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John Phillips

Martins Licis may have been crowned the 2019 World's Strongest Man, but the History Channel is looking to up the ante with its new show. Set to premiere on July 10 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, The Strongest Man in History sends four of the strongest men in the world around the globe to complete a series of brutal strength competitions.

Four-time World's Strongest Man Brian Shaw, 2017 World's Strongest Man Eddie Hall, American Strongman Robert Oberst, and renowned strongman and champion powerlifter Nick Best are the four competitors on the show. The aim of the program is to educate viewers about the history of strongman, specifically the World's Strongest Man competition, which was created in 1977, and have the four strongmen challenge old records in the process. Some of the challenges, which are so old that they're unofficial records, include pulling a Viking warship, running with pianos strapped to their backs, and rolling up frying pans.

The series, which spans seven episodes, will run less than a month after the 2019 WSM competition, which took place in Bradenton, FL, from June 13-16. The four personalities have collaborated many times on each other's YouTube channels, so expect a familiar feel between them with plenty of laughs, as well as plenty of new records.

Check out the trailer below.

The Strongest Man in History Promo | Series Premiere Wed. July 10 at 10/9c | History - YouTube

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Klaus Vedfelt / Getty

All those crunches and planks will not only give you a flatter stomach—they could also save your life.

People with higher levels of visceral fat (fat stored around organs in the abdominal area) and thigh fat have a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer, according to a report published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Cancer Society.

In some cases, men with lower body mass indexes had a higher rate of advanced prostate cancer if their fat was in the abdominal area, compared to those with high BMIs.

For the study, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health followed 1,832 Icelandic men for up to 13 years. During that time, 172 men developed prostate cancer—which, in some cases, spread to other parts of the body—and 31 had died. Researchers found that men with high visceral fat and thigh fat just beneath the skin had a higher risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancer.

[RELATED1]

It’s no surprise that obese people are more susceptible to cancer. A 2016 study by the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer found that lower fat levels led to a lower risk of most cancers. But the discovery that men with low BMIs could be more at risk than those with excess fat—again, depending on where the fat was stored—did shock researchers.

“The precision of these estimates was limited in this subgroup analysis, but this is an intriguing signal for future research," said Barbara Dickerman, of the Harvard School of Public Health.

So will working out and sticking to a good diet decrease your cancer risk? Short answer, it certainly doesn’t hurt. “Maintaining healthy weight and regular exercise remain important for a variety of health outcomes,” Dickerman said. 

But, Dickerman added, no particular intervention methods were supported by the study’s findings. “But they may help to identify men for targeted interventions and open new directions for future research,” she concluded.

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Manuel Velasquez

Recently, the issue of transgender inclusion in sports has made its way into the world of powerlifting, with both sides arguing over whether or not trans athletes should compete as the gender of their birth or the gender they identify as now. Everyone from athletes involved in the sport to politicians have weighed in on the matter, and to give some clarity to the complexity surrounding these arguments, we decided to dig deeper into the actual science (or lack thereof) behind the impact of transgender inclusion in powerlifting—specifically, transgender women competing in the women's divisions.

Socially, the issue of trans participation in sport is complicated and widely misunderstood. According to the American Journal of Public Health, in 2016, it was estimated that 390 adults per 100,000, or 1 million in total, identify as transgender—which means 0.003% of the American population fits into this group. That small sample size is one reason why the research on trans inclusion in sport, one way or the other, is scant.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a review, titled “Gender identity and sport: is the playing field level,” authored by Jonathan Reeser, a physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist in Marshfield, WI.

The aim of the report was to “examine gender identity issues in competitive sports, focusing on the evolution of policies relating to female gender verification and transsexual participation in sport.” The report concluded: “Although the psychosocial arguments in favor of allowing transsexual participation would appear to be relatively uncomplicated, there is in my opinion inadequate physiological performance related data to allow an unambiguous position to emerge. It seems clear, however, that every sports authority or governing body, indeed every athlete, will ultimately need to wrestle with these issues and answer the questions raised above.”

USA Powerlifting, which on May 9 decided to uphold its policy that excludes trans women from competing in the women's division, has done its own wrestling. “There’s no data on male-to-female transitions in powerlifting," says USAPL President Larry Maile. "For the same reasons that, probably, most small groups that are often subject to prejudice experience, they don’t want to be studied in essence. But it’s a low number as well, and that provides its own difficulties.” 

The first question that they aimed to answer is: “Are there really [strength] differences between men and women?” The USAPL turned to its parent organization, the International Federation of Powerlifting, and looked at its database of lifters. They studied the strength differential between cisgender (someone whose gender identity corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth) men and women in the non-elite category and found that men were 61 percent stronger. That number shrinks to between 30 percent and 40 percent for elite lifters.

Maile says that a cisgender man’s strength is also a result of other factors, so he focused specifically on the bench press since, “that lift benefits from greater upper-body muscle mass, wider shoulders, and shorter arm length.” When it comes to benching, men are 91 percent stronger than women.

“We’re not making comments on other people’s sports,” Maile continues. “What we do know is that powerlifting is a high-strength, low-technique sport. Especially at the non-elite level, you can have crappy technique and still do well." 

“And if you look at the numbers within my federation, the difference is stark compared to elite powerlifters,” says JayCee Cooper, the transgender woman initially banned by the USAPL back in January and the catalyst to these issues being brought into the mainstream. Cooper is comparing herself to the 84-kilogram female lifter Bonica Brown. “In my last meet, I squatted 320 pounds; she can probably squat 320 kilos.” [Brown has squatted 318 kilograms, or 715 pounds.]

The USAPL also claims that males transitioning to females have high levels of androgens, like testosterone, which give those competitors an advantage, with the organization even citing, “increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue.”

Again, this all boils down to a simple question: Do transgender women powerlifters have a physical advantage over other female competitors?

Well, not if you ask Dr. Laura Arrowsmith, a practicing physician in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a transgender woman herself. Not only does Arrowsmith think that transgender women powerlifters don’t have a physical advantage over cisgender females, but she’s calling USA Powerlifting’s ruling to ban transgender women “an incorrect decision” and one that’s “probably based on prejudice and a lack of information.”

“If transgender women have been on hormone therapy even for a few months, their testosterone has fallen to negligible levels and they’ve lost muscle mass because of that, so there really is no advantage,” Arrowsmith says. “We’re on typically two different medications [while transitioning]: One medication blocks the production of testosterone. It’s an anti-androgen. The other medication is to feminize the estrogen that we take.”

Arrowsmith wasn’t willing to go down the opposite slope in saying that transgender women powerlifters are at a disadvantage, but did cite her personal experience in detailing how transitioning weakened her physically.

“I’ve always had a horse ranch most of my life, and I did a lot of the work around the horse ranch. Once I started on hormone therapy, there were so many things I could no longer do,” she says. “I went from being able to easily pick up a bale of hay or a bag of horse feed to really struggling to do either one. I just didn’t have the muscle strength anymore.”

Joshua Safer, M.D. at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City, agrees, saying, “There is no data to suggest that transgender women powerlifters have a physical advantage over non-transgender women powerlifters.”

Arrowsmith listed transgender women having naturally larger hands, which hormonal medications don’t alter, as the one possible advantage she could think of. But even that wouldn’t translate to grip strength, which involves muscle, according to her. She also said that a transgender woman wouldn’t have advantages in pinpointed powerlifting areas such as tendon strength, leveraging, bone density, or lifting mechanics, either. And Safer tends to agree, actually laying out the premise that transgender women powerlifters on hormonal treatment could be at a “disadvantage.”

“If height alone were an advantage, a transgender woman might have that,” he says. “But for many sports, a transgender woman might have a disadvantage, because she would be carrying around a larger body with smaller muscles.”

Those assertions and the International Olympic Committee allowing transgender women to compete against cisgender women—as long as their testosterone is five nanomoles or less—seemingly makes USA Powerlifting’s decision all the more baffling.

When asked about its policy, the IOC issued a statement, saying it “aims to balance inclusivity, fairness, safety and a level playing field for all athletes” and that “we expect to publish updated Transgender Guidelines following a lengthy consultation with (among others) the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission; medical, scientific, human rights and legal experts across relevant fields; and various stakeholders and other interested parties, including international federations and national governing bodies.”

*Additional reporting by Mark Lelinwalla

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Henry Cavill is no stranger to lifting heavy, but that's not the only key to his comic book physique. Yesterday, Cavill—known for playing the Man of Steel— took to Instagram to show us a quick throwback to when he was in Budapest training for his starring role as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix's The Witcher TV series. He made it a point to show that you can still build some superhero arms, even if you're not using the largest weights on the rack. Take a look.


 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Having a little flashback to my days in Budapest on The Witcher and found this photo. I like it because it shows that it doesn't take huge weights everyday to achieve results. I was doing everything I could in a busy busy schedule to try and get something in, whenever I could. During this period I learned that it's not the weight that matters, it's the workout. So if you're shy about going to the gym because there is always someone next to you using mahoosive weights, don't be. You do your weights, just make every workout count. You might end up looking better than the fella or lady next to you that's using those heavy weights. I also wanted to give a massive shout-out to Adam at Flex Gym. Adam went out of his way to help make sure I could get some training in, no matter the time of day or night, he'd open the gym so I could throw some weights (big or little!) around. Thank you my friend. I hope to see you soon! @FlexGymBudapest #YouDoYou #GymStuff

A post shared by Henry Cavill (@henrycavill) on Jun 17, 2019 at 1:42pm PDT

Long story short, don’t feel self-conscious if you’re at the gym lifting smaller weights—the fact that you’re at the gym at all is what really matters. Plus, if you have the right workout plan in place, lifting lighter weights will actually help you grow. So the next time you’re dragging your feet to the gym, think to yourself, "What would Superman do?"

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