Why can't I jump as high as my male partner? We both have to perform the same series of jetés in a workshop performance and practicing isn't helping. I'm starting to panic.
—Amy, Cincinnati, OH
The gender gap between men and women for jump height is significant whether you're playing basketball or dancing ballet. Research shows that men naturally have a higher jump and more leg strength, force and power compared to women. Blame it on innate characteristics that start in puberty, when boys experience a spurt of muscle growth as hormones like testosterone surge, increasing their jumping ability. Some studies also suggest that males have a higher ratio of fast-twitch muscle fibers, along with a physiology that's more efficient at recruiting the muscles needed to jump.
Resistance training aimed at strengthening your quads can narrow the gap. However, no one expects you to jump like a man. Rather than placing unrealistic expectations on yourself, why not focus on qualities under your control, like musicality and artistic expression? The point is to perform the jetés beautifully, not compete with your partner.
Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.