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My story includes a government plan to create woman who are as strong as an average man. The biggest factor in the sex-strength difference is muscle mass as far as I know. However, the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch fibers in muscle also plays a factor. It's why cats are pound for pound stronger than dogs. If genetic engineering was used to make woman with a higher fast-twitch fiber ratio than men, would that enhance their strength while minimally changing their appearance? Would there be unforeseen biological consequences that are specific to woman? For example, the metabolic processes of men and women differ and I think the ratio of muscle fiber types play a role in that, but I don't know how changing that ratio would affect metabolism.

The woman are genetically changed before being born and the egg is fertilized. Also woman have higher endurance than men according to this paper. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909485/

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    $\begingroup$ There are well established and researched consequences. I assume that you've performed your own search of them, what is is that you didn't understand about them or want clarifying? $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Aug 16 '19 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ You do understand that, on the average and withing a homogeneous population, women also have more gracile bones, etc.? (And of course, across population is not even true that women are less strong than men; only within one homogeneous population, and only on the average.) You may also need to modify their ability to shed waste heat, their basal metabolism and so on. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 16 '19 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ I've researched a little on the differences between fast and slow twitch fibers. Are there papers on changing the ratio in a species? $\endgroup$ – 7678687678686 9890809809808 Aug 16 '19 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ In comments to @Halfthawed's answer you explain that the question is not really about genetically engineering women, but rather about changing the muscular structure of individual humans in general. This should be edited in the question. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 17 '19 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ cats are pound for pound stronger than dogs because they are smaller, and scaling means larger animals end up weaker proportionally. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 17 '19 at 4:26
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No

The limit on human strength is not in the muscles, the muscles can already exert more than enough power to rip them off the bone they are on. Muscle, especially human muscle only exerts a small portion of what it is capable off. Bone and tendon strength matter more, but size and leverage matter even more. More fast twitch muscle means greater instantaneous loading which means you need more tendon amd stronger attachment to bone to compensate. Note they will also tire very quickly. You can't make a human stronger without changing the appearance of the person drastically.

the larger frame men have is a bigger advantage than pure muscle mass.

You could change muscle recruitment, that can make them stronger, although it still has the tendon and bone problems but will cost you fine motor control and a lesser loss of endurance, instead of just the huge loss of endurance twitch fiber changes will incur.

It is also worth noting men have greater upper body strength, but women often have greater lower body strength, for the same body mass. On average both or lower but that is more due to body mass difference between sexes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Assuming that the man and woman are of the same height and weight, is the strength difference between them mostly due to the difference in tendon and bone attachment strength? Would increaing those things in a woman necessarily change their appearance? $\endgroup$ – 7678687678686 9890809809808 Aug 17 '19 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ Not just attachment but also proportions, It does depend a lot on how strong you are trying to get, the more you push it the bigger hte physical change. I assume your not just trying to match the average male but a relatively strong male. If you are trying to match upper body strength with a male then you need male upper body proportions. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 17 '19 at 16:18
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No

It's possible to mess around with people's development and muscles to make muscles stronger with less mass. But then the same treatment could just be used for men. There's no quirk of female biology that lets you drastically increase muscles which men don't have. A testosterone regiment from birth might be able give females equal strength, but it would not meet the criteria of 'minimally changed appearance'.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, within the context of the story, this is about changes that would only be applied to women. Thanks for the answer though. $\endgroup$ – 7678687678686 9890809809808 Aug 16 '19 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ @76786876786869890809809808: How on Earth do you apply genetic engineering to one sex only? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 16 '19 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ On an individual level? This isn't about changing every woman on the planet. $\endgroup$ – 7678687678686 9890809809808 Aug 16 '19 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ @7678687678686 9890809809808 so the caveat here is than whatever makes women stronger won't work for men? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 16 '19 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ @76786876786869890809809808 then your question has nothing really to do with women - it is essentially about making humans stronger without increasing muscle mass. We already have some related (if not duplicate) questions here on the site. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 16 '19 at 22:59
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Yes, there are a few ways you can do this. Here are 3:

As alluded to in your question, depending on your definition of strength, women may already be stronger. So, your government could just promote a new cultural definition of strength. For example, if strength is defined by sports, over 95% of popular sports' rules give men an advantage, it could create a few new sports and force people to play them.

If your government wants to make women stronger using their current definition of strength, you can encourage the development of technology that benefits women. For example, this article presents how women in the US military performed equally to men if they had diets and equipment designed for women rather than men. Your government could provide public funding for such research.

Finally, if your government wanted to use advanced biotechnology, it could use technology that preferentially benefits people with smaller or lighter bodies, which would be the biggest biological difference between men and women. In nature, small organisms are typically faster/stronger relative to their size because of allometry. So, maybe some advanced technology would let you "overclock" your body up to the limit of its thermal dissipation. At this point, you might as well just say that the technology has serious safety issues for men. In that case, you can also discuss how it worked on transgender patients.

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No. Even if you did replace women’s muscles with more fast-twitch muscle fibres, men would still have a significant physical advantage over women, in the form of significantly higher physical endurance. Baseline men already have an endurance advantage over baseline women, and your proposed treatment would decrease women’s endurance even further.

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  • $\begingroup$ Really? I've seen evidence to the contrary. $\endgroup$ – 7678687678686 9890809809808 Aug 17 '19 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ @76786876786869890809809808 Please edit your question to include both links to the evidence you speak of and details specified in your previous comments,such as when the gene modification occurred. (IE before the egg is fertilized or after). You need to narrow the question. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Aug 17 '19 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @76786876786869890809809808 nhs.uk/news/2017/08August/Pages/… $\endgroup$ – nick012000 Aug 17 '19 at 5:44
  • $\begingroup$ @nick012000 the article you mention is critical and shows that further research is required to confirm the initial results of the study. And those results are pretty staggering. With 11 to 15% differences in favor of women for not losing speed and strength of the repeated movement (with less starting speed and strength for the women) and other fatigue related things there is a strong groundwork hypothesis for women having less fatigue problems. Its by no means proven, but it seems like you are acting like the weak study proves that women arent less prone to fatigue, which isnt proven either. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Aug 17 '19 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan Let me put it this way: women might degrade more slowly, but they start from such a lower baseline that men are still superior despite it: if you ask who is going to complete an endurance run more quickly, the answer will be men. If you ask who will keep going longer, the answer will also be men. There’s a reason why men and women compete in different record brackets, even in sports like endurance running. $\endgroup$ – nick012000 Aug 17 '19 at 11:59
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Yes (why is this such a hard question to understand for people?).

Chimpansees are a good example. They have a much higher strength per pound than humans. However they sacrifice things for it. These muscles are more aimed at anaerobic burning meaning they tire faster. These muscles are also less precise, meaning the person has less fine motor control compared to "normal" humans.

The thing about having Chimpansees with this capability also nullifies all the problems mentioned. Such as "but muscles can already rip themselves off bone". So why would have men have more muscle mass if you can already rip your bone apart? And apparently there are solutions or else Chimpansees (and large portions of the animal kingdom) wouldnt be using this setup with largely high strength anaerobic muscle groups over what humans use. So there are tendons and setups where you can use that strength (again, otherwise men with more muscle mass would have no use for more muscle mass). There are bone types and setups that allow it to take the strain. Seriously we are talking about making women as strong as men, since men can handle their strength without ripping themselves apart, so could women if you changed their musculoskeletal system accordingly!

For anyone not understanding the question: the question boils down to "can I make women as strong as men without increasing their muscle mass". Its not about making something that can exclusively make women stronger but not men. Just the simple act of making women as strong without extra muscle mass. I have no idea why people would go on about "but you could apply it to men too!" Or "but it would rip you apart!".

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