Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bodyweight Training Vs. Weights

The great debate: which is better?  Bodyweight training or training with weights?  The truth is both are great and both will result in strength gains and body composition improvement….as long as you do them correctly.

In order to make changes in your body you have to push beyond what you can do comfortably.  With body weight training this could mean changing the way you do an exercise (ie once you can significantly increase the number of pushups you can do from your knees it’s time to start doing them from your toes).

With weight training this could mean increasing weights when appropriate (ie you can do 15 plus reps without feeling fatigued).  

Let’s take a closer look at both:


Bodyweight Training

Anytime, anywhere!  All you need is your body so you can do bodyweight training anytime anywhere.

Clutter free:  If you’re using bodyweight to train you don’t need to worry about finding room to store any equipment.  

Great for all levels:  Beginners are able to gently start strengthening their muscles without adding any extra load.  Squats and kneeling pushups are a great way for a beginner to get started.  For the more advanced person, bodyweight exercises can be made tougher by changing position slightly, adding plyometrics (think jump squats), adding holds and adding pulses.

Real life moves:  Bodyweight exercises mimic real life moves so it basically strengthens your muscles to be able to move in ways they need to in real life situations.  For instance, squatting down to pick something up or even just the act of sitting and then getting back up.

Training With Weights:


Faster results:  If putting on a lot of muscle mass is your goal, heavy weights with fewer reps is key.  Lifting weights that are heavy enough to cause your muscles to fail after 6-8 reps will build muscle faster.  This is not ideal for a beginner though.  The risk of injury increases as you start to lift heavier and if you don’t know proper form this is a recipe for disaster.  If you’re a beginner and you want to start lifting heavy you need to work with a professional.

Easier to progress:  To progress with weight training all you need to do is lift heavier weights.  With body weight workouts you have to be a bit more creative.  There are other more complicated weight training techniques for the more advanced lifter but by just progressively overloading your muscles you’ll keep them challenged and keep seeing results.  Note: you have to keep challenging yourself.  If you stay with the same weights even as you get stronger you will plateau.   

HUGE variety:  With weight training you have a much larger variety of exercises you can do for each muscle group.  For instance you can work on your chest by doing a bench press, an incline chest press, a decline chest press, an incline chest fly and there are still others you can do for that one muscle group.    

As you can see both options have great benefits and what you choose will depend on your preferences, goals and access (or no access) to equipment.  Personally, I like to do a bit of both.  I like to change up my routine regularly so I don’t get bored and I find by mixing it up my body feels more balanced.  Whatever you choose to do make sure it’s safe and if you’re a beginner make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing to teach you how to do things properly so you avoid injury and muscle imbalances.

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