Doesn't the intensity matter more than where the resistance comes from -- body weight, barbells or machines. A pull-up can be a lot more intense than pulling on a cable that is half your weight. Same thing can be said for a pistol squat and a leg press.
Is the real question whether a high intensity workout with more resistance or a lower intensity workout is more effective?
Or maybe the question is which is more intense -- body weight or weights -- and that depends on the exercise and the amount of weight used.
I'm really surprised that there has not been a study done on this. I bet I have not been the only one that has thought of this. I wonder if Mark Sisson knows? Well I will be doing some research tonight. It looks like I will probably be doing a hybrid workout.
I've done both over the years and basically think of the body weight exercises as a HIT metabolic workout, great for muscle endurance and combined with the right diet excellent for dropping some body fat. For basic body building nothing beats weight training in my opinion. I would start with weights, focus on the tride and true major lifts and practice progressive resistance for three months, then take a break from the weights and do a month of body weight training, then jump back in for another 3 months of weight training. That should lay a good foundation.
P90x has a good mix of both. Ive done p90x a couple times a week for awhile now with good results. Wasn't fan of insanity. I started doing p90x with a 15 pound weight vest made by UFC and def recommend it for extra challenge. Rip city.
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Barbells + pull/chin-ups/dips. Use them to put on some muscle and strength. When strong, eat a little less gradually, while keeping the intensity and protein intake high, and lose the fat to a desired level. Then add in some quality conditioning such as working with the prowler, and/or running hill sprints. By then you will be a healthy beast with minimal amount of time wasted doing stupid stuff.
I have done stronglifts and madcow and made good gains. Since going over to bodyweight conditioning I have become much stronger as I progress to the higher levels of CC.
But as others have said just get up and do something.
Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
Don't forget to play!
The question of which method will serve your goals isn't easily answered and it certainly isn't made any easier by the lack of distinction here. Clearly strength is best gained by weight training as there is always a limit to how much resistance you can apply with bodyweight alone - but it's not that simple. Namely because it's also important how much strength you want and what you want it for. In your situation I'd probably say a mixture of both weight training and bodyweight training will serve you well.
Why do you want to know what will produce results fastest though? That doesn't sound like someone who has made a lifelong commitment.