Exercise Science Review 1-3, Muscles & Gender

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Exercise Science, Review Topics | 0 comments

There is no doubt that when taking the CSCS Exam you will encounter questions that require you to know the differences between women and men regarding training, hormones, and training adaptations.  Let’s go over a simple concept regarding muscle size.

Before puberty, there are essentially no differences between boys and girls.  Once puberty hits, everything changes as testosterone shoots up for boys increasing muscle mass, and for women estrogen increases leading to breast development and increased fat deposition (a requirement for fertility & pregnancy).

Hormones are the key difference and drive all the changes.  Men don’t have magical muscles that are just inherently stronger, they just have more muscle.  Peak force output is directly tied to muscle cross-sectional area.  Take careful note of the word choice in that sentence.

Peak implies the absolute maximum force output.  But just because your muscles have a larger cross sectional area than someone else doesn’t mean you can produce more force than them.  Your ability to drive those muscles hard comes into play as well.

This is how a trained woman could produce more force than a man who has a similarly sized muscle.

It’s important to remember that despite all our differences, women and men are members of the same species.  Thinking about it from this perspective it makes perfect sense that muscles of the same size can produce the same force regardless of gender.

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