Weight Lifting vs Bodyweight Exercises (Which Works Best?)

7 days ago
Get a good balance of weight lifting and bodyweight exercises for optimal results.

Should you be pushing weights or focusing on bodyweight exercises? There are arguments for and against both…check out the options here.


Choosing the Best Way to Get Fit

This showdown compares the benefits of weight lifting versus the benefits of doing bodyweight exercises. With one form of training, you can get huge muscles, but you have to have exercise equipment available. With the other form, you can’t get as big as you can with weights, but you can do it anywhere and no equipment is necessary.

Weight Lifting in the Gym

Weight lifting involves the use of resistance equipment to help your body increase lean mass. Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and resistance machines are all used to help increase the size and

Getting stronger and leaner is relatively easy to accomplish with weight lifting. The main objective in weight lifting centers around progressive overload. First, you choose a weight that allows you to perform a certain number of repetitions (8 - 10 for example).

Once you are able to do 10 or more repetitions with that specific weight, you increase the weight by 2, 5 or 10 pounds. Over time, this progression is what helps you become stronger and helps your muscles get larger. With weight lifting, the ability to overload (increase the amount of resistance used) is endless.

Potential for Joint Problems with Weight Lifting

Although resistance training will get your muscles to grow best, there is also the potential that you will incur damage to your joints. Muscles and joints work together and sometimes after numerous years of training the joints become affected.

They can become weaker (due to improper exercise techniques or constantly lifting heavy weight) and this can lead to tears in the joints or conditions like arthritis. Using the proper form and alternating between heavy and light weights can help alleviate this problem, but for some it’s just a side effect of weight lifting.

Weight lifting allows you to perform multi-joint exercises and isolation exercises. Multi-joint exercises performed with resistance allow for an increase in different muscles with one exercise and isolation exercises let you focus on one muscle group like biceps or triceps.

Isolation exercises will let you develop specific muscles, to correct imbalances or just make them larger. This is not possible


Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises are done without any type of resistance equipment. Most bodyweight exercises are multi-joint (working several different muscles at once). Bodyweight exercises allow you to increase lean mass while increasing your balance, flexibility and agility.

Strength is gained differently with bodyweight exercises. When lifting weights, an athlete gets stronger by increase the amount of weight lifted. With bodyweight exercises, an athlete gets stronger by performing the same exercise in different ways.

For example, someone who uses push-ups to gain more lean mass in the chest, will switch from a standard push up to a one-arm push-up in order to increase the difficulty of the exercise and gain more muscle.

Bodyweight Exercises Mean Less Potential for Injury

As opposed to weight lifting, bodyweight exercises are less likely to result in long-term joint damage. The resistance you are using is always the same, your body.

You aren’t lifting hundreds of pounds of weight or increasing the weight you lift. This allows your joints to adapt easily to your training, avoids injury and can even strengthen your joints.

Bodyweight exercises are multi-joint exercises. It’s not possible to isolate specific muscles like the biceps or triceps. You can target certain muscles by varying the way an exercise is performed, but you can’t get the same results as you can by doing isolation exercises with weight lifting.

Final Verdict

Weight lifting will get you stronger, help you gain more lean mass and you can isolate muscle, groups. The only drawback is that the potential for joint damage exists. Bodyweight exercises will help you increase strength, balance and flexibility but you won’t get huge and there isn’t a lot of variety in the exercises that you can perform.

Your goals will determine the final verdict. If you want to get huge, you need to lift weights. If you want the type of fitness that increases functionality in all areas of your life, then you should be doing bodyweight exercises.

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About the author

Joe Bensam

I am an experienced bodybuilder and qualified personal trainer who specializes in strength training, conditioning and building muscle. I can help you become much bigger, stronger and leaner - faster! To discover my simple secret weapon, click here.