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From the sources I could find, women find it harder than men to do push ups. Why is that?

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  • Before commenting.. do you have proof? All women are capable of doing a pushup with proper training.. I don't know if you can compare the two. If I had to guess---Women have more type 1 muscles and handle more endurance while men have more type 2 muscles. That being said, the muscles used are your chest, triceps, anterior deltoids, and transverse abdominus. If I had to guess, these muscles might be underdeveloped or might be harder since their muscles are built more for endurance and not strength.
    – user32213
    Oct 28, 2020 at 18:00
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    Probably more of a biology + cultural impact than a physics impact. I don't think being a woman changes the physics of a pushup.
    – C. Lange
    Oct 28, 2020 at 18:50
  • "According to the push-up standards set forth by the United States Army (20), women perform 40% to 60% fewer standard push-ups than men. For health-related assessments, women complete about 20% to 24% fewer modified push-ups than men"... google.com/url?q=https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/…
    – Alexander
    Oct 28, 2020 at 21:36
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    I don’t see why anything deeper than “men have more muscle on average than women” would be necessary to answer this question. Perhaps I’m overlooking something? Oct 29, 2020 at 13:07
  • @JustSnilloc The PDF I linked to above suggests several other factors. It's easy to check that it's not because of "more muscle", by comparing to other exercises. I found it hard to find any conclusive answer from that PDF, though.
    – Alexander
    Oct 29, 2020 at 13:56

2 Answers 2

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Simply looking at the biology of the male and female human body tells us enough to answer this question.

Men have far higher base testosterone, which is why men have a higher base musscle mass compared to women. Men also have a larger and stronger bone structure and more lung capacity, resulting in being able to train harder than women.

Females also have less of their muscle mass in the upperbody compared to males, another factor that makes pushups in particular harder to do for a woman.

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Women, on average, have less muscle mass than men1, and have a lesser proportion of their muscle in the upper body2. These make it less likely than a random woman will have the upper body strength needed to perform a pushup compared to a random man.

The point raised by C. Lange regarding cultural impact is also an important one - if a society perceives strength training as an unfeminine activity, then the odds are further stacked against women, because a smaller proportion of women will engage in strength training compared to men.

Women do still respond to upper body strength training though3, and so can certainly train to perform pushups.

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    @Alexander - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5955292 Oct 29, 2020 at 16:16
  • @Alexander your original question referred to "From all sources I could find". What countries were those sources from? Cultural impact will certainly vary from culture to culture, but if you're looking for information on a specific country or culture we'd need to know which it is. Oct 31, 2020 at 2:51
  • The sources I could find are from the US, but I am Norwegian.
    – Alexander
    Feb 7, 2021 at 19:00
  • At the risk of being crass, the average female also may be carrying more mass in their chest thanks to the breasts (and a part of me wants to be sophomoric enough to start comparing the issues of touching the floor earlier versus the benefit of not having to go down as far before touching).
    – Sean Duggan
    Feb 15, 2023 at 20:31

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