Bodyweight Training Isn’t Program Filler

I know that it’s super easy to let relativity persuade you into thinking that a bodyweight movement is inferior when it’s paired with weighted movements in a workout. After all, I know you aren’t going to get stoked for ballistic RDLs when they are trained along with cleans. We don’t get to hear the sweet, succulent clanging of the barbell or even a nice, pleasant smack of a handsome med ball striking the floor.

None of it.

Just silence, and the sound of your own heavy breathing.

A lot of us think that body weight work is a regression meant for beginners to establish proper pattern or worse yet, filler in a workout to get more movements in a day. That’s a common approach but not one we take and while true that a body weight movement is likely not going to be as effective as a weighted one is a mistake.

Here are some benefits:

  1. Strength – Ballistic/plyometric movements train the fast recruitment of type-II muscle fibers in a way that heavy, slow barbell work can’t.
  2. Patterning – It creates proper movement patterns and habits. This is critical in order to be successful with load. You cannot get strong at back squatting until you learn how to repeat a deep body weight squat a thousand times. Watch the most fit people in the gym. They move exceptionally in bodyweight movements.
  3. Re-Patterning – Most people are far too fast to abandon quality body weight work. It’s critical to keep the pattern that’s been established otherwise you’ll only learn how to move with a barbell on your spine. That isn’t functional. Or productive.
  4. Volume Endurance – It builds volume.  You can’t exactly perform 100 push press in a day without feeling like death the next day. You can, however perform 100 pushups and experience productive soreness.
  5. Kinesthetic Awareness – It improves your balance and body awareness in ways barbells cannot.  Simply put, you learn to feel and react to your body’s movement which helps you from an athletic perspective.
  6. Injury Prevention – Stripping load and focusing on full range pattern will access muscles that might typically be overridden in barbell movements. For example, if you have weak adductors then they will probably be bullied by quads and hams at near max load.
  7. Structure – It helps build the strength and integrity of our muscle, joints, and connective tissue.

There is nothing in fitness that is more functional than you and your body moving together. Most of life is performed unloaded with one foot in front of the other, so the ability to do that in any training condition; long, short, fast, or slow, for time or not, high rep or low volume, is going to have carryover.

I’d never sell you a bill of goods that argued bodyweight training is more productive that resistance training, but there’s absolutely a place for it in our fitness.


Thursday, 9.23.20


8 OH Grip Sumo Deadlift
Max Decline Push-Ups
12 Bird Dog Rows
(x18 Min)

10 Half Rack Side Lunges
5 Bench Jump Overs
(x8 Rounds)