As I was waltzing through YouTube, I came across a video that made me pause and think. It was a video of a guy named Elliot Hulse, who talks a lot about strength, fitness and a lot of stuff I general. He was doing a video based on a question he was asked by a subscriber. “Why are prison inmates so jacked?” He speculated that this was based on the prison environment itself causing a physiological response in people, causing their testosterone levels to increase, which leads to large increases in lean muscle mass. Now I am not suggesting that people go to prison to get ripped. Orange is not the new buff.
But I couldn’t help but think there may be some truth to his statement. Follow along here and in the end I will try to address a few fundamental things. We will all agree that in our penal system there are some large and muscular fellows. Quite a few actually. Now we can eliminate a number of things that are the cause just based on circumstance. First, diet. Prison food is by no means a success path for long-term muscle gains. Second, steroids are not exactly rampant in prisons….I think drugs and cell phones have more of a priority on the smuggling list. Third, you can’t just run down to GNC for protein powder, BCAA’s and Creatine. And last is the amount of time and equipment necessary to maintain large muscles. Prison yards/gyms are not your average Gold’s Gym and it’s not like an inmate has hours on end to work on his/her physique.
So having said all that, is it possible that what we are seeing is a reaction to environment? It sort of fits doesn’t it? But I can’t find any studies to back it up. It’s just sort of a logical theory based on how humans physiologically adapt to their surroundings.
Now take that same theory outside the prison walls. In 2006 Reuters published a story that showed the average man’s testosterone levels dropping steadily over the years. The results of that being increased obesity, decreased fertility and a rash of other related health problems. Is this slackening of hormone production a result of our environment? All those things that testosterone does for us are proving to no longer be necessary for the perpetuation of the species. I don’t need to chase down prey in order to eat. I am not fending off predators and competing tribes. And last I knew, my wife did not marry me based on my ability to slay and drag home a haunch of mammoth.
If these activities are no longer necessary in order to get by in the world, is it possible that our bodies just stop expending resources to produce testosterone at that high of a level? Is this evolution? Is this the future and where does that take us as a species? I know many men whose excessive manliness is not seen as a positive (and it isn’t once you cross a certain line). But I also know a lot of men, who can’t fend for themselves if they were caught in the rain out in a city park, let alone fend off a mugger or chase away an overly aggressive stray dog. And you have to ask yourself “is this what men have become because women expect it, or have women just accepted it?” If so does that mean that nothing should be done about it?
This is just a casual observation and a theory. I am not suggesting anything even be done. More like just thinking out loud. Are women to suffer the same type of fate? If hormonal response is truly linked to environment, and our bodies are physiologically adapting to changing times, what then happens to estrogen levels? Maybe it’s already happening to women. Excess estrogen is as, if not more problematic, than excess testosterone. It can lead to weight gain, increase breast cancer risk, and screws with the menstrual cycle. I can Google symptoms and causes for both and tell you it is correctable to an extent. But should we? I say yes if it prevents health issues but that’s just a band aid. We aren’t fixing the problem, just masking it and that means it only gets worse over time as we “evolve” more.
People think I am crazy when I talk about things like this. But our bodies are incredibly complex, intricate, and interconnected systems, designed by evolution to adapt to our surrounds and allow us to survive as a species. Just like plants and small furry mammals do. We are so complicated that we think we actually understand ourselves and we don’t. And I think that causes us to rationalize things to our particular worldview and overlook the obvious. We often don’t see that when we change something, the way we eat, act, behave, that over time if it is consistent enough it can have physiological implications.
Are we all becoming victims of our social environment?
Don’t you hate it when someone ends a blog with a question?