Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Mary McDade, Honors Thesis Advisor, Department of Biology


Exercise--Physiological aspects; Musculoskeletal system--Sex differences;


Exercise has countless benefits for the human body. Physical activity increases overall health and reduces the risk of developing many chronic diseases. While the entire body is impacted by exercise, the musculoskeletal system is perhaps targeted most directly. Muscle contraction is required to complete any form of exercise, which helps build muscle mass and consequently strengthens bones. The physiology of musculoskeletal growth after exercise is the same for all individuals. However, the magnitude of this growth is not the same for men and women. Men have a profound ability to gain muscle mass that most women are not capable of obtaining, even after years of training. As a competitive woman who loves weight training, I have had a growing curiosity as to why I couldn’t lift weights as heavy as the men around me. To understand the biological differences that contribute to this disparity, I conducted a literature
review to explore what anatomical factors are involved with musculoskeletal growth and determine how this process may vary among men and women. For the purposes of this study, I will be focusing on cisgender males and females, or those who identify with their birth sex. The process of transitioning or hormone therapy among transgendered individuals may present unique factors that go beyond the scope of this paper.

Year of Submission



Department of Biology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (27 pages)



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