Our workload at Building Elite is a 1:3 split between every day people and athletes.
Of those every day people, that community is made up of 98% women.
And out of those women, I can guarantee 95% of them originally came to me with the concern that their upper body was weaker than their lower body.
Why is it so typical for women to be weaker in their upper body?
- Upper body muscles give a 'bulky shape'
Its a never-ending battle in the 21st Century, one I could argue forever if I'm not careful. We want women to be strong and capable, but we also expect them to fit a certain mould; not be bulky; not appear overly strong; but be empowered and full of self love...
Naturally, all of the fitness trends aimed at women over the years have been booty building and toning focused. The few that have focused on some upper body, have incorporated it with a 'toning' focus, which ultimately makes the muscle long, lean and endurance trained, but that does not correspond to strength or robustness.
- Hormone Profile
Estrogen (dominant in women) translates to higher body fat, whereas testosterone (dominant in men) supports better lean muscle mass. This is typically the argument why men are stronger than women in general. Strength comes down to the production of force from a muscle, and force a muscle is capable of producing ultimately comes down to the size of the muscle and the type of training it has endured. So, while our genetic make up can set a precedent for our capabilities, our training can largely change this.
- Sporting Background
Depending on what sports you played as a kid, whether you played any at all, this can have an effect on the development of your upper body patterning, particularly if it was a throwing, swimming or hitting sport. Research shows we can set patterns from an early age, so take this into consideration.
Regardless of the reasoning behind your strength, or lack of, the principles to improve strength will apply to you..
START TRAINING THE PRIMARY UPPER BODY EXERCISES
Chest Press or Push Up
Lat Pull Down or Chin Ups
Rows - whatever variation you'd like!
We suggest including these in your weekly routine 1-2 days a week & choose a weight that is 8-9/10 difficulty for 6-10 reps! Each week, aim to increase the reps you do or the weight you use - this is the principle progressive overload, where you overload the muscle with weight or volume.
A large majority of feeling stronger in the upper body can come from training a better posture, which is a 24/7 intervention, not just whilst your in the gym. We suggesting choose two variations of a row exercise, to make your session 5 exercises long.
Lastly, building some resilience behind your upper body will improve how you feel when training or carrying out every day tasks. It is not going to make you bodybuilder-bulky - that takes an awful lot more work than most of us are capable of - but it will make you feel stronger and empowered to carry all of the groceries in at one time.
Please note these are simply our choice of exercises for all levels of training experiences, but movement competence can mean these need to be altered. Contact us for a movement screening and to improve your training potential.