If you put this question to someone who’s enthusiastic about bodyweight
exercises, she’ll tell you that body weight exercises are better. She
may even go on to explain why. Convenient, inexpensive, you can exercise
anywhere, etc etc.
But if you ask a dedicated weightlifter, she’ll swear that weight training is superior. You can measure the weights, increase the challenge systematically and countless other benefits, she’ll tell you.
So, whom should you believe?
I’d say “neither”!
Hey, a weight is a weight. It’s only a tool. It could be something metal like dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells. It could be your own bodyweight. It could be high tension elastic bands. It could even be your own suitcase or backpack, unused dictionaries and so many other things that are heavy enough for your muscles.
Anything really. You can test your creativity here.
You could even try lifting your own frail grandmother! (Ok, I’ve gone too far here … don’t do that in case you drop her and break her back. She’d never forgive you.)
So, there’s no point in asking which method is better, bodyweight exercises or weight training? Because both methods are great.
If you don’t want to buy metal things like dumbbells or kettlebells, use your own bodyweight. If you want to try a few lifting exercises and increase the weight systematically, use those commercial weights.
In my opinion, training with anything that challenges your muscle strength is weight training. Only … that weight could be anything.
So, what does this mean for you?
If your goal is only fitness and a great body, you don’t need to go to a gym to be able to do strength training with barbells and squat racks and things like that. You don’t even need to take your exercise equipment when you travel. You can actually use just your bodyweight and get a challenge like this Equipment-Free 20-Minute Workout System.
So, here’s my advice. Doing just one type of training can be boring. To make things interesting and fun, mix up many different training types. Use a variety of tools.
This also gives you different challenges and provides all round fitness too.
For example, using a kettlebell in your training provides a slightly different challenge from holding a dumbbell. Because of the different shapes, you see (I think you might already have noticed that). And holding a sandbag would be very different from holding metal weights. So would holding your suitcase or your backpack and suchlike.
So, next time somebody tells you bodyweight exercises are better or worse than weight training, just listen politely (since it’s a lot easier than arguing). Just listen as if you’re back in school with your teacher telling you off … in one ear and out the other … phew!
Only this time you know better. :-)