Biologically speaking, women may never be able to run as fast or lift as much as men, but a recent study points out that we do have at least one fitness advantage: Our muscles don’t get tired as fast.
As study author Sandra Hunter, Ph.D., associate professor of exercise science at Marquette University, told Health.com, “I may not be able to bench-press the same amount of weight as a big
muscle-bound guy, but if you ask us both to perform a contraction at
100% of our maximum strength and sustain it as long as we can, I should
be able to outperform him.”
In a review published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Hunter looked at existing research on sex differences in “fatigability” — basically, muscular endurance — in specific tasks and explained why those differences are important. Women are underrepresented in sports medicine and exercise-science studies (and in medical studies in general). So findings about the best way to build strength or improve fitness may not work as well for women.
“The bottom line of training or rehab is that you have to fatigue a muscle in order to increase its strength. So if men and women fatigue differently, they should be treated differently,” Hunter told Health.com. We need more women included in this research, she said, not just for the sake of women working on their fitness but also to improve the outcomes of physical therapy after injuries.
In the meantime, wall sit contest, anyone?