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Bodyweight training only?

Bodyweight training is cool. It’s hip, it’s fun. On top of that it looks the part. So many advanced bodyweight movements make great potential party tricks. 

Doing a front lever is just that bit more impressive to the layman than a 600+lb deadlift. And then there’s the muscle up, they’re all the rage right now. If you can rep out the muscle up, you’re instantly sexier, right?

So, as I alluded to in a recent post (program expiration dates), I’m on the verge of wrapping up a 3 week phase of solely bodyweight training for 3 weeks – it’s been tough. I’ve had to resist the urge to add dumbbells to the lunges I’ve been doing and weight belts to my chin ups. You know the feeling.

If I did, it would no longer technically be ‘bodyweight’ training in it’s purest form. However, with a little intelligent creativity, the urge to add external resistance subsided promptly. Once you make it crystal clear weights aren’t an option, you start discovering other progression methods.


I’ve touched on this briefly before when talking about the importance of rest periods. But striving for a denser workout – doing the same workload in less and less time, really is just as viable a progression tool as adding weight to the bar. My bout of bodyweight training has further facilitated this belief.

The program I’ve been doing is centered around a push and core day, lower body and core day and finally, a pull and core day. All in circuit fashion. As I couldn’t add extra resistance, I shaved 30 seconds off the rest time each week between rounds. 2 minutes between rounds versus 1 minute between rounds are different ball games!

When you’re doing reasonably high volume on all movements; pull ups, push ups, lunges, box jumps and inverted rows……..all in circuit fashion – minimal rest between movements…… minute is NOTHING.

If you can maintain the same numbers (and quality technique) as you did with 2 minutes rest, you’ve just become an improved version of yourself! 

Obviously I’m keen to get back under the bar very soon, but I really do believe in mixing up training phases with differing styles of training every now and then.

My stance on bodyweight training is: it’s great, humbling and good fun. There’s many awesome movements. I really don’t understand the dogma among some…….

“Bodyweight only is useless!”

“Weight training is unnecessary!”

I see no reason why the two cannot be integrated. Using strength style barbell training initially in your routine and using relevant bodyweight ‘finishers’ nearer the end makes a great program in my opinion.

A hybrid.

We all like a hybrid don’t we? 

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

8 thoughts on “Bodyweight training only? Leave a comment

  1. Agreed about the hybrid. Body weight etc at the end of the work out can really finish off with a great extra burn that I wouldn’t have had using weights :))
    Nice post, I like!

    • Nothing like a bodyweight burn! I must say I’ve missed the barbell though, really have. I’m going to put you on the spot here………what’s your ultimate, number one bodyweight movement? 🙂

      • I’d probably go with the lunge. I’ve only been adding 3kg dumbells in each hand and I get a great burn without those dumbbells. I just think the dumbells help to add some stability. Also love a good bodyweight double dip squat!

      • Ah, but that’s not technically a bodyweight movement now is it? 😉 haha, just kidding. You’re right actually, it can be a little loose without extra weight. For me, it’s the mighty pull-up and it’s variations. It’s a beast. Double dip squat? Is that where you go all the way down, come up half way, go back down and come right back up?

      • Isn’t it? Arghh. Yeah that’s right, it makes me aaaaache like crazy. I need to get better with my upper body strength. I can do assisted pull ups but I’m only pulling 20-something kilos

      • You can do those weighted, they’re meant to be great for building strength out the bottom of the squat. Yeah, pull ups are the ultimate test/benchmark……….15+ is a phenomenal amount in any variation, with PERFECT form of course (no kipping pull ups) haha. On the supinated chin up, I’m good for 15+, but the other variations I’m a little down in comparison. But Pull ups are a move we should all be working on regardless of where we’re at strength-wise 🙂

  2. Have to agree that pullups are a great move, I am still not yet able to do one. I am not complaining though because I have improved on pushups which helped me lose 75lbs over ten months a couple of years ago. I will keep working on the pullup by using the assist machine , I started with 85lbs of assistance and now down to 45lbs, so just have to keep shooting for one full pullup without any assistance, I think losing another 20 pounds might help too.

    • That’s awesome progress Rich. Yeah, I think pull ups are the ultimate symbol of strength – especially relative strength. Keep hammering away at the volume (do pull ups frequently) the upper back recovers quick which makes it a movement that can be SERIOUSLY trained! Let me know when you can do a clean set of wide grip pull ups for 5 reps. That day isn’t far away. Keep at it.

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