Unless you're trying to be a professional weight lifter or competing as a body builder, there is no functional purpose for throwing around excess amounts of weight that can't be achieved by simply using the body to overload the muscles.
Although I'm a proponent of finding fitness in whatever way works best for you, throughout my 10 years of coaching and trying various methods of movements for my clients I have found body weight exercises to be far superior for achieving optimal strength, flexibility and athleticism.
After getting my Exercise Science degree I began working at your traditional gym as a trainer and group fitness instructor. Bicep curls, heavy squatting....your traditional weight-based movements, encompassed a large majority of my workouts.
Yes, I had a decent level of fitness but I lacked the overall athleticism that comes with using the core as the main stabilizer and source of power for my movements.
Had I have tried to do a headstand or stand on one leg on an unstable surface or hang on a pull-up bar or attempt a pull-up I would have failed.
What those exercises have in common is that they require an incredible amount of core strength + stability which is what allows the body to function optimally into our elder years with much lower risk of injury.
One of the first things I do with my clients is get them hanging on a bar to begin working towards a pull-up.
Here are a few reasons I believe body weight exercises are superior to lifting weights:
1. Less injury.
My goal as a coach is to help my clients achieve optimal fitness while reducing their risk of injury, and I can tell you that I've rarely had a client pull a muscle, etc when just using their body to overload muscles vs applying extra weight.
Using your body allows you to go at your own pace and increase intensity at a rate your muscles are prepared for.
Movements like heavy squatting can significantly weaken pelvic floor strength leading to poor muscle tone which causes "leaking", painful sex, difficulty in child birth and more.
There are ways to overload the legs with movements like pistol squats that both build muscle and strength but significantly reduce the rates of injury.
2. Less time and money.
Investing in a gym membership and the commute to get there take away from both your bank account and the hours in your day.
I find that most people simple don't have the knowledge and understanding of how to do a workout outside of a gym so they think it's their only option.
This not only deters people who are intimidated by gym settings but those who can't afford to pay both a trainer to support them + the fees of a gym to do the actual workout.
Spend your money getting amazing support from a Coach who can give you a plan + resources rather than wasting your money and time wandering aimlessly around a gym.
3. You can increase intensity without needing a spotter or access to heavier weights.
Let's use the example of a pushup.
Pushups can be modified and intensified in loads of different ways.
You can use the wall to begin or try a one arm pushup for advanced.
You can add explosive movements and change the positioning of your arms in many different ways to overload the muscles.
On the contrary, barbell bench press, which is the go-to exercise for working chest muscles like a pushup, can be next to impossible for someone with little to no arm strength and it requires you have access to that equipment and larger weights as you increase in strength.
4. You can always take your workouts outside.
As a society we spend way too much time indoors.
We are created to be connected with the natural world.
Being outside reduces stress levels, improves mental focus and creativity and fosters adventure.
Just look outside and you'll find a plethora of different objects to be used for various workouts....or simply use your body.
5. Better functional core strength.
Using the body for a variety of different body weight movements in different planes requires total engagement and stability from the muscles of the core.
Have you ever watched a gymnastic perform their movements? The amount of core strength and stability they posses is truly remarkable. And a large majority of their training takes place using only the weight of their body in a variety of creative movements.
6. Encourages creativity and play.
This might be my favorite part of body weight training.
You get to learn how to move your body in creative and playful ways that not only builds optimal fitness and athleticism but promotes play and adventure in your daily routine.
Yoga, trail running, pilates, bar work, tai chi, rock climbing, paddle boarding, HIIT training, climbing trees, sprinting while you play soccer with your kiddos, hiking, swimming, gymnastic movements, doing headstands in the backyard.....
...the options are limitless and allow you to find movement you love and enjoy which is what makes fitness a lifetime endeavor.
7. Removes excuses.
I'm not fit enough. I don't have equipment. I can't afford an on-going gym membership. I don't have time.
Anybody can do a plank during a TV commercial.
Anybody can walk around the block.
Anybody can do a modified pushup.
Anybody can get out of bed and do some air squats or lunges (modified if needed).
Join our 6-Month Summit Fit Academy to get daily, equipment-free workouts that teach you how to build functional strength, lean muscle and optimal athleticism despite your current fitness level.
You will get lifetime access to ongoing nutrition, fitness and wellness coaching + our community.
We incorporate outdoor fitness along with body-weight movement you can take with you anywhere you go.
What's your favorite form of body weight movement?