Barbells aren't just for men. Women can benefit greatly from building up their upper-arm strength because everyday activities, such as lifting your children, carrying heavy grocery bags and laundry baskets, are easier when you get stronger. You don't have to worry about bulging biceps either. According to Wellness MD, women generally do not build muscle the same way men do because they have less testosterone, a male hormone required to grow muscle. You can get strong, toned upper arms, though - ince you learn how to use a barbell correctly, you might decide it's your favorite strength training tool.
Different types of barbells are available, which can make it a little confusing if you've never used one before. Gyms usually provide their members with a choice of barbells; choose from Olympic and standard barbells. Olympic barbells weigh 45 pounds without any weights attached and are a whopping 7 feet long. The Olympic barbell might be a bit heavy for beginners. Standard barbells are lighter and thinner, which make them a good option for women who want to start lifting weights.
The biceps curl is a highly effective barbell exercise. Start with light weight or use just the bar, depending on how much weight you can comfortably curl. The standard biceps curl is done while standing and holding the bar at waist height. You then curl the bar up toward your shoulders using your biceps. Other variations of the biceps curl include the lying bench curls, preacher curls and lying incline curls. Perform the reverse barbell curl by holding the bar in an overhand grip with your palms facing the floor. Do one set of three to five repetitions when you begin doing biceps curls. Increase the weight or repetitions to eight and eventually up to 12 when your arms are stronger.
Weak, soft triceps are partly to blame for the flab on the back of your arms. Barbell triceps exercises can do wonders for your soft triceps muscles. Lie down on a bench and hold the bar with your hands close together, about as wide as your chest. Doing bench presses in this manner focuses the workout on your triceps muscles. Move your hands closer together, toward the middle of the bar and hold it over your head to do triceps extensions. Bend your elbows to lower the bar behind your head to work the back of your arms. Start with five to eight repetitions to learn proper form and build strength. Gradually increase to 12 repetitions as your strength improves.
Warmup and Safety
Warm up before you begin your arm strength-training workout to help get your body ready for more strenuous exercise, as well as increase blood flow, improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury. You can warm-up by doing a couple of war-up sets of lifts with light weight. If you usually lift 20 to 30 pounds, warm up by lifting five to 10 pounds for five repetitions. After warming up with light weights, stretch your arm muscles to loosen your joints and muscles.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.