Can Men Carry Heavier Loads Than Women

As a Manual Handling Consultant, I often go by the HSC guidelines when advising delegates on safe handling of loads – whether from table or off the floor etc.

So, who’s stronger – men or women?  Without giving it any thought “Men are physically stronger” is often the automatic answer although this may be true of certain sports not being Unisex; it doesn’t necessarily make them the stronger sex even though the HSC guidelines indicate otherwise.

When defining strength, if you look at strength as a physical ability; men generally have an advantage over women – but some women maybe able to lift heavier loads than men.  After puberty men have more muscle mass across the body.  Therefore, in sports, like running, swimming and jumping, elite men consistently perform a small margin better than elite women.

But surely strength is more than that? Surely other factors of strength such as longevity should be considered.  According to Steven Austad, an international expert on ageing and chair of the biology department at the University of Alabama, there are 43 people over the age of 110 worldwide – 42 of them are women – just one of them is a man.  But this female strength isn’t just something that keeps them alive in the latter stages.


From birth, females are the stronger sex.  Infant mortality is higher in boys than girls, across the world.  This pattern isn’t coincidental.  Boys are biologically weaker and more susceptible to most diseases.


Studies have shown that women generally have stronger immune systems and can fight off diseases better.  This immunity better equips them to fight off minor ailments like the common cold – yes, ‘man-flu’ has some science behind it – but also makes women less likely to develop cancer.


It isn’t all plain and simple.  It’s well known that environmental/social factors can impact upon health.  Scientists found patterns of high blood pressure in adults from more poorer communities.


Men are more likely, in most societies, to have dangerous jobs, as well as having more unhealthy diets and generally being reluctant to talk about problems or go to the doctors.  So, is it nature or society?  The Guardian reports that a number of experts side with nature.  There are some social factors at play, but a lot of what we’re seeing in female strength, suggest that maybe you should think twice next time you’re about to say, “men are stronger than women”.


Bella Glover – Moving & Handling Consultant

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