The Bench Press: A Woman’s B(r)e(a)st Friend

One of the biggest misconceptions in women’s fitness is about weightlifting and it’s effects on the body. Often times, women shy away from exercises like the bench press because they don’t want to “get bulky” or “too muscly”. However major muscle group moves (or compound moves) like the bench press, can not only help your fitness regime be more effective, but aid deeper physical benefits as well.

Ever heard of Kyphosis? Most haven’t, but it can be common in women, and is the stooping of shoulders and weakening of abdominals.

“Kyphosis is a forward rounding of the back. While kyphosis can occur at any age, it’s most common in older women.” – The Mayo Clinic

While there are a few different causes of Kyphosis, one of the most common explanations is breasts. The weight and self-consciousness of a woman’s chest can lead to the inadvertent stooping of their shoulders and caving in their chests, creating extremely bad posture and even back problems later in life.

Yet, there is a great way to avoid this while also stripping away body fat and toning up. The Bench Press. The bench press adds strength to the muscles in your chest bringing back that good posture that will keep you out of the chiropractors office. As a “compound” move, it also is a fantastic way to strip away body fat because it activates so many muscles; abdominals, triceps, shoulders, and of course your pecs.

So next time you’re at the gym, grab a friend or trainer to spot you, or hit the Smith Machine, and work those pecs for that solid posture and well supported back! And here’s a few ideas to get you started.

At The Gym:

  • Barbell Bench Press (using a spotter or smith machine): 3 sets of 10-12 reps at a moderate weight
  • Dumbbell Bench Fly: 3 sets of 12-15 reps at a moderate to light weight
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10-12 reps at a moderate weight

***Once you become confident with the bench press moves, try increasing the weight and sets, while decreasing the reps (ex. 5 sets of 6-8 reps at a moderate to heavy weight). Always try to use a spotter, trainer, or smith machine for safety and confidence.

At Home:

  • Wide-Arm Pushups (on knees): With your arms wider than shoulder length do 3 sets of 12-15 repsbetter-modified-push-ups
  • Pushups (on knees): Arms at shoulder width, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Narrow Pushups (on knees): Make a diamond between your thumbs and index fingers and do 3 sets of 12-15 reps

***Once you build up confidence and strength in your pushups, try lowering the amount of reps and doing them without your knees on the floor.