Are Millennial Men Really Weaker Than Their Dads?

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Have you noticed that the young interns in your office have weak handshakes? Don't take it personally—their entire generation may just be physically weaker. The Washington Post reports that a new study shows that millennials, and especially millennial men, scored lower than their parents' generation did when it comes to grip strength.

A study published in the Journal of Hand Therapy measured the grip and pinch strength of 237 healthy men and women between the ages of 20 and 34. Researchers found that across the board, strength scores were statistically lower than similar study results from 30 years ago.

The difference was most noticeable among men. For example, a 20- to 34-year-old guy could apply 98 pounds of force when gripping with his right hand, but in 1985, a man of the same age could apply 117 pounds of force, on average. Women didn't do as badly, and in fact, women between the ages of 30 and 34 were stronger than the 1985 participants; women between 20 and 24 lagged behind, though.

In general, this decrease in grip strength is likely a result of today's young people having different jobs. Men are less likely to do manual labor these days, and that means they're not required to be as strong as previous generations. Of course, this study was limited because it sampled a small number of college students in North Carolina. The 1985 study was also limited because it focused on a small group of people living near Milwaukee, many of whom were also college students. So the two groups were decently comparable, but not representative of the entire country.


But the researchers say this isn't necessarily proof that today's young men are puny. Instead, they're saying that the strength norms need to be redefined for today's workplace, because data like the 1985 results have been used by physical therapists for years. If you hurt your arm, your physical therapist likely compares your grip score to norms that don't make sense anymore.

"Work patterns have changed dramatically since 1985, when the first norms were established," study co-author Elizabeth Fain told NPR. "As a society, we're no longer agricultural or manufacturing ... What we're doing more now is technology-related, especially for millennials."

So don't freak out if you can't grip like your dad can. According to USA Today, grip strength isn't directly linked with overall strength when it comes to young people and athletes. But a weak grip can indicate poor fitness overall, and it could lead to some serious issues doing basic tasks when you get older. So if you have a dead-fish handshake, hit the gym—you'll be grateful once you hit the retirement home.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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