Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yeah, She Benches!

I’m not sure how many of you have seen this Facebook Page: Yeah, She Benches. It shows you pictures of half naked Fitness Models and wants to animate women to start going to the gym to get nice, round boobies. For the curious of you, here is the link:

However, everyone who has eyes in their head and uses their brain more than just for breathing will be able to see that those boobies are not exactly real. Most Fitness Models (and please correct me if I’m wrong) get implants, because their body fat percentage has dropped so low that their boobs turn into packs. I think in that situation it is actually fair enough to get surgery, because otherwise you don’t really look like a woman anymore. What I do not agree with, however, is the image pages like this put into girls’ heads. Your boobs will not look like that, even if you do Bench press every day of the week. They will not grow and they will not perk up with a 90° angle. Please don’t be fooled and don’t be disappointed if your natural, soft, bouncy, comfortable boobies do not look like this.

Nevertheless, Bench press is a worthwhile exercise that you should definitely include into your training plan. Like squats, it is a compound movement, which works out your arms (bicep and a bit of triceps), shoulders, chest, upper back, a bit core. Doing this exercise has many benefits, and I do think that my boobs look perkier after I started working out my chest (unfortunately they have NOT grown). So I decided to walk you through the exercise and help you get it right without injury.

When you do Bench press, try to have someone around that can spot you. Either bring a friend, or make a friend at the gym (this is a GREAT conversation starter at the gym: “Hi, I’m Anna. I was wondering if you could help me with Bench press. I need someone to spot me.”) It happened to me before that I got trapped. My arms didn’t have enough power left to complete the last set, and I was lying under this 35 kg (don’t laugh) heavy bar and I could barely move. Fortunately, the bar is light enough to role it down my body without getting hurt, and there was also a guy lifting it off me. However, if you start benching more weight, this could get quite painful. So get a helping hand.

 1.  Position yourself on the bench.

Make sure your body is straight and exactly in the middle of the bar. That way you are able to better balance the bar. Grab the bar with your hands. Make sure they are both the same distance away from the middle. Usually, there are marks or stripes on the bar which can help you to align your fingers. You can chose between a close and a wide grip. The wider the grip, the more you use your back muscles. A closer grip uses more of your biceps and triceps muscle to move the bar. I usually try to position my hands somewhere in the middle (yes, I’m a fence-sitter) so make sure I work out arms, chest and back. When you are ready, lift the bar from its stand and with straight arms hold it on top of your chest. (I know, it looks like there is a huge jungle growing under my arms - I promise it is just a shadow...)

2. Performing the Exercise

Keeping your arms on the same height, slowly lower the bar towards your chest. Try not to stick out your elbows. Make sure the bar stays on top of your chest; do not lift it above your face. When the bar touches your chest, lift it up again, always putting in the same effort with both arms in order to keep the bar straight. Repeat these movements and voila (!) – you are benching!

 3.  Positioning

The next two pictures show the movement from the side. Tuck your feet in a little. That enables you to use your lower body to also push a little if your upper body fails to complete the movement. Pay attention to where the bar is – always above your chest (you want to get those boobies working).

 4. Alternative Positioning

The other day, a staff at the gym (her name was Anna, too – it must have been fate) showed me a different way of doing Bench press, and I think I actually prefer it. In this method, you put your feet up the bench, and stick your knees up in the air. Slightly lift your ass and lower back up to create some space between you and the bench (you don’t have to lift it as high as I did in the photo – I exaggerated a little). Perform the exercise as described before. If you do the movement now, you have a wider range with your back muscles, which makes it easier to move the bar. This way you work out your back a little more, and you are more likely to be able to lift the weight. However, I would first try Benchpress with your whole body on the bench, because you first have to find your balance etc. If your body is lifted off the bench, balancing becomes more of a challenge.

I usually do 3 sets, 8 reps of benchpress. I am convinced that these kind of exercises are harder for women than for men, because our chest muscles have a different structure (same with pull-ups and push-ups). But maybe that is just an excuse. At the moment I can bench between 30-35 kg, depending on the day and my mood. I have seen girls who can do a lot more, but please be careful with the weight, there is always the possibility that you accidently drop it on your face.

Now you are one step closer to perky boobs! If you feel uncomfortable with the bar, try Dumbbell Benchpress first. It works the same way, but you don’t have to balance the weight as much, and you can train up your arms to be able to lift more weight. Ease yourself into the exercise. For professional help and advise, Register free at

I hope these posts really help you getting more comfortable with more complex and scary looking exercises. Once you get started with weights, it’s like an addiction – you can’t stop. You also feel super cool, because in the gym you are now playing with the big boys. The other day I was walking through the Meadows (a really nice park in the beautiful city of Edinburgh), and a PR person from another gym approached me, handing me a flyer with their deals and opening times. He also added that they have really good Zumba and Dancing Classes. I looked at him, smiling, thinking “Yeah, I lift. Yeah, I bench.”

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