Bodyweight Training vs Weight Training – Building Leaner Muscles

Let’s be honest, bodyweight training is something we’ve all been trying to master since infancy.

Whether we’re trying to push up our bodies when waking up from a nap, or learning how to take those first steps. We are always using our body to perform daily functional movements.

So when it comes to comparing bodyweight training vs weight training, the one thing many people wonder is…

…can bodyweight exercises make you stronger?

woman in plank position

As you gain more experience when it comes to your exercise routine, you will learn that it is possible to get great results with just bodyweight training alone.

Results that can be attained without touching a single weight.

And in today’s post, I will be going over the differences between the two training methods, and how they can be used in your workout routine.

Based on your fitness goals, you will be able to determine which method will work best for you as you continue to take your body to new levels.

What Is a Body Weight Workout?

For those that may be a bit unfamiliar as to what bodyweight training is, it’s an exercise routine that relies primarily on exercises using just the body as resistance. There are no weights that is needed in order to achieve various fitness goals.

An example would be…using resistance bands instead of dumbbells, or doing push ups instead of doing a barbell bench press. These are just a two examples out of many other exercises that can be performed using just the body alone.

Now let’s get to the comparisons…

Bodyweight Exercises vs Weight Training

Fitness Level

man planking on bars

Bodyweight Training

Getting in shape is all about progression. Which is no wonder why most people who are new to exercise, start off doing bodyweight exercises.

This is usually a great way to work on simple exercise techniques as you progress to more advanced exercises. Not only is it easy to learn, but it doesn’t cost much to get started.

Also, it doesn’t require much help as you can easily do simple exercises like pushups and squats. This can be great for those that are concerned about getting injured due to lack of experience.

Weight Training

Training that involves weights can be used with a variety of different fitness equipment. Whether you’re into machines or free weights, these are the types of tools that tend to be used when performing any type of weight training.

As you can see, in order to perform this type of training, certain types of tools are required. Usually you would find these types of equipment in any fitness establishment like a gyms or studio. The home is also an option if you prefer to workout at home.

Now if you’re a beginner, more than likely you would need someone who is experienced to help you out with your training. This could be with either a personal trainer or a friend that works out consistently.

There is always a risk for injury when dealing with weights, so extreme caution should be taken for any beginner.

If you’re a beginner and really want to try weight training, using machines at the gym is a great place to start. They do restrict movement which limits the natural range of motion, but they are great for those that lack experience when it comes to weight training.

Edge goes to: Bodyweight Training

Levels of Resistance

row of dumbbells

Bodyweight Training

Obviously when it comes to resistance levels, you are limited to your weight in a sense. Like for many females, doing push ups can be a struggle due to lack of upper body strength.

Now although you could always challenge yourself in terms of the amount reps, increasing the resistance difficult may be a bit challenging. Therefore you may have a hard time gauging your strength level.

But if you are looking to challenge yourself, you can always try to perform as many pushups as possible in a minute, then try to beat that personal best. Or you can try to perform as many pushups you can in a day.

these are a couple of ways to track your progress as you get into your training routine.

Weight Training

When it comes to adding resistance, there is no better method than lifting heavy weights. The heavier the weight, the better the chance of you being able to build muscle.

Unlike bodyweight training, you can increase or decrease the amount of weight you use when performing a particular exercise. Whether you are using dumbbells, squat machines, or the barbell bench, you can increase the weight.

Since building muscle is all about tearing muscle fibers, being able to adjust resistance levels with your weights is necessary.

Not only is weight training good for building muscles, but it also helps in building strength.

Edge goes to: Weight Training


person on tablet

Bodyweight Training

Nothing provides more convenience when it comes to exercise than bodyweight training. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can find a way to perform an exercise using just your body.

Some of those exercises are:

  • Pullups
  • Pushups
  • Squats
  • Planks
  • Calf Raises

Now let me be clear about something. Bodyweight training doesn’t necessarily mean there are no tools when performing them. It just means that the body is the primary form of resistance when exercising.

So when performing an exercise like pull ups, you will of course need a pull up bar in order to do them.

Weight Training

Unless you have your own home exercise equipment, more than likely you will have to attend the gym to perform any weight training. Which means you will have to sign up for a gym membership.

Although this is what many people do, there are also those that prefer to workout at home instead of the gym. If that is the case, then you will need to purchase your own set of equipment.

Making sure you get the right equipment is key to getting the results you are looking for. We’ve all heard the stories about how exercise equipment have a tendency to collect dust in the homes of many.

So making sure you get the right tools is key.

More Reading: 10 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

Edge goes to: Bodyweight Training

Tracking Progress

color coded chart

Bodyweight Training

Since you are not using any fitness equipment, it can be somewhat difficult to track your goals when it comes to strength. The best way to track your progress would be with the amount of reps you can perform.

Although the amount of reps you perform isn’t always an indicator of how strong you are, but how much muscle endurance you have.

Regardless, tracking your progress with the amount of reps is a great way to see how much you have improved when it comes to bodyweight training. And you can still get great results using this as a method.

Weight Training

One of the best methods to track your progress when working out is weight training. Since your strength is determined by the amount of weight you are able to move.

Whether you are using dumbbells, weighted plates, or exercise machines, you will find them all numbered. Letting you know the exact amount of weight you will be attempting to lift.

These numbers allow you to easily track your progress with just a notepad or app on your phone as you increase or decrease in strength.

Are Bodyweight Exercises Good For Weight Loss?

When it comes to losing weight, there are many questions one could ask like, how often should you exercise to lose weight?

When simply, all it really comes down to is the amount of calories your body is able to burn.

Basically, if your body is able to burn more calories than you consume, then you will lose weight. This is called putting your body through a caloric deficit.

The same goes for gaining weight, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

So how do you make sure you are burning the most amount of calories when performing bodyweight exercises?

The best way is to make sure you keep your heart rate elevated by keeping the body moving. This is a big reason why HIIT workouts are so popular in the fitness industry. All you need is 15 minutes, and you can burn a decent amount of calories.

So to answer your question about if bodyweight exercises are good for weight loss. They can be as long as you are giving enough effort in your workouts.

One of the most efficient ways to burn calories and lose weight is by building muscle…

…which brings me to the next question.

Is Bodyweight Training Effective For Building Muscle?

Keep in mind that there can be an initial weight gain due to muscle mass being created, but there is better chance for weight loss long term.

So when it comes to answering question of bodyweight training and how effective it is for building muscle. My answer would be that it can be very effective.

man planking with dumbbells

More Reading: Losing Weight vs Losing Body Fat – What’s The Difference?

Now you won’t bulk up as much as you would if you used weights, but if all you’re looking to do is get that nice lean look, it is definitely achievable.

Remember, building muscle is all about tearing the fibers in your muscle. And by allowing those muscles to heal through rest, muscle development is created.

So Is Bodyweight Training as Effective as Weight Training?

Tell me if you’ve heard this before…it depends on your fitness goals. If you’re a beginner or are looking to just maintain your current fitness level, then bodyweight training can be a very effective method.

But if you are looking to take your fitness to another level, then weight training can do just that. Being able to increase the resistance level is very effective when looking to sculpt the body a certain way.

Weight training can help you build muscle in many areas of the body that bodyweight training alone wouldn’t be able to do.

So depending on your fitness goals, bodyweight training can be just as effective as weight training. Unless you are trying to build huge amounts of muscle mass.

So how do you go about your training? Do you prefer body weight training or weight training? Please share below.

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