Why I love Body Weight Training

by Brad Pilon

I love heavy weights.

Love them.

My body? It doesn’t quite love them as much as I do.

Based on everything I’ve read and learned…and to  a large degree the mistakes I’ve made over the years, the approach I like to training is as follows:

Hard and heavy for 3-5 months. Typically during the winter.

But then after that I take it right down to 2-3 core lifts and a combination of Body Weight & Body Movement training for at least a couple months.

(This is almost always during the summer for me.)

Then after the summer I ramp back up with Adonis training to prep for the next big Winter push.

I find this Eb & Flow of training is my best option for making gains, but also keeping healthy.

Truthfully, I’d love to do body weight exercises only, all year round, but I find I just can’t maintain my size if I do this for an entire 12 month period.

And As I said before in this post – (body movement training) I think that body weight exercises eventually have to become body MOVEMENT exercises…body weight with added external weight, as you eventually get stronger.

The other issue I have with Body Weight Exercises is the fairly high volume of Reps you need in certain exercises – which can unfortunately lead to overuse injuries.

This is very similar to what happens with runners, only now it’s your shoulders or elbows. This is why you need a TON of variety in your exercise repertoire – You can’t just do push-ups, squats and chins.

But if you have enough of the RIGHT exercises – then I completely agree with Craig Ballantyne when he says that:

Your body is actually the BEST piece of home gym “workout equipment” in the world for helping you GAIN muscle and BURN fat
without spending tons of money

My personal favorite is trying to go ‘single arm’ on most upper body body weight stuff….

Single Arm Ticeps Press

But it’s not just about saving money and taking a break from heavy lifting to let your body recover…There’s another reason to try out body weight training is simply this:

It’s absolutely amazing what the human body can do.

Check out this video for proof:


Or this one:


Now, you’re not going to be able to move like Jodi or these free running guys just by doing some push ups and chins, but the fact remains – Being able to move your body is not only good for you…it can be beautiful.

I’m heading to Vegas on Thursday, and I plan of seeing Cirque du Soleil, which I’m pretty sure will put me into a body weight training frame of mind. In fact, I’m planning on dedicating the next couple months of training posts on this blog to exploring body weight training, body movement training and body weight exercises. I’m also going to share with you the body weight programs I like, and the one’s I don’t.

The bottom line is that with body weight workouts, you’ll save time (they are typically shorter and don’t require you to drive to the gym and back), it’s nice break from moving heavy iron, and you can do them outside!




Mike April 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm

It’s slightly disturbing how adept you are at posting things that mirror topics I have been pondering. Looking forward to those body movement posts.

Alex April 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Brad,what about two times per week heavy train (deadkuft,squat) and 3-4 yimes per week bodyweight training?

Brad Pilon April 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

That’s pretty much my routine during summers…. With the Caveat that I’m in the shape I want to be in by the beginning of the summer.

Deadlift shoulder, press day 1; Squat, floor press day 2; Days 3, 4, 5…freak the neighbors out by training outside.

Josh April 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Soooo… when are you going to publish a more detailed version of your yearly training plan? 🙂

Aaron April 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Unless you can do 10 one handed plyometric pushups touching your chest (or back) with the free hand there’s always room for improvement. I guarentee for 99.9% of people out there who can’t “gain” with bodyweight exercises anymore are not capable of doing one handed pullups, planches, hold a freestanding one arm handstand, hold a v-sit, hold a human flag, plyometric handstand push ups, etc.

Aaron April 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm

The difficulty is not in finding challenging exercises, is quite the opposite of being able to perform them. Hence the “problem” with bodyweight training. It takes A LOT of time and skill to master and progress. Whereas free weight lifter simply adds more poundage to the movement, the bodyweight lifter needs to be able to progress in complexity and with a more lacking and lacking amount of leverage.

Aaron April 11, 2011 at 11:25 pm

So unless you can perform one handed planche pushups on your finger tips, it sounds like there’s room for improvement. PS I did read the blog before posting and I did notice the mention of complex and hardcore moves I appreciate it, My point is that people are so eager to add weight to that pull up before they even consider training for one handed. Once you can do ten one handed pull ups with one finger, add weight.

Brad Pilon April 12, 2011 at 8:56 am

True, but there lies the problem, does it not?

Brad Pilon April 12, 2011 at 8:57 am

Agreed, but again it would depend on the individuals goals

Aaron April 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

I completely agree with you Brad. I was just showing that to really master your body weight to where all movements become easy I personally think would take a life time or at least a long time. And yes it completely depends on the lifter and his/her preference.

Alex April 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm

So if my goal is lean and muscular body (everybody want this) how should i train,free weights or bodyweight.Bodyweight training makes your body more functional.Free weights make you stronger and leaner.

P.S. Soryy for my english,i am from Bulgaria:)

del April 12, 2011 at 5:06 pm

my question exactly Alex!!!!! i do a combination of heavy full body circuits, then full bodyweight intervals!!! sweet
Brad should i drop the heavy weights cos i just got into the swing of things!! thanks

Brad Pilon April 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

NO! No dropping anything. This is where the insanity sets in. Over the course of a 365 day year, you should have periods where heavy lifting is a priority, where body weight exercises are the priority, where high frequency is the priority, where low frequency is the priority, where ‘spot’ training is the priority, where getting stronger is the priority and where no training is the priority. When it comes the best way to train, the all or none philosophy does not exist.

Alex April 13, 2011 at 1:29 am

So if i understand you correctly it is better to train 5 months only heavy duty then 5 monhts only body weight rather than 10 months mixed heavy weight+body weight?

Brad Pilon April 13, 2011 at 8:21 am

I doubt it. It’s an eb and flow thing. It’s optimal for me because I like being outside during the summer and during winter, I’d rather sit in the gym for hours then go outside. But for everyone else it depends on their intent, goals, metrics, and abilities. Exercise should be prescribed like a drug with the individual in mind.

Joe April 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm

How big can one get on just bodywheight training any examples?

Brad Pilon April 14, 2011 at 9:34 am

People commonly give the examples of male gymnasts, however I doubt this is accurate since some probably spend some amount of time working the iron.


Vaclav Gregor April 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Great post. I’m looking forward to more body weight related articles.
Btw awesome pick with the videos, Jodi is awesome as always.

Cabs May 17, 2011 at 2:08 am

Is it ok to just do bodyweight exercises and forgoe free weights/weight lifting altogether? I quit my gym membership based on the idea that i can get just as fit doing at home bodyweight exercises as when i’m at the gym working the iron.

Tim - The Lean Look June 8, 2011 at 8:57 pm


You hit the nail on the head when you said using bodyweight movements with some external weight is what will get you stronger and bigger. I like to set up two heavier weighted bodyweight circuits to start the week and then go to easier just bodyweight (light) exercises with less rest at the end of the week.

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