Today’s American men are weaker than their dads

by on March 22, 2017 at 8:04 pm in Data Source, History | Permalink

A new study in press at the Journal of Hand Therapy (yes, a real thing) finds that millennial men may have significantly weaker hands and arms than men the same age did 30 years ago.

Researchers measured the grip strength (how strongly you can squeeze something) and pinch strength (how strongly you can pinch something between two fingers) of 237 healthy full-time students aged 20 to 34 at universities in North Carolina. And especially among males, the reduction in strength compared to 30 years ago was striking.

This surprised me:

But today, older millennial men and women are roughly equal when it comes to grip strength.

Here is the full story, by Christopher Ingraham, via Sonal Chokshi.

1 Thiago Ribeiro March 22, 2017 at 8:06 pm

It may be true in America, but, if not for filial piety, I could totally beat my father.

2 Matt Buckalew March 22, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Yes hopefully a 58 year old Zanesville language arts teacher could beat up his 90 year old dad. You also have a far more rampant imagination too.

The real question is whether you or Ray Lopez has more wrist strength (wink).

3 Thiago Ribeiro March 22, 2017 at 8:44 pm

I am still at my early 30s, my father is barely older than Mr. Trump and surely younger than President Temer. And I have no idea where Zanesville is (but a friend of mine was part of a barber quarter in Spokane).

4 efim polenov March 23, 2017 at 12:21 am

One of my favorite uber-wide-awake scenes in the Iliad happens after Nestor (imagine a Homeric Greek version of John McCain) goes on for a couple of hundred lines, explaining in a beautifully expressed way (perfect meter, fascinating choice of archaic and non-archaic vocabulary – although he does go on a little too long, he was not, after all , the author of the Iliad, but just a character, one who was made to go on too long- well if you have read it you know what I am talking about) his disappointment that not enough of the 20 somethings (Nestor was probably in his late 60s – older by 5 to 10 years than the average age of a 4 star officer in the American military during the early 1940s — but then the 1940s were much harder times than the Homeric age) had gotten themselves killed in the one-on-one battles of the last few days (one=on=one is a euphemism of sorts: the battles were not simply just human versus human = terrible as such a thing is —- but also humans versus gods: the author of the Iliad understood that, old Nestor, gifted as he might be at words, did not) and when old Nestor finishes, one of the younger Achaians speaks up. ‘Old Nestor’, he says: “You say that the generation of our grandfathers greatly excelled our generation in martial valor, and I say that you are old and foolish, we are braver and better by far than the generation you grew up with.” Subtle stuff, and powerful. Sort of wakes one up from dogmatic slumbers to think about it. (I am not on Nestor’s side. I think it will be a far more admirable thing to be a grandparent, born in 1990, of many, than it would have been to be a grandparent, born in 1960 or 1930, of an equal amount of many. Looking at it that way, Homer was right to make Nestor sound sleepy in his eloquence. Joy lies ahead for those who follow the ways of the Lord. Homer got it. Not that Nestor, in his relative way, was not admirable.)

5 efim polenov March 23, 2017 at 12:23 am

imho of course ymmv

6 efim polenov March 23, 2017 at 12:45 am

Romans 8:37

7 Andrew M March 23, 2017 at 6:22 am

“although he does go on a little too long” – How ironic.

8 Thor March 23, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Good stuff. Homer is brilliant. But god, you go on and on. And without reasonable punctuation.

9 efim polenov March 24, 2017 at 12:23 am

Sorry. First draft. Was tired, wanted to get down the thought on the nobility of “grandparents of many” born in 1990 – and the context of the thought – before I fell asleep. In real life, where everything is first draft, I try very very hard not to be verbose.

10 Ray Lopez March 22, 2017 at 9:38 pm

What’s that supposed to mean, Matt Buckalewd? (wink, wink)

This is another confirmation that genetics has declined even as environmental factors like better diet have made us smarter (te Nijenhuis effect meets Flynn effect) : big city grocery meets / meats big city crowding

The solution: marry interracial like I am.

Bonus trivia: based on things like age of grave skeletons, house sizes and the like, it’s estimated that people in Ancient Greece lived better (longer adult lives, better nutrition) than Homeric Greece, and lived better than people in the medieval ages. Source: search the ‘pseudoerasmus’ site for “New Ancient History” and follow the links therein.

11 Joe in Morgantown March 23, 2017 at 9:18 am

I couldn’t find the specific post you reference, but pseudoerasamus has an interesting site. I do find the bonus claim implausible as the (late) medieval village had a miller and a smith and the ancient greek village had neither.

12 JonFraz March 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm

The ancient Greeks had no metallurgy? Who knew? (Water and wind mills were introduced during Roman times and gradually improved during the Middle Ages so there you are right)

13 Tom Maguire March 23, 2017 at 4:40 pm

The medieval villages had a miller? The paleo dieters will pinpoint that as the problem:

“One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5′ 9” for men, 5′ 5” for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5′ 3” for men, 5′ for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors.”

14 JonFraz March 24, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Be careful suggesting a direct link between today’s inhabitants in a given area and the Paleolithic ones. Some genes may survive, but overall the areas were repopulated, sometimes multiple times, after the Neolithic revolution. With some exceptions (e.g., pre-agricultural Japan) hunter-gatherer populations were always far smaller than farming populations, so when farming people migrated into hunter-gatherer areas the former tended to overwhelm the latter– good examples being what happened in North America and Australia when the Europeans migrated to these areas en masse. Only a small fraction of the present-day populations have native genes.

15 polyglot March 22, 2017 at 11:17 pm

Sadly, this is not true even if your esteemed father is dead. Why? All the right thinking people in the vicinity will assemble to thrash you, once again, into insensibility and such amorphous shape as sustains your worthless interjections here.

16 Thiago Ribeiro March 23, 2017 at 4:11 am

Such kind of mindless violence is unheard of in Brazil.

17 JWatts March 23, 2017 at 10:05 am

So all the violence in Brazil is intentional then?

18 Thiago Ribeiro March 23, 2017 at 10:18 am

Yes, for sure (although some official definitions like “traffic violence” when drivers’ carelessness causes fatalities confuse the issue). Violence in Brazil is illegal and rare. It is basically the province of the profissional (the military, criminals, professional fighters, etc.). In all my life, I have never seen an act of aggression with exception of parents striking their children to teach them right from wrong and a guy trying to steal a woman’s purse (even then, he, a criminal, did not hit her and the prompt intervention of people nearby scared him off).

19 thfmr March 22, 2017 at 8:12 pm

What a turn: Feminism wins not through female advance but through males becoming total p***ies.

20 Matt Buckalew March 22, 2017 at 8:18 pm

If you want a hint- feminism is about setting up an filter that weeds out self-proclaimed deadlift alphas from the truly desired corner office alphas.

21 MMK March 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm

FWIW, my alphaness went up substantially when I started deadlifting. I think it’s because my testosterone levels were raised and I quit being such a pussy. I also found motivation to apply to my professional life which wasn’t there before. And I stopped doing drugs. Idk, it worked out well for me.

22 Anonguy March 22, 2017 at 8:47 pm

PRing on a deadlift makes you feel like an absolute god. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. I’m not surprised it helped you turn your life around.

23 dbp March 23, 2017 at 8:16 am

A deadlift PR is great I would rate it with a squat PR. You know what is far better? A PR at the Clean and Jerk. All the form and coordination of a golf swing or tennis serve, but at the limits of strength.

24 Gabe Atthouse March 23, 2017 at 11:26 am

Ah @dbp finally, a real man. One who understands that the clean and jerk embodies manliness and intensity more than any other exercise. When I finish clean day, and my forearms are throbbing like a 12 year old kid’s, the rush is unlike anything. F*** deadlift and squat PR, if you ain’t cleanin’, you ain’t tryin’.

25 Cliff March 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Deadlifting specifically? Or do you not even know what that is?

26 Artimus March 22, 2017 at 11:25 pm

I hate to encourage thread creep but +1 on the deadlifting. As long as done correctly and avoiding injury from poor form its an awesome exercise. I also agree that deadlifting a heavy weight gets rid of any excessive puss ee ness. 😀

27 Alan March 23, 2017 at 6:56 am

Particularly if it’s your wife!

28 Thanatos Savehn March 23, 2017 at 2:00 am

Agree. Several years ago I got tired of all the BS machines and just got an Olympic bar, a bunch of plates, bench and some dumbbells and decided to see what worked. I was afraid of the deadlift; certain I’d shoot an intervertebral disc through the wall. Instead, I came to realize that I hadn’t stood like a man for years. It still amazes me to sense all those muscles about where my shirt tail is tucked contracting as I walk. Deadlift, squats, bench press and military press – aches and pains of middle age gone. Sad truth is that I spent decades doing girly exercises in the gym.

29 Nigel Lawson March 23, 2017 at 2:33 am

I wonder if one factor in the decline is the shift from dumb-bells and bar-bells to machines. Anecdotally machines don’t boost your grip strenth as much.

30 RustySynapses March 23, 2017 at 7:40 am

Ok, can’t resist chiming in (even though off topic). I was always a free weight guy, but feared the lower body exercises (deadlift, squats) b/c of knee/back worries. Boy, was I wrong. Been doing them for last 10 years (have rack in basement) and at 52 YO knees and back have never been better. (Btw, in your list of equipment – you need a cage/rack with safety pins for squats!)

31 A Definite Beta Guy March 23, 2017 at 9:25 am

I’ll be honest, I avoid squats and deadlifts because I don’t want to kill my back. #noshame #donthateme

32 mpowell March 23, 2017 at 1:58 pm

I’ve found squats are not a problem for the back if done carefully. Deadlifts are a different story. Not a big fan of olympic lifts for lifetime fitness. Lift for strength, play sports for explosiveness.

33 RustySynapses March 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

For those of you who fear squats/deadlifts (b/c of back) – use a belt and tighten your core against it during the lift – it’s amazing the support you get (think of a sausage in a casing). (I even do bent over rows with an Olympic bar by doing that – I used to have a bad back but have had no issues for last 10 years). Friends don’t let friends skip leg day!

34 thfmr March 22, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Another hint: corner office guys with their pocket personality like to pretend their too-hot S.O. wouldn’t prefer (or isn’t in fact) f—ing somebody else.

35 A Definite Beta Guy March 23, 2017 at 9:30 am

IME, the corner office guys have significantly above average physical health.

36 thfmr March 23, 2017 at 11:49 am

Valid, but this further dilutes the point about why women seek them.

37 Golden Elephant March 23, 2017 at 9:26 am

Leftists are soft. Trump must add “making American men tough again” to his agenda…

38 Ricardo March 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Trump would be an odd figurehead of any such movement. He avoided military service, doesn’t appear to engage in any physical exercise or outdoor activities and is pudgy and overweight.

39 Tom Maguire March 23, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Trump at 70? Sure. But apparently he was a stud athlete in HS, making varsity in football, soccer and baseball. This all came last year when people wondered whether Rubio (short small-college football) could put a beat down on an age-adjusted Trump.
I liked Rubio in that, and how did that work out?

40 Troll me March 25, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Indeed. Manliness is defined by grip strength tests.

41 Troll me March 25, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Macho macho man.

So macho nothing could ever go wrong.

Wool over eyes pulled, brain over-washed lulled.

Macho macho man. Nother ever happened.

Macho macho man. Can bench x50 a beat his wife on a grip strength test.

Wool over eyes pulled, brain over-washed lulled.

Macho macho man.

Beats his chest like a silverback gorilla while woll over eyes pulled, brain overwashed lulled.

Mach macho man.

Talk about it.

42 Anonymous March 22, 2017 at 8:12 pm

I am sure kids today split, with athletes and gym rats on one side, the sedentary on the other.

Our 20-something has taken up boxing. This surprised me.

43 MMK March 22, 2017 at 8:12 pm

This isn’t shocking. A lot of modern day health issues could be fixed with a proper regimen of strength training. Taleb is wrong about some stuff but he’s not wrong about deadlifting.

Starting Strength and The Intelligent Investor should both be required reading in high school.

44 Anonguy March 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm

+1 for Starting Strength. That book changed my life. I can’t help to look now at the casuals doing countless sets of bicep curls and shake my head in sorrow.

45 Justin March 22, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Starting Strength didn’t work for me (yes I know, I wasn’t willing to go into a massive caloric surplus so it’s my fault).

I think the biggest thing in lifting to work out your best volume. 27 sets a week for SS to 120-ish sets per week on a fairly high volume BB split.

Having said that, I’m happier training for triathlons. Lifting is putting yourself into an extreme male hierarchy based on swoleness (no homo just mirin). The swimming and cycling is a reasonable approximation for a functional farmer strong that won’t get you huge.

46 Doug March 22, 2017 at 11:04 pm

There is zero evidence that high volume confers any benefits than low volume doesn’t. Bodybuilding splits are designed for subjects on high doses of steroids. For people not on gear, marginal gains fall off a cliff after three sets per body part and two sessions a week. (With the caveat that periodization of volume/intensity should be done for advanced trainees).

> The swimming and cycling is a reasonable approximation for a functional farmer strong that won’t get you huge.

Long-slow distance endurance training has nearly zero impact on strength, functional or otherwise. Triathlon style workouts may have cardiovascular benefits, but will not produce gains to muscles in either cross-sectional area or maximal power output. HIIT swimming and cycling will produce gains, but still at a far slower rate than heavy compound barbell lifts.

And no, you’re not going to get accidentally “huge”, unless you’re taking steroids. The sizable majority of men lack the genetic capability to develop any sort of physique that we’d colloquially call “huge”. And even if they do, it takes years of intense training with gains past the beginner phase slowing to a trickle. (My biggest criticism of Starting Strength is that Rippetoe vastly oversells how quickly the median person can gain strength).

47 Justin March 22, 2017 at 11:37 pm

1. Volume vs. intensity. You have to figure out what works for you. For me, high intensity routines produce dramatic newbie gains and then a plateau as the CNS levels off. I get very little muscle growth from it. Starting Strength isn’t HIT – but you can see HIT from there. And natural body builders follow BB splits, not old school strongman total body routines.

2.Blah blah blah blah. Everyone who started Crossfit yesterday has written long odes to the wonders of strength training compared to long slow distance replete with the picture of the jacked sprinter and the dude who looks like he won the 60+ age group marathon. I think that’s part of the on-ramp training. But you will notice two points that these paeans to squatting miss:

2A. I’m not trying to get jacked. The manlier men of yesteryear were not deadlifting and were positively scrawny compared to men today. Trying to get jacked puts you into a strong male hierarchy based on strength. See also: the homoerotic undertones found on bodybuilding forums. To put it in terms of the alt-right: I sometimes wonder if the people who talk about the “pussification of the American male” are actually the useful idiots of feminists – working hard to create a strong well-defined male hierarchy for women to better satisfy their hypergamous instincts. (Have you ever noticed how the PUAs are torn between a strong contempt of prole culture and wanting to out-prole the proles?)

2B. I do want a reasonable blend of strength and cardio. If I put on a few pounds of muscle great. If not, no big deal. And virtually every form of cardio except running will make you stronger and put on some muscle in the process (but not tons). Look at the legs of cyclists, cross-country skiers, speed skaters, rowers, etc. Look at the upper body of swimmers, rowers, and speed kayakers. (Now, before you go and, correctly, point out that Phil Heath is a lot bigger, reread points 2A and 2B again).

48 Anonguy March 23, 2017 at 8:23 am

Wouldn’t it be great if homosexual culture shifted toward the bodybuilder ethos? Like we could have a class of ultra ripped Spartan warriors who swear of women in order to serve. They’d join the military and basically be the protectors of Western Civilization. That would be awesome. Making Homosexually Great Again!

49 D March 23, 2017 at 11:20 am

“There is zero evidence that high volume confers any benefits than low volume doesn’t.”

This is the exact opposite of what anyone remotely familiar with the literature will tell you.

50 Artimus March 23, 2017 at 12:12 am

I like Starting Strength as well, but guys please don’t be work out snobs. I personally prefer high intensity training and functional movements, but even if someone is doing bicep curls in the mirror or walking on the treadmill while watching tv, at least they are doing SOMETHING. Thats a good thing and should be encouraged.

51 Artimus March 23, 2017 at 12:17 am

Additionally, instead of arguing on here whats the best form of exercise perhaps we all should stop commenting, get off our asses and do something. For myself I will head out to the park right now and whip out some interval sprints. Later. (I’m in HKG it’s afternoon here)

52 Cliff March 22, 2017 at 9:44 pm

Absolutely false. Strength training would do nothing for any modern day health issues.

53 Artimus March 23, 2017 at 12:18 am


54 JonFraz March 23, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Not entirely. The major health issue today is excess body fat. To get rid of that you need long-term sustained aerobic exercise (which also has important cardiopulmonary benefits). Brief spasms of anaerobic exercise really doesn’t help there.

55 Doug March 22, 2017 at 8:18 pm

There’s no reason that teaching basic compound lifts, like squats, deadlifts and bench press shouldn’t be a part of American physical education. Many are too intimidated to try weightlifting because they were never taught. Or if they do they only avoid free weights and compound movements, which are much less beneficial. Think the leg curl machine instead of deadlifting. High intensity resistance training has enormous health benefits. Much more so than other exercises if you consider the amount of time investment required. All it takes is two sets of squats a week to reap significant strength gains. The equivalent health benefits would require hours of long-slow-distance cardio.

56 Sam Haysom March 22, 2017 at 8:22 pm

Going off just the life results of my high school football team the runners have vastly out achieved the lifters to the point where it is hard to rule out causation.

57 Stormy Dragon March 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm

So you’re saying the runners went further?

58 MMK March 22, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Your HS football team probably wasn’t squatting correctly.

Look at these ridiculous “squats” from a varsity NCAA team:

All of them are a foot and a half above parallel. If they were going down to the proper depth they would have better life results.

59 Doug March 22, 2017 at 10:48 pm

If only football involved some sort of other potentially confounding activity. Something like repeatedly smashing your brain into a hard surface at high g-forces.

This is like saying you don’t believe regular exercise benefits health, because you know a bunch of people who regularly walk to the store for cigarettes, and they all seem in bad shape.

60 Dzhaughn March 22, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Lots of lawyers are prepared to give us a reason not to teach them.

61 Cliff March 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm

What are the “enormous health benefits” exactly? Are you talking about for 70-year-olds?

62 Doug March 22, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Yes, enormous:

> Age adjusted death rates per 10 000 man-years across incremental thirds of muscular strength were 81.8, 65.5 and 52.0 (P Low muscular strength in adolescents is an emerging risk factor for major causes of death in young adulthood, such as suicide and cardiovascular diseases. The effect size observed for all cause mortality was equivalent to that for well established risk factors such as elevated body mass index or blood pressure.

63 Doug March 22, 2017 at 10:32 pm

This dropped from my original comment.

Substantial benefit for teens:

> High muscular strength in adolescence, as assessed by knee extension and handgrip tests, was associated with a 20-35% lower risk of premature mortality due to any cause or cardiovascular disease, independently of body mass index or blood pressure; no association was observed with mortality due to cancer. Stronger adolescents had a 20-30% lower risk of death from suicide and were 15-65% less likely to have any psychiatric diagnosis (such as schizophrenia and mood disorders).

64 Milo Fan March 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm

This won’t replicate.

65 Anonymous March 22, 2017 at 8:41 pm

I am sure it will. The percentage who do physical labor during important developmental years has fallen steeply.

If you want a strong grip strength, hire an illegal day laborer.

66 Cliff March 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Important developmental years??? WTF??

67 Anonymous March 22, 2017 at 9:58 pm
68 Troll me March 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Weight training should mostly wait until after physical development is mostly done, e.g., around 15.

Lots of stuff will require ENOUGH weight training to develop more refined skills. For example in gymnastics. But if your 10 year old is hitting the weights bigtime to do better at hockey, it’s most likely to damage his body in the long-run, so keep it light for anoyther few years.

69 Floccina April 7, 2017 at 9:42 am

If you want a strong grip strength, hire an illegal day laborer.

The opposite could be true. The recent immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Asia might tend to be smaller and less strong than European and African Americans.

70 Floccina April 7, 2017 at 9:39 am

That would be my bet too.

71 Nik March 22, 2017 at 8:45 pm

What we really need is a study about decreasing hand size among presidents.

72 Bill March 22, 2017 at 10:02 pm

In the future, Presidential candidates will have to have their hands measured….and their hand measurements disclosed, but, don’t worry, they won’t have to reveal their tax returns.

73 Gabe March 22, 2017 at 8:55 pm

> healthy full-time students aged 20 to 34

Maybe if you’re 20-34 and still a full time student you’re not very physically active? At that age they’d be in grad school and probably not have a lot of time to go to the gym. Were the people they measured 30 years ago also full-time students? What if they measured 20-34 year old manual laborers today?

74 Cliff March 22, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Full time students are probably the most physically active people on the planet short of professional athletes?

75 anonprof March 22, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Well except for construction workers, farmers, soldiers, police officers, firefighters, …

76 JonFraz March 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Students usually get more exercise than the average middle-aged office worker if only because they walk and bike a lot– many do not have cars.

77 Troll me March 25, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Also, world class gym facilities are often mandatorily included in student fees. So they use them.

78 GU March 23, 2017 at 10:20 am

Not enough time to go to the gym in college?!?!?!? You’ll never have more time in your life until retirement.

79 JonFraz March 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

It may seem quaint today, but some of us held down jobs while going to school. (I worked ~30 hours a week in college)

80 Highgamma March 22, 2017 at 9:01 pm

I believe that testing only college educated men introduces severe selection bias.

81 Dzhaughn March 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm


82 Alan March 23, 2017 at 7:04 am

They tend to lift a lot of 12 ounce weights.

83 brent March 23, 2017 at 9:04 am

And hold a lot of 8 ounce gaming controllers for much of the day.

I was hoping the author would comment on Nintendo Thumb as part of this study.

84 J. Ott March 22, 2017 at 9:12 pm

Read all about it in Tyler’s next book: The Complacent Grasp

85 thfmr March 22, 2017 at 9:41 pm

Maybe it’s the beer but I’m laughing and laughing.

86 RM March 22, 2017 at 9:47 pm

This is not just about millennial not doing as much physical labor as their dads.

I would guess that a large part of this story is because of wrist damage from constantly typing.

Why are males on at the same level as millennial women? Could it be because millennial women and their moms have been typing for a long time?

87 Cliff March 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm

“I would guess that a large part of this story is because of wrist damage from constantly typing.”

Come on, don’t make a statement like this with no explanation or supporting link. Just don’t do it.

88 RM March 22, 2017 at 10:18 pm

That’s why I said “I would guess” my friend.

89 Troll me March 25, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Regular typing is associated with wrist damage. Not for everyone.

For this reason, labour codes often require that people in such situations can demand that their employers accommodate by spending the equivalent of a couple days of work to have ergonomically correct equipment related to their use of a computer.

90 Troll me March 25, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Stupid rules that enable people to work for years or decades longer at a cost of a few days of work …

91 Russ Mitchell March 22, 2017 at 9:56 pm

Perhaps it’s because young men today have more sexual options than their fathers had.

92 thfmr March 22, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Further laughter from the gallery

93 firingline March 22, 2017 at 9:57 pm

Millenials are pathetic and gay. We already knew this.

94 harpersnotes March 22, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Pencils are held with a pinching grip. Keyboards are not. It used to be that many people wrote longhand on paper with pencils or pens that did not travel as smoothly over the page as the newer ones do today, and they wrote longhand for many hours every day. How many of the young could write longhand continuously with a pencil for even just three straight hours a day for a week without having serious levels of writers cramp? (Less than 10 percent I’d guess.) It should be fairly easy to do an exploratory study comparing pinching and grip strengths of typists versus non-typists.

95 Jeff R March 22, 2017 at 11:51 pm

Seems plausible.

96 Turkey Vulture March 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Writing out even a paragraph by hand hurts at this point. I think the last time I had to write anything extensive by hand was when I took the LSAT in 2006. A decade plus of atrophy now.

97 Moo cow March 22, 2017 at 10:44 pm

What happened to my BFF the Cuckmeister? This thread has his name all over it!

98 JC March 22, 2017 at 11:09 pm

I’m going to start off by asking who do you think is the stronger man in the family, you or your father? According to Christopher Ingraham, author of “Today’s Men are not nearly as strong as their dads were” the young men of this generation, between the ages of 20 to 34 are not as strong as their fathers were back in their prime. The one fact he says is that talks about is the average grip strength of men between the ages of 20 to 34 in 2017 is 98 psi compared to the average of the same age group back in 1985 being 117 psi. My response to this is that I had to take one of those tests for a wellness exam my freshman year of college, and my grip strength for my right hand and left hand were 119 psi and 124 psi respectively. I realize that this is only one example out of the entire age group in 2017, but I would have to say that I believe I am stronger than my step-dad.
My step-dad is in late 50’s and he’s not as strong as he used to be obviously. He always tells me how he was really into lifting weights and working out when he my age. I believe him because of the old weight lifting equipment, but I’m not sure how strong he actually was back then. Nowadays, he says that the mini fridge I use in my dorm room is heavy. I can lift that mini fridge with no problem, but if he tries he asks me to help him. Anyway, after reading through Ingraham’s article, I feel like that the grip strength statistic is his only evidence to back up his point. Having statistics from the past and current statistics to compare is a great way for predicting the future trends of what will happen. However, you can’t base the broad topic of young adult strength on grip strength alone, there are other tests of strength like bench press, push-ups, and sit-ups would be some examples. I just feel like there needs to be more to his argument to show a decrease in the strength in generations of young adults.

99 Capt. J Parker March 22, 2017 at 11:33 pm

A related study found that compared to millennials, men thirty years ago were particularly poor at typing with their thumbs.

100 JShots March 23, 2017 at 9:30 am

Hah, exactly. I’m confused why everyone else is confused by this. The introduction of computers/technology has reduced the “average person’s” need for physical labor (particularly in employment). Yes, the avid weightlifting millenial is going to have a stronger grip, but those who don’t lift intensely and work a desk job have no reason to have a strong grip. If I had to guess, I’d say the distribution of hand strength is much more bi-modal now than in the past.

101 Roy LC March 23, 2017 at 12:08 am

This is called progress, it means we are winning. My ancestors tracked reindeer across trackless artic waste, chopped down trees with cruddy axes they had made from smelted bog iron, and travelled hundreds of miles across endless forest swarming with mosquitoes to spend entire winters trapping small vicious sharp toothed predators for their fur. This was when they weren’t getting conscripted to die in ditches in Saxony, Poland, and the Steppes of the Ukraine for one lunatic king or another. Others just farmed rocks for generations in County Clare. Coming to America things got better of course.

My mother’s father, after a brief stint chopping trees down and another fetching nitroglycerin in a munitions plant had to manually punch cards and replace vacuum tubes and make long airline flights, and his daughter married a university professor who daily braved paper cuts and had endured crossing the Delaware in a DeSoto merely to find a job with tenure. So yes I could probably kick my Dad’s butt, but then he was an academic and they fight dirty, so who knows???

102 Roy LC March 23, 2017 at 12:10 am
103 A.G.McDowell March 23, 2017 at 2:03 am

Today’s man knows that there are good reasons for them to keep a healthy weight, and that cigarettes cause a wide variety of diseases. I think the case for exercise has not yet been as widely made, and I think the emphasis on weight-lifting in other comments on this thread shows this. Another approach involves small amounts of high intensity interval training and requires much less time – see e.g. the classic “Total Fitness in 30 minutes a week” by Morehouse and Cross, or the much more modern “Fast Exercise” by Mosley. This diversity of approach suggests that an expert consensus has not yet formed, let alone been propagated to the general public. When this happens, the man in the street can start exercising knowing what to do and why.

104 TR5749 March 23, 2017 at 3:19 am
105 Maz March 23, 2017 at 5:51 am

“But today, older millennial men and women are roughly equal when it comes to grip strength.”

Obvious nonsense is obvious.

106 Thiago Ribeiro March 23, 2017 at 8:09 am

Americans have become weak and decadent, complacent and not great.

107 msgkings March 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm

So now Americans are like Brazilians have always been.

108 Thiago Ribeiro March 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm

It is not true. Brazilians are not decadent, we are in the midst of our peaceful rise. We are strong and not complacent. Our country is great.

“We have fields more full of flowers
and a starrier sky above,
we have woods more full of life
and a life more full of love.”
Gonçalves Dias, Brazilian poet

109 msgkings March 24, 2017 at 12:26 am

It is true. Brazilians are decadent, and in the middle of a violent fall. They are weak and complacent. Their country is terrible.

“We suck so bad”: Every Brazilian’s inner voice

110 Thiago Ribeiro March 24, 2017 at 4:14 am

No, it is not true. Brazil is great and it is rising. Our people is awesome.

111 msgkings March 24, 2017 at 11:28 am

Yes, it is true. Brazil is awful and it is falling. Their people is terrible.

112 Thiago Ribeiro March 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

No, it is not true. Brazil is great and it is rising. Our people is awesome.

113 Scott Sumner March 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

The decline in grip strength is plausible (although the magnitude is questionable), but the equality of grip strength for men and women age 30-34 is not plausible. Other studies show that men have a far greater grip strength, it’s one of the most pronounced differences between the sexes.

I doubt that latter result will hold up in further tests.

114 chuck martel March 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Why does the wife always ask the hubby to open the pickle jar?

115 William Nichols March 24, 2017 at 10:49 am

Precisely. Prior studies suggest that comparability is highly unlikely. The physical differences in size and muscle mass remain large.

Although it is possible that grip strength has lost it’s value as a proxy for muscle mass and upper body strength, that also seems highly unlikely. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

116 brent March 23, 2017 at 9:12 am

1) How much of this can be attributed to the complex engineering in vehicles today? I would guess that at least 30%, and maybe more, of men who were teenagers before 2000 worked on their own vehicles to at least change the oil and such. Cars were much simpler machines back then, and many, many more young men twisted wrenches as part of the way to afford a car early. That is just not economically feasible today.

2) I would like to see this broken down by geography and urban vs rural. I would anticipate that States with a lot more outdoor activities (say, Montana and Idaho) would fare better than say, New York, as activities like fishing, kayaking, mountain climbing, etc. tend to build strong hands.

117 DF March 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

I regularly wrench on our four cars. I’m not sure that doing 90%+ of the maintenance and repair on them really improves my physical condition that much. In the end, there just isn’t that much work to do on them in a given week that would really sufficiently condition me.

118 Michael Kruse March 23, 2017 at 10:17 am

“Now, there is a caveat here. The participants in the North Carolina study were recruited from college and university settings, so they’re not representative of the population as a whole. If you were to look exclusively at young adults who never went to college, for instance, you might get different results.”

This strikes me as a huge caveat.

119 Ivy March 23, 2017 at 10:36 am

Work and recreation changes factor in as well. How many younger people use their hands routinely in work outside of using little devices? Kids formerly did yard work, changed tires and other parts on cars using wrenches requiring grip strength, played various sports, rode bikes, climbed things and otherwise got a non-weightlifting workout frequently. Playing Guitar Hero and texting may have some physical impact, but not on the same level as the aforementioned activities.

120 Bob March 23, 2017 at 10:49 am

Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you.

121 Calvin Hobbes March 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Like Scott Sumner says, “…the equality of grip strength for men and women age 30-34 is not plausible.”

Men Are Stronger Than Women (On Average)

“Ten percent of women have stronger grips than the bottom five percent of men.”

Throwing down the gauntlet

Women In Combat: Facts From A Closet

“From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces (report date November 15, 1992, published in book form by Brassey’s in 1993): “The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength…”

122 Thiago Ribeiro March 23, 2017 at 4:07 pm

I doubt those number hold nowadays. American men have decayed switly.

123 Calvin Hobbes March 24, 2017 at 11:11 am

See here for data from a few years ago:

Almost all men are stronger than almost all women

Combined grip strength by age and sex. Combined grip strength is the sum of the largest isometric grip strength readings from each hand, measured using a handgrip dynamometer. Grip strength is an index of upper body strength. Each point is one person. Sample size = 7064.

Data are from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012:

NHANES is a representative sample of the US noninstitutionalized civilian resident population of the United States. It utilizes a complex, multistage, probability sampling design. The sizes of the symbols represent the sampling weights.

124 Calvin Hobbes March 24, 2017 at 11:21 am
125 Thiago Ribeiro March 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm


126 Mr Mike March 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Maybe it’s just the “237 healthy full-time students [pansies?] aged 20 to 34 at universities in North Carolina” that aren’t as strong as their dads.

127 Ricardo March 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm

A more accurate headline would say a (likely non-random) sample of students aged 20-34 in North Carolina had weaker grips than another sample that included non-students drawn from the Milwaukee area in 1985.

128 Michael March 23, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Sample size = 29 for the 1985 group. Nothing to see here, folks.

129 Jackson Layers March 24, 2017 at 7:53 am

I believe we should be stronger in mind not by physical way. Of course, it is important but one needs to be intelligent since that is the most important thing for me. I do Forex trading and it is a sort of business where mind is necessary not physical powers. I have been on the grow especially under OctaFX, as they are awesome with having small spreads at 0.1 pips to high leverage up to 1.500 while there is huge rebate scheme and much more.

130 Floccina April 7, 2017 at 9:45 am

Could this be due to recent immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Asia maybe tending to be smaller and less strong than European and African Americans?

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