I want to share the most EFFECTIVE exercise in boosting women’s upper body strength and physique. And you don’t need a gym to do it!
Why women should build upper body strength
I know most women don’t tend to focus on upper body strength. And if they do incorporate it, it’s usually in the form of bicep curls and tricep extensions with really low weights. Typically with the goal of toning their arms and get rid of any “grandma flab.” No offense grandma’s! But we all know what I am talking about, right? You know, that extra skin and fat that likes to say goodbye when we wave, LOL.
If you find yourself in that category or you avoid it all together to avoid getting “too bulky” up there, listen up! All women should be looking to strengthen their upper bodies. You won’t get too bulky up there. And chances are those couple sets of curls and extensions aren’t going to zap the grandma flab (that’s called spot reducing by the way, and you can’t do that either). Stop wasting your time with these isolation exercises that neglect the your chest, back, shoulders, and core. What you need to be doing is upper body exercises that help improve full body performance, especially in the core.
A strong upper body allows you to carry more weight form your lower body lifts, pick your toddler up 100 times a day, and have a more diverse exercise routine.
The best upper body exercise for women’s strength
The exercise that you should be incorporating into your fitness routine as often as you can is the push up. The push up is my favorite upper body exercise for so many reasons.
First, it can be as hard or as easy as you need it to be. ANYONE can perform a push up. There are so many ways to modify it. You can do it against a wall, on your knees, at a decline, weighted, unweighted, on a bosu ball, the list goes on. Because of their ability to be modified, I know personally that I was able to incorporate them into my pre- AND postnatal routines. So you can do them as a beginner as well as an athlete and still get the same great benefits.
The push up also engages the entire upper body. Your arms, chest, back, shoulders, and core all get activation. And in fact, if done properly your lower body even gets engagement too. Because the push up works so many muscles at a time, it is a higher calorie burning exercise. You can even use it as a cardio move because it will get your heartrate up.
The push up can also be varied like adjusting your grip or incline to target different muscle groups. And keep in mind that the large muscle groups will be the prime movers, so they will be doing the brunt of the work. The smaller muscles like in your arms and shoulders will be the limiting factor of the exercise. They will be assisting and stabilizing and therefore getting a more muscular endurance approach. That will help build lean muscle mass in your arms and shoulders for a more toned look.
And the best reason to do push ups is because it exposes your weaknesses by making you focus on your core strength. Based on where your form is compromised, you can see what areas are imbalanced. Like if your chest rises before your hips, genereally it is the abdominals that are lacking.
How to do a push up
Above I demonstrate and explain the key points of the proper mechanics of a push up. I also go over a few other variations and what they are good for. So when you have time check it out!
So watch my how-to so you can get started. Once you are confident in your form, you can quickly get better at push ups a few different ways. To start you can simply increase your frequency. So do them more often throughout the week. Even just adding a set or two within or at the end of a workout will help. Practice, practice, practice!
You can also modify the push up to an easier variation to do more reps and build endurance in one workout. Then do a more challenging variation to build strength in another workout.
I also like to incorporate tempo change. Tempo is the amount of time it takes to perform the exercise and thus changes the time under tension. The more time under tension, the more contraction you are doing. And again increasing strength and endurance without having to manipulate the type of push up or the reps. An example of that is a negative. That’s when you start at the top of the push up and very slowly lower down to the bottom. If you need to you can “assist” yourself to the top. This can be used if knee push ups are too easy, but standard push ups are too hard (without compromising form). You can lower down in the standard form, but use your knees to push up.
Push up workouts to boost women’s upper body strength
Now that I got you excited to do some push ups, I invite you to check out this Advanced Push Up Workout that will have your lungs and upper body on FIRE! I made this workout so that all you need is a wall or even a couch and you can get started. No equipment is needed, just a good attitude and a tough mindset. Don’t plan on shampooing your hair after this one because you’ll struggle to lift your arms. Are you ready? Let’s sweat!