Is a man more fit than a woman, or vice versa? (Part 1 of 2)
By: Marylin Salgado
August 5, 2019
This is a two-part blog series in which the differences between men and women and how their body composition and build are explained. Can this difference make them more or less fit than the other?
According to an article posted in Medical News Today, women are naturally fitter than men. Now guys, don’t get all up in arms and confuse this with “men can get bigger muscles,” because it’s not about bulking, but being fit. A lot of mass muscle guys can’t run a mile to save their lives, and while you may look fit, you certainly are not. This is not about muscle gains, but how much your heart and lungs can tolerate if you were to entertain some cardio workouts, and not just weightlift.
The first part of the study showed men have higher oxygen turnover, which means women can outperform a man by as much as 30 percent. What this means is that women have higher tolerance levels than men when it comes to lasting longer during a workout. It also proved that women can circulate oxygen through their bodies a lot quicker than men, which helps them continue an intense and demanding cardio workout, such as running on a treadmill. And, because women can process oxygen quicker, it also means women can kill the aerobic workouts better then men, unless you are Richard Simmons, and that’s a whole article in itself. It might explain why women are more naturally attracted to intense aerobic workouts, which are fast and continuous, as where men are more attracted to weight training, which requires short breaks between sets; allowing men to regain the lost oxygen that may cause some muscle fatigue.
Men, don’t despair. You are in fact able to build muscle a lot quicker than women because of your ability to produce testosterone. A study further showed men’s brain are 10% bigger than women’s and your connection from front to back lobes in the brain are also a lot greater. This includes the part of the brain that controls motor function and strength.
The world deadlift record stands at 1,155 pounds for Zydrunas Savickas in the World’s Strongest Man Competition. That is what some lay person might call superhuman, but scientists describe as hysterical strength. When an individual lifts this amount of weight, he is normally competing. What about the mom that lifts a 1-ton car to save her son stuck underneath? There is actually an element of truth to this. But there is one thing we need to also realize about this act. Zydrunas lifted the entire weight. Mom only lifted the portion of the car that was crushing her son, and not deadlifted the entire car. Also, the heaviest part of the car to lift would be at the engine. Story usually tells mom was lifting the back of the car, which with the trunk space, holds much less weight.
Furthermore, scientists reveal humans are much stronger than they realize. Not everyone takes the time to test this theory since everyday folks don’t need massive strength for everyday tasks, such as lifting a cup of their morning coffee, or even the heaviest bag at the grocery store. The human body is rather amazing; even more than we might all realize. Our brain helps us retain some of that strength to a moment when we should really need it; hence our need for safety. If we were to use max strength all the time, we would wear out our muscles, tendons and ligaments to the point we would never be able to use them after some time due to severe overuse and damage. If the time should ever come that we needed to fight back or help someone in danger, we wouldn’t be able to respond.
It is usually our brain and not our body which tells us to stop doing something. Our bodies can tolerate more than we think it can, even under stressful conditions and muscle fatigue. So, when we feel pain or physical exertion, we stop what we are doing. In which case our brain, mainly our thought process, asked us to give in. Our body can definitely keep on going. Take Navy Seals or Army Rangers, for example. Those guys are physically trained to the point of exhaustion. In the end it’s a big psychological game. If they can break you mentally, you’ve already lost.
Studies have also shown, that triathletes, be it men or women, have a higher pain tolerance as well as the ability to focus on the task at hand, not allowing for the fatigue or brain-break the body asks for during stressful conditions. The adrenaline rush and excitement the athlete gets before and during the competition also helps fuel the muscles with more oxygen rich blood, therefore supplying the muscles with more of the strength they need to keep going.
Adrenaline also provides the body with decreased pain. Take for example Arizona man Tom Boyle. He had no clue he had cracked eight teeth in his mouth from lifting a car off a teenager. He only realized he had done some damage when he returned home and started feeling pain.
For those of us who are not used to competitive training; when we experience that brain-break or fatigue, we are left exhausted and cognitively hampered. We lose motivation and the ability to process thought clearly. That sends a signal to our body to stop what we are doing and take a break or stop altogether. In situations where our safety is compromised, reaching this state of fatigue becomes dangerous.
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