Anthropometric, Physiological and Performance Aspects That Differentiate Male Athletes from Females and Practical Consequences

By Altavilla, Gaetano; Di Tore, Pio Alfredo et al. | Journal of Physical Education and Sport, November 2017 | Go to article overview

Anthropometric, Physiological and Performance Aspects That Differentiate Male Athletes from Females and Practical Consequences


Altavilla, Gaetano, Di Tore, Pio Alfredo, Riela, Lorenzo, D'Isanto, Tiziana, Journal of Physical Education and Sport


Introduction

In elite sports, the differences in performance between men and women diminish more and more. The field of investigation of many research is to know the differences of strength in order to demonstrate the reasons for the different levels of sports performance, but there is not only this conditional capacity to affect performance but even others quantitative and qualitative (Tiziana et al, 2017, Raiola, D'Isanto 2016, Cirillo et al, 2016, Gaetano, 2012ab, Raiola 2011ab). Among the most robust examples of differences between men and women is the better throwing accuracy shown by men (Hall et al, 1995), together with a better spatial ability (Watson & Kimura, 1989); the throwing accuracy male advantage has been shown to be independent of different paper-and-pencil spatial tasks (Watson & Kimura, 1991). There is some evidence in which golfers are much more accurate than others in estimating distances on grass (Durgin et al, 2011). A study of spatial navigation differences in female athletes and non-athletes showed that the elite athletes, such as soccer, field hockey, and basketball, had faster walking times during the navigation of all obstructed environments by processing visuo-spatial information faster and navigating through complex, novel environments at greater speeds (Gérin-Lajoie et al, 2007).

Sex differences in physiology and anatomy can have some profound differences on the body's response to performance fatigability. Fatigability not only limits athletic performance and daily tasks in some populations but is also the foundation for neuromuscular adaptation needed for effective training and rehabilitation (Hunter, 2016). Among the main physiological differences affecting sports performance there are several aspects to consider. From the anthropometric point of view, the woman is definitely disadvantaged; their stature, in fact, is lower on average than that of men. Women have a greater sense of balance, while males gain a mechanical and structural advantage that allows them greater strength and speed. The body weight in women is on average lower than men, but what differentiates them is mostly the body composition (women's fat mass is 25%, while in men it is about 15%). The highest percentage of fat in women penalizes their sports performance, however, there is a discipline in which this characteristic is an advantage them, swimming over long distances. As far as muscle tissue is concerned, predominance is male; Referring to body mass, muscular tissue of men is in fact about 45%, while in women it is about 36%.

Differences of muscle strength are related to the greater development of muscle mass, which is favored in men from higher testosterone production, whose levels are clearly different between the sexes. Consequently, men benefit of this in all those disciplines that require considerable levels of strength, speed, and power. With training, woman's strength increases, but the gain obtain is lower than that of man. In adult women, the VO2max value is on average less, is of about of 15-20% for trained athletes, while rising to 15-30% for untrained subjects. One reason of this difference, in relation to maximum oxygen consumption, is the highest concentration of hemoglobin (10-14% more) in men, because in men's circulatory system there is greater oxygen transport capacity and, consequently, has a greater aerobic capacity, to which the VO2max value is related. At the level of the cardiovascular system, the main differences between men and women are related to the size of the cardiac chambers, the blood hemoglobin concentration and the volume of circulating blood; in women all these parameters are lower. This penalizes women especially in aerobic disciplines. Men have greater joint flexibility than women in the shoulders and trunk areas, while female subjects, on the other hand, have greater flexibility in lower limbs, particularly with regard to abduction. This article aims to highlight gender differences, taking particular account of the various motor skills in the various sports disciplines and their influence on sporting workouts and performance. …

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