Women can do TikTok 'Chair Challenge' but men cannot, explained

Women gloating.

Belmont Lay | December 10, 2019, 11:48 AM

Videos of the "Chair Challenge" that got popularised on TikTok has left the internet confounded.

You would have seen this video or something similar wafting through your news feed anytime in the past week:

It pits women against men and proves that there are things women can do that men just can't.

How is the challenge done?

The "Chair Challenge" requires both man and woman to participate.

Stand by a wall and place one foot against the wall and your other foot goes directly behind.

Then move your front foot behind the back foot before bringing them both together.

Have a chair with you.

Then place the top of your head against the wall at a 90-degree angle to the floor.

Pull the chair under you and then up to your chest and stand up.

Thousands of videos online confirm that women have no difficulties doing this, while men struggle but just can't.


Since the trend emerged, people have been bewildered and have attempted to explain how this could be the case as men are seen to be stronger, with a stronger core, or generally can overcome anything with brute force.

Physiological reasons have been proposed, ranging from centre of gravity, to the length of men's arms and legs compared to women's.

Women are said to have a lower centre of gravity and so find it easier to complete the challenge.

However, according to scientist Professor Brian Ford of Cambridge University, this is not the case.

It has to do more with the physics of fulcrum and load.

Ford told The Sun:

"It is true that women have a lower centre of gravity than men, by several centimetres," Professor Ford said.

"But that has no bearing on this crafty little trick.

"Men have longer feet than women. Two paces back for a man would be some 60cm, for a woman it's more like 50cm.

"So to begin with, the man is forced further away from the wall.

"The man's larger feet mean he is farther away from the wall than the woman, and is thus leaning forward.

"The woman's legs are closer to the wall, and are thus leaning back."

Women thus have this advantage as men struggle to lift themselves from this position.

But even though men have a hard time pulling off this trick, it doesn't mean all of them can't do it.

Some of them still can, but they are in the minority.

Another theory proposed is that women have wider pelvises, but this is from Twitter, so take it with a pinch of salt:

The second major reason why women are able to do this is because the pelvis of women is wider which creates a larger area to body ratio and thus lowering the center of gravity in women. The male pelvis is not as wide creating a less area to body ratio.

Decades-old challenge

One thing's for sure though: This "Chair Challenge" is not new.

It has been around since 1971.

Video site TikTok has given it a new lease of life, but examples on YouTube of people attempting the challenge go as far back as 2012, seven years ago.

The oldest example is from 1971 in the US TV series All in the Family, specifically, the episode Judging Books by Covers aired way back on Feb. 9, 1971.


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