It’s tough for a guy to build a fitness website without it looking one-sided. But here I want to make it clear that the female audience is just as important and will benefit just as much or more than men. What better way to express that than with a page dedicated to the standard exercise to develop upper body strength for anybody.
Bench presses work for women the same as they do for men.
While many people believe that the bench press is primarily a pectoral development exercise, that is not the case. The bench press works the shoulders and triceps primarily, the pectoral muscles secondarily.
Consistent bench pressing will provide women with strong, supple shoulders and firm, athletic arms. The pectoral development will be in the form of somewhat increased and firmer muscle just below the collar bones. Bench presses are second to nothing in developing upper body strength.
Grip the bar or handles outside the width of your shoulders for standard bench presses. The grip should feel natural and your arms and shoulders strong under the bar. It can be widened or narrowed to work muscles at different angles and depths. But at the beginning, stick to the standard grip.
- On a bench with free weights push the bar off the supports to a position above your chest to begin. Let the bar down to touch your chest in a smooth movement.
- As soon as it touches your chest, push the bar back up until your arms are straight. This completes the repetition.
- When finished with a set it is a good idea to have a “spotter” ready to assist in getting the weight back on the bench pegs.
My daughter Jacquilyn is demonstrating the bench press on our standard weight bench machine.
- On a machine like the one shown, the handles are in the press position to begin. Press the handles up until your arms are straight, letting it back down to the starting position for a completed repetition.
- With either bar or machine, begin with a weight that you can do 8 -10 repetitions without severe strain. A couple of sets should be enough to begin.
- Vary the exercise with added weight, sets and grip width as you gain strength and experience.
Just a Note: Neither of the women here have turned masculine from bench pressing. It won’t do that to you either.
Women of all shapes and sizes will benefit from bench presses, either with free weights or on a machine. The difference is in balance and stability during the lift.
Great strength and muscle shaping can be accomplished with either. Power specifically for lifting weight in cases where balance is required is an added benefit of free weights.
A good actual weight machine like the one shown will work best for most women, though if bars and weights are what is available, that will also produce excellent results. Use either with confidence that it will result in the strength and development you need.