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Thread: Fundamental difference between bodyweight exercises and weight training? page

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    MikeEnRegalia's Avatar
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    Fundamental difference between bodyweight exercises and weight training?

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    I'm beginning to think that there is a fundamental difference between calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) and strength training with weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and machines). Why is that? Al Kavadlo mentioned in one of his posts about achieving pull-ups that in his early days as a trainer he would let people use machines (lat pulldown etc.) to work towards a pull-down, but it didn't really work as expected. A better way seems to be to try pull-downs from the start (for example as negatives, or try chin-ups first etc).

    I'm currently at a crossroads training-wise. One of my goals is to be able to do many push-ups, pull-ups etc.. This suggests that I should do many of those. But on the other hand I also used to think that barbell exercises like the bench press are good indicators of strength. Should I do both? Maybe there's some kind of synergy between push-ups and bench presses, but if one can't be a substitute for the other, do they perhaps even hinder each other - would I make more rapid progress with push-ups if I didn't do any barbell/dumbbell exercises for the chest area?
    Last edited by MikeEnRegalia; 04-09-2011 at 11:55 PM.

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    Pandadude's Avatar
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    Your pushups will progress faster doing lots of pushups, than when benching several times a week. Lots of pushups generally require muscle endurance while benchpress requires more strength (unless you're doing large amount of reps in which case you might aswell not do them), and trying to develop both at the same time could definately slow down gains in both. Max strength "is" also a factor for pushups however, so theoretically I might see a benefit in developing max strength: Could either be with isometric chest presses or 3 sets of 5 or less reps. Frequency would probably only need to be in the once every 7-10 days range, granted you're doing enough pushups.

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    Coach Palfrey's Avatar
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    Bodyweight exercises improve your ability to perform bodyweight exercises. Weight training improves your ability to lifts weights. There is some crossover but both are important from a "daily life" standpoint i.e. as we all need the ability to both control our own bodies and lift stuff.

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    You may enjoy the following thread at Coach Sommers Gymnastic Bodies forum: GymnasticBodies.com • View topic - Gymnastics and bodyweight S&C - supperior to weight lifting

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    Both can build strength and muscle if you work them with "linear" progression.

    I think it's "easier" to measure max strength gains via barbells. Add 5 pounds, you got stronger by 5 pounds. With bodyweight, it's not as easy to measure unless you're adding a weight vest... but then is it really a bodyweight exercise? How much stronger did you get progressing from regular pushups to an inclne one arm pushup to a full one arm pushup? I don't know.

    I also think it harder to stick with an advanced bodyweight routine only... beacuse of that uncertinty and the patience it takes.

    All in, it really depends on what your goals are in selecting the methods/tools to use.

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    As I understand it, I think the main difference is that when doing body weight excercises, there are a lot of other muscles engaging in the action. For instance, with pushups, you activate the core to hold your form and then use several different muscle groups to perform the actual push up. All in one go. You don't get that when training one muscle group on a machine.

    I think both are important though.

    In my personal experience, I am also trying to work towards doing a lot of pushups. I've been working on it since October, and at that time I could do maybe 3 modified pushups. Now, I can do well over 50, and 40 negative pushups. I can do a few proper pushups, but my form is not solid, so my trainer has me lifting a lot of weights and doing a lot of core excercises. She also has me doing a 5 min push up challenge 3x a week. 10 seconds - pump off as many as I can, take a 20 second break and repeat. Since I've become strong enough to do these, my progress has acelerated greatly! Oh, and she also has me lower myself into the 90 degree arm position and hold it to engage those particular muscles for as long as possible, then try to push back up.
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    As one poster mentioned a few days ago...in general body-weight exercises build endurance, and weights build strength.

    Now, there is admittedly some cross-over as was mentioned above, but both are needed in my opinion. However, look at your goals and determine the best fit.

    My training incorporates both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil-SC View Post
    As one poster mentioned a few days ago...in general body-weight exercises build endurance, and weights build strength.
    It depends on how you use them...

    Endurance - banging out a bunch of pushups is sort of the same as doing sets of 25 bench press
    Strength - banging out one arm pushups with your feet elivated and using a resistance band is just as much strength as banging out a set of 5 bench press.

    Ring dips, pistol squats, muscle ups... all strength imo... not endurance (unless you're a beast).

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurb999 View Post
    It depends on how you use them...

    Endurance - banging out a bunch of pushups is sort of the same as doing sets of 25 bench press
    Strength - banging out one arm pushups with your feet elivated and using a resistance band is just as much strength as banging out a set of 5 bench press.



    Ring dips, pistol squats, muscle ups... all strength imo... not endurance (unless you're a beast).
    I agree...you are correct... a lot matters in the "in the how you use them" part.

    However...my point is "in general, with all things being equal". As I said above, there are some crossovers. However, for BW push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, planks, etc....unless you add weight to the equation (like with weighted sit-ups), at some point the strength gains will level out, and endurance/aerobic ability will be the primary thing that is built. Again...it will not be the ONLY thing. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coach Palfrey View Post
    Bodyweight exercises improve your ability to perform bodyweight exercises. Weight training improves your ability to lifts weights. There is some crossover but both are important from a "daily life" standpoint i.e. as we all need the ability to both control our own bodies and lift stuff.

    Couldn't have said it better myself, Coach!
    "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

    "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

    My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com


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