I’m gonna say it. Women with strong upper body muscles are gorgeous and just altogether awesome. Now before you think I’m a nut – I’m not talking Arnold Schwarzenegger-type muscles, just strong, lean feminine muscles. Like I’ve talked about in other posts, for a woman to look like a bodybuilder she would have to go on steroids and train for hours a day. We just don’t naturally have the hormones needed to bulk up a crazy amount. So lift without fear ladies, you won’t regret it. And if you don’t like the results you can always back off a little (but I can pretty much guarantee you won’t want to do that). Besides looking great though, building a strong upper body is awesome because it gives you confidence, helps you stay fit for everyday tasks, builds bone density, burns fat, and much more. The benefits of a strong body are endless.
That being said, women usually prefer training their lower body over their upper body, whereas men usually neglect their lower bodies. Why? Because women are naturally stronger in their lower body, and men in their upper body. We like to train what feels the strongest. That is why it is especially important for us ladies not to neglect upper body training – if we only focus on leg and glute work, we will end up very imbalanced. Here are the best exercises for each muscle group in the upper body – especially for women.
For upper back strength and definition:
Pullups – These are a must for developing and strengthening literally all of the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, and triceps. A common misconception is that girls can’t do pullups. That simply isn’t true. It’s tougher for us to be sure since we naturally lack upper body strength, but it can be done (I’ve done it). There are lots of great ways to build up to getting your first strict pullup, so feel free to Contact Me if you would like a simple, easy to follow plan. You’ll get there in no time.
Shoulder Press – This one is kind of a no-brainer. Want strong shoulders? Make them lift heavy stuff and press it overhead. I remember when I first started doing shoulder presses and finally noticed my shoulder muscles changing. A strong upper body just isn’t anywhere near as impressive or functional without strong shoulders. Use the heaviest weight you can manage with good form, for 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps.
For triceps (the back of your arms):
Tricep Dips – Did you know that your triceps are actually supposed to be larger than biceps? We usually think of strong arms meaning big biceps, but actually, having strong triceps is even more important. You can do dips on parallel bars, gymnastics rings (my personal favorite for a lot of reasons, but that’s another story for another time), or just on a chair. 3 sets of 15 reps is a good starting goal. As you make progress you can hold weight while you do them.
For your chest:
Pushups – Actually pushups are a fantastic way to develop all of your upper body and core, but they are especially good for strengthening your chest muscles. You can do them with your hands wide, from your knees or against a wall if you are a beginner, or with your elbows close to your sides to also target your triceps. Try for 3 sets of 10 reps of the hardest version you can do with good form.
As we’re coming up on the New Year, consider making a strong, fit upper body one of your resolutions. I promise you’ll be very glad you did when summer comes around 😉