Determinants of Muscle Size

Various factors influence muscle size (see Figure 7-1). Although some factors cannot be controlled, two factors that we can control are exercise and nutrition habits (Chapters 3, 4, and 11).

Figure 7-1. Factors that Affect Muscle Size


Physical Activity


Figure 7-1. Factors that Affect Muscle Size


Nervous System Activation


Adapted from WD McArdle, FI Katch, and VL Katch. Exercise Physiology, 4th ed. Baltimore; Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

Men generally have more muscle mass than women, mainly because men produce more testosterone than women. Strength training may increase muscle mass slightly in women; however, a common misconception is that strength training will cause women to "bulk up." Importantly, strength training will greatly increase muscle strength and reduce the risks for injury. Moreover, women tend to have poor upper body strength and many military tasks require upper body strength.

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