The fact that women lack natural upper body strength is not a secret. In fact, most health and fitness professionals agree on the notion 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 100 pounds can also leg press 100 pounds. However, the average woman, who can leg press 100 pounds, will only be able to bench press 50 pounds, max.
The Importance of Upper Body Strength
Making matters worse is the fact that, unlike men, women loose a great deal of their upper body strength as they age. Experts believe that this is mainly due to hormonal changes that contribute to 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. That is because, besides the aesthetic benefits, women who engaging in a moderate weight training program also enjoy the wide array of health benefits this sport has to offer.
The Top 10 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
Though the sport of weight training can also help boost women’s metabolisms, and help stop diet plateaus by burning significantly more calories than any other form of exercise, the number of women who have embraced this sport is low. This is mainly due to the fact that a lot of women believe that the sport of weight training will cause their muscles to “bulk up”. This fear of developing a bulky physique is the most common misconception women harbor regarding this sport.
Therefore it is imperative that all women understand the fact that it is physically impossible for women to develop large muscles, as a result of natural weight training, because the female body simply does not have the testosterone levels necessary to build big muscles. With this said, I would like to stress the fact that since us, women, are naturally at a disadvantage with regards to upper body strength it is imperative that we make a conscious effort to build and maintain our upper body strength through weight training.
Note: You can find a printable version of this workout HERE
The Wrist Curl
The movement of our wrist muscles are responsible for helping us grasp and manipulate objects. Yet, we often neglect to train and strengthen these intricate muscles. Furthermore, our forearm muscles, in combination with our wrist muscles, are used in virtually every activity involving our upper bodies. Therefore, it is imperative that we strengthen and train these muscles continuously in order to avoid wrist injuries as well as help maintain improved hand function in our old age. Wrist curls strengthen the forearm muscles and the joint around the wrist which in turn makes the wrist less susceptible to injury.
The Bicep Curl
The bicep curl is a basic exercise designed to increase the strength and muscle endurance of your upper arms. Contrary to popular belief, the bicep muscle, located in the front of the arms, is a much smaller muscle than the triceps muscle, located in the back of the arms. Despite its small size, the bicep muscle is used as a secondary muscle in virtually every activity involving the major muscle groups of our upper bodies, mainly the chest, back and shoulders. Therefore, it is imperative that we train this muscle to withstand the strain of everyday life.
In the fitness industry, the pushup is affectionately referred to as the king of all upper body exercises. That is because this single upper body exercise engages more of your upper body muscle groups, collectively, than any other upper body exercise and can be used to measure an individual’s overall physical fitness. The pushup is primarily designed to train the pectorals, or chest muscles. But, it also engages the biceps, triceps, forearms, wrist, shoulders, and core muscles. Therefore, doing a few sets of pushups a day is the fastest way to build your overall upper body strength.
The Triceps Overhead Extension
Ladies, are you looking for a fast and effective way to banish those bat wings, permanently? If so, than look no further than the triceps overhead extension. That is because 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.
The Skull Crusher
The skull crusher is the advanced version of the triceps overhead extension. Like the triceps overhead extension, the skull crusher is an exercise designed to primarily target your triceps muscle, the large muscle in the back of the upper arm. However, unlike the triceps overhead extension, the skull crusher also engages your wrist, forearm, core and quad muscles, to a lesser degree.
The Triceps Push-Up
The triceps pushup is a pushup in the sense that it targets all the major muscles groups of your upper body, such as the arm, chest, shoulder and core muscles. However, what sets the triceps pushup apart from a regular pushup 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 of tonning your upper bodies, especially the area in the back of the upper arms, which is on the top of most women’s list of problem areas.
The Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The dumbbell shoulder press is a compound exercise designed to target all of your shoulder muscles as well as your triceps muscles and trapezius muscle, the large muscle located at the side and back of the neck, which extend as far down as beneath the shoulder blade. The trapezius muscle is one of the largest muscles found in the human body. Those of you who spend a great deal of time sitting behind a desk may be experiencing tension and muscle spasms in the back of the neck, which often reverberate down the arms and midback making such everyday tasks as bending, standing, sitting or climbing stairs painful. Strengthening your shoulder muscles, primarily your deltoids, as well as your trapezius muscle, through this exercise will help alleviate many of these aches and pains as well as improve your overall balance and posture.
The Side Dumbbell Lateral Raise
The lateral raise is a secondary movement exercise designed to work the deltoids muscles of the shoulders. Strong deltoids muscles are crucial for good balance and posture. These muscles also play an important role in helping increase our arms’ range of motion. That is because our deltoids muscles, located in the front and back of the shoulders, are primarily responsible for helping keep our shoulders high and pulled back. This, in turn, prevents sagging of the shoulders, in old age, and helps our arms maintain their optimal range of motion.
The Lower Back Extension
The lower back extension, the simplest of all bodyweight exercises, is the most effective exercise designed to isolate, elongate and strengthen the muscles of your lower back. By performing high repetitions of this bodyweight exercise, on a daily basis, you will notice a marked decrease in lower back tension and pain.
The majority of women suffer from lower back pain as a result of the strain spending too much time in the sitting position places on your lower back muscles. Therefore, the superman is a great exercise for those of you who spend your days sitting behind a desk and consequently suffer from lower back pain. This exercise will strengthen your lower back muscles and consequently improve your posture and balance. After a long day at the office, this exercise will also serve as a stretching exercise for your lower back muscles and relieve the tension that often leads to lower back pain.