Sven Wombwell
Article by: Sven Wombwell
Estimated 11 minutes read

Bodyweight workouts have become popular in recent years. With the lockdowns of 2020, many people looked for ways to exercise at home instead of the gym. Many people find these exercises more convenient and easy for busy schedules, but are they enough to get results?

Bodyweight exercises are effective for improving coordination, flexibility, and balance. They are also great at building strength and helping people lose weight. 

Read on to learn whether only bodyweight exercises provide results in all the ways you need for your exercise routine.

Muscular man doing push ups in a gym

What Are Bodyweight Exercises?

Bodyweight exercises, or calisthenics, target various muscle groups. They use your body's weight as resistance to build strength and stability. Many professional athletes and gymnasts use bodyweight training for full-body workouts, but beginners can easily start a bodyweight exercise routine. 

What is great about this fitness routine is that it makes exercising accessible to everyone. You don't have to purchase a gym membership or get costly workout equipment. Bodyweight training equipment (if you need any) is usually cheap, and the exercises are easy to do in smaller spaces. It is also a great way to squeeze in a workout if you are short on time. 

As of 2023, 22.58 million people participated in bodyweight exercise or bodyweight accessory-assisted training in the United States.

No matter your fitness level, you can adjust the exercises to match your needs or challenge yourself as you gain endurance. Calisthenics can involve simple movements or feature more complex exercises.  

Are Bodyweight Exercises Effective?

Many bodyweight exercises are compound movements. Compound movements use multiple muscle groups and engage several joints simultaneously. Squats, for example, engage the quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, core, and lower back. Other examples of compound movements include lunges, jumping jacks, and push-ups. 

Common bodyweight exercises people include in the workouts work on both the lower and upper body. 

These exercises burn body fat, make exercising more efficient, improve coordination, balance, and joint range of motion, work muscle groups for longer without fatigue, and build muscle for heavier lifting. These exercises also better mimic your day-to-day activities. 

Bodyweight workouts improve your cardiovascular system. If you frequently change your body position, it keeps your heart rate elevated. Your weight and gravity provide resistance that encourages your body to develop more muscle fibers. This reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, joint pain, and Alzheimer's disease. 

Bodyweight workouts are incredibly effective for goals such as overall wellness, weight loss, or increased daily physical activity. 

Which is Better: Bodyweight Training or Weightlifting?

Weightlifting and bodyweight training both have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your personal fitness goals, you may want to combine weightlifting and bodyweight training as part of your full workout routine.

To learn more about common mistakes in the gym, read more here.

Benefits of Weightlifting

When you lift weights, you use external weight to create a progressive overload of your muscle groups. This promotes tiny tears in the muscle. Then, your body repairs these small tears, creating muscle growth or hypertrophy. Hypertrophy increases the strength of your muscles and produces more muscle mass. To increase hypertrophy, lift heavy weights with multiple sets of 6-12 repetitions with 1 minute of rest between sets using the same muscle group. 

Some weightlifting exercises include bench presses, chest presses, chin-ups, and barbell lunges, but there are many others. You will need access to a gym or at-home equipment to perform weightlifting exercises. 

When building muscle, you can adjust the intensity by using heavier weights for more challenges or lighter weights if you need to slow down. Weightlifting also encourages proper form and pushes your muscles beyond what you can achieve with your body weight alone. Although you can use body exercises for strength training, if you are working on a particular muscle group, weightlifting is better than bodyweight exercises. 

Disadvantages of Weightlifting

The major hurdle to weightlifting is that it can be costly. Weightlifting can add up whether you have to pay for a gym membership or expensive weights and machinery. Weights and fitness equipment also take up a lot of space, so if you live in a small house or apartment, you may not have enough room for these machines. 

Weightlifting also only targets specific muscle groups, giving your body less variety of movement. It also doesn't work the joints or muscles naturally. If you don't rest between workouts, you can overstress your body and end up with pain, troubled sleep, fatigued muscles, and muscle tearing. Lifting weights too heavy for you can also cause muscle and joint damage. 

Benefits of Bodyweight Workouts

In contrast, if you are trying to lose weight, bodyweight training is more effective than weightlifting. With calisthenics, you move your body a lot and use multiple muscle groups. This burns calories faster, helping you to lose body fat.

Using your own body weight as resistance in exercises often involves compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups and increase your heart rate. This makes bodyweight exercises more effective for cardiovascular fitness and full-body conditioning than isolated weight exercises that typically target specific muscles.

Weightlifting will still contribute to weight loss, but this form of exercise uses isolated movements. Isolated exercises target a single muscle group and only work a single joint. Examples include bicep curls, dumbbell fly, and triceps kickback. 

If you are trying to vary your exercise routine to prevent boredom, High-intensity interval training (HIIT), a vigorous cardio workout that alternates between short bursts of intense movement and moments of rest, will also increase how many calories you burn. 

Bodyweight workouts are also cheaper, more convenient, provide more privacy, and are more affordable.

Disadvantages of Bodyweight Workouts

Mastering bodyweight exercises can take a long time. It may take weeks, months, or years of practice to see the rewards, which can be discouraging for many people. It can also be hard to quantify how to increase the difficulty of bodyweight workouts. With weightlifting, you can add more reps and sets or increase the weight. 

With bodyweight exercises, it can be challenging to determine when to increase the difficulty and to track progress as you advance.

Another disadvantage is that it is difficult to stimulate the posterior chain and thigh muscles. Barbells and dumbbells are best for this type of muscle building. Many people suggest pistol squats to work the legs when doing bodyweight workouts, but these exercises require a lot of flexibility that many beginners don't have. 

You can also reach an exercise plateau with bodyweight exercises, which can become frustrating and often discourages people.

If you have certain medical conditions, such as joint inflammation or heart function and stability issues, you may be unable to do calisthenics. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new routines if you have a medical condition. 

The best solution combines both workout types-weight lifting and bodyweight exercises. You can do this by using bodyweight training and weightlifting on the same day or alternating days between different activities. 

How Do You Start Bodyweight Workouts?

Consider your goals, such as losing weight, building muscle, increasing strength, etc. Then, plan out where and when you want to work out. It can be as simple as working out before work in your living room. Or maybe you want to coordinate your workout with your partner to have someone to keep you accountable. Either way, once you figure out when and where you must think about how frequently.

It would be best if you built in rest between any exercise routine. Next, decide what moves you are going to do and how long. You may want to consult with others who have done calisthenics to get a general idea of how they build their routines. You want to develop a routine that challenges you but isn't too tricky. It's best to start small and build up to more challenging and lengthy exercises.

Watching tutorials online or taking classes may help you start when you're new. You can also hire a certified personal trainer to assist you in building a fitness routine that is best for your body. They can also advise you on forms essential for preventing injury.

Once you've decided on your plan, you can begin. Try to find someone or something to hold you accountable. Reward yourself for success, and vary your routine to provide better motivation and interest in your exercises.

Remember to warm up before exercising and set aside cool-down time after you finish. A healthy diet and plenty of hydration are key to a good exercise routine. 

Man doing bodyweight training and using resistance bands

What Are Some Optional Equipment You Can Add To Your Bodyweight Routine?

Although no equipment is needed with calisthenics, you can use some simple gear to enhance your bodyweight workout program. For example, you can use a chair for dips, decline push-ups, and beginner pistol squats. A chair can elevate parts of your legs to add resistance and make an exercise more challenging.

Walls are also great for assisted handstand push-ups, wall sits, and wall push-ups. You can also purchase a pull-up bar to add exercises such as pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg lifts to give you more range of motion and extra muscle work. However, you could also visit a playground to use the monkey bars for these exercises. 

Resistance bands, which come in a range of resistance levels, can also help you perform exercises at a more challenging level. You can use them for front squats, leg extensions, prone leg curls, glute bridges, clamshells, and plantar flexion. These can help increase your flexibility for other calisthenic exercises. 

You may also want to consider getting workout clothes that allow free movement. You want to choose workout clothes that are lightweight, comfortable, and breathable. Supportive shoes and compression gear can also reduce pain and discomfort when working out. There are a variety of brands, types, and prices of workout apparel on the market. So, research which have the best reviews to find the best pieces for you. 

How Can You Switch From Weight Lifting to Bodyweight Training?

To add more bodyweight training to your routine, try swapping some common exercises done on machines. For example, replace seated chest presses with push-ups. This replacement engages the whole body instead of just the chest muscles. 

You could also switch to bench dips instead of tricep push-downs. Bench dips are customizable. A few reps of bench dips work those triceps in a way that feels more natural than on the machine but provides excellent results. 

Some of the most common bodyweight training exercises are planks, push-ups, squats, mountain climbers, pelvic tilts, burpees, deadlifts, and lunges. 

What Else Can You Do To Get Defined Muscles?

If you have tried to build muscle without success or are struggling to lose weight, Male Excel's online men's health clinic offers Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), ED treatment, and Semaglutide for weight loss. Our online men's health clinic can get you the treatment you need safely, simply, and affordably. TRT can restore vitality, encourage weight loss, reduce fat, improve mental clarity, define muscles, and provide explosive drive. 

Our daily treatments closely mimic your body's natural hormone production cycle. This approach comes with less risk of side effects, is easily customizable to your body, and is a highly effective and preferred method of TRT. 

Take our online assessment to check your symptoms, consult our medical provider online to get your customized treatment plan, test your hormone levels conveniently at home with our easy test kits shipped directly to you, and then discreetly receive your TRT medication by mail.

Conclusion: Bodyweight Workout

Bodyweight workouts are a great way to get your body moving. They work various muscle groups simultaneously to provide an easy, convenient, quick workout routine. Bodyweight exercises burn a lot of calories, aiding in weight loss.

These exercises also encourage improved flexibility, coordination, and balance. Although bodyweight workouts do build muscle strength, if you are trying to target a specific muscle group, you may want to incorporate weightlifting in your exercise routine for a more varied regimen.

Find out if TRT Can Help You

TRT from Male Excel