Differences in Muscle Mass

While the role of the Q angle may or may not influence the rate of knee injury, one clear advantage the male body has in sports requiring greater strength is that a taller, wider, heavier skeletal frame supports more muscle.

Testosterone released by the testes at puberty results in the increased size of muscle fibers, long cells that contract when stimulated by nerve impulses. Testosterone also increases the total amount of muscle on the body, or muscle mass, because it promotes retention of the dietary nitrogen used to synthesize muscle proteins. Males have more testosterone than females, although the ovaries and adrenal glands do release small quantities of this hormone, and the difference in muscle mass accounts for an overall difference in strength between males and females. In sports that require brute strength, such as football, men have an advantage, but in sports like baseball, where success depends more on agility and hand-eye coordination, sex differences are reduced.

Muscle build-up is a function of testosterone concentration, thus women cannot have bulging muscles, no matter how hard they work out. The muscles of women who exercise become smoother, firmer, and stronger but do not balloon out. Fat deposition also changes the appearance of muscles. Even if a man and a woman had similar amounts of muscle mass, the man would look more muscular because women have a different pattern of body fat deposition. Women have more body fat under their skin, which tends to smooth out the appearance of muscles beneath the skin.

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