I think body weight exercises are great when you can't get to a gym or you have some kind of injury. However overtime your body becomes skilled at the same thing hence this is where adding resistance in the form of lifting heavy comes into play. Of course heavy varies from one person to another.
I'm curious about this book you are referring to. I will have to read it at some point. I get it gymnasts have awesome bodies but these people have been training since they were children. Keep in mind that most of these athletes have the genetics to become what they are today. Training is their life but for the rest of us we have to train only with an athlete's mentality to change our body composition.
Thanks for all the insight thus far. Let me share that weight loss is not what I seek, I have lost all I intend to, 170 5'10". When I began primal about two months ago I was160. That was not always the case in 2006 I topped the scale at 263. I am seeking to maintain and to reach my ultimate genetic fitness level.
Any machine makes a great towel rack! They all work equally well.
What you want is the squat rack/power cage/olympic station.
ok, I see the general idea and I don't use many machines, but one machine I do use at the moment is the pullup machine as, right now, I have to have an "assist" (I am aiming for unassisted pullups this year, but I'm not there yet). I know I could do jump pullups etc on an ordinary bar, but this seems safer somehow.
The pullup assist machine unfortunately doesn't work all the muscles that you'll need to eventually do a pullup - mainly your core. If your gym has exercise bands (huge rubber bands) those can work much better as assistance than a machine. Jumping ones, and "negatives" are also better than machines. Al Kavadlo has an excellent post on working on pullups that makes these points.
If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/
Oh, I don't know. I use the Smith machine.....for Australian pullups and incline pushups.
I started with bodyweight squats with my hands on a table. I moved on to half squats, full squats, close squats, uneven squats, then back down to half uneven squats, then finally to half pistol, full pistol with a counterbalance weight, and now full pistol squats. These progressions exist for all kinds of different bodyweight exercises.
2. Yes, but by changing the leverage, or reducing to single-limb exercises, you can become amazingly strong. Jack LaLanne's famous fingertip pushups with straight arms are pretty amazing- I've never met anyone who could do that, but lots of people can do regular pushups. There are always ways to make a particular exercise harder. Adding weight is just one of those ways.
3. I really recommend Convict Conditioning, as I have had a great deal of success with it personally. I don't think it's the perfect exercise book, but the steps are reasonable and the goals achievable for me, I think. Building Gymnastic Bodies seems to be something to try when I'm done with CC.
In addition, my knee problems that started 7 years ago when I broke my kneecap are all gone, my legs have mostly balanced out again, and I'm faster than I have been in years. The bridging and pullups have mostly fixed some posture issues that I had. Bodyweight workouts have more benefits than just getting stronger.