HEALTH

Women and Upper Body Strength

I recently began surfing, and I have to say that I love it! Surf Divas in La Jolla specializes in teaching women and girls how to surf, and they do an excellent job at it while having a great time. One thing I did notice, however, was that many of the students lacked upper body strength.

The sport of surfing requires the surfer to paddle out into oncoming waves to get to the outside area beyond the breaks. This requires upper body strength in the shoulders, chest and upper back regions. While most girls can perform the maneuver, the task could be made easier, for this sport as well as others requiring upper body strength, by performing some simple resistance training exercises.

The deltoids, or shoulders, are the primary muscle groups firing when paddling out, so the overhead shoulder press serves as a great exercise to perform to increase strength in this area. You can use either dumbbells or a barbell, starting with one set of 12 repetitions and gradually increasing to 2 and then 3 sets of the exercise as you progress. You should choose a weight challenging enough that won’t allow you to do more than 12 repetitions; otherwise the weight probably isn’t heavy enough.


Another great exercise is the chest press and the incline chest press to focus in on the secondary muscle groups involved in surfing. I would suggest starting out with dumbbells for these exercises, once again performing one set of 12 repetitions to begin with and then increasing gradually. The bench press is performed on a flat bench preferably, but you can substitute the floor if you don’t have a bench. This exercise works the chest, otherwise known as the pectoral muscles. The incline press should be performed on an incline bench at an angle not greater than 45 degrees, and works the upper pectoral muscles.
Of course, I would suggest you perform an exercise for each major muscle group in the body for an overall, well-balanced resistance program.

A lot of women are overly concerned with exercising their lower bodies, and while this is important, you cannot neglect your upper body. So don’t be afraid to lift weights, girls. Another selling point to upper body strength training is that by building your shoulders and upper back area, you will give the appearance of a narrower hip region. This alone may be enough to convince many of you to give it a try!

So for all you women out there, I highly suggest you try surfing. It’s challenging, a great form of exercise, and most of all fun! The instructor staff at Surf Divas are very well qualified as well as diversified, ranging from marine biologists to lifeguards to professional surfers. They offer beginning weekend clinics at an affordable price that is well worth the experience you will take away with you. So try these new exercises today if you aren’t already doing them, and just watch the results!

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