s in 1993): “The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer [stress] fractures as men.”

Further: “The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

“Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

“In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.”

From the same report: “Lt Col. William Gregor, United States Army, testified before the Commission regarding a survey he conducted at an Army ROTC Advanced Summer Camp on 623 women and 3540 men. …Evidence Gregor presented to the Commission includes:

“(a) Using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, he found that the upper quintile of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile of men.

“(c) Only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.

“(d) On the push-up test, only seven percent of women can meet a score of 60, while 78 percent of men exceed it.

“(e) Adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70 percent of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only three percent would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge….”

etc.etc.

So yeah,ladies, keep working hard as everybody likes a fit girl, but don’t try to bend the reality to suit some pathetic ideology :-)

29 08 2012
reket

You did notice that here in this study, there were only 623 female test subjects and over 3500 male test subjects?

24 03 2008
Balanca

Malandro, I think your missing some very important pieces of the puzzle. 1992, those statistics you sight were true of female military recruits. However, there are many possible explanations as to why those particular women at that particular time were not as fit as their male counterparts, but in NO WAY does it prove that women are biologically predetermined to always differ from men in those particular ways, and certainly not always to the same degree.

For one thing, the differences in injury rates between male and female athletes, can just as easily be caused by enculturation. As children, girls are not encouraged to play in ways that are as phsycially intensive and risk-taking as boys. Also girls athletic programs are not as competitive (or at least until very recently they weren’t). Many young women enter high school sports never having trained as seriously as their male counter-parts, and in their attempts to suddenly push themselves as athletes, they hurt themselves at greater rates.

Don’t confuse correlation with causation here, or generalize from one particular group of women to all woman-kind. If you could prove that the statistics were true of men & women raised with identical expectations of physical strength & endurance.

Heck in some cultures women do most of the hard physical labor.

25 03 2008
malandro

Balanca, well, no, there is nothing missing. The part I posted correlates with pretty much any evidence, including daily experience. Take, for example, athletic records and sports in general – there is just no way top females can match top males. It’s also why we have male and female divisions in sports – not to “oppress”, but to ensure women have a chance of winning.

Of course no matter what the evidence, one could always say it was “because of their upbringing” – but frankly that would be a case of denial or wishful thinking. It was never even marginally proven to be so. I also have yet to see a society where women are on the average stronger than males.

Don’t you suspect it’s really a biological (instead of social) difference? Now I’m no biology expert, but notice that when you castrate a male, his size, muscle tone and strength drops. Also, woman athletes who take “male hormones” to become stronger end up looking like men. There seems to be definite relation between manliness and physical strength. So, in the end I suppose you could (using hormonal enhancement) make a woman as physically strong as a man her size – but you’d make a man out of her in the process :-)

Last but not least, “generalization” is not evil – it’s a necessary tool we use in everyday life, and also the root of all statistics. Using statistics, you can analyze things otherwise unanalyzable and find underlying trends. For example – it doesn’t really matter whether a particular woman is stronger than a particular man. In general, an average man is taller, bigger and stronger than an average woman, and the strength difference is not trivial.

I can only repeat what I already said – work towards your goal, whatever it is, but don’t turn a blind eye to the reality. Contrary to pop sociology, there are bigger differences between men and women than just a different upbringing and external genitals.

25 03 2008
Joaninha

Hi Malandro (again),

Before getting into truth vs. propaganda, I don’t think “pathetic ideology” was called for (even with the smiley face). For one thing, it’s not ideology, and for another, it’s not pathetic. XD

As for “because of their upbringing”, why is it denial or wishful thinking? It hasn’t been proven one way, but it hasn’t been proven the other, either. And while we have yet to see a society where women are on the average stronger than males, although it might not prove anything either, we still also have yet to see a society where women are raised to a narrative of being the strong, brave, and big ones and men are raised to the narrative of being the weak, meek, gentle, and quiet ones.

I agree with what you say about generalizing being needed to process information everyday, but I probably don’t have to tell you generalizing is also what leads to stereotypes, which leads to things like racism, sexism, etc. So you just have to be careful with it…especially when the generalization in question has important effects on 50% of the human race!

Finally, the best for last. Your main issue is that men and women are biologically different and that’s just a fact, right? So please go to this link, where they answer that exact question:

http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/05/10/faq-but-men-and-women-are-born-different-isnt-that-obvious/

4 05 2008
Tarantula

I know this was posted months ago, but I just heard about this blog today.

Anyway, I’d like to re-frame the question: How much strength do we need for capoeira, and whose capoeira do we want to play?

Yes, capoeiristas need some upper body (and all-over the body) strength. Yes, men are typically stronger than women for reasons of both nature and nurture (men are typically bigger, and more encouraged to build up strength). But how much strength do we need? What does it open up for us? There are many different kinds of capoeira games, and massive brute strength is primarily useful for certain types of floreio. It looks cool, but isn’t really integral to the game.

Also, this emphasis on strength training for women ignores the greater advantage that women typically have in terms of flexibility, which men often need to work on to improve their capoeira games. This is often devalued; capoeira is frequently taught by young men who don’t place much value on flexibility, probably because it’s their weak point, too. But again, as much as it’s cool to incorporate the splits into a capoeira game, is it really necessary?

I think the key functional difference between men and women in capoeira lies in the center of gravity. Most women have lower centers of gravity than most men due to wider hips, and therefore, the physics of motion are different. We are less aerodynamic. It is harder for women to learn flips than it is for men (not impossible, just more difficult). For that matter, it’s also harder for tall men to learn flips. Women’s queda da rins are going to be centered differently, because more of the weigh is in our hips than in our shoulders. (These seem to be easier for women to pick up than for men, however.)

But really, here’s the important point – so what? Whose game of capoeira are you trying to play? Tall people often play differently than short ones. People with a background in dance grasp circular kicks differently, and those who come to capoeira from Tae Kwon Do have strong bases for beginners. If we play to our strengths while trying to improve our weaknesses, we will have greater success and a better game than if we try to play someone else’s game, whether that person is a man or a woman. So Play your own game, and make your game celebrate your strengths. In short, don’t try to play like a man, or like another woman – play like your own ass-kicking woman, and redefine the game for yourself!

5 05 2008
Joaninha

Hey Tarantula,

That’s actually a really new, and refreshing, point of view, in this particular conversation, and thank you for that! Although this post was meant to address the issue of women and strength for those who are already concerned about it to begin with, you’re right that it’s not the end-all-be-all if you lack some of it, whether you’re a woman or a man. I don’t know if you’ve read my Perspective in Capoeira: Falling Behind post, but your comment actually seems really relevant to that, and the discussion we had there. It’s true that everyone has their own game, and luckily capoeira is the kind of sport that lets you work with what you have (or don’t have!), and so completely strength-based moves aren’t always the best ones necessary for a good game…in fact, probably on the contrary, if what you really want is intense dialogue and a good conversation. Thanks again for pointing this out to us!

6 07 2008
Aris

hmm…so…if women build their upper body strength..do their muscles become huge like body builders..?
And if they do…is there a way for it to not become bigger and still have upper body strength..??
~Aris~

6 07 2008
Joaninha

Hey Aris!

Like it says in the post, women, when they train, still build upper body strength in their muscles, but the muscles themselves don’t get as bulked out. They’ve still gained the strength, though. Coxinha explains this a bit further, in her comments above. :)

14 08 2008
emma

hey ladies :)

i’m with you tarantula about the sort of game you play: one of the things i’ve always liked about capoeira is the room for personal style – from a massive library of moves, i can play the ones that work for me.

at the 20 years of Senzala in Europe event in Paris last year, Mestre Garrincha said you can be a great capoeira player with only 4 moves, and you can have all the moves in the world and be a terrible capoeira player. i could’ve kissed him ;)

as for upper body strength, in my experience the girls do seem to start with a disadvantage (& i’ll leave it to others to discuss why! ;) ).

on my quest for cada de rins, i’ve been told plenty of times that it doesn’t require upper body strength, but it just doesn’t ring true for me. i’ve taught cada de rins to loads of beginners & most of the boys got it 1st night, as opposed to only one girl. she said she’d always had great upper body strength, that it just seemed to be the way she was built. mind, she also trained trapeze, which has *got* to help!

doing a press up regime did work for me all the while i could keep it up (pesky wrist injuries). so my conclusion has been that there *is* a baseline of upperbody strength required for cada de rins. most of the guys who come to class already have it, but most of the girls don’t and have to train toward it.

one of these days, i *will* get my cada de rins down!

love,
emma

18 08 2008
Joaninha

Hey Emma, thanks for commenting! I totally agree with you about it being so cool how you can “customize” your capoeira style and how it lets you play to your own strengths.

Hey, I met Mestre Garrincha last year in France, too! I don’t think he spoke much at that particular event, but he seemed nice :) When was this 20th-anniversary event?

Thanks again for sharing everything! And keep us posted on that queda de rins ;)

16 11 2008
Malandro

Hi Joaninha, long time no see!
About the ideology thing…I guess that’s just me, but if people believe more in
what they’d like to be true than in the facts, I call than an ideology……and if the ideology entails that nothing is your fault and it’s all because of your upbringing, I call that pathetic. Sorry, can’t help myself :-)

As for the rest of your post, you got to be kidding me. You’re probably an inteligent girl, then why are you choosing to be that blind? Please do youself some research on INNATE biological differences between human male and female. (http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro99/web3/Bartek.html – the author tries to beat around the bush a little, but in the end she is forced to admit that the difference are there:-)

Or better yet, ask some woman athlete, a runner, a boxer, doesn’t matter, if she thinks she would prevail in a male division. Or do some experiment yourself – I remember one woman self-defence instructor saying that most women don’t realize just how much stronger a male body until they try going full force with him; so try to wrestle with some of your male friends to really appreciate the difference and maybe get a healthy dose of reality.

Also, realize that men aren’t “big” because they were “raised that way”. It’s cause by this little thing called biology. In the end, general 60 years old male will always be bested in strength, speed, etc. by a 20 years old male. There is nothing they(or you) can do about it. Same with males/females. To really hammer it down, cow won’t suddenly became a bull just because you raise it differently.

Sending me to a feminist site for a discussion on whether men are different than women is like sending me to a bigoted catholic site for a proof that God does exist, but I read it nonetheless:-). There really wasn’t much info, other that a vague reference to some mystical ‘biological research’ (which I frankly doubt event exists). Or were you referring to the opression thing? Sorry, that doesn’t ring a bell to me – ain’t opressin’ anyone ;-).

Finally, the only thing that leaves me puzzled – and I believe you could explain that one to me – is this: Why do you believe that you have to be ‘as good or better than men’ in order to be succesfull in capoeira (or in life)? I know that there’s no way in hell in can ever beat Mike Tyson, but does that stop me from training? I think not. Believing that I have to be somehow ‘best’ than Mike would set me up for a life of bitterness and disapointment *wink*.

I

29 06 2009
Armando

Hello Mlandro

Your statement about why men are “big’ is not entirely accurate and does not take into account many other variables. I remember growing up where boys wrestled and had fun doing very physical activities. Girls were expected to play with dolls and act like a ‘young lady’, doing less physical things. Yes, everyone knows genetics are an important factor in determining your physical traits, but you seem to place more emphasis on nature over nurture that it really deserves. Yes the average male is ‘stronger’, taller, and has more muscle/bone/total mass than the average woman but you have to ask yourself why this might be. I dare you to research the types of work men and women did, from the time America was founded up until the present.
Let me ask a question, what percentage of women historically and today, are construction/steel workers, blacksmiths, and vehicle mechanics? What percentage of men historically and today, ‘homemakers’, receptionists, nurses, teachers, maids? Are you seeing the pattern yet? How much physical strength and conditioning would I need for the ‘traditional/stereotypical’ female occupations vs. the male ones? I think there is dominating nurture aspect to this whole strength in relation to what men and women have been spending their lives doing for centuries in the US (I’m not even going to involve the rest of the world so this doesn’t get too complicated)
Women who take part in more physically demanding work have the opportunity to be stronger, and those traits pass on to the next generation. Just as man who are not as athletically gifted. Here’s a little something for your amusement: this 13 year old girl, Varya Akulova

“Why do you believe that you have to be ‘as good or better than men’ in order to be succesfull in capoeira (or in life)?”

as for this question, you seem like a very intelligent person too. Do you really not see why any woman in a developed country wouldn’t feel this way, considering all the history and unfair ideals of many the world’s cultures? come on man, be real

19 07 2012
Icaro

“Women who take part in more physically demanding work have the opportunity to be stronger, and those traits pass on to the next generation.”

Sorry, they don’t. This is not how you pass genetical traits. Go study a little before stating something wrong.

18 11 2008
Joaninha

Hi, Malandro. I haven’t looked at this post for a loooooooooooong time. I’m going to respond to your comment, but there’ll be some delay because I want to do it properly, which with the rereading and thinking through and fact-checking etc. will honestly take a lot more time than I have right now. Just letting you know so you don’t think I’m ignoring it. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to be arguing that you’re totally wrong…

27 01 2009
Rowan

A response to Malandro. I wouldn’t agree that males reach the peak of their physical development in their early twenties (don’t take todays chemically enhanced athletes and sports stars as examples of physical development). I would say that males reach the peak of their physical development in their thirties and forties, ages when most professional sports people are considered over the hill.Twenty year olds are still boys. As for 20 vs 60 maybe a 60 year old who hadn’t trained or looked after themselves might be bested, but what about the difference in brain power experience etc, I’m sure that a 60 yr old mestre would come out on top in the Roda regardless of strength difference.As for myself (now 46) feel much stronger fitter and more flexible than I did in my twenties, and I have looked after myself from an early age, participating in cycle racing,karate, jujitsu, tai chi, ninjutsu with a strength training program running alongside these activities. I’ve only been doing capoiera for a year and it certainly has challenged me physically and mentally more than any of the other martial arts I have trained in. Just to fan the fire a little more the group I train with, even though the woman in question may not have the greatest visible upper body strength she’s the best at bananeira’s au’s etc, out bananeiring our contramestre, and all the other men in the group. Something I read in a Italian cycle traing programme from the 80’s, which was used to scientifically train their olympic team was that muscle strength can double before there is an increase in muscular size (important for cyclists who need strength to weight ratios as high as possible). So muscular size may not always be a good indicator of the strength of an individual. Perhaps the link between mind and muscle/body is more important than how many pounds you can lift in the gym. If you are interested in strength training have a read of Brawn by Stuart McRobert or take a peak at the hardgainer website, this guy busts alot of myths that abound in strength training and bodybuilding circles. I have to agree with Balanca, take a look at other parts of the world where women do a lot of the labouring work and tell me those women don’t have comparable upper body strength, how do they get those big pots of water, hods of bricks etc, onto their heads?

2 04 2009
Yemi

There’s one thing you left out. Testosterone. In the book, strength training for young athletes, the authors have a graph on page 27 that illustrates the correlation between upper-body strength and testosterone for both boys and girls of puberty age. The authors explained that the differences in testosterone during prenatal development impact the number of muscle cells, so boys WILL develop more muscle cells than girls AND have more mucle mass. Please see Google Books link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=yT_fZ1NX6gIC&pg=PA27&lpg=PA27&dq=upper+body+strength,+testosterone&source=bl&ots=iUVuxHuGQf&sig=tkXG6J-21VrhhIPQxJQTlP_wbi4&hl=en&ei=39zUSf_mMNDunQeVh_XrDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8

You went ahead to state that the same amount of strength is produced by the muscles of both men and women, where strength is measured in force per square inch of muscle. But the conclusions you imply that women are stronger because they have smaller muscle mass producing the same amount of strength as a man with larger muscle mass is only half-true, and is seen from the equations below: Let’s take a hypothetical case, where:
X = Strength in Force / inch
Fw = Force exerted by woman
Fm = Force exerted by man
10 inches = Woman’s muscle size
50 inches = Man’s muscle size

Hence, for an equal strength X,

X = Fw/10 inches = Fm/50 inches

But, Fm = 5xFw

Thus, while they may be of equal strength, if both the man and the woman are in a physical fight and both are opf equal skill level, the man WILL win because the force behind one of his blows landing on her will do 5 times more damage than hers landing on him!! By the same token, a bigger more muscled man perceived as stronger may lose a fight against a puny, more agile one who can side-step his opponent’s blows while delivering his.

If a woman with her smaller muscle mass overcomes a 200lb FORCE (say weights) and a man of larger muscles can only overcome the same 200lb FORCE, then the woman is STRONGER! The woman here is 5 times stronger than the man, using our previous example

Xw = 200/10 = 20
Xm = 200/50 = 4

Why do you think boxers are put into weight categories? Because they assume that at the same fitness level, the bigger more muscled – no fat contributing to weight for the in-shape boxer, but bone mass and sheer muscles – guy has an unfair FORCE advantage. Therefore, the fight will only be fair when the boxers are in weight categories, and we can determine who has better boxing SKILL.

Again, if an accurate measure of the muscle mass is made, then with a set of weights one can always find out who is stronger FOR A PARTICULAR LEVEL OF CONDITIONING. A woman who has conditioned herself for strength exercises will always be stronger than a guy puny or not who has never strength-trained before, ceteris paribus. A larger framed guy who never works out has a hard time carring his frame around let alone doing the extra work-out, so again my previous statement may not be entirely true; just like a taller person with longer arms will have a harder time at push-ups or pull-ups or chin-ups, etc., than a shorter person, ‘cos his arms have to do more work. Work is Force (His weight) x Distance travelled. This doesn’t mean he’s not as strong.

So at the end of the day, the age old generalization is not entirely false, ceteris paribus. If a bigger muscled man has the same conditioning and fitness level as a woman of smaller muscle mass, the man WILL BE STRONGER. PERIOD.

17 06 2009
theroza nelson

gosto Muito do abada capoeira. falo de angola

30 06 2009
Armando

Varya Akulova

Google this girl and check her out in the Guieness world records. She has exceptional genes, but seems like a lot of training and conditioning to me

males and females have pretty much the same amount of muscle fibers, just like you, me, Arnold Schwarzenegger of the 70s and Ronnie Coleman. they just develop theirs more
Male tend to gain more absolute strength gains than women, but not necessarily gains proportional to their body weight; if both went under similar exercising routines. Now people with more mass, can exert more force, like you said. That doesn’t necessarily make you stronger just because you can exert more force, relatively speaking.

http://books.google.com/books?id=JZb0ibgYDCIC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=doe+men+and+women+have+the+same+amount+of+muscle+fibers&source=bl&ots=p4TTCqXx3g&sig=GyTBf10lw84sIOaQseliCwXs4ek&hl=en&ei=iJ1JSu_6BZTCML2A3bAC&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

Like lets say I weigh 170 lbs and I can carry a 300 lb person on my back; about 1.7 times my own weight
a Rhinoceros Beetle can lift 850 times their own weight, making the beetle stronger than the man

same concept

9 09 2009
Tani

I believe that women do have a strength disadvantage compared to men.

However, a man’s centre of gravity is in his shoulders, as this is where most men carry their greatest muscle mass, and is usually the widest part of their bodies.
A woman’s centre of gravity is in her hips, as the pelvis is wider than her male counterparts for childbirth.
This means a woman’s centre of gravity is lower, and so women have a biological balance advantage.

19 07 2012
Icaro

Although a man’s centre of gravity is NOT in his shoulders – instead, it’s in his upper hips -, women’s centre of gravity is indeed a bit lower than men’s – in her lower hips -, and this gives a small balance advantage to women, which is further enhanced by their hip bone shape, which differ.

But were a man’s centre of gravity in his shoulder, he wouldn’t be able to run without falling. That’d be a really sad thing to watch.

20 09 2009
GregS

I have been weight training for years as well as wrestling, martial arts and boxing. I wrestle in a troop that allows women to train with us. The women quickly find out that they are no match for any man, even the men that are smaller than them. Take a 140 pound woman and a 120 pound man, both of low body fat and equal training, and the man wins %99 of the time. The woman is hardly competition, but more of a ragdoll. The same is true for boxing and martial arts. Women need an equalizer, like a knife ;) A cut is a cut, from a woman or a man, and the knife does bridge the gap (although it is no miracle wand).

In weight training, the same is evident. Women are weaker everywhere,
including legs. If that were not true, then you would see world class
women competing against men in the same weight class. Even in leg presses, women in the same weight class cannot compete with men. Lighter women cannot run faster or longer than men, even though the men are disadvantages with upper body weight.

Any other thinking on the issue is wishful thinking and politically
correct diatribe. In general, men are faster, stronger and quicker than women. That’s just the way it is, even though no one wants to accept it.

Check out the new issue of GQ. There is a great article on testosterone
and the recent research that has shown it’s effects on men. In this age
of “male bashing” and “women are equal or better than men at everything”,
it is very unpopular and un-PC these days to do any research on any topic
that would show a man excelling over a woman, so there is very little
sociological or scientific research.

10 11 2009
Jenny

hey, youre probably right, a woman who’s top of her game in a direct contact sport isn’t likely to be able to compete with a guy who is. However that doesn’t mean that a woman can’t achieve the same moves moving her own body weight about as a guy, yeah its harder to get to that point(which is a pisser) but not imposible(as in capoeira, or a sport such as rock climbing where there is very little difference between men and womens abilites where you’re only working against your own body weight). I’ve seen girls who can do any move a guy can in both. So a woman can’t hit as hard as a guy… how hard do you need to hit to taken an opponent down in capoeira? From what I’ve seen (an I am very new to this so may be wrong) but it seems to me a good player has pretty much taken down their opponent before they’ve touched them by setting them up to be off balance. Yeah I’ve seen built mestres and contra mestres pick students of both sexes up clean off the floor and spin em round the roda before dropping them in a undignified heap… but they still set the whole thing up on the whole with the students own momentum as they try to avoid a feint.

19 07 2012
Icaro

Well now you’re going in the right direction, something the author of the post couldn’t. An average woman isn’t a match for an average man in pure strength, and that’s a biological fact.

But in capoeira, which is more about balance and moving your own weight than brute force, a woman can compare to a man.

I’m no capoeira expert, but I believe after a point – the point where you have no trouble in lifting your own weight cunningly – further increase in strength almost doesn’t matter. So, as long as the woman gets enough strength to do her moves, she’ll be an equal match to any man.

10 11 2009
Jenny

ooops just re read the earliest post and seem to have repated arguements that are already there. sorry.
P.s GregS would I be right in assumeing by your opening line about women being `allowed’ to play with the guys you feel somewhat resentful about that?

6 12 2009
Gokhan

Actually, women won’t be AS strong as men and they can’t be, mens muscles are naturally stronger and larger. Men themselves are naturally stronger and larger, in the upper body and lower body, they’re also stronger in both of those areas too.

26 02 2010
Kekora

Actually. You shouldnt base anything on gender…well…except the reproductive organs lol..because everyone is different. for example. i’m not stronger than my friend steven but im stronger than my friend austin. and my friend victoria is stronger than everyone..scares the hell out of me but yeah. i know alot of women who are stronger than men…alot stronger. I wonder when people will stop being so close minded :)

22 07 2010
Michael David

Is there a large average differnce between the genders in strength? Absolutely.

Is much of this difference due to average differences in sheer size? Of course.

A simple way to verify this is to observe the performance of prepubescent boys and girls. Usually, girls can perform as well or better than boys in most sports. The most obvious explanation is that at these ages, the boys and girls are much more similar physically than adult men and adult women.

Is the size difference in the genders that later develops in adulthood due to “oppression” or “social” factors? Not when you are comparing within groups (for example, even in societies were men are very small, the women still tend to be smaller).

Again, puberty best explains the physical and athletic performance differences that manifest themselves between the genders in adulthood. The patriarchy has very little to do with this.

So as long as we have this type of sexual dimorphism in humans, women on average will always be at a disadvantage.

But what if we account for size differences? Do performance differences between the genders then vanish?

The above blog implies that this is the case…”women generate the same force per unit of muscle as men.”

In terms of maximal strength, some studies support this. However, what about power generation? Maximal force production, such as a 1-rep max deadlift, is different than production of power (as in a punch, a vertical leap, or a snatch in weightlifting).

For generation of power, men still considerably outperform women even when controlling for muscle mass, age, training exposure, etc. An excellent example of this is in Olympic weightlifting, where the little 135lb men can outlift the heaviest and strongest females.

Why is this? Because strength and power aren’t just reducible to muscle mass. The nervous system plays an important role, and men seem to have a physiological advantage in explosive gross motor functions, such as striking, throwing, sprinting and leaping. This advantage is rooted in the effects of puberty, just as the size advantages are.

There are additional differences that result from puberty and contribute to athletic advantages for men, such as greater blood volume and number of red blood cells (even in similar-sized men and women), and anatomical advantages (broader shoulders, narrower hips). Again, it is very simplistic to talk about differences in muscle mass as being the only contributing physical difference between athletic performance in men and women.

I gave a detailed response on a similar topic on another blog a few years ago:

http://www.starling-fitness.com/archives/2006/05/12/why-women-should-be-allowed-to-compete/

I would like to hear some cogent rebuttals if anyone has any.

17 08 2010
Sam

Indeed, perhaps women should join the NFL. Better yet, now that it has been concluded that women are “stronger than men”. They should pick fights with only the biggest men on the street. As these women surely have the upper-hand. As you said, its only a practice of conditioning that women assume that they are weaker than men. Maybe Paris Hilton can go head on with Mike Tyson. I am sure she would win in a box up. He only looks stronger because he’s slightly wider. I see your logic, Dr. Andrea Dorkin seems to know her stuff. Indeed.

“i know alot of women who are stronger than men…alot stronger. I wonder when people will stop being so close mind”

Yup, I know a lot of women who are a lot stronger too. The only thing is that they seem to only be strong in the mouth. Or show their strength when no one is looking. Especially a man. Back in the day it use to be called a Sucker Punch. But surely that would not be a cowardly act would it? =)

16 09 2010
JD

This article is just plain ridiculous.
First of all, strength is not a simple issue of muscular size comparison between individuals, there are other significant factors including neurological efficiency and biological leverage that effects measured strength in question. Which leads to why, even pound for pound, men are indeed stronger.
Men have the genetic and hormonal makeup that allows them to be generally superior in any physical endeavor over women – including muscular, skeletal, cardiovascular, even cognitive (the desire to be competitive, dominating, technical, etc) systems.

Nonsense you say? How do you explain, even in strict weight classes, that all strength records are held by males? Why are the sexes then be segregated in the Olympics? Why are there separate times for woman and men marathon runners, and why are the men’s times always better? Name one sport where females outperform males? Even less physically demanding sports, like golf and skeet shooting, are all male dominated (illustrating my cognitive point).

25 11 2010
Ivy Cheang(Asian lol not all Asians girls are happy to be weak and skinny)

Nice, I’m glad this is the first post I went into when I searched “upper body strength and women” ;) Still, it means I have to work a lot harder than guys — but who cares? I have time to waste and I certainly love training :P
The most ridiculous sentence of all “Most women have trouble performing a standard push-up.”… I don’t wanna swear, but I did, I have never needed a modified push up lol I just can’t do hand freeze, yet :) more and more push ups coming~ But really, it’s not only the media that doesn’t like girls with good upper body strength, my mum hates it too, she says I’m gonna be Rambo before I can even do a pull up -.-

9 12 2010
Celia Oney

This will echo some of what GregS and Malandro have said already, as my personal experiences have been in line with their arguments. I’ve been a competitive weightlifter (Olympic style) for about 5 years; I’m also female and tiny. I agree with much of what the original post is saying: I’ll buy that a pound of a man’s muscle isn’t inherently different than a pound of a woman’s, and for anyone it’s important to keep trying to be stronger/better than you are now. However, when people make certain statements rejecting men’s natural strength advantage, it’s just absurd, and honestly a little insulting.

Weightlifting competitions in my state include participants from a really wide range of backgrounds and ability levels: everyone from high school kids competing for the first time to recreational lifters in their 60s or 70s. There are also a few national champions, people who’ve competed internationally–incredibly serious, dedicated lifters.

These top lifters include a couple of women who have a serious shot at going to the Olympics. They’ve been lifting for many years, their technique is almost perfect, and they have intense commitment to success. They also lift about as much weight as moderately talented, amateur males in their late teens/early twenties, who’ve probably had 20-30% as long to train. In other words, this is in line with Malandro’s statistics about the absolute best women being about as strong as an average male.

A few people have said that men’s (on average) superior performance in many sports is due to the fact that boys receive more encouragement to be strong and active from a young age. I wouldn’t deny that that’s true in some cases–maybe for young, amateur/recreational athletes. But once you get up to elite levels of competition, and you still see a difference in ability along gender lines, you really have to admit that men have a strength advantage.

If anyone doesn’t understand what I’m getting at, I’d recommend watching some videos of female weightlifters competing in the Olympics. Yes, they lift less than men of similar body weight, but they’re still freaking amazing. I mean, look at the kind of effort they put out when they’re throwing 1.5 or 2 times their body weight above their head. After seeing that, do you still think that the only reason they lift less than male Olympians is the fact that their parents might have given them dolls instead of sports equipment when they were kids? To me, chalking up strength differences to socialization has always seemed insulting–it implies that women like this are being held back from their full potential, when really we should just be in awe of the amazing things they’re doing with their bodies.

Ultimately, what matters in the context of weightlifting is personal improvement, and if you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, it really makes the most sense to compare yourself to people with similar bodies–same sex, same size, approximately same age. I think we should be able to accept points on both sides of this argument: that most men are capable of lifting more than most women; and that, regardless of that, a woman who’s stronger than 99% of women of her size is really, really awesome, even if she’s only stronger than, say, 50% of men of that size.

Also, from Armando:
“Women who take part in more physically demanding work have the opportunity to be stronger, and those traits pass on to the next generation.”

If you’re referring to physical strength being passed on, you’re basically referencing Lamarck’s theory of evolution. This theory has been completely disproven–there’s no way that strength gains, or any other changes to a body over the course of its life, can be passed on to offspring. In a society like the one you describe, stronger women might be more likely to survive to adulthood or might be more desirable to men as potential mothers of their children, but an individual’s gained strength wouldn’t affect his/her children.

20 12 2010
maurice

The article is WRONG. There are many differences between male and female muscle. For example, men have larger type II fibers. Women have more type I fibers and a higher capillary density and more resistant to fatigue.

In addition, size and strength aren’t necessarily that well-correlated. However, things get complicated. For example, how do you measure strength? Isotonic versus isometric loads.

16 03 2011
Adrenalectomized Mutant

‘so try to wrestle with some of your male friends to really appreciate the difference and maybe get a healthy dose of reality.’

Hahahahahaha. I’ve done that in judo. Can submit some guys who are like 20kg heavier than me. Not all of course, but the drastic difference you’re talking about certainly wasn’t there.

18 03 2011
Ungar

A healthy dose of reality right here:

10 05 2011
cori

Celia: I appreciated your perspective; it was interesting. I’m just curious (if you should ever come back and read this)- what your own personal experience is w.r.t. upper vs. lower body strength? The army stats posted near the top showed that the difference between men and women was noticeable for upper body strength. I’m interested if this is also true in the competitive weightlifting world, especially at high levels.

18 05 2011
Kapila karunarathna

Thank you so much. I learned lot of things.

1 06 2011
what

Is this a joke? Do you contend that the average man is not significantly stronger than the average woman? Do you contend that if the weight is the same (let’s set it at 150 lbs) that the average man of this weight is not significantly stronger than the average woman of this weight?

I suppose every experience related to this has been totally wrong!

1 06 2011
what

Ungar, that video seals it. The person who wrote this blog entry just does not want to accept reality. I actually wish it wasn’t true because history would not show so much exploitation/repression of women. But it just is true and you aren’t doing anyone a favor by denying it. You are actually making women less safe. The following story will likely make some people think I’m an a-hole, but I did it because of caring about someone’s safety and I am a gentle person.

A few years back, I was dating a woman who was around 5′ 6″ and 120 lbs. She had a habit of going into semi-dangerous places at night when she was out with a few girlfriends having fun (we were living in a largish city that was not very safe downtown at night). I told her I was concerned she wasn’t taking enough safety precautions. She brought up that she had a black belt in tae kwon do (which she earned a few years back but was not actively training in) and that this made her feel like she was safe.

I then asked if I could grab her the way that an attacking male might and for her to try and break free without doing something like gouging my eyes or ripping my nuts off (I didn’t want maimed ya know). I thought maybe she was not aware what a huge difference size and strength can make and perhaps wasn’t aware that she was comparatively weak.

Well, I’m 6′ and 180 lbs, not a huge guy, but probably 2 to 3 times stronger than she is. You likely know the rest of the story. I grabbed her from behind with my arms crossed and trapping her arms and then just lifted her into the air a foot or so. I did this gently and was actually only holding her enough to restrain without hurting/bruising her.

There was very litle she could do. If I was a bad guy and she tried something fancy, unless it was devastating, I could’ve easily thrown her down with enough force to break her bones.

She was much more careful after that.

1 09 2011
...

I understand what you are saying, and it is foolish for anybody to hang around dangerous places at night just because they know martial arts. No matter how strong someone is – a gun or knife can beat them anyway.

Firstly however, sometimes in western societies people are given black belts far to easily – so having a black belt only really means something if its gotten from a training club where you actually have to work hard for it. I know this because I do taekwondo as well. Also, taekwondo focuses on kicks and punches, not on grabs. If she did jujitsu or hapkido, she would most likely be able to break free (that kind of thing really relies more on technique than on strength anyway).

The writer of this article is arguing that a lot of the idea of a strength difference comes from psychology, not from biology. Expectations of each gender has a huge difference on how people (in particular, conformist idiots) act.

The thing is – when a girl is strong (even if she is stronger than the average male), her muscle size won’t show it.

The maximum capability for a guy is stronger, that’s obvious – but the point is that women can be a lot stronger than people believe them to be. The idea about the push ups is particularly true. A few years ago (in school) we had to do as many push ups and sit ups as we could in a minute. I (a girl) did more push ups (proper push ups, not girl ones) and sit ups than all the girls, and all but one guy. I am below average height, have no noticeable muscles, and at the time I had only been doing taekwondo for about a year.

Also, although it is stupid to be in a dangerous place late at night – there have been numerous cases where women have been able to defend themselves due to martial arts. Anyone doing martial arts would understand how much difference training can make. If you want to look at averages (which I hate doing, but anyway), women are more flexible. Generally, men often have to stretch a lot before they are able to perform the technique of the kick, whereas women have to work on making the kick stronger. It produces the same result of being able to break someone’s face. Once a guy at my taekwondo club joked that the stretches were unfair (since I was doing them easily, and he was struggling).

Short story, the writer of this article is not denying “reality” – they are showing that biologically, women can be stronger than people believe them to be, and conditioning has a great effect on making girls think they are weak. Besides, people need to be judged as an individual and not by gender.

One more thing, I understand that you felt like you could throw this girl the ground. This does have a lot to do with height, but can be bypassed with technique (using their strength against them). As I did hapkido for a while, I felt like I could throw (some) guys, taller than me, to the ground as well (and in fact, I have).

I know this has been long, but I think people are missing the point of this article.

3 11 2011
Phil1

Being able to do a lot of push ups isn’t a sign of your overall physical strength. People who are lighter have an easier time doing push ups (and pull ups) because they have less weight to push/pull. Most of the strongest men in the world can hardly do any push ups because they weigh so much. Zydrunas Savickas, the stongest man on the planet and probably the strongest person in the whole history of the world, can’t even do 20 push ups in a row. Yet millions of people, most of whom aren’t even close to his strength, can do a lot more, so push ups don’t really mean anything for determining who is stronger. I know a lot of women who can do more push ups than most men but they are still a lot weaker overall. Your overall strength is better determined by your 1 rep max, like how much you can lift or squat or bench or clean and press.

It’s not just physical strength either. Men are also faster, have more stamina, faster reflexes, are more explosive, and even a much higher tolerance for pain, all of which are very important factors in a fight.
Men also (usually) have the weight and reach advantage, which are also important.

Women can be stronger than most people believe them to be, but most women are still pretty weak. I see this on a daily basis at work, where most women can’t even handle doing a lot of the semi-heavy lifting that even the men who weigh much less can do. Less than 0.1% of women can be considered “strong” by a man’s standards of strength.

4 06 2011
mauricev

what, I think your example is trying to falsely equate a defense situation to strength because she wasn’t allowed to do the very thing you want her to do in that situation, namely, gouge your eyes or rip your nuts off. That’s not fancy. It’s the basic self-defense stuff. To be fair, I’m not sure tae kwon do is that well-suited for self-defense, so she doesn’t necessarily need to be careful, she just needs better training.

20 06 2011
Adrenalectomized_Mutant

@ “what” I think that would be more because TKD is an unrealistic style and mostly teaches long range striking, which isn’t much good when you’ve been grabbed without warning.

I remember my first judo class, almost being sick with fear because it was all male except for me and I’d heard all those sayings like ‘you don’t realize how massive the strength difference is until you roll with a guy’…I had it in my mind I was going to get ripped in half. One or two sparring sessions later, which were fairly even, I was smiling my ass off and looking forward to next session already. Where the hell was that insurmountable strength difference I’d been hearing SO MUCH about? I certainly didn’t feel it. I think the only time I had that problem was when I was suffering from persistent vertigo, which would mess anyone up, male or female. And to think I’d walked in there with the attitude that I wouldn’t even try and stay upright, because of the strength difference, “oh no, if I even go force against force for a few seconds I’ll surely get hurt”…

15 12 2011
Maluquinha

I stumbled on this blog while looking for guidance on increasing my upper body strength. What an interesting conversation! So many different perspectives on the definition and relative impact of strength. So much food for thought. This is the first post I’m reading, and look forward to checking out the rest of the blog!

My interest isn’t in absolute or even relative strength, but functional /dynamic strength. The competitive strength-based examples given by previous posters generally are hyper-focused on a few aspect of strength, such as absolute power or explosive speed. In these areas men do have an advantage. Not only due to muscle mass or twitch fibers, but also because of the propensity of men to use their brains in more compartmentalized ways. Women have advantages with regards to agility and balance, which relate to our propensity to use both sides of our brains more in unison. Evidence for this includes women having a thicker corpus collosum, the central region of the brain that connect the right and left hemispheres.

Part of what I love about capoeira is that to be effective requires dynamic, spontaneous movement that comes out of energy transference. Brut strength, power, bendyness, flow, and strategy separately aren’t enough. It’s about the synthesis of these (and more).

Personally, my goal is to get strong enough to move through any movement my body is compelled to go, functional / dynamic strength. I believe that once I can do this freely, then it will open up the game in a whole new way. Like when a child goes from crawling to walking, there is an accompanied developmental explosion in other areas, physically, cognitively, and socially. I guess in my case i also include persistence, and adaptability in my definition of strength. These last two seem to be increasingly influential as i get older, and yet still try and increase my abilities.

19 01 2012
On Male and Female Strength Differences « grimalkinblog

[...] stereotyping is useless in determining actual strength between individuals, and that such comments serve to convince women that they actually are weaker. Which isn’t something that I appreciate, [...]

3 02 2012
demo

It doesn’t matter which gender is stronger now, or in the past, or whatever. It’s the future that matters.

Think about it – how long have human females been set about to be less active than human males? Now compare that to how long they’ve actually been set to be *active* through serious sports and weight lifting – anything organized for them has been developed in the past two hundred or so years.

You’re all settling on women’s performances today after they’ve essentially only been able to develop themselves for about a fraction of the time that human males have.

It’s the biological conditioning of gender. Women keep training, they’ll get better and strong, or society can keep selling them the anorexic female image, to be a child for their male daddies, and keep getting weaker. Men can keep hiding their insecurities by developing muscle mass over them, and lord over their little codependent girls.

If you’re a woman – get stronger, physically and mentally. Or, like some of the posters here, you can settle for things as is and live in a world where your daughters always have to depend on someone else to be their ‘daddy’. How disgusting is that?

I actually think women should train with men, so that the conditioning goes even faster. Yeah, you’re going to get hurt and whatever, but that’s how you adapt, not by staying in your safe zone.

18 02 2012
condillac

Dude, there were women wrestlers and athletes who trained alongside men in ancient Greece thousands of years ago. Women working out or weight training is nothing new. And NOthing prevented women from developing their strength in the past. In fact, back then, your average woman was a lot more active and probably a lot stronger since they didn’t depend on technology so much and had to do everything manually, so the claim of them being less active is moot. Most women today lack the strength and stamina to do what women 100 or 200 years ago did and yet they think they have it so hard. They don’t have a clue how pampered and spoiled they are.

If anything, women are less active today than they ever were. Women today spend more time watching TV than men. They are more likely to be obese. More girls are playing video games than ever before. Modern day women are weak compared to the women of the past.

17 03 2012
Pirru

..I’m not disagreeing with anything you say; a woman with the equivalent amount of muscle as a man should have the same amount of strength, etc, etc…
But I’d simply like to note: men develop to naturally have more upper body muscles and stamina; and their anatomy is also more built for physical strength, and stamina.
Females, on the other hand, are “built” in a sense to specialize at other skills…
For example, eyesight (they can see a larger array of colours than males), flexibility, and other skills, most notably childbirth.
I’ll agree in the end; for the most part women should be able to keep up with males at strength and stamina… but there’s a certain limit; and it will take much more effort.
And generally, you can have a male and a female; and have both excercise the same amount- and the male should come out with more muscle, and strength overall.

@demo:
No, a girl shouldn’t be taught to be a wimp- but they shouldn’t be told to be a man either.

17 03 2012
Pirru

and @Adrenalectomized_Mutant;
Well, with weapons and balance, this is a completely different story. Of course you should be able to handle yourself just as well as anyone else in Judo….
In fact, you might actually be better at it- after all, balance is something I would imagine women are better at…

25 07 2012
AJ

I truly believe that men and women are closer than you think when it comes to muscular strength and size, if a higher percentage of genetically gifted women would train to their potential we’d see that more clearly, in the past women have been severly discouraged by society and have “held back”, this is changing and it’s become more in fashion for women to exercise and have muscle and likely we’re just scratching the surface as to real potential, I can imagine in 20-30 years that women are nearly equal, also take into account the evolution of performance enhancing drugs and women most certainly will be able to be onstage with men in spor, check out musclebattleofthesexes.blogspot.com where this is discussed in more detail

21 08 2012
This is why I am not smiling

[...] he pissed me off. Contrary to popular belief, sir, female bodies are not actually less strong than male bodies. And while we’re at it, here is another thing that pisses me off—an excerpt from Female [...]

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