The fact that women lack natural arm strength, as well as overall upper body strength, is not a secret.
Most health and fitness professionals agree about the fact that unlike men, whose upper body strength is often equal to their lower body strength, on average, women’s upper body strength equals only about 50% of their lower body strength.
For example, most men who can bench press 100lbs can also leg press 100lbs. However, the average woman, who can leg press 100lbs, will only be able to bench press around 40lbs to 50lbs, max.
The Importance of Arm Strength For Women
Think of all the things that you do that require upper body strength:
- Picking up your baby
- Picking up your kids
- Bringing in the groceries
- Kneading dough
- Re-decorating your living room, etc.
Unfortunately, women loose a great deal of what little arm strength, as well as overall upper body strength, they have as they age. Experts believe that this is mainly due to hormonal changes during menopause that contribute to overall muscle loss.
In an effort to help improve women’s health, an overwhelming amount of research has made a compelling case for the fact that all women, especially those over the age of forty, must incorporate a certain degree of weight training into their regular workout routines.
Besides the aesthetic benefits of having tank top arms, women who engaging in a moderate weight training program also enjoy the wide array of health benefits this sport has to offer.
The following is a short list of the health benefits of weight training for women:
- Increased overall physical strength
- Increased overall bone density
- Increased overall physical endurance
- Increased overall balance and coordination
- Lower overall body fat percentage
- Lowered overall risk of arthritis related complications
- Lowered overall risk of developing heart disease
- Lowered overall risk of developing diabetes
- Lowered overall risk of developing breast cancer
- Lowered overall risk of developing hormone related depression
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How Much Weight Should I Lift?
Only you can determine the amount of weight that is right for you.
Most healthy women can comfortably lift 5 to 8 pounds with each arm. So, start with a 5lb dumbbell and do 10 reps of a basic biceps curl. If your arm is not exhausted to the point where you cannot possibly do another repetition by the time you reach 10 reps, move up to an 8lb or 10lb dumbbell. Continue this process until you reach a weight that is so challenging that you cannot possibly do more than 8-10 reps of a basic biceps curl.
How Many Reps Should I do?
The number of reps you should do depends on your fitness goals.
If your goal is to burn fat, tone your arms and develop muscle endurance which gives you the type of strength you need for everyday life (ex: moving furniture to redecorate your living room) start with a moderate amount of weight and aim for higher repetitions.
For example, if you are an average female, as described above, start with an 8lb dumbbell and aim for 8-10 reps. If the amount of weight you have chosen to lift allows you to do 12-15 or more repetitions, without reaching the point of muscle exhaustion, that weight is too low for you. This means that your efforts are wasted because lifting such a low amount of weight will not help you burn fat, tone your arms, or increase your overall upper arm strength.
On the other hand, if your goal is to burn fat, develop upper body strength and definition, as well as increase the size of your biceps than you need to start with a moderately heavy weight and aim for lower repetitions.
For example, if you are an average female, as described above, who can do 8-10 biceps curls with an 8lb dumbbell, start with a 12lb dumbbell and aim for 5-8 repetitions. Likewise, if you are able to do more than 8 reps with a 12lb dumbbell, without reaching the point of muscle exhaustion, consider moving up to a slightly heavier weight.
Why All Women Should Do Pushups
Pushups are a compound and dynamic exercise that can help increase your arm strength as well as improve the overall appearance and strength of your upper body. In other words:
- Want to eliminate your bat wings? Do pushups! Pushups work the triceps muscles that keep your upper arms from sagging
- Want to stop your breasts from sagging? Do pushups! Pushups can give you the equivalent of a non-surgical breast lift by toning the chest muscles that keep your breasts from sagging
- Want to look great in your strapless wedding dress? Do pushups! Pushups tone your back and shoulder muscles, as well as help get rid of bra bulges
The following 3 videos demonstrate three different varieties of the pushup, which is one of the most dynamic and effective, upper body exercises for women of all ages and fitness levels.
Pushups For Beginners
How To Do The Perfect Pushup
Pilates Friendly Pushups On Your Stability Ball
Why All Women Should Do Triceps Exercises
Because bat wings aren’t sexy!
Triceps exercises are meant to tone, lengthen and strengthen the muscle that runs along the backside of your upper arm from your shoulder to your elbow. As we age, this muscle sags and gives our upper arms a saggy appearance known as a “bat wing”.
Triceps exercises are designed to target this muscle and help prevent this unsightly sagging. But, most importantly, triceps exercises can dramatically increase the overall strength of your arms because the triceps muscle is a larger muscle than the biceps muscle and hence conveys more strength. Therefore, women who have strong triceps retain more of their upper body strength as they age.
How To Do Triceps Pushups (Beginners and Advanced)
The triceps pushup targets all the major muscles groups of your upper body, including your arms, chest, shoulders and core muscles. However, what sets triceps pushups apart from regular pushups is the fact that by placing your hands closer together you put more emphasis on the triceps. This is a great exercise for those of you looking for a fast and highly effective way to tone your arms and eliminate bat wings.
How To Do Triceps Extensions
If you are looking for a fast and effective way to banish your flabby bat wings than triceps extensions are the perfect arm exercise for you. This exercise is designed to isolate and target your triceps muscle, the large muscle located in the back of the arms. Besides its aesthetic benefits, training the triceps muscle will also greatly increase the strength of your arms.
How To Do Triceps Kickbacks
How To Do Triceps Bench Dips (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced)
Why All Women Should Do Biceps Exercises
The fact that women, on average, have significantly smaller biceps muscles than men is one of the main reasons why women lack upper body strength. Therefore, for women, strengthening the biceps plays a crucial role in increasing their overall upper body strength.
Having strong biceps is important for women because women who have strong biceps have more muscle endurance in their upper forearms, elbows and shoulders which work together to allow them to lift and carry more weight.
How To Do Basic Biceps Curls
How To Do Biceps Concentration Curls
How To Do Biceps Reverse Curls
Why All Women Should Do Shoulder Exercises
Our shoulders are made up of one large muscle with three distinct components known as: The front deltoids, the side deltoids, the rear deltoids. The small size of our deltoids muscle is another reason why we, women, lack great upper body strength.
However, despite its small size, this muscle plays a significant role in just about every movement we make with our arms. Therefore, it is important to train this muscle if you are looking to increase your arm strength as well as maintain your overall upper body strength as you age.
How To Do Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The dumbbell shoulder press is a compound exercise designed to target your shoulder muscle as well as your arm muscles, including the triceps muscles.
How To Do Front Arm Raises
Front arm raises work your front deltoids and help increase your shoulder muscle definition.
photo courtesy of: ~ggvic~