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There is a misconception that women generally have greater lower body strength than men. This isn't what I'm asking. My question isn't to directly compare women's lower body strength to men's. It's been shown that men in fact are generally all around more muscular than women ( including lower body strength ).

My question is on the proportion of strength between the upper and lower body across the two genders. For example if by default men had a upper body strength of 10 ( measured in how much they can lift/push ), and their lower body strength was a 5. Would women have something along the lines of upper body strength: 7 and lower body strength: 4. The difference between the two numbers being less for women, represented by closer numbers. Meaning that compared to their overall strength, women have a stronger lower body than men do ( with each respective gender being compared to their own overall strength ).

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I used to train in a powerlifting orientated gym where several UK champion powerlifters (both male and female) called home. I can distinctly remember talking to one of the female lifters about her deadlift, and how at a bodyweight of about 60kg, she pulled a 170kg deadlift, but could only bench 60kg, whereas some of the guys I knew could bench around 150kg and squat around 200kg.

So, my gut answer on this is that women would have a larger disparity between upper and lower body strength.

Then I decided to actually figure it out.

Using the UK unequipped powerlifting records as a guide in the open age category (details for men here and women here) and taking the percent bodyweight used on the bench press and squat, I created a quick excel sheet to work out the ratios, and the result surprised me... They're actually pretty similar.

You can view the spreadsheet here, but essentially men came away with a Bench / Squat ratio of 3.04 : 4.43 whereas women scored a 3.04 : 4.89

There are a few stipulations here:

  1. this is based off of UK powerlifting, so that's obviously a small sample size. Also, the number of women in powerlifting is going to be less than men, so again, you're looking at a relatively small sample size.
  2. both the bench press and squat, even unequipped, are dependant on a number of different factors, different body sizes and shapes mean vastly different numbers, and the numbers I used are based upon the individual records for the lifts, so the bench and squat in the same weight category could have been performed by persons of completely different shape with different attachment points, limb lengths, etc, etc.

Given those two points, hopefully this'll give you a rough answer, or at least point you in the right direction of how to do more thorough research yourself.

  • No worries. You made me curious and I've had a slow morning :) – Dark Hippo Apr 29 '16 at 11:20

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