There's a story that the first person who trained with weights was a Greek named Milo, way back when the original Olympic games flourished. He acquired a small calf, and each day he would walk around an amphitheater, carrying it on his shoulders. Each day the calf grew a bit larger, so Milo had to work harder to carry it around. But because it grew only gradually, he was able to do it. Finally, he was carrying a full-grown bull around the amphitheater, and had the musculature to show for it.
Well, anyone with common sense knows that women were the original weight trainers! Substitute a new born baby for a small calf, and there ya go.
Unfortunately, once the babe has grown enough to be able to walk on his or her own two feet and not want to be carried whenever their little legs get tired, some moms never lift weights again, and the muscles that were used to perform these feats become little used, and therefore weaken. When they get on in years, the dowager humps and the flabby underarms and the general loss of bone mass happen just the same.
Which is why weight training is important, and training the upper body is more important for women than it is for men.
So, what type of upper body exercises are there?
Strong arms don't do you much good if your shoulders can't support them properly.
The exercises that target the trapezius muscles only is the shoulder shrug.
The shoulder shrug can be done with either a barbell or dumbbells. For a woman, it's probably easier just to use dumbbells, of appropriate weights. Stand up straight, holding the weights at your sides - 15-pound weights are best. Then, simply make a motion as if you were shrugging your shoulders, ten to fifteen times. You'll be able to feel the muscles being worked after you finish the set.
Exercises that target both the trapezius muscles and the deltoid muscles are "presses," "raises," and "fly"s.
When you press a dumbbell or barbell, it means that you're pushing it over your head. Again, dumbbells are easier to use than barbells (indeed, if you don't want to go to the expense of a barbell and the weights that fit onto it, a selection of dumbbells of appropriate weights will suit the purpose also.) .
Simply stand with your hands holding the dumbbells at shoulder-high level. Then lift them alternately over your head, until you've done a total of ten with each arm.
To do a dumbbell raise, on the other hand, you stand with your arms at your sides, holding 10 pound dumbbells in this case. (Or five-pound dumbbells, depending on your strength level.) Simply raise your arms straight outward from your sides, until your arms are parallel to the ground. Lower and repeat ten times. Again, you'll be able to feel your shoulders after repeating this set.
To do a back fly, stand up, but bend over, so that your chest is parallel to the ground. Let your arms hang straight down. Then, simply raise your arms straight up. This really works your pectorals as well as your shoulder muscles, and is harder to do than the other exercises, just because of the body angle.
But you really want to work your pecs, because this will help prevent sagging breasts in old age!
By: Derek C
Health & Fitness
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