Upper body resistance training is a staple and focus of men’s fitness routines, but should this also be incorporated into fitness routines for women? While women may not want to take the same approach and workout structure as their male counterparts, it is important for women to train the upper body as well as the lower body.
For all-around health and wellness, all muscle groups need to be shown attention. Over-emphasis on one part of the body while neglecting other parts of the body can lead to strain on the joints, rather than achieving a heightened level of athleticism and strength.
Women’s hormones and physiology are different than men, and this determines the amount of strength and muscular development that they can achieve. Women don’t need to be concerned about looking like men when it comes to strengthening their upper bodies. Women naturally have about 1/3 of the amount of upper body muscle that men do. So, whether developed or not, a woman cannot obtain the same kind of muscle structure as a man the same size, doing the same workout. Muscles are also developed by how often they are used and by how much weight is used to train. If you aren’t a professional body-builder and aren’t training like one, you need not fret about looking like one.
Testosterone is the hormone that allows muscle mass to develop more quickly, this causes the difference in muscle mass between men and women. Women have around one tenth the level of testosterone that men do. So when it comes to training, women have little to fear when it comes to achieving the rapid muscle development that men achieve. Biologically, compared to men the same size, women cannot develop muscle at the same pace with the same training regimen.
Getting in a full body workout, and not neglecting the upper body, will result in more muscle mass. The more that muscle mass is increased, the more calories and fat that are burned. So for men and women alike, working out the entire body is extremely valuable for weight loss, and for over-all athleticism.
For women, having a shapely upper body is shown to improve self-esteem. Studies show that resistance training is shown to be more effective for self-esteem improvement in women than simply walking as exercise. It also makes day-to-day tasks easier and prevents injury. Upper body resistance training strengthens connective tissue in the elbows, shoulders, neck, spine, wrists, and hands. This improves joint integrity and stability in addition to preventing injury.
Women also have some advantages when it comes to resistance training. Because women have smaller muscles, they can isolate them more often without worrying about the longer recovery periods that men experience. While women can take advantage of this difference, it is important to be careful when pressing and pulling heavy at the same weights as men at their same size. This is because women have more of a tendency to become arm dominant than men, which can actually complicate strength training and increase the risk of injuries while training.
One of the biggest reasons why women should not neglect strength training of the upper body is that muscle development increases bone strength. When muscles contract against bone, it creates stress that causes bones to strengthen against the contractions. The stronger that muscles get, the stronger that bones must become to handle the muscle contractions.
In conclusion, women who train should also incorporate upper body strengthening exercises into their workout routines to achieve optimal fitness and general athleticism. It isn’t imperative and perhaps not even recommended that women use the same level of weight as a man their same size would be able to use, but women can take advantage of their biological advantage when it comes to isolations and can focus on these to build up their upper body muscles in addition to lower body strengthening exercises.
Khartdavis. “5 Reasons Why Women Should Train Upper Body.” Bodybuilding.com, 7 Feb. 2019, www.bodybuilding.com/content/5-reasons-why-women-should-train-upper-body.html.
“Sex Differences in Training and Metabolism • Stronger by Science.” Stronger by Science, 26 Jan. 2020, www.strongerbyscience.com/gender-differences-in-training-and-diet/.
“The History of Technogym: from Foundation to the Present Day.” Technogym, 11 Mar. 2019, www.technogym.com/us/our-history/.