The upper body is made up of many muscles:
The Pectoralis Major (or “pecs”), which make up much of your chest
The Deltoids, which are the muscles of the shoulder
The Biceps and Triceps, which are located in your upper arms
These are just three major muscles that are found in the upper body and help us perform every day functions and activities. Every time you raise your hand in class, reach for your cup of coffee, or pick up your child you are engaging these muscles. Even just standing up straight engages these muscles!
So what is the best way to get them nice and strong?
Push Ups: Push ups mostly work the pec muscles and the deltoids, although it is a full body exercise. According to many fitness professionals, push ups can help prevent many shoulder injuries common among adults aged 50+. They can also hep prevent low back injuries, improve your posture, and increase overall strength in the body.
Push ups are great especially if you don’t have access to a gym and like to workout at home or outside. No equipment needed, but still many ways to vary the exercise and get in a great workout, no matter what level you’re at!
Bench Press: If you have access to a gym, bench press is an awesome workout to help you target the chest muscles. It strengthens the upper body, not just the superficial muscles but the deep ones as well. The added plus about working with a barbell is that strength training is actually proven to promote bone health as well as increase the speed of our metabolism, and increase endorphins in the brain, putting us in a better mood. Training with exercises like bench press have so many benefits that aren’t just about improving strength.
So which is better?
While both push ups and bench press target similar muscles and use the same amount of strength, it simply depends on what your goals are. Push ups offer a more accessible way to get stronger, but require more overall strength of the hips, core, and lower body. Bench press requires weights and even supervision if you’re just getting started in the gym or lifting heavy, but offers faster strength gain. At the end of the day, whatever you feel challenges you without compromising your form is going to help you build muscle. Change up your workout and try both and let us know!