I have seen some pretty damn strong natural females who can lift more than me and lots of other males. The interesting part is that people are always associating testosterone with strength in some way (muscle, size, recovery, potential to be stronger, more energy, etc.), but the average guy, on average, would have anywhere from 5 to 20 (or more) times testosterone than the average woman, on average. It's beyond unlikely that any natural female powerlifters with good numbers have the same or greater testosterone than the average man would have, but could best him in few feats of strength (namely the squat and deadlift, for examples). Some 120 lb. natural women are squatting 300 + lbs. and deadlifting around the same or more too, which are numbers no average man would even budge in the majority of cases. If testosterone was as tighty-correlated to strength as some would make it out to be, it would make no sense that natural female lifters have numbers and power higher than plenty of average males who would have more testosterone likely.

Also, quite a few of these phenomenal, natural female lifters have less muscle mass than the males too, but are probably lifting a little more, and lb.-for-lb. it's extremely impressive: e.g.:

120 lb. woman deadlifting 360 lbs., squatting 320 lbs., and benching around 160 lbs. maybe.

All of these above lifts are probably greater than what many average men could do at his best, especially the squat and deadlift, which are significantly greater than what most average could do.

Assuming this woman is 120 lbs., it's unlikely her forearms are larger than maybe 12 inches, and quadriceps larger than 28 (a lot of average men can easily be larger than this at average weights).

So if a 120 lb. smaller, natural (no enhancement) female can have LESS testosterone and LESS size but still have more power easily than average guys (who probably bench 100-130 lbs., squat 150-200 lbs., and deadlift maybe 220-240 lbs. at the most in the majority of observable cases) it is clearly seemingly that strength has no tight link with testosterone or size, or else reality would fail.

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    You mention "natural female powerlifters", but, do you have a specific example of a woman who can lift the weight you've indicated and has been drug tested? I'd like to meet her.
    – rrirower
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 20:23
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    They exist, so I don't know why you're acting so shocked. Here's a video of one that somewhat fits the above specs, and is definitely natural: youtube.com/watch?v=MPdketTIKbI. I have seen other videos too, and you can tell the women in them are natural because they are so thin and such. I assure you it's not as rare as you may think to see a girl lift roughly triple her weight naturally; hard, but not impossible. Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 20:37
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    If that girl keeps lifting like that she's going to be in a wheel chair.
    – Eric
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 21:54
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    Since when does someone being thin indicate they're natural? There are plenty of people on steroids who don't necessarily look like it. Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 2:30
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    Jeez, what a bunch of knit-pickers ! OK, maybe the horses weren't at a full trot- wished I,d had a smart phone back then to record the action. The point is, there are women out there who are capable of physically out-performing men.
    – user16138
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 14:05

3 Answers 3


Testosterone is a steroid hormone. A steroid simply being present does not necessarily mean that a person is making good use of it. Men are obviously on average going to out perform women in feats of strength, and having more natural steroid production helps that, but you are making a mistake in excluding all other contributing factors.

Instead of asking how a woman can be stronger lets just ask how a non-steroid user can be stronger than someone who is frequently doping. Anyone with experience could quickly list off a number of reasons such as:

  • Better Training
  • Been Training Longer
  • Better General Health
  • Being Genetically/Biologically Gifted

Steroid are only one factor. If I used steroid's I would still probably never come close to female world records in any activities/lifts simply because I do not train hard enough nor follow an effective schedule.

You have to compare people at the same level. The top level men all far exceed the top level women, and the average male is far stronger than the average female.

  • Thanks! This here is an actual answer to my question, which I admit is terrible (my question, not your answer). Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 20:59
  • Though I doubt the average male is "far stronger" than the average female. Statistics often show that men are usually 2x (to 2.5x) stronger than women, give or take, in tests of strength. If we assume a woman can have 50 times less testosterone but only be 2x weaker ... clearly it's not just testosterone. Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 21:03

Some men train poorly, and therefore remain weak. Some women train extremely hard, and thereby achieve great strength.

Reality need not break for a 120-pound person with less testosterone but more consistent, better quality, more focused training to out-deadlift a 180-pound person with much more testosterone but less consistent, worse quality, more general training.

Your entire argument rests on a straw-man definition of "average". An "average" man can most certainly deadlift 360 pounds if he works at it over several months or years. Even in steroid-free powerlifting circles, that's considered fairly unremarkable. I bet by "average" you mean "like me", in which case, these women are stronger than you because they worked harder at it.

Testosterone is tightly correlated to strength gain, not to someone's current absolute strength. Your hormone profile (and diet) determines how you respond to a training stimulus. Your hormone profile does not simply determine your level of strength. These women you are incredulous about had to work harder over a longer period of time than if they had a more favorable hormone profile.


A trained female who dedicates her life to training for strength can easily outlift an untrained male. 90% of males at commercial gyms do not train for strength at all; none do SS or SL, pretty much all are novice lifters.

A female who trains for strength will usually incorporate things such as pause bench, deficit deadlifts, block pulls... Everything is done for the purpose of strength only. Accessories are used to increase the big 3 only and to bring up weaknesses. Training for strength requires being on a program and passing the novice level of strength levels.

360 lbs is a horrible deadlift for a man who trains for strength. If a guy is 200 lbs and deadlifts 360... no... I'm a female and easily deadlift 2x my bw and I consider myself weak. My goal is to be as strong as humanly possible.

Also, individuals who train for strength generally focus on the big three primarily... focusing on the big 3 numerous times a week (on programs like DUP etc) will have females easily outlifting untrained males or males who are too wimpy to push themselves hard.

Tons of females who are 120 lbs can deadlift 300. Cynthia Leu easily deadlifts over 325. Here is a video of her pulling 325 and it's not her max https://instagram.com/p/2phb04nJ_C/?taken-by=cynthialeu (She pulls more at powerlifting meets). Squats 272 https://instagram.com/p/2SQqiMnJ10/?taken-by=cynthialeu

If you are a male who trains for strength only and say you start out at 200 lbs, you should reach a 360 lb deadlift in less than 6 months on Stronglifts or SS. Much less. If can't pull 360 then chances are you're just messing around in the gym and not on a strength program. If you didn't get there chances are you didn't do the program exactly as it is written and didn't deload properly, didn't sleep enough or didn't eat enough or skipped workouts. 360 is a VERY unimpressive deadlift for a male considering a trained female can pull 315.360 for a 200 lb man is not even considered "Advanced". If you think a 120 lb female needs steroids to pull 315; it's more than easily achievable with time, dedication, heart and will.

Testosterone is not the only factor in determining strength; programming, CNS adaptation (training the big three lifts numerous times a week), duration of training not to mention technique (staying tight when benching, leg drive during bench) etc... A woman with her technique down can also outlift a man with inferior technique (loose during bench, no leg drive etc).

Lifting is not just about lifting; those who are dedicated will go home and read articles on technique etc. Most of the strong females I know have strength coaches such as The Strength Athlete etc... their entire workout revolves the big three, paused reps, deficits etc...

Also depends on how bad you want it. My will to be strong is immense; even more than that of most guys. Even though I have weaker genetics, am of smaller stature; I literally dream of becoming stronger. My free time consists of watching lifting videos on youtube and IG, reading articles, forums etc. I spend all my free time, weekends in the pursuit of strength.

Physical strength can also be a manifestation of mental strength intelligence. Someone may have more testosterone but not the dedication to spend hours reading about lifting, programming and technique.

Despite this I will concede that a trained male will always be stronger than a trained female. Just look at powerlifting USPA results. Shorty Sadang who is 123 lbs deadlifted 457 raw at a recent powerlifting meet. A male powerlifter who trains in the same way as a female powerlifter will outlift her if similar in size. A female who trains for powerlifting with immaculate technique will outlift 90% of goons in the gym who think a 360 lb deadlift is actually impressive for a male.

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