According to an article published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, men may have superior strength, but women last significantly longer when it comes to dynamic muscle exercise.
Extreme endurance events like the Badwater Marathon or Ultraman are seeing more and more female entrants – which has led to more female champions. But why? To find out, the study, headed by Dr. Brian Dalton of the University of British Columbia, compared muscle endurance and fatiguability between men and women.
To test this, study subjects of each sex performed 200 dynamic plantar flexion or calf muscle contractions at a set resistance of 30 percent or their maximal strength. The researchers recorded data on speed, power, movements and electrical activity of their muscles during the test.
“We found that at the beginning of the task, the males were stronger and more powerful than the females,” said Dalton. “But by the end of the test, the females had less of an effect on their power and dynamic strength than the males.”
Though the men could complete the 200 contractions faster, their power ebbed more quickly and they showed greater signs of fatigue at earlier stages, suggesting women can outlast men by a significant margin.
“It would suggest that there are differences in muscle endurance and performance fatiguability between males and females,” said Dalton, who hopes to continue his research by determining the mechanisms behind his findings, thus helping to inform coaches and exercise physiologists construct training plans designed for an individual athlete’s physiology.
The full study can be found here.