In the battle of bodyweight vs. weight training, which form of resistance training comes out on top?
It’s not an unreasonable question; our time is precious, and we want to choose the activity that yields the best results. However, this debate simplifies a topic that’s more nuanced than you might initially think.
Is Bodyweight Exercise Better Than Weight Training?
The answer to the eternal bodyweight vs. weight training question is a resounding “it depends.” What are your goals? Your current level of fitness? Do you have access to space and equipment?
Bodyweight exercise may be a better option for fitness newbies, as the weight room at the gym can be intimidating, and beginners are less likely to have a collection of free weights at home.
Bodyweight exercises, because they require zero equipment, can be done pretty much anywhere. This level of accessibility can make it easier to start (and stick with) a new fitness routine.
Plus, bodyweight training is effective, says Elanit Sellers, executive director of fitness development at BODi. “Bodyweight training is a great way to lose weight, build muscle, and gain strength,” she says.
However, most people can benefit from a combination of bodyweight exercise and traditional weight training. And for those with specific physique- and performance-related goals, weight training may be a better option.
Benefits of Weight Training
Surprisingly, the bodyweight vs. weight training debate is a bit of a non-starter; with the proper guidance, both forms of resistance training will lead to strength gains, weight loss, and increased muscle mass.
However, there are a few reasons to opt for weight training over bodyweight training.
If your goal is to strengthen or trigger hypertrophy (growth) in a specific muscle or muscle group, traditional weight training may be a better fit, explains Friedman.
“For example, biceps curls are hard to do with just your body weight,” she says.
While your body is ever-changing and evolving, dumbbells, kettlebells, and weight plates remain consistent. (A 15-pound dumbbell will always weigh 15 pounds.)
This can make adjusting your workouts and tracking your progress easier.
3. Maximal strength
If your fitness goals include competitive weightlifting or building maximal strength, bodyweight movements alone aren’t going to cut it. To continue to progress, you’ll need to use weights eventually.
Benefits of Bodyweight Training
The myths about bodyweight training — that it’s easy or doesn’t yield noticeable results — have long been debunked.
Besides having the potential to be just as effective as traditional weight lifting, bodyweight training has some unique benefits.
As mentioned above, bodyweight training poses fewer barriers to entry for beginners. You don’t need a gym membership, equipment, or tons of space. Most bodyweight movements can be done in your living room, backyard, or local park.
2. Lower risk of injury
Whether you’re performing bodyweight exercises or loading a movement, learning proper form is crucial. But, without additional weight or heavy equipment, there’s less risk of injury.
And for those who are interested in eventually learning to use weights, bodyweight training can be a helpful introduction.
“Mastering fundamental movements using bodyweight exercises is a great way to lower the risk of injury and get better results from your work,” Friedman says.
With some basic knowledge and a little creativity, bodyweight training offers endless possibilities for people of all fitness and experience levels.
You can make bodyweight movement easier or more challenging by adding plyometric elements and adjusting your positioning, level of stability, speed, and rest time.
Bodyweight Workouts to Try
There’s more to bodyweight workouts than basic squats, push-ups, and planks. Here are just a few options available through BODi.
1. Just Bring Your Body
Designed by four master trainers, Just Bring Your Body (JBYB) is the ultimate bodyweight workout. Over 60 days, JBYB’s combination of cardio, strength training, and core work will keep you engaged and challenged as you get fitter — no equipment necessary.
“That’s the difference between our program and being at the gym,” explains Ryan Klarenbach, JBYB trainer. “You could take this anywhere and be challenged and get results. You don’t need equipment. Just bring your body. You show up, just yourself.”
2. Bomb Body With Sophia Rose
Featuring former professional dancer, trained boxer, and Instagram influencer Sophia Rose, Bomb Body is a 30-day program that will inspire confidence and produce real results using just your bodyweight.
3. Bodyweight Bootcamp With Val Gutu
Trainer Val Gutu shows you that the perfect piece of workout equipment can be your own body. His 25-minute workouts emphasize strength, cardio, and — most importantly — fun!
Yoga is the ultimate time-tested, do-anywhere bodyweight workout, and Yoga52 offers various programs for new yogis, experienced practitioners, and everyone else in between.
Weight Training Workouts To Try
Looking to incorporate weight training into your routine? Get expert guidance and inspiration from any of these BODi programs.
1. 600 Secs
If you’ve got 10 minutes, you’ve got enough time for a workout. 600 Secs will rev your heart rate and strengthen your muscles using a combination of bodyweight, resistance bands, and dumbbells.
2. LIIFT MORE With Joel Freeman
Striking the same balance between traditional strength training and HIIT as its predecessor LIIFT 4, LIIFT MORE features 35- to 45-minute workouts that can help you torch calories and build strength from head to toe.
3. Strong + Solid With Lita Lewis
This four-week program is designed for people of all sizes, shapes, and fitness levels. Trainer Lita Lewis will challenge you with a mixture of weight lifting, cardio, and high-intensity interval training.
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