The Best Arm-Toning Exercise for Women: How to do the Bench Press

arm toningIn the previous article, I talked about how weight lifting can be used to systematically improve your strength and maintain your muscle mass while you lose weight. Unlike cardio which burns calories only while you exercise, weight training has been shown to increase your metabolism for up to 48 hours... long after you finish your workout!

The fat burning, body toning benefits of weight lifting are fast and furious when done the right way. And in this next series of articles, I'm going to show you exactly HOW to get these maximum results with just three powerful lifting exercises:  -- the bench press the dead lift and the box squat.

Let's start with an incredible arm-toning workout: The Bench Press!

A proper bench press is performed with a slight arch in the lower back. Check out my video below. I start by driving my shoulders into the bench and then tightly arch my back while keeping MY BUTT DOWN.

In the video, I  demonstrate what I believe should be the bare minimum back arch for a few reps and then what is comfortable for me for the last few reps. You can make sure you are doing it right by seeing if someone can fit their arm in between you and the bench.

Watch the Bench press video below!

The tightly arched back stabilizes the weight down your shoulders and intro your core and even your legs. This helps you properly support the weight and use the most muscles during the lift. I’ve seen women add 10 - 20% to their bench press just by changing their form. More weight (done with the right form) means more calories burned and more muscle maintained.

The problem here is that most women can't lift the bar. While this is normal, most guys are shocked to hear this. This is really annoying and frustrating when you are initially trying to get someone to teach you how to weight train – nobody knows how to ease women into it properly. But this is not a problem for you, because I am about to tell you!

Based on working with other women, you are only about 4 – 6 weeks away from safely working with and lifting the 45 pound Olympic bar. The best way I have found to help safely work your way up to this process is to start with the dumbbell bench press:

How Women Can Safely Ease into the Bench Press

To start, grab a pair of dumbbells you can lift about 12 – 15 times. You are just going to be working on getting the form down first and then we can add more weight. Sit on the bench and balance each dumbbell on your quad. Slowly lie back and as you do, pull the weights up to your chest keeping your stomach and arms tight.

Now that you are lying back, drive your shoulders into the bench, squeeze your stomach, push your feet into the ground, and push the weight straight up so your arms form a right angle with your chest. Keep everything tight and slowly lower the weight down to a little bit below your chest. Repeat this 9 more times, slowly. Check out the video below to see how to safely ease into the bench press!

If you get stuck, either lower the weight to your chest with control, have a spotter help you finish or simply pull your arms to the side and drop the weights on the floor. Yes, I know some gyms have that silly rule that you cant drop weights, but that is not important when it comes to your safety. So if you are nervous get someone to stand behind you, or simply drop the weights if you get stuck. You are not using big weights so it won’t make a big attention getting noise anyway.

Keep track of the weight you can lift. Each week you should be able to go up at least 5 pounds. When you can lift two 20-pound dumbbells 8 - 10 times you are ready for the real bar! Believe it or not the 45-pound bar is easier to lift than 40 pounds worth of dumbbells, so this method makes for a very smooth and safe transition.

In the next two posts, I will teach you how to ease into the deadlift and box squat -- two of the best exercises for shedding fat from your problem areas!  Stay tuned!

Click here to get a complete workout and nutrition guide for women that incorporates all of these principles. Each workout in the guide has main and supplementary exercises that will help ease you into weightlifting in a way that is safe, fun and very effective!

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2 thoughts on “The Best Arm-Toning Exercise for Women: How to do the Bench Press

    • Hi Sienna, I appreciate your comment! Many people react the same way when they hear the words “arch” and “bench press” in the same sentence… But they are totally missing the point that I’m trying to get across. I should probably find a different word other than “arch” as this one brings up so many red lights for people… you see, there is a “right” and “wrong” way to arch when performing the bench press.

      The right way to arch: stick your chest out by arching your upper back and pulling your shoulder blades tight, while keeping the butt on the bench. (We could also use the word “flex” your upper back instead of arch….)

      The wrong way to arch (and something I NEVER EVER recommended) is to arch the lower back at all, or to pick your butt up off the bench. Arching your upper back is what is important, because that’s where all the action takes place.You just need to keep your feet solid on the floor, butt on the bench, and simply maintain the natural curvature in your lower back. By doing so, you can actually help to PREVENT injuries to your shoulders/ back, because all of those back muscles are engaged and tight before the lift even begins :)

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