Are Bodyweight Exercises Enough To Build Muscle?
Bodyweight exercises are workout techniques that are aimed at strength training, but, do not require lifting free weights.
Bodyweight training is #1 on the American College of Sports and Medicine’s 2015 Fitness Trends list. This list is compiled on the opinions of highly trained and top fitness experts and professionals across the country, and, so their opinions are credible and valuable.
Because the exercises require only the body’s own weight as resistance, these can be done anywhere and without any special equipment.
Bodyweight exercises are mainly categorized into 3 categories:
1. Calisthenics – these include your basic exercises that target the upper body, such as, pushups and pull-ups, and those that target the lower body such as lunges and squats. Calisthenics are great for improving endurance and stability, as well as, building muscles particularly in your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
2. Plyometrics – having originated from Russia about 40 years ago, plyometrics is a technique that involves conditioning the body with rapid muscle stretches and rapid shortening which aim to increase explosiveness and power.
Plyometric exercises include depth jumps and depth drops, jump squats, burpees, Russian lunges, and jumping pushups. Designed mostly for amateur and professional athletes, plyometric training mimics movements in sports such as basketball, volleyball, tennis, football, and boxing.
3. Gymnastics – these involve more complex and technical exercises that aim to develop strength, flexibility, agility, balance, and coordination.
Gymnastics often involve exercises performed on special equipment, such as, the balance beam, uneven bars, parallel bars, vault, pommel horse, and still rings.
Bodyweight Training vs. Weight Training
There’s very limited research that compares bodyweight training against weight training, but, in those studies that were conducted, it has been found that bodyweight training offers greater benefits in the following areas:
• More muscle activation. Bodyweight training requires moving your body instead of moving an object towards or away from your body, thus creating more muscle stimulus.
• Increased neuromuscular activation. Because your body moves through space, there is additional feedback provided to your body and brain unlike when doing free weights.
• Increase in bone mass.
• Increase in power and strength.
• Enhanced muscle coordination.
• Noticeable improvements in general athletic performance, such as, jumping and sprinting.
• Improved endurance and agility.
• Lower risk of injuries. Because these training exercises are focused on the individual’s own weight rather than using special equipments, there’s lower risk of injuries, as long as proper precautions are observed.
It is important to note, however, that the point of this comparison is not to determine which one is better than the other, because one of them will always fall short on specific areas.
It’s hard to replicate your bench and overhead presses with pushups alone, and the same goes for weight training exercises that aren’t enough to give you all the benefits that bodyweight workouts can offer.
So, it is wise to design a training program that combines both routines in order to achieve the best results.
Are Bodyweight Exercises Enough To Build Muscles?
The bottom line is, if you’re looking to obtain a nice physique, strengthen your muscles, and improve your athletic capabilities, bodyweight exercises are generally enough.
They can be a good alternative to weight training if you don’t have access to specialized gym equipments or if lifting bars doesn’t suit your preferences.
However, you should realize that the basic exercises will not work forever because you need to challenge your muscles consistently and aim to go for a higher level of training as time goes by.
Additionally, it still depends on your personal expectations regarding how big enough is actually “enough” for you. If you’re in for building huge muscle mass, then a combination of the two will work better than just bodyweight workouts alone.
For the ladies and men who want to build lean muscle tone, bodyweight exercises are an excellent choice as they will never allow you to bulk, but, will instead build healthy muscle that has many health benefits.