Bodyweight Exercise Bodyweighters

9 Reasons Why Bodyweight Training Is Better Than Weight Lifting

Written by Todd Kuslikis

Which is better, bodyweight exercise or weights?

The argument between bodyweight exercise enthusiasts and weight lifters has raged on for years. BW exercisers say that when you lift heavy weights over a long period of time, it ends up destroying your body.

But weight lifters point to well established research and say, “You can’t get bigger when you lift just your own body weight. You need to progressively overload the muscle with weights.”

So who’s right? Is one system really better than the other?

Well, it depends on your goals.

If your goal is to get as big as humanly possible, and to be able to lift as much weight as possible, then weight lifting will be the better path for you.

If your goal is to develop whole body strength and specific skills such as the handstand, planche, or front lever, then bodyweight exercises will be a more effective method.

Of course you can also cross train. Do a little of both and get the best of both worlds. But  that’s outside the scope of this article. We’re talking about the areas where bodyweight exercises are a better choice than weight lifting for your specific goals.

Let’s get right to the list. Drum roll please…

9 Reasons I Choose Bodyweight Exercises Over Weight Lifting

1. Builds “Whole Body” Strength – When you use bodyweight exercise as a tool to build strength, you typically choose exercises that involve the whole body. The supporting muscles are used as synergists to help you perform the movement. There are exercises in weight lifting that have a similar effect, but not as many.

2. Harder to Get Injured – One of the biggest reasons I like bodyweight exercises more than weight lifting is that they dramatically decrease the likelihood of injury. When you use a certain amount of weight as your determining factor for your set, it becomes very easy to go too far. When you rely on ability (as in BW exercise) as your determining factor, it’s much more difficult to injure yourself.

3. Allows For Tremendous Creativity – Now obviously this one is up for argument (and I certainly welcome it). But bodyweight exercise allows for tremendous creativity when it comes to combining movements together to create a “flow” or kata. That’s essentially what yoga is: a flowing combination of bodyweight exercises. The flowing nature  of this type of movement can help the practitioner to reach a meditative state that rejuvenates the mind and body.

4. Improves Your Balance – I used to teach Tai Chi. The number one reason that older people joined my class was because they wanted to improve their balance. Balance is one of the fastest things to go as we age, and we really must use it or lose it. Lifting weights may help to maintain your balance somewhat, but safe weight training doesn’t put you in the sort of positions that challenge your balance like bodyweight exercise does.

5. Greater Convenience – This is one of the most common and well known benefits of bodyweight training. No matter where you are or where you go, you always have your own body. And so you never need a gym to train. Just drop to the ground and start banging out some push ups!

6. They Sometimes Seem To Defy Gravity – Moves like the planche, front lever and human flag seem to defy the very existence of gravity. Want to amaze your family and friends with these moves? They’re all trained with bodyweight exercise.

7. Strengthen The Core With Every Move – A strong core will help prevent injury in your low back and other areas of the body. 99% of the bodyweight exercises you perform will be strengthening the core as a stabilizer muscle.

8. Improve Flexibility While You Build Strength – I certainly don’t subscribe to the “muscle bound” fear that many women (and some men) have about lifting weights. And I know plenty of body builders who are actually very flexible. The key difference is that bodyweight exercises will help improve your flexibility without additional stretching. Take the Diver Bomber, for example. When you’re going forward and backward you aren’t just building strength. You’re also working through a wide range of motion for your shoulders, spine and hips.

9. Much Less Expensive – This is a no-brainer.  A gym membership costs around $55/month on average, which amounts to $600/year. And even if you go the home gym route, you still need to purchase heavier and heavier weights as you get stronger. How much does it cost you to use your own bodyweight? Nothing at all.

There are many more reasons why bodyweight exercises are better than weight lifting, but these are my Top 9.

Now, I want to state once more that I am NOT saying weight training is bad or ineffective. It’s incredibly effective for building strength.

My point is that resistance training is resistance training, whether you’re pushing your bodyweight against the ground or raising a bar away from your chest. You don’t need a gym membership to get in shape.

And depending on your goals, sometimes bodyweight exercise can be much more effective than slinging iron.

About the author

Todd Kuslikis

32 Comments

  • Hello,

    These are some really good reasons to do body weight exercises, but what do you recommend to progress the exercises?

    Would a weighted vest work OK?

    Thanks again!

    • Hey James,
      You can progress by adding a weighted vest, but it is not necessary. You can still progress, using just your BW, as in the Convict Conditioning program, you change the leverage and later on go into one limb exercises.
      Or as the guys here are already doing, you progress to a more complex moves.
      Alejandro

    • Great question James. First off, yes a weight vest is totally ok. That’s the simple method of making them more difficult.

      I’m actually coming up with a full guide of how to progress from beginner to advanced bw exercises for every major muscle group of the body. I’ll be launching it as an article on my site in a few days. Stay posted!

      Todd

  • Hello,

    These are some really good reasons to do body weight exercises, but what do you recommend to progress the exercises?

    Would a weighted vest work OK?

  • May I just say what a comfort to discover somebody that genuinely knows what they are talking about on the web.

    You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More people have to check this out and understand this side of the story.
    I was surprised you aren’t more popular since you definitely
    have the gift.

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually recognize what you’re talking about!

    Bookmarked. Kindly additionally talk over with my site =).
    We could have a link alternate contract between us!

  • Thank you for another informative web site. Where else may just I get that type of info written in such a perfect manner?
    I have a mission that I am simply now operating on,
    and I have been at the glance out for such information.

  • I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog.
    I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts
    by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal site now 😉

  • I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this site.
    I’m hoping the same high-grade web site post from you
    in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired
    me to get my own site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings fast.
    Your write up is a great example of it.

  • I am just commenting to let you be aware
    of what a exceptional experience my friend’s princess developed using yuor web blog.
    She even learned too many pieces, not to mention how it is like to have an ideal giving nature to let many more without problems know just exactly a variety of specialized subject areas.
    You undoubtedly exceeded readers’ desires. Thank you
    for displaying the essential, safe, revealing as well as cool tips about that topic to Janet.

  • Admiring the dedication you put into your website and detailed information you
    provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a
    while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information.
    Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your
    RSS feeds to my Google account.

  • I loved up to you’ll obtain carried out proper here.

    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish. nonetheless,
    you command get bought an shakiness over that you want be delivering the following.

    ill indisputably come further previously once more since exactly the similar nearly a lot incessantly inside case you shield this hike.

  • It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this brilliant blog!

    I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my
    Facebook group. Chat soon!

  • Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the simplest thing to be
    aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about
    worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal.

    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  • Thank you for every other informative website. The
    place else may just I am getting that kind of
    info written in such an ideal approach? I have a mission that I am simply now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  • Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research
    about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think
    I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such great info
    being shared freely out there.

  • Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your blog.
    You have some really great posts and I think I would be a
    good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off,
    I’d absolutely love to write some material for
    your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested.
    Kudos!

  • Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your site is so
    cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this blog.
    It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles.

    You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched everywhere and
    simply could not come across. What a perfect site.

  • Merely to follow up on the update of this subject matter on your web-site
    and would wish to let you know how much I valued the time you took to generate this beneficial post.
    Inside the post, you spoke of how to truly handle this matter
    with all comfort. It would be my pleasure to gather some more concepts from your
    website and come as much as offer people what I have benefited from you.
    I appreciate your usual great effort.

  • Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish only
    about gossips and net and this is actually irritating.

    A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need.
    Thanks for keeping this site, I will be visiting it.

    Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  • Admiring the time and effort you put into your website and detailed information you provide.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Wonderful read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Leave a Comment