Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are beasts in their respective sport, each representing the zenith of human performance and strength.
Unfortunately, men on average don’t enjoy the strength and power these iconic athletes do. In fact, according to new research published in the Journal of Hand Therapy, men are weaker than they were 30 years ago.
In the study, modern man between 20-34 were found to have lower grip and pinch strength, which is a measurement of how strong the upper extremities are, than men three decades ago. The average grip strength for young men between 25-29 is roughly 12 kilograms weaker than it was in the past.
Grip strength doesn’t seem like a good indicator of overall might, but it’s a better proxy to determine power than you’d think. A 2011 study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research discovered that grip strength could indicate a person’s strength in push-ups, leg extensions, and leg presses. Having said that, there’s no evidence that better grip strength makes people healthier, or if healthier people are just naturally stronger.
So what’s the reason men are so much weaker today?
Manual labour jobs, such as work in the manufacturing industry, aren’t as abundant as before, says study author Dr. Elizabeth Fain, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Winston-Salem State University in the US.
Working on the assembly line for eight hours requires repetitive handling of heavy objects, for example, which boosts grip strength. That daily grind has proven to be more effective in building strength than hitting the weights like men regularly do today.
It goes without saying those repetitive hand motions did a lot more for a man’s strength than the dainty texting and typing that’s made today’s generation softer.