Article last updated: February 2018 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
In my first article I want to explain 5 benefits of bodyweight training in comparsion to regular weight training.
When I started training I hit the gym religiously to build muscle mass. As advised on most bodybuilding sites; I focused on compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses. I found those lifts to be good for increasing my strength; however they took a huge toll on my recovery. As a skinny-fat guy your recovery capabilities are very poor – especially when you are new to training. I experienced knee and lower back pain from frequent training with heavy weights. Fortunately, I recovered from all my injuries, because I backed off from lifting when I experienced pain. However, this was very problematic since my pain disabled me to train hard and eventually this stalled my progress: I was afraid to progress on my lifts since this usually resulted in pain. Here are the 5 major benefits of bodyweight training compared to regular weight training:
When I started training heavy compound lifts at the gym, I could only train 3 times a week, since they take a toll on your recovery, especially if you are skinny-fat. You see, a skinny-fat guy has a lower amount of testosterone than the average guy, thus the recovery capability is compromised. If you hit heavy compound lifts hard on a weekly basis, your whole week will be spent recovering and eating, which leads to unwanted fat gains. I’m not saying that compound lifts make you fat; however it is difficult to stay lean, since you will be very hungry after a session of heavy squatting. In comparison, bodyweight exercises can be trained frequently, since they do not take a huge toll on your recovery. This reduces your hunger levels, and enables you to train frequently, which signals growth to your body.
2) Location Independence
If you have a busy lifestyle, bodyweight exercises are superior. You don’t have to go to the gym: all you need is a bar you can do pull ups on if you want to do pull ups that day. If you don’t plan to do pull ups that day, you can simply drop down and do push ups and finish off with some squats. If the weather is good, you can simply go outside and train in some park nearby.
3) Exciting to Progress on
It took me 6 months to build up to a proper pull up, and doing my first pull up was one of the best days of my life, since it was my dream to just do one single pull up. 3.5 years into training I can complete 16 dead hang pull ups at 190 lbs bodyweight. In contrast, I found it less exciting to progress at exercises in the gym. It was nice to build up to a 400 lbs deadlift, but it didn’t enable me to do new things with my body… how often do you actually have to lift 400 lbs from the ground or how often do you have to press a huge amount of weight while lying down on a bench? In contrast I find bodyweight training exciting and my next goal is to complete a muscle up on rings.
Since you are only using your own bodyweight it is difficult to get injured. When I trained with weights at the gym, I often had elbow, knee and lower back pain – and I always warmed up a lot and emphasized good form. After switching to bodyweight training I don’t spend as much time warming up, and I can push myself without experiencing any joint pain.
4) Athletic Look
By doing heavy compound lifts at the gym, I found that my abs got very strong and at the same time they got huge. My upper abs were sticking out further than my chest, which gave me a blocky look, instead of an athletic look with a small waist and wide shoulders. In comparison, by doing a lot of push ups and pull ups, my shoulders and chest got bigger while my abs got slightly smaller and more defined. Personally, I prefer this look much more.
No matter what happens in your life, you will be able to train with your bodyweight. There is very little chance of getting injured as long as you listen to your body, and you are location independent.
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Have a nice day!