Eric J. Nehlsen1 & Matthew J. Garver1

1University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Missouri

Muscular endurance relates to the ability of a muscle to contract repeatedly at a submaximal intensity. Females are typically considered to have less muscle mass than males. The relationship between muscle mass and muscular strength is established, but the relationship between muscle mass and muscular endurance is not as clear. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare muscular endurance between female and male track and field athletes during the barbell bench press and barbell back squat. METHODS: A total of 13 Division II track and field athletes completed the 3 sessions. In session 1, maximal strength for the bench press and back squat was recorded. In session 2, whole body composition was assessed by DEXA. In session 3, each athlete lifted 60% of their 1RM on the bench press and back squat for as many full repetitions as possible until momentary concentric failure. An independent t-test was used to evaluate the results for each lift. Statistical significance was accepted at p < .05. RESULTS: The female (n = 6) and male (n = 7) participants were relatively young (20.7 ± 1.4 and 19 ± 1.1 yrs., respectively) and lean (23.2 ± 4.8 and 15.2 ± 2.1 %BF, respectively). The female athletes demonstrated greater muscular endurance (p = .020) than the male athletes in the bench press when comparing repetitions completed (25.9 ± 4.5 versus 19.8 ± 3.3). There was no statistical difference (p = .410) in repetitions completed between female and male athletes when evaluating the back squat (32.0 ± 11.0 versus 27.3 ± 7.5). CONCLUSION: The findings of this study align with work demonstrating sex differences between females and males, wherein females exhibited greater relative resistance to fatigue. Speculatively, the opposing statistical findings between the bench press and the back squat may have been a result of the athletes training age or the technical skill level necessary to perform the back squat. The latter activates more muscle and requires more training for proper execution. In the present analysis, female track and field athletes demonstrated greater upper body muscular endurance on the bench press than male counterparts. There was no difference in lower body muscular endurance on the back squat between the athletes.

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