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Bodyweight Exercises-vs-Weight Training Exercises

Updated: May 23, 2023

I will admit right off the bat that I love weight training. Though it is not my primary modality of resistance training anymore, I still love using barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. I still swing a kettlebell regularly. I have always loved moving weight since I first started resistance training in middle school. There has always been something about hearing those plates and gripping onto the barbell that excited some primal instinct in me.

My weight training programs have always been very minimal and to the point. I was always that guy who would camp out in the corner of the gym at the power rack with a barbell. I never felt the need to learn a whole bunch of resistance exercises and machines. I figured out early on that I could make tremendous progress mastering a handful of the hardest exercises, such as barbell squats, deadlifts, power cleans, bench press, shoulder press, bent over rows.

Focusing mainly on those exercises along with pull-ups, push-ups, ab work and some other odd object lifting was all I ever really needed or did. I figured that if I wanted to get really good at squatting or push-ups then I may as well put the effort into those movements.

I also remove myself from the debate society. I don't think one form of resistance training is superior to the other. The only thing that I will say is that free weights such as barbells and dumbbells are superior to machines because of the stabilizing muscles that are used but that is as far into the debate as I will go. On that note, there are plenty of people out there, because of injuries or health issues, that can only do resistance machines. That is more than okay! In the end, all that matters to me is that people are doing SOMETHING. As long as people are doing some form of training that allows them to do something daily, I am all for it, no matter what form that exercise takes.

All that being said, I choose primarily to focus on bodyweight resistance exercises in my own training. No matter what kind of training one chooses to use, one must first look at their goals. What are they trying to accomplish?

I choose to focus on bodyweight exercises because I feel it is more important for me, especially as I get older, to be able to control my own body through space. Weight training involves moving a resistance through a space, which is also important. That is not my primary goal anymore. For me, being able to control my own body first and foremost is my focus. So many injuries are caused by a lack of spatial awareness and lack of control of the stabilizer muscles in people. Some much chronic physical pain in people, such as low back pain, is caused by muscle imbalances due to lack of strength and flexibility in their own body .

Correcting these imbalances through movement is my primary goal. I feel like bodyweight exercises, particularly moving towards move advanced versions of the basic bodyweight exercises has been key to my own progress.

The beauty of sticking with basic exercises is that is really easy to see the progress that I am making. For example, if pull-ups were difficult for me in the beginning (which they were), I decided to really work at them. By focusing on pull-ups, it's really easy for me to see my progress because I am always comparing apples to apples. My pull-ups have increased because I have practiced pull-ups, not due to some other exercise. It keeps it simple but not easy for me. I love my ability to put intense focus on an exercise and try to improve each tie with it. I love being able to fine tune a movement, whether its contracting my muscles a little tighter, being more in control or hitting my target goal.

By focusing on trying to master the hardest version of bodyweight exercises that I can, I have seen incredible improvements in not only my strength, but my flexibility, balance, endurance, mental-toughness, and body composition.

In the end, what matters for me is that I do something everyday that are in line with what I am trying to accomplish.

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