Blacks being stronger than whites (on average) is one of the most common misconceptions around. People assume that since blacks are, on average, more muscular and have less fat mass they are stronger than whites and East Asians. However, when looked at physiologically, the frequency of muscle fiber types (Type I, Type II and Type II A) differ between the races. The differing somatypes (mesomorph, ectomorph and endomorph) also show how there are differences in strength between races due to leverage.
Some people, like PumpkinPerson, fall prey to this simplistic, yet with great explanatory power for a lot of things, Rushton’s Rule. Rushton’s rule dictates that there is a gradient of traits that some races perform statistically better or worse on with Mongoloids at the top, whites in the middle and blacks on the bottom. PP assumes that blacks should be stronger than whites who would be stronger than East Asians due to this rule. He also assumes that since blacks have slightly more testosterone on average that they would be the physically strongest race. This, however, is not true.
One reason they believe this is because of Allen’s Rule, a theory claiming that body types evolve to become more linear in warm climates and more rounded and compact in cold climates. Round forms, having smaller surface area to volume ratios, are thought to freeze less easily. There’s also Bergmann’s Rule which asserts, for similar reasons, that body size evolves to be large in cold climates and small in warm climates.
Somatype has more to do with it than Allen’s Rule. Blacks are more mesomorphic whereas whites are more endo.
One reason Allen’s rule makes sense to people is their image of black physiques comes from Third World African countries where malnutrition is rampant. Of course people in those countries are especially skinny, but when you compare blacks and whites reared in the same country, blacks are heavier, despite being a bit shorter.
On the contrary. As I’ve covered here before, black American men with more African ancestry are less likely to be obese. Still, racial differences in strength come down to leverage as well as muscle fiber typings which I’ve discussed a few times here.
Of course weight and strength are not the same thing. In order to compare the races in strength, I found a study of police officers which compared the bench pressing ability of black and white officers, both at the time they were recruited, and after years on the job. The study found that upon recruitment, the average white man could bench press 84.2 kg (standard deviation = 21.2), the average black could bench press 95.1 kg (SD = 24.6). In other words, black men are 0.51 SD stronger than white men. If we convert strength to farmilliar IQ scale, where the white mean is set at 100 and the white SD is set at 15, then white men have a (sex adjusted) SQ (Strength Quotient) of 100, and black men have an SQ of 108.
Both races improved after years of on the job training, but the gap remained. Black women could also bench press more than white women, both at recruitment, and especially after training in both groups.
From the discussion of the study:
“The literature suggests that increases in body mass correspond with increases in
lean mass by as much as 44% (11). The officers in this study gained a significant amount of body mass and correspondingly, a significant amount of lean mass. Lean mass is associated with increases in strength (11, 25, 27). Therefore, we would expect to see an increase in absolute bench press strength related to lean mass gain alone. However, the strength gains were negated when dividing the body mass of the officers into their bench press scores. This pattern was not seen in the black males, where they actually decreased in the bench press/body mass ratio. Even though the bench press/body mass measure did not increase over the 12.5 years for black males, it also did not decline as indicated in cross-sectional research (42).”
It seems this is anomalous. The researchers say this is the only study looking at this, and from what I can tell, they didn’t ask about dietary and or exercise habits, correct me if I’m wrong. They also say that blacks were heavier in BMI at the onset, but not in the follow-up.
I’d like to see another study like this before any conclusions are drawn. Because what I see in actual powerlifting competitions from people who go above and beyond their genetic potential when everyone is using, Caucasians (whites, MENA people) and East Asians are consistently always stronger than blacks.
Moreover, it seems PP didn’t read the full paper because they say in the discussion that blacks had a greater weight gain over the ten-year period. They had a greater body mass gain which corresponded to a loss in bench press as well as a loss in lean mass. However, even with these losses in the black subjects in this cohort, they were still stronger than whites, but the difference was not significant. Further, blacks decreased in strength in the 12.5 year period while the whites increased in strength. Blacks were STILL stronger than whites at the end of the study, but this difference was not statistically significant.
This study was anomalous and goes against everything I’ve personally seen in my time lifting and my career as a PT. Caucasians and East Asians are stronger than blacks. The differences come down to muscle fiber typing as I’ve said numerous times.
There is a correlation between strength and mortality. With a sample of 8762 men between the ages of 20 and 80, it was found that muscular strength was inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other possible confounders. From the discussion of the paper:
The analysis on the combined effects of muscular strength and cardiorespiratory fitness with all cause mortality showed that the age adjusted death rate in men with high levels of both muscular strength and cardiorespiratory fitness was 60% lower (P<0.001) than the death rate in the group of unfit men with the lowest levels of muscular strength. These results highlight the importance of having at least moderate levels of both muscular strength and cardiorespiratory fitness to reduce risk of death from all causes and cancer in this population of men.
The point of bringing this paper up is that Caucasians and Asians are stronger than blacks, and also live longer. This is just like the correlation between IQ and life expectancy. Since men with higher levels of strength live longer than men with lower levels of strength, this strengthens my hypothesis for strength-based competitions and the racial mix of the competitions. Caucasians and East Asians, who have higher IQs than blacks, are also stronger than them on average, which also correlates with life expectancy.
I already covered the above here.
2) The average white is weaker than the average black, but there might be certain white ethnic groups that are especially strong
Northern Europeans dominate in Strongman. Blacks are more lanky, yet they are also more mesomorphic which correlates with strength so it cancels out. From what I see at my own gym I go to, which is a powerlifting/bodybuilding gym, Caucasians and East Asians are consistently stronger than blacks. I’ve been lifting going on ten years and this is my personal observation. I’ll see the outlier here and there, but the whites and East Asians are consistently stronger. Southern Europe does do bad in Strongman, so it may be that only Central and Northern Europe are more strength oriented, probably coinciding with Rushton’s Rule.
3) whites have lower mean strength but might have a greater standard deviation; however the police study above did not find this, and it fails to explain why black dominate body building
No way do whites have a lower mean strength. From what we can see from the genetic freaks of nature, the best of the best, Caucasians and East Asians dominate in these types of competitions.
Strength doesn’t matter in bodybuilding, PP.
This is the perfect example of one who thinks that blacks are stronger because of their domination in bodybuilding. BUT, actual strength competitions tell us the opposite.
4) whites dominate strongest man competitions because they’re not athletic enough to do anything else, while the strongest blacks play lucrative sports like boxing, football and basketball instead.
You’re right; whites dominate Strongman because of a genetic predisposition, Type I muscle fibers. This is why whites aren’t as athletic as blacks, muscle fiber typing and the fact the whites, on average, hold more body fat than blacks, as seen above in the article of mine that I linked.
It’s not about blacks playing the more lucrative sports. Blacks gravitate towards sports where they can showcase their athleticism and people pay to see that.
Here’s a BB.com thread. Of course ‘da socialization!!’ trots out and at least one person says genes and another says ‘speed’. Which is the correct answer. You didn’t bring up muscle fibers either PP. For instance, as I said, Type I fibers lead to more strength and muscular endurance as they are slow to fire off, while Type II fibers fire quicker and tire faster. This is why West African blacks and their descendants dominate in sprinting and other competitions where fast twitch muscle fibers dominate in comparison to slow twitch. The two fibers also fire through different pathways (aerobic and anaerobic) which also dictate the rate of force production, muscle contraction, and whether or not the muscles fire off fast or slow.
Araujo et al (2010) analyzed “racial/ethnic differences and racial/ethnic group-specific cross-sectional age differences in measures of muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical function among men.” They obtained the data from the Boston Area Health and Bone survey. There were 1,157 subjects in the cohort between the ages of 30-79, and a mix of blacks, whites and ‘Hispanic’ men from Boston who were randomly selected. They measured upper body strength with a hand dynamometer while lower extremity functioning was measured with walking and chair tests. The only thing, however, was that there was no statistical difference between whites and blacks in the grip strength test, however whites edged out blacks slightly.
The authors state:
In contrast, grip strength/arms lean mass differed significantly by race/ethnicity, with higher estimates observed among white compared to black and Hispanic subjects (p < .01). However, further adjustment for composite physical function score and LMI confounded this association (p = .15).
This proves my point (along with my years of anecdotal experience) that whites are stronger than blacks.
Finally, the authors state in the conclusion:
Further exploration of why higher lean mass in non-white subjects do not appear to translate into higher strength and physical function is warranted.
The difference is muscle fiber typing!!! This, PP, shows that blacks are not stronger than whites, despite blacks ‘looking stronger’.
In conclusion, blacks aren’t stronger than whites. Check out any strength competition or and WSM competition and you’ll see exactly what I’m describing here. The people in those competitions are genetic freaks of nature, the best of the best. If there is a difference between races in these competitions, it would come out at the elite level. Like with football, baseball, and swimming, there are racial differences in strength which clearly come down to genetics and muscle fiber typing. Everything doesn’t fit into Rushton’s Rule as there are more complicated differences between the races that need more complicated explanations. Strength is one of them. This is just like how the Alternative Hypothesis thinks they “solved Gary Taubes’s race problem in regards to diet“. However, both PP and the guys at TAH don’t know enough about nutrition nor strength training to make these judgements.