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!
Really really like your website it is AWESOME!
I’m 31 and have been training calisthenics on and off for about a year never seriously but your website really got me motivated!
I’m gonna give it try as following
Chin ups diamond push ups squats only
I’ve been looking for routines and routines but just don’t know what to do anymore…
You think I can train these 3 exercises high volume as many days in the week as possible as long as I feel fresh?
I d like to train as much as possible without a rep scheme or routine…
How far can calisthenics get me?
Thank you so much!
Your website is great !
I’m 37 years old man and I’m 175 cm height and 63 Kg weight. I’m skinny but I have a relatively big belly and I want to start exercising at home to git rid of belly and to gain weight and strength. What exercises do you advice me to start with according to my current body status ?
Do you suggest taking protein powders with exercises
What is better, to do exercises some time before eating or after eating ?
Hi–your articles, newsletter, & ebook are incredibly motivating and I’m glad to have bumped into you here on the ‘net. You talk about pull-ups alot in this article, but I am a beginner, and your ebook & “3 most important exercises” article are all about starting with chin-ups, palms facing away, shoulder-width apart. I need to do negative chin-ups to start; at some point, did you switch from chin-ups to pull-ups, or am i supposed to be trying both at once? Thanks again for sharing you dedication and hard work.
Hi Dan, you’re welcome.
I recommend chin ups where your palms are facing you, not away. The reason for this is that most people have an easier time doing chin ups, so it’s more convenient.
I suggest you do whatever variation feels most comfortable for you, since the difference between those two exercises is minimal. Pick one, then get really good at that. Once you can do 12-15 reps on one of them, you can start mixing them up.
Hi mate, is it just me or are there 5 benefits and no. 4 is missing? cheers anyway, great article, thanks to bw training i save a lot of time and money i would spend on gym ;)
Hi Mateusz, thanks for letting me know! I was editing my old articles a few months ago, so I might have deleted number 4. Glad you liked it though!
Great website. I’ve been doing heavy compound lifts for 4 months, and at 36 years old, I already feel “beaten up” by my routine. My chest and legs are always lacking strength and muscle. I like the diamond pushup suggestion in one of your articles and will give them a try. As far as legs are concerned, can bodyweight squats build strength and muscle??
Thanks for your time.
Diamond push ups are great, do them often, increase your reps and you will see results.
About squats: yes, bodyweight squats can build strength and muscle. It’s all about progressing. If you find bodyweight squats easy, I suggest you start doing single legged squats, where you hold onto something for support.
Wow! Thanks for the quick response! One other question when you have time. I was always under the impression that diamond pushups worked more of the shoulders and tricepts and less chest vs. a wider hand position on regular pushups. Any thoughts or experience on this??
For me, diamond push ups built muscle in my inner chest and upper chest. Those are the 2 areas that most people lack muscle mass to create a proportioned chest. I never train my lower chest anymore, because I don’t like that “sunken look” that I get when I train that area.
Additionally, diamonds work the triceps and shoulders very well too.
Great, Thanks again!
I rest 5 or 10 secs between reps and circuits.
My workout time is 40 or 50 minutes.
I should do reps more fast and I reduce my workout time?I do the curcuit twice.thanks very much.
Don’t do the reps faster but try to reduce the time you rest between each circuit, or increase the amount of circuits you do.
Ahh for last I training this routine 3 times for week and a day training legs sprint 10 squat sprint 10 lunges sprint calf raises 10 reps and I repeat all 3 times.thannkssssss!!!!!!
HEllo oskard, thanks for your advices.this is my training http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo-YzUZUQ3M in addition I change the exercises and reps every months.which is your opinion?.I am doing brad pilon’s diet for loss fat.Thanks so much oskard
Please write the training routine.
Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat is great for fat loss, since it teaches you to control your appetite.
By the way, my name is Oskar
Oohh thankss oskar this is my training.wide pull up-8reps wide push up 10 reps dips 10 reps,normal pull up 7 reps normal push up 10 reps dips 10 reps,close chin up 7 reps diamond push up 10 reps dips 10 reps normal chin up 7 reps reverse push up in bar 10 reps dips 10 reps normal chin up 6 reps normal push up 10 reps dips 10 reps.and I repeat all again.I rest only few seconds and I drink few water after dips.thanks so much oskar you are my great help.my fat is 17%
Why do you do a certain amount of reps? How do you increase the difficulty of the workout?
This is my ultimate match I do maximum reps and I write my results.I will do negative reps in the next month
Keep writing down your results, but try to reduce the time it takes to complete each circuit, because you have to make your workouts harder to grow your muscles.
I also started doing bodyweight training recently and I absolutely love it! Out of curiosity… How often do you train?
I train 4-7 times a week