Does Sex or Race Affect Strength Training?

by Ryan Halvorson on Jul 01, 2008

Making News

Have you ever wondered if the effects of strength training differ between men and women, and among people of various races? Researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland sought to determine whether specific groups benefited more from strength training. The findings, printed in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2008; 40 [4], 669–76), showed that while African Americans tend to have greater muscle volume, they are not more responsive to the effects of strength training than Caucasians are. The study also found that relative adaptations were similar in men and women.

Participants included 181 sedentary but apparently healthy men and women (54 African Americans and 117 Cau­casians; 82 men and 99 women). Researchers used one-repetition maximum (1RM) unilateral knee extension exercise for both legs to determine baseline. Quadriceps-specific and overall body composition, body weight and muscle quality (strength per unit of muscle volume) were also tested. Subjects then performed unilateral training of the knee extensors in the dominant leg three times per week for about 10 weeks. Each participant was required to perform the movement through complete range of motion at varied intensities and repetitions for a total of 5 sets.

By the end of the study, the women showed a small decrease in fat percentage while the men remained stagnant. The women increased their relative 1RM strength by 28%, men by 24%. Caucasians improved their relative knee extensor strength by 29%, while African Americans improved theirs by 26%. The African Americans had “significantly greater body mass and BMI,” as well as muscle volume, at both baseline and study completion; however, there was no significant difference in improvements between the two groups.

“The results support our hypothesis that strength training increases quadriceps muscle volume to a greater absolute extent in men than in women, independently of race,” stated the authors. “How­ever, despite the significantly greater hypertrophic effect in men, strength training induces substantial muscle hypertrophy over a relatively short period of time in both men and women, in both Caucasians and African Americans.” Quadriceps-specific and overall body composition showed insignificant change.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 5, Issue 7

© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the publications assistant for IDEA Health & Fitness Association. He is a speaker and regular contributor to health and fitness publications and a certified personal trainer.


Trending Articles

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

The Reason Your Clients Don't Acieve Their Goals

Lots of people hire personal trainers or join group fitness classes hoping to lose weight. Yet many fail to meet their goals. New research suggests that “progress bias”—overestimatin...

Rice-Cooking Technique Cuts Calorie Absorption in Half

In a molecular gastronomy-meets-lab-science moment, researchers at the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka, have discovered a...