Sunday, February 5, 2012

Building Upper Body Strength

You want beautiful biceps and triceps, and yet you can’t do a full push-up? Don’t despair. Many people, especially women, don’t just wake up with arm strength. You have to keep working on it and pushing your body until you see improvement.

Why is upper body strength important in the first place? Besides keeping you strong for everyday activities, you need your strength for last through your exercises. The older you get, the more strength you need to perform the same activities. Have you ever seen a 40 year old that cannot lift 10-pound weights with a well-shaped back? Yep, you have your answer.

So you know you need upper body strength. What do you do?

  • Do More: You cannot stay at the same level you are and hope that you’ll magically get better. Try as hard as you can to do more upper body exercises every day. As you’re working out, you see that you can do 5 push-ups? Tomorrow, try to do 6. Even if you can’t actually do 6, keep trying until you can complete those 6. Push yourself to do one more than you are comfortable with. And what happens when you actually complete that one more? Add another one more! 
  • Anywhere, anytime: Okay, maybe not on the floor of your boss’ office… but whether you’ve worked out on a day or not, it doesn’t matter. Before bed, when you wake up, before dinner, at your friend’s house, anywhere, get down and do some upper body exercises. I keep referring to the push-up because it is a perfect upper body exercise, and you don’t need any equipment. You can drop down and do a push-up anywhere. And the more you do, the stronger you get. 
  • Find your trouble spot: There are some exercises you may be good at, and some you struggle with. When you are in the gym, you feel like you have to do the ones you are good at so you don’t embarrass yourself. But honestly, you should be focusing on the ones that give you trouble. That is where you can really see your growth. Can you do a push-up well, but have trouble with side planks? Keep doing more side planks until you can do it for longer and longer. 
  • Do it right: So you do your push-ups with your belly sagging or your butt pushed out? You may be making it easier on yourself and not actually being true about what your body can do. If you’re not true to yourself, you won’t push yourself. Make sure you are doing your upper body exercises the right way, in the right position. Have you seen the video of Ellen DeGeneres and Michelle Obama doing push-ups? I was super impressed with Ellen's push-ups, even more than Michelle's.
  • Mix it up: I say this a lot, but that’s because it is important. When you do the same thing day in and day out, your body gets used to it. You can do the same exercises with a twist. For example, with the push-up, don’t just do the regular push-up. Do it with one hand, do the half-way down push-up, do it on one leg, do an upper push-up position, do it whatever way you can as long as you mix it up. 
  • Do at least one: You know how girls do push-ups on their knees, or alternate other exercises to make them easier. While that’s fine, you won’t graduate much if you just keep doing that. Even if you can’t do many sets of a full regular exercise, try to do at least one every day. You’ll build strength to be able to do more.

We all want really strong upper bodies. But there is so much we think we can’t do because we don’t try. Progress is slow sometimes, but that’s what it is: progress. That means you won’t see it if you don’t push for more every day.

For some diet and nutrition tips on gaining big muscle, check out this site.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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