Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Mar

Are Bodyweight Exercises Alone Enough?

rings2In my Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook, I promote a bodyweight training program. Though it can be modified with weight vests, at its core it is comprised entirely of exercises that use your own bodyweight as resistance – pushups, pullups, planks, rows, squats, and sprints. For the majority of people who try it, it works great because PBF is a basic program designed to appeal to people from every fitness background. People who’ve never lifted a weight in their lives can jump right in with the beginning progressions, move on up through the more difficult variants, and get quite fit in the process. It’s not the end all, be all of training – and I make that pretty clear in the eBook – but it’s a foundation for solid, all around fitness. Some choose to move beyond it or incorporate weighted movements, some are content.

Still, some people are skeptical about the efficacy of a bodyweight training program. Is it truly enough, or just “good enough”? Can you really get big and strong without slinging heavy weights around?

It depends on what you mean by “enough,” of course, but the answer is generally “yes.” Bodyweight training is a legitimate option for anyone interested in building an impressive physique, increasing their strength, improving their athletic performance, mobility, and flexibility, and establishing excellent mind-body-space awareness. Plus, the ability to bust out some ridiculous moves on the pullup bars at the local park has to count for something.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out some of the people getting and staying very, very strong using primarily bodyweight exercises:

Al Kavadlo

Beastskills

Gymnastics Bodies

Eat Move Improve

Hannibal

So yes, a smart bodyweight program can rival the best barbell training, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. These guys aren’t just mindlessly doing progressively greater numbers of pushups, pullups, and air squats. If you want to get as strong as possible, just doing more reps won’t cut it. You need intelligent progression.

Progression isn’t just adding reps. Eventually, you have to make the exercises harder to keep getting stronger, either by adding weight, increasing the degree of stabilization required, or decreasing the amount of leverage you have. Normal dips too easy? Move onto ring dips, and then weighted ring dips. Doing twenty pullups in a row without much issue? Try wearing a weight vest or work your way toward a one arm pullup. Bodyweight rows with your feet up on blocks a cinch? Try taking one foot off, then both, then trying front levers.

And that’s part of the reason why most people opt for barbells over bodyweight training: it’s easier and far less humbling to add weights to a bar than remove leverage from a bodyweight movement. In many cases, to progress in bodyweight means learning an entirely new movement from scratch. Starting over from zero. It’s harder to quantify than weight training and easier to get stuck.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. In fact, the degree of difficulty required to perform some of the more intermediate and advanced bodyweight exercises implies their effectiveness.

What kind of exercises qualify as “bodyweight training”?

There are three primary categories, and the most successful people draw on exercises from all three.

Calisthenics are the basic bodyweight exercises like pullups, pushups, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, dips, planks, and rows. They have the broadest appeal, attracting elderly Chinese ladies wearing windbreakers and impossibly muscled guys wearing jeans and Jordans.

Plyometrics consist of explosive bodyweight exercises, like depth jumps, box jumps, broad jumps, jump squats, Russian lunges, burpees, and jumping pushups.

Gymnastics describes the highly technical movements those amazingly compact, muscular people perform during every summer Olympics. Most people probably won’t ever reach that level, but they can still get really strong using the rings to work on the earlier progressions that precede the expert-level movements, like levers, planches, muscle-ups, rows, pullups, and dips.

How does bodyweight training measure up to weight training?

There’s not a ton of research, but it seemed to fare well in the one study I found. Athletes were placed on one of three training programs: traditional resistance training, “complex training” (an undulating mix of high and low intensity weight training), or plyometrics training. By the end of the study, all groups had experienced identical gains in back squat, Romanian deadlift, and calf raise strength.

There may be little research directly comparing bodyweight training to barbell training or other forms of strength and conditioning, but my intent is not to claim one is better than the other. They’re all different, and they’re all effective. We do have research showing the beneficial effects of bodyweight exercises on the same types of performance markers we traditionally target with weight training, however, and there may even be a few unique effects.

Bodyweight exercises require activation of more muscles.

Bodyweight exercises are closed kinetic chain movements; rather than moving an object toward or away from your body, you are moving your body toward or away from the ground. This requires cooperation between all the muscles that form the kinetic chain and provides an arguably more complete stimulus of the musculature. For instance, in a bench press, your core is supported by the bench; in a pushup, your core is supported by the core musculature.

Bodyweight exercises develop proprioceptive awareness.

Bodyweight training refers to moving your body through space, and this movement provides additional feedback to your body and brain when compared to lifting a weight with your arms. Neuromuscular activation is highest during exercises that move the body.

Bodyweight exercises can’t be replicated by weight training.

Many people avoid bodyweight exercises because they can’t figure out how to replicate some of their favorite barbell exercises, like overhead press (try handstand pushups), bench press (try ring pushups), or barbell rows (try tuck front lever rows), but what about the inability of barbell exercises to replace many bodyweight movements? You can’t replicate swinging on monkey bars, climbing a rope, doing a muscle-up, crawling on your hands, or performing an L-sit with weights, just to name a few. Even the weight training exercises that seem to replicate bodyweight exercises have different effects; compare your lat pulldown machine performance with your deadhang pullup performance for a perfect example.

A recent review spanning several decades of research summed up the effects of lower body plyometrics training on neuromuscular, performance, and health adaptations in healthy people:

  • Increased neuromuscular activation.
  • Increased strength and power.
  • Faster stretch-shortening cycle of muscles, leading to improved performance.
  • Improved coordination between muscles involved in the movements.
  • Enhancement of general athletic capability, including jumping, sprinting, agility, and endurance.
  • Reduced risk of lower body injuries in susceptible populations.
  • Increased bone mass.

The one area where bodyweight training probably falls short is the lower body. For the most part, our legs and glutes are just way too strong to reach their full potential through air squats – and most bodyweight proponents will agree. However, a program consisting of plyometrics (jumping lunges/squats, broad jumps, depth jumps), single leg squats, and sprinting, especially hill sprints, can produce a strong lower body. You may not get the same degree of hypertrophy without adding weights to your lower body work, but you can certainly get stronger.

Am I suggesting that everyone ditch the weights, cancel the gym membership, and invest in a set of Perfect Pushups? No. The two can coexist quite happily. In fact, if I’m designing the optimal program for strength and mass, I’m going with a fusion of bodyweight training (gymnastics, ring work, pullups, dips) for the upper body and weight training (lunges, squats, deadlifts) for the lower body.

My point is simple. If you have no access to quality gym equipment, if you live next door to a park with an awesome outdoor workout station, if you hate weight training, if you fear weight training, or even if just prefer bodyweight exercises, fear not: you can build an awesome body and get incredibly strong by emphasizing bodyweight training.

What about you? Do you prefer bodyweight exercises to weight training? What kind of results have you seen doing one or the other?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’m still asking myself that question. I can do pushups and pullups with my full body weight which is a pretty good work out for me. I also leg press 450 lbs and wonder how I can translate that to bodyweight exercises. Squats with just my bodyweight does nothing for me as a lot of other lower bodyweight exercises.

    Carla wrote on March 12th, 2014
    • Look at the bottom of Mark’s post where he talks about a fusion approach. Incorporate dumbbell or barbell work (like goblet squats for instance). The free weight will require greater balance that the leg press machine.

      Joe wrote on March 12th, 2014
      • …and probably less weight! Thanks, Joe I will try it once a get a workout partner. I can’t trust myself to do that on my own.

        Carla wrote on March 12th, 2014
    • The irony for me, the gym is actually easier. I am very heat intolerant so being out in the sun (even the Portland summer sun) is too much. I also don’t have space for “equipment” at home though I will invest in kettlebells.

      Carla wrote on March 12th, 2014
      • Even at the gym you’ll have someone that can help you perfect your goblet squat form and you can use kettlebells or dumbbells for that (at gym or home). Good luck, go slow and perfect the form before adding too much weight. :)

        Joe wrote on March 12th, 2014
        • Thanks, Joe!

          Carla wrote on March 12th, 2014
    • Have you tried the pistol squat? That requires a great deal of strength as well as balance and flexibility, and works every muscle in your leg including the smaller muscles that weighted squats may not hit due to the balance required. If that gets easy, you can try doing it with your hands behind your head, spring out into a box jump, etc. al kavadlo does some incredibly difficult variations of the pistol which would challenge anyone imho

      Shawn wrote on March 12th, 2014
    • If you can leg press 450, you are beyond the limits of body weight training being of much use to you for lower body strength improvements. Buy or get access to an Olympic weight set. Ditch the leg press and learn to dead lift, squat, and overhead press with great form. Check out Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength videos for great form tips. You don’t need a partner for dead lifting or overhead press. You can do without one for squatting if you have a lifting cage with the safety rails set properly and learn to bail out of failed lifts correctly. Still, it’s always best to do potentially dangerous lifts like squats and bench press with a partner. Even if they screw up and don’t catch the bar, at least there’s someone there to pull the bar off you and call 911 in a worst case scenario. (translation: choose someone mature and attentive with good powers of concentration for your workout partner. A missed or partial spot can be worse than no spot at all.)

      Don’t sell the dead lift short though. You can do it with just a bar, weights, and some padding on the ground to make sure you don’t break your flooring. And the strain on the entire body from the dead lift is unmatched by any other exercise including the squat.

      Body weight training is always useful for other things beside strength like balance, coordination, change of direction, range of motion, stretch shortening cycle improvements, etc. But for optimum lower body strength, barbells are the cheapest solution that are also fully effective..

      Be well,
      Ben Fury

      Ben Fury wrote on March 13th, 2014
      • Hi Ben,

        I do squats without a cage and dead lifts – both with weights but no overhead presses due to poor balance (from a chronic illness) and the fact that I don’t have a partner. I know I will have to start really slow and low for overhead presses. I do everything at the gym because I really don’t have space at home for any equipment. I do a fair amount of upper body body weight exercises to help with coordination.

        I will check out Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength videos!

        Thanks!!

        Carla wrote on March 13th, 2014
        • legpresses can not be compared to squats. they are a completely different exercise. isolated. leading to unbalanced strength. i know a guy who can legpress a ton but can barely squat his own bodyweight. i would not recommend them to anybody. waste of time.

          einstein wrote on March 14th, 2014
  2. If folks want a really complete guide to bodyweight exercises, graded by difficulty, with illustrations depicting which muscles are being used, they should consider getting Bret Contreras’s book: Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy (ISBN 978-1-4504-2929-0).

    If you’re just getting started, stick with the 4 Primal movements and master them, then move on to Contreras’ book for more ideas.

    Just a recommendation.

    Joe wrote on March 12th, 2014
  3. One word and its not “rosebud” KETTELBELLS. Functional fitness folks. and don’t forget according to MARKS DAILEY APPLE and i think its true, 80% of what you see in the mirror is controlled buy what you put in your mouth! There is room for all of this. results will follow the ability to play with it.

    Tim wrote on March 12th, 2014
  4. If your in the UK you need to check out these guys – http://www.recessionproofbody.com/
    They travel round gyms and CrossFit boxes teaching progressions to loads of bodyweight movements. They have amazing skills, check out their videos!

    Naomi Bazeley wrote on March 12th, 2014
  5. So annoying when these videos won’t play on iPad. At least I can watch Al….

    Lyn wrote on March 12th, 2014
  6. Hannibal rocks as do many other people going natural, no ‘roids, no space age exercise equipment, just pure, refined, functional strength at insane levels. Gave up the formal gym and dead weight scene a couple of decades ago and have never looked back. Where ever I am is my gym and improvement is a common occurrence. My joints feel good, I feel good, and the only membership fee I pay is dedication and sweat.

    Doc wrote on March 12th, 2014
  7. Nia Shanks has a great body weight work out program too!

    Natale wrote on March 12th, 2014
  8. I think Mark had it in his summary: mainly bodyweight movements for all the excellent reasons he listed supplemented by some weight lifting, especially for the lower body.

    and I also think things like tire-flipping and sled dragging and pulling are non-bodyweight exercises that are highly functional.

    @Tom – I’ve had good results with the Fix My Shoulder program from Rick Kasejl at ExerciseForInjuries.net It took a while, but that program has worked better than other rehab programs and therapy I’ve tried. I still get go a Turkish Getup with any signficant weight but at least I’m making progress

    Ted wrote on March 12th, 2014
  9. I am a fairly heavy big guy. Probably 115kg ( around 240lbs or something ) I’m 6’2 so pretty tall. I’m quite muscular and have good endurance. I also started doing sprints by using a cross trainer/row machine etc..anything that is low/no impact. I usually do 1min all out, 1 min rest. Sometimes 30sec all out/1min rest and various combinations of the above for 20 mins. Sometimes 25 with 5 min warm up. I never do steady cardio. Am I overdoing it? I do as much body weight excercises as I can but weighing almost 250lbs doesn’t allow me much upper body lifting as i simply cant lift myself up more than 5-6 times :-( and my legs are way to strong and big for air squats or similar ( 7 years of basket ball ). I’m not super interested in having 7% body fat. 10-15 would be nice. I train 4 times a week. Almost never longer than one hour and it almost always includes cross trainer sprints…I am getting stronger using barbells but trying lifting myself up and I feel like a fat little girl….what could I try?

    jacob wrote on March 12th, 2014
    • I’d like to add that i am not overweight. just quite muscular, broad with quite massive quads and glutes. probably where half of my weight sits and im happy with being big…i just think if i actually manage to grow enough strength to lift myself up 15 times my biceps will be the size of tree trunks…i already have problems with clothes! :-)

      jake wrote on March 12th, 2014
      • oops sorry, the above is from Jacob, not jake ( different PC remembered different nick names )

        jacob wrote on March 12th, 2014
  10. That’s why I love Pilates. Forget the reformer, even, Just do Pilates on a mat. Killer, versatile workout.

    Glenn wrote on March 12th, 2014
  11. Hey ladies,
    Don’t forget that Pole Dancing is the ultimate form of body weight training. You are carrying your body weight on your arms as you lift and spin around a pole. Plus you are aiming to turn these exercises into a beautiful piece of movement artistry. Initially it’s not easy to do but it is amazing how you can increase your upper body and core strength in particular. Most studios will also incorporate leg exercises into their conditioning and dance routines so that your legs also get a great workout. In addition you need to work on your flexibility. The overall body type that pole dancers develop is very toned, lean and with lovely long lines.
    Ultimately we are trying to create very aesthetic lines and movements on a vertical apparatus.
    Give it a go!!

    Sarah Thompson wrote on March 12th, 2014
  12. @jacob
    Try the one-leg squats from convict conditioning, they should give you plenty of challenge for a while.

    nikko wrote on March 12th, 2014
    • @Nikko, I already do Bulgarian split one leg squats but i have been doing them in a smith machine for balance ( or lack thereof ). After reading this article I tried doing them just with a bench and heavy dumbells…suddenly it got harder since I had to balance at the same time but obviously the weight had to drop – first because of the balancing, second I can only hold so heavy dumbells – the grip gives up before my legs do…obviously my lower body is way stronger than my upper . It’s like a cardio session by itself! One leg squats means lifting one leg in front of the other and just squat on one leg? I might try that….i think i tried that once but my knee hurt so i stopped. my body telling me not to do them? or me doing them incorrectly? I often close my eyes when lifting just trying to feel the muscles and if it hurts or not and try to get my form like that rather than looking in the mirror. Has worked so far. Knees seem to be doing fine and I can deep squat…I can’t figure out where such a lift ( one leg lsquat ) would be natural for Grok? ( Bulgarian split squat would probably be equivalent to Grok, let’s say, standing on a log, stepping forward with one leg to lift something that is below and at a certain distance from the log ? – I’m just trying to get away from any unnatural moves I’ve been performing at the gym for years )

      Jacob wrote on March 14th, 2014
      • I forgot to mention there are several steps before you should be doing 1 leg squats. I’m on step 7 and it’s quite a challenge in terms of balance and strength. You can see an example in this youtube video:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2LiVcJlOJ8

        They have certainly improved my ability when doing stair sprints and i find it very easy to stand from a sitting position using just my legs. The author points out that mobility in the legs is far important than just strength alone, which really makes a lot of sense.

        nikko wrote on March 14th, 2014
  13. I was doing calisthenics for many years with okay results. I was mainly adding endless reps to hindu push-ups and squats. When I discovered Mark’s Primal Fitness program and started adding progressive harder exercises, things started changing. Later I moved onto Convict Conditioning.

    Gained 20lbs of muscle in 12 months. Really transformed my strength.

    I love calisthenics mainly because I can do them outside in the woods. I use pine trees for pull-up bars.. Doesn’t matter how cold it is. -20oC. No problem. Actually I prefer the winter. It’s better than the rainy seasons.

    John C. A. Manley wrote on March 12th, 2014
  14. While I enjoy (some) body weight exercises, I really prefer to get in the gym and lift weights. I generally see faster results with time in the gym, whether it is immediate weight gain or a more toned physique… but that’s just me :)

    Camille wrote on March 12th, 2014
  15. I want to share this awesome video of ladies doing the kind of body weight resistance training I love.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=f9f3EzQTNqY

    Rachel wrote on March 12th, 2014
  16. Sarah Thompson, just posted a pole strength video and couldn’t agree more about pole fitness as the finest conditioning I’ve ever sweated through!

    Rachel wrote on March 12th, 2014
  17. A 40 minute presentation with a very different take on bodyweight exercise performance: http://youtu.be/-mLtiTp5WNY

    Drew Baye wrote on March 12th, 2014
  18. I’m 41 and my exercise routines consist almost entirely of bodyweight calisthenics, plyometrics, and yoga, with a kettlebell day mixed in, and I’ve never been stronger. Not only are they more fun to me than lifting, but I can do them anywhere…in the house in the winter, in the park in the summer, on the beach when I’m taking some R&R. I do believe this is how humans are genetically designed to train, and I can run rings around most guys half my age.

    Dr. Mark wrote on March 12th, 2014
  19. Yes– I agree about the benefits of body weight exercises for fitness. My chosen method is yoga and I’ve seen my core strength improve incredibly– with planks, handstands , arm balances, etc. And it improves my overall fitness level, so when I choose to go play outdoors, running , biking , skiing… I have a good starting point and perform well even if it’s been a while…

    Colleen wrote on March 12th, 2014
  20. Well, am not good at practicing regular exercise and I want to make it a habit. All the tips you’re sharing here will for sure help me out one day, when I start it ;)

    P.S: Will reconsider my intentions to start a regular exercise.

    Moin wrote on March 12th, 2014
  21. paleozeta wrote on March 12th, 2014
  22. I don’t agree with inferior lower body development using just bodyweight. If you perform slower reps of squats and stay in hard position for a few seconds, or perform pistols this way…you are extremely advanced and the load of let’s say 80kg for one limb using slow reps and manipulating range of motion and timing…most won’t even achieve one rep of that:-) Also, Bret Contreras says he struggles to do 20 reps of one leg calf raise, and if you again manipulated the timing, it would be even harder. Project Kratos by Drew Baye describes these options in detail.

    Ondrej wrote on March 13th, 2014
    • Plyometrics such as box jump and broad jump are quite effective, too, at developing strength and mass on the lower body, and at the same time agility.
      An intense session of uphill sprints can kill your legs way more than a session of squat at the gym (and without hurting the back and the neck).
      One other interesting exercise is the duck walk. Try it for 10 minutes in a row without pause and you’ll discover dozens of new ways to swear :D

      Primal_Alex wrote on March 13th, 2014
    • The unilateral squat AKA “pistol” can be made much harder if you slow the movement down, avoid locking out at the top, hold the bottom position for a few seconds (the real bottom, hip crease below the top of the knee) and especially if you slow the starts way down so you barely move for the first few inches.

      I suspect a lot of people underestimate how difficult bodyweight exercises can be because they perform them as poorly and inefficiently as they do weighted exercises.

      Drew Baye wrote on March 13th, 2014
      • I’d like to see one of those “kings of the bench” I used to meet in the gym, do one set of one-arm push-up. Or maybe just one rep. Keep some kleenex at reach in case of epistaxis.

        Primal_Alex wrote on March 13th, 2014
        • That was funny after I looked up epistaxis (for those too lazy to do that, it means a nosebleed).

          Animanarchy wrote on March 13th, 2014
        • “King of the bench” in a local gym is different from a professional who bench presses 1,000 pounds.

          John wrote on March 14th, 2014
  23. I do bodyweight training for nearly a year (I use the “You are your own gym app by Mark Lauren). Slowly I can see results. In combination with a paleo lifestyle for nearly half a year the results start to show up :-)

    I was always afraid of going to a gym and lifting weight. Also the memberships in Germany are not that cheap and the next gym is a couple of kilometers away.
    With the bodyweight training I do not have to leave the house (and my daughter can climb on me while doing pushups :-)).

    Chris wrote on March 13th, 2014
  24. I’ve been following the “Convict Conditioning” program for about 8 months now and it’s AWESOME. I have more muscle than ever (still not ripped) and I’m stronger. Plus I save a ton of money on going to the gym. Highly recommended!

    Daniel wrote on March 13th, 2014
  25. I went from having some fun grappling in a basement, to doing a “gym program”, getting tired of it and getting my first kettlebell and training only with that.
    Now 2 years later I make my own programs (change programs every 4-8 weeks). These blocks consist of BW only, or KB with some BW, or a mix of BW, KB and BB deadlifts + loaded carries…I’ll be 36 this year and I would kick my 20-25 year old self’s butt in pretty much any way imaginable :)
    Unlike most people I did not do any sports or activities before I was 32 now (which is why people I only meet sporadically tend to be super suprised to see the change from 120KG couch patatoe to 105KG of mostly muscle :p (ah won’t lie, still over 20% BF)

    nico wrote on March 13th, 2014
  26. Great article! Love BW movements. After years of struggling with the HS, I am finaly at the age of 52 able to hold one for about 5 seconds. What really helped me was following Chris Salvato’s 28 day HS challenge. It is the best program out there to showing how to hold your HS. I highly reccommend anybody trying to to get their HS to check it out.

    Jack wrote on March 13th, 2014
  27. Loved this!! Great post Mark. I agree with your summation.

    Personally I have a preference for bodyweight work (chins, dips, rows, L-sits and pushups). It just feels more useful and I also find it more impressive as a feat in others. However, I also include some full-body weighted work with clean and presses, deadlifts and the like.

    All of that is topped off with a little stretching, mobility work and also some sprints 1 to 2 times per week.

    I have found that simpler and more minimalist is better for me with my workouts. I enjoy this approach more and what could be more minimalist than working out with your own body as the weight?

    Carl wrote on March 13th, 2014
  28. Bodyweight exercises generally are a lot more interesting and more rewarding to perform. Better mind-body connection. Check out my crew. We do body weight workouts all the time in my backyard!

    http://youtu.be/aaz_mT4JCGs

    Bill wrote on March 13th, 2014
  29. As always, it is entirely goal dependent, but I assume usually yes. Again – the best workout is the one you love to do!

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on March 13th, 2014
  30. After reading the comments describing various exercises and routines (body-weight or otherwise), I have to wonder what a paleo person — or a modern day “primitive” person — would think. I think they would run away as fast as they could, thinking we were all suffering from a form of mass insanity or demonic possession! :)

    SumoFit wrote on March 13th, 2014
  31. OH my!!!! All these videos are amazing, makes me wish I was that limber, fit, etc but here I am sitting wishing to be outside on a walk. I think I will BAM turn it up a notch so that I can have a stronger core as well as less giggly stuff as I walk, run, sprint and play.

    2Rae wrote on March 13th, 2014
  32. Go down the gym for 6 months and you think you’re doing great. Go out into the garden and dig up a tree (roots and all) and you’ll wake up aching with muscles you didn’t know you had. Has taken me a long time to realise that weight training is good but very focused on certain muscle groups and doesn’t involve a lot of natural body movements. Have done yoga and that is far harder than pressing weights. Have tried all sorts of exercise regimes and just taken up boxing – main conclusion: they all overlap with basic exercises i.e. strengthen your legs, arms and core. How’s it done? Press ups, squats, sprints, plank, stretches

    Paul and Karen wrote on March 13th, 2014
  33. i do mostly bodyweight and little else. weighted pullups, weighted dips, weighted jumpsquats, handstand pushups and deadlift. never dreamed about having the body and stamina this routine gave me. functional fitness nonplusultra. i came to consider isolated bodypart training useless. i don’t use my bodyparts in isolation in real life, so what would be the point?

    einstein wrote on March 13th, 2014
  34. I have never seen any evidence that a skinny person got big muscles using bodyweight exercises alone. In fact, I’ve rarely seen anyone who was skinny and then built an impressive physique with weight training. We only ever see these people after the physique was built. What about before? In my experience the people who “build” impressive physiques were never skinny, but usually overweight. They had a decent frame underneath the flab to work with and hone/build.
    I don’t believe in the carte blanche, “use resistance training and build muscles”. It doesn’t work like that. If it did, we would see many more folks walking around with big muscles who lift weights, but we don’t. I would say less than 1% of people who practice resistance training build decent physiques. Look around your gym the next time you are there. Just my observations over many years in the fitness industry.

    Andy Smallwood wrote on March 14th, 2014
  35. Rudolf wrote on March 14th, 2014
    • Rudolf, lots of truth to that article based on what I’ve experienced and learned over the years.

      I focus on bodyweight exercises and sprints. I’ll never bother with gym machines or cardio machines ever again. Waste of time. Period.

      BodyweightReallyIsBetter wrote on March 14th, 2014
  36. Nice article. It’s amazing how the real strong kids are always gymnasts. They can do what the rest of us can, but not always the other way around.

    Ryan Wagner wrote on March 14th, 2014
    • You’re right Ryan. It’s part of why I have shifted over to a bodyweight workout routine. What they have is real strength, and the muscles to go along with it.

      BodyweightReallyIsBetter wrote on March 14th, 2014
  37. calisthenics are highly respected, but I think you can’t achieve like a 60 Inch Box Squat Jump just with bodyweight exercices.

    JohnFinn wrote on March 14th, 2014
    • Yes John, I agree. Legs definitely benefit from including weight work too.

      BodyweightReallyIsBetter wrote on March 14th, 2014
  38. Instead of weights for the legs try glute ham raises, pistol squats, single calf raises and sprinting.

    Pat wrote on March 14th, 2014
    • Ditto on the sprinting. Love sprints.

      BodyweightReallyIsBetter wrote on March 14th, 2014
  39. I prefer a mix of bodyweight and weighted exercises. I love body weight stuff, there is really nothing like it. But I won’t ever NOT do weighted exercises, I think it gives my program the mix that it needs.

    carol dunlop wrote on March 15th, 2014
  40. I have changed my training to more bodyweights with very limited weight lifting. With my back injury it makes more sense (self proclaimed survivalist) that my body be more proportional then it was before. I, like most others, hit the bench too much which threw me out of line. Ever since I switched to more bodyweights I have evened out and strengthened my back considerable. I still would like to use weights for lower body and the occasionally bench but body weights allows me more range of motion.

    As long as people are being physically active there is no wrong way to train 9not including form in that).

    Matt wrote on March 26th, 2014

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