Can Women Be As Strong As Men?

There is an interesting conflict that sometimes comes up when feminists get on the internet. (Understatement of the century.) It has to do with physical strength. We have been told our entire lives that women are not as physically strong as men, especially in the upper body. Our chin-up requirements were lower in gym class in high school. So were our push-up requirements. When there are heavy things to be picked up, thrown, or pushed, a man gets hired to do it, not a woman. And yet, many authors argue that, in one way or another, women can be just as strong as men, if not more.

Is this girl made of plastic or just really greasy?

Is this girl made of plastic or just really greasy?

Now, I don’t think anyone on the planet would have difficulty with the fact that SOME women out there are indeed stronger than SOME men out there are. Obviously, a woman who has been lifting weights and training hard for years will probably be able to do more pushups than a man who has never lifted anything heavier than a Dorito. But the issue goes further than that. There are actually people out there who argue that ANY woman, with effort, can become as strong or stronger than ANY man, no matter what their biological or hormonal disadvantages may be. For instance, this author argues that because women’s lower bodies are built to withstand the strain of childbirth, this automatically means they are structured to lift more weight than men, which is a blatant assumption based on zero research whatsoever. Another writer gives three examples of very strong women and uses them to speak for the whole of the female persuasion. I wholeheartedly disagree with this notion that on the whole, women’s bodies are capable of attaining the strength that men’s bodies attain, and I don’t think it has anything to do with my clearly nonexistent belief that women are weak little vaginas, destined to a life of struggling to open jars of pickles and weeping.

Because only Satan-worshippers lift anything heavier than a dildo.

Because only Satan-worshippers lift anything heavier than a dildo.

Take, for instance, one of my role models. Her name is Dana Linn Bailey. (That’s her Youtube channel, go check it out.) DLB has been training for years, and has risen to the elite ranks of IFBB pros. She can bench her own bodyweight something like twenty-six times, which is absolutely remarkable for a woman. It is, in fact, remarkable for any human being. She is ridiculously strong, stronger than most of the men I know. She is a perfect example of the undeniable truth that some women are capable of becoming stronger than some men.

dlb

But look at DLB next to her husband, Rob. Dana and Rob live together. They follow a similar training regimen. If anything, Rob trains less than Dana, because he often films her workouts for Youtube. Dana’s diet is far cleaner than Rob’s. And yet, in his videos you will see him bench and squat easily four times what she does. See Rob beast it. Beast, Rob, beast. It is ludicrous to suggest than Dana could ever become stronger than Rob. He could probably snap her in half like a stick of Wrigley’s. He has the natural advantage of his gender. Still don’t believe me? Take a look at the world powerlifting records for both men and women. These records were set in three main strength-based exercises: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. You’ll notice that in almost every single category, the record set in the male division was much heavier than that in the female division. Even if you think of the men and women you know who aren’t athletes, this holds true. I know men who have never set foot in a gym in their miserable little lives, and they can still do more pushups than me. There are several biological reasons why women’s physiques are not built for strength the way men’s are.

manwoman

Men and women look different. This is obvious. Men are born with penises. Women are born with vaginas. We have more breast tissue than men. We are usually shorter. We have less body hair and facial hair. These characteristics are called “sexual dimorphism,” which is present in most species. Sexual dimorphism is what makes the female peacock a dull brown color, while her male counterpart is ablaze with color. In the human species, sexual dimorphism goes slightly beyond genitalia. Women actually have been proven to have shorter, smaller muscle fibers than men in many places. If the muscles are smaller, they have less range of motion and less kinetic potential to move weight. Also, men typically have at least 20 times the available blood testosterone that women have. Testosterone, which can be used as an anabolic steroid, is a major hormone responsible for the growth and strengthening of muscle mass.

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

So why does this matter, anyway? Isn’t it just a major downer to have to admit that women are almost always physically weaker than men? Well, sure, a little bit. But come on, ladies. We have a lot going for us. We live longer. More of us go to college. So what if we can’t throw around gigantic chunks of iron the same way our decidedly hairier counterparts can? It’s okay to admit that there are physical differences between men and women. It doesn’t mean that women aren’t as good as men. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve respect at the gym, on the field, in the ring or anywhere else. It means we’re not as strong. That’s all it means. It’s not sexist to say that women can’t lift as much as men; it’s true. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean making up lies to support your conclusion. You can be a feminist and still acknowledge what is fact. Comfort yourself with the fact that you have never peed in your own eye in the morning and you probably never will.

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10 comments

  1. Wade Miradle · · Reply

    Three thumbs up.

  2. Since I was a little girl my father notice I was unusually strong and not just for a girl! I grew up and soon realize I was as strong as in average man, something I soon would try to hide from men, mostly because I didn’t want to make them feel small. physically I look very feminine I have in hour glass figure, I don’t look like the hulk or anything but till this day I have not met any women like me, I have seen women who look very muscular but still are not as strong.

  3. we are the weaker sex 😦

    1. Haha, only in the very literal sense, and only in general!

    2. That is not entirely true. It may be fact that on average men are stronger than women, endocrinology is not the only factor in strength. Women who have low myostatin levels will have a mesomorphic body type. This protein is responsible for the regulation of myogenesis. That process allows for the construction and size of muscle fibers. So, genetics also play a role physical capability.

  4. this is kind of not accurate. Her husband is probablly bigger than her. What if he were the same height and weight?

    1. Very true. That’s why the information about muscle fibers and testosterone is important to read. If a man and a woman were the exact same size and follow the exact same training regimen, he would probably still be stronger than her due to the density of his muscle mass and the amount of testosterone being produced by his body.

      1. Men do have more type II muscle fibers which are useful for explosive power. However, women’s distribution of Type I muscle fibers allow for more endurance. This means that a woman who seriously trains would not fatigue as fast. My conjecture is if the man and woman were the same weight and height they would probably be equal in the lower body. A woman of the same weight and height could get close to, but not equal in terms of upper body strength. Women if the size is held constant, can be at least 80% as strong ( in terms of absolute strength). Women can from weight training can see a 30% to 50% increase in strength. Being female does not limit your physical abilities. The real factor is not just hormones, but the attributes of the MSTN ( encoded by myosatin) gene and the alpha-actin 3 gene. Then there is the consideration of nutrition and diet. DBL is just not stronger than some men, she’s stronger than many. A muscular woman could easily surpass an average male in physical strength.

  5. I am a 5ft 7, 68kg, 23 year old male who has been training for 5 years religiously, although nowhere near as strongbas I would like to be, my life in stats are as follows: squat – 150kg, bench – 100kg and deadlift – 180kg. One of the strongest women in my country (we have both competed in the same powerlifting competitions many times!) is 5ft 8, the same weight and has been training for 10 years. Her lifts are: squat – 100kg, bench – 55kg and deadlift – 130kg. She always wins her class, I am average. So the disparity in pound-for-pound strength between the sexes is simply staggering sorry!

  6. Mike Miller · · Reply

    I am a man in my 50s attending a university in the US where I train with young athletes of both genders. In addition, I have been a lifter for nearly 40 years and played American football in my youth. Training methods are infinitely improved over when I started and athletes of both genders are much stronger today. Yet there is still an large disparity between the strength of male and female athletes that is not merely culturally induced. I am certainly not a typical man as far as strength is concerned, but in my 40 years of lifting I have actually never encountered a woman who could lift more than I do and I still can easily lift more that all the young female lifters I train with. Women who are exceptions exist, but they are at the elite levels while I am far from elite among males. I don’t mean to put down female athletes at all-they mostly have far better flexibility than I do-and strength is only one component of athleticism, but I see absolutely no empirical evidence that would suggest that the difference between the genders in the weight room is disappearing. Women who can bench over 150kg are rare; my school has 21 young men who can bench that, for example.

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