This article is for those of you guilty of upper body neglect. You hit the gym, get in some squats, maybe some leg presses, lunges, and kill the core. If you consider curls and kick-backs an upper body workout, then you’ve got a thing or two to learn.


While these “exercises” have their uses, I’m talking about legit upper-body work - presses, rows, hang cleans, jerks, and snatches are more along the lines of what I’m thinking. If you don’t think hot arms and respect in the gym are worth the effort it takes to build an upper body, here are a few more reasons for all ladies to consider taking your upper-body training to the next level.


women lifting, women's fitness, upper body strength


Keep Up With the Boys

Breaking Muscle Shop

Guys always seem to have a leg up on us. They can eat whatever they want, get ripped without trying, and look hot with gray hair. When it comes to strength, they also have us beat. In terms of absolute strength, ladies generally have about two-thirds the strength of men. When you break it down and factor in body weight, the lower-body strength of women is comparable to men, but we still find ourselves lacking in the upper-body department.


"In terms of absolute strength, ladies generally have about two-thirds the strength of men."

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology contributed this discrepancy in strength to the fact that men have bigger muscle fibers than women. Taxing your upper body with moderate to heavy loads will invoke muscle hypertrophy and help balance out this strength gap between genders. You may never be able to bench 300 pounds, but getting under some heavy weight would definitely help level the playing field.


Tastefully Flaunt Your Attributes

We all know that one of the benefits of lifting heavy is to look good naked. Unfortunately, in most developed countries, it’s frowned upon to walk around au naturel. Okay, so you’ve got some smokin’ glutes but, once again, you can’t walk around with your cheeks hanging out, at least not in everyday life.


Thankfully, society is completely all right with a woman showing some upper-body skin. Take advantage and display those traps, delts, pecs, lats, bis, and tris in all their splendid glory - and you don’t even have to worry about looking skanky. Without having your lady bits hanging out, you can tactfully let the world know that you work your ass off in the gym and you’re proud of the house you’ve built.


women's fitness, upper body strength, muscle gain


Be a Bad-Ass Old Lady

In the Framingham Disability Study, researchers found that 40% of women between 55-64 years old, 45% of women between 65-74, and 65% of women between 75-84 were unable to lift ten pounds. I repeat - ten pounds!


As we get older, we tend to get weaker. That’s just how nature works. After the age of thirty, sarcopenia rears its ugly head and we begin to lose that hard-earned muscle mass. As the size of our muscles decrease, so do our strength capabilities.


"The good news is you don’t have to sit idly by while you’re stripped down to skin and bones."

The good news is you don’t have to sit idly by while you’re stripped down to skin and bones. Start lifting early and stay with it to maintain those curves and strength you’ve worked so hard to get. Do you want to be the old gal who doesn’t have enough strength to pick up her cat or the bad-ass grandma who routinely kicks her grand-kids’ butts at flag football?


Survive a Zombie-Apocalypse or Other Crazy Scenarios

Prepare yourself just in case someday shit goes down and you have to depend on your physical strength to save yourself. Say, for example, there are a couple zombies running you down. Let’s pretend they’re fast zombies and they’re right on your tail. All of a sudden, you come to a wall and you have to pull yourself up and over it or have your brains eaten. Could you do it?


And if you’re an outdoorsy girl, there’s always that chance you may have to wrestle a bear, mountain lion, or Sasquatch to the death. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, like anything like that is ever going to happen!” So for argument’s sake, take a real-life scenario where some jack-wagon decides he wants to mug you or hurt you - that extra upper-body strength would come in pretty handy to kick his ass.


women's fitness, upper body strength, muscle gain


Make a Man Obsolete

Well, maybe not entirely obsolete, but at least so far as not needing one to take care of you. We often are forced to take advantage of the men in our lives for their brute strength. Their big strong bodies are superb for moving heavy boxes and rearranging furniture. But what if you didn’t need a guy to help you move or haul your heavy stuff? Sure, it may make him feel slightly inadequate, but think of the freedom and independence you’d have if you could take care of life’s hassles all by your little ol’ self.


"I’m not saying you should strive to look like Arnold’s twin sister or anything, but making those shoulders just a tad broader wouldn’t hurt anything."

Balance Out the Physique

We women generally tend to have a bit more meat in our lower body than we do in the top, so adding some big lifts to your upper body and gaining mass there can help balance out your entire physique. Another perk of adding mass to your upper half is that all-important increase in metabolism. We all know that the more muscle we have, the higher our resting metabolic rate. Over time, this bump in caloric burn can lead to a leaner, hotter version of you with muscles up top and down below.


women's fitness, women's lifting, muscle gain


Are You Convinced?

Have you heard enough to jump on the bandwagon? I’m not saying you should strive to look like Arnold’s twin sister or anything, but making those shoulders just a tad broader wouldn’t hurt anything.


If your gym gals still aren’t feeling it, ask a guy to spot you while you rep out the poundage. You never know, down the road he may just be asking you for a spot or to help him move his couch.


Read more on women's strength training:



1. Jett, A., and L. Branch. “The Framingham Disability Study: II. Physiological Disability Among the Aging.” American Journal of Public Health. 1981; 71:1211-1216.

2. Lauback, L. “Comparative Muscle Strength of Men and Women: A Review of the Literature.” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 1976; 47:534-542.

3. Holloway, J. “A Summary Chart: Age Related Changes in Women and Men and Their Possible Improvement With Training.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 1998; 12:126-128.

4. Miller AE, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA, Sale DG. “Gender Differences in Strength and Muscle Fiber Characteristics.” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. 1993; 66(3):254-62.


Photos 1 & 2 courtesy of Jose Huerta Photography.

Photos 3 & 4 courtesy of Shutterstock.