This weekend, we’re going to focus on the often-overlooked bones and muscles of the arms, hands, shoulders, and chest. These are very important areas that need to be addressed, especially for women. In fact, I share with you research that shows women generally have weaker upper body muscles than men.
But don’t despair, ladies, because it’s also been shown that men and women have nearly equal lower body strength. The good news is that weight lifting increases bone density for both genders. We’ll take a look at the data in today’s post.
And of course, strong bones begin with strong muscles, so first, let’s explore the muscles that are worked in the Complete Upper Body Toner, and why they are important for building bone.
Building bone through weight-bearing exercise involves the action of muscle on bone (per Wolff’s Law), which stimulates bone density.
Your muscles are responsible for holding your bones in alignment, and for preserving the ever-vital processes of motion, gait, and balance.
The Complete Upper Body Toner targets the following muscle groups.
- The Pectoral muscles, or pecs, are the main muscles in the chest. The pectoralis major is the most visible, spreading over each side of the chest from the shoulder to the sternum (breastbone) in a rough fan-shape. In women, the pectoralis major lies under the breasts, so it’s less visible when toned.
The pectoralis minor is much smaller, and lies below the major. It originates at the top ribs and attaches to the upper, medial surface of the shoulder blades.
These muscle groups work together to move the arms. The pectoralis major pulls the humerus (upper arm bone) laterally, vertically, and rotationally. Both sets of pecs are involved in the action of deep breathing, pulling up the ribcage to make room for the expanding lungs. Deep breathing is crucial for your bone health and health in general, as it plays a direct role in alkalizing the body.
- The Triceps brachii runs along the back of the upper arm, and their primary job is to straighten the arm by bending the elbow. The “tri” comes from the threefold nature of the muscle – the long, lateral, and medial heads.
The long head actually begins at the outside of the scapula, and runs close to the inside of the arm. The lateral and medial heads begin at the top back of the humerus. All three attach at the back of the elbow joint.
Toned triceps not only help with appearance. They are important muscles for strengthening the bones of the arms.
- The Hand flexors are key players in the hand’s amazingly intricate motion. There are 6 on the palm or anterior side: the carpus radialis, flexor carpus ulnaris, and palmaris longus. The other three are the digitorum superficialis, flexor digitorum profundus, and flexor pollicis longus.
These all originate at the base of the upper arm, with the first group attaching in the wrist bones on the palm side. The other group inserts at the phalanges bones in the hand and work to flex the fingers and thumb.
The intricate mechanism of the wrist and hand involves some rather delicate bones, but you don’t usually hear of exercises to strengthen these areas specifically. But the fact remains that strong hand and wrist bones are key in preventing fracture.
- The Abdominals are known as the “tummy muscles,” often shortened to abs. But the abs also include the obliques, which run along your sides and work together to twist the torso from side to side.
The deepest muscle layer of the abs is the transversus abdominus, which stabilizes the trunk and helps keep your internal abdominal pressure stable. The rectus abdominus lies more superficially down the front of the torso, from the ribs to the pubic bone. This latter group of abs is the most visible.
The Complete Upper Body Toner targets all of these important muscle groups.
This exercise is performed lying down, so grab your exercise mat and a couple of small weights. You can use cans of food or bottles of water if you don’t have a set of weights; the typical food can or water bottle weighs about 1 pound. If your fitness level requires more of a challenge, feel free to use heavier weights.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Keeping your feet together, raise your knees up. Your knees will be bent at an angle slightly larger than 90 degrees.
- Hold the weights in a bench press position – that is, with the palms facing down toward your knees.
- Hold your arms straight up above your chest, and then bend your elbows to bring the weights out and down. Your upper arms and elbows will touch the floor.
- Bring the weights back up and repeat.
- Do 8 to 10 reps, then rest for a few minutes and do another set of 8 to 10 reps.
While this exercise is excellent for anyone, women in particular can benefit from these moves, as you’ll read next.
Study Highlights Gender Differences In Muscle Strength
Canadian researchers examined the characteristics of the biceps and the quadriceps (specifically, the vastus lateralis) in groups of men and women. They found larger muscle fibers among the men, particularly in the biceps, accounting for their more notable upper body strength. Another factor the researchers noted is the lower proportion of lean muscle tissue in women’s upper bodies. There was not a significant gender difference noted in the vastus lateralis, the muscle in the upper leg.1
This helps explain why women find pull-up exercises more difficult than men. We simply have less muscle mass in our upper body, which means we should pay attention to upper body workouts to prevent fractures in those crucial areas.
Interestingly, women’s lower body strength is almost identical with men’s, and it’s been shown that women have an advantage over men in physical endurance.
But regardless of gender, lifting weights is a key component in the fight against osteoporosis, and a scientific study shows us why.
Study Proves That Weight-Lifting Increases Bone Mineral Density
When the bone mineral density of 40 male competitive weight lifters was measured against a non-weight-lifting control group, the whole-body bone density of the weight lifters was clearly superior. The interesting thing is that the weight lifters had retired from the professional arena years ago, but the positive effects remained in their bones.2
The study notes in conclusion that:
“There was no difference in BMD for any region between active and retired weight lifters that was not explained by difference in age.”2
I’m not suggesting that all Savers start a career in competitive weight lifting! But the indications from the study are very relevant for those who wish to reverse osteoporosis through diet and exercise. The bottom line is, weight-bearing exercise and osteogenic loading increase bone density.
The Good News Is: You Don’t Need Special Equipment To Build Your Bones
I am also not suggesting that you need to buy a collection of expensive weights or pay for a gym membership. The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System was developed with convenience and universal appeal in mind. Bone-building exercise should be accessible to everyone.
That’s why Densercise™ does not require any special equipment and you can do it at home. And if you don’t have weights, as mentioned earlier – cans of soup or bottles of water are an excellent replacement.
Bone Exercising Made Easy!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
The benefits of weight lifting can easily be achieved with the moves in Densercise™. And the best part is that, as the research I brought you today has shown, your bone-building efforts will pay life-long dividends.
Feel free to share your experience with weight-bearing exercise or your thoughts on today’s challenge by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend!
1 Miller, A.E, et al. “Gender differences in strength and muscle fiber characteristics.” Eurpean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. 1993. 66(3): 254-62. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8477683
2 Karlsson, Magnus K., Johnell, Olof, and Obrant, Karl J. “Bone mineral density in weight lifters.” Calcified Tissue International. March 1993. Vol 52, issue 3, pp 212-215. Web. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00298721