Be Strong. Be Fit.


Why You Should Also Consider Body Weight Training?

August 12th, 2010 · 8 Comments ·


I had an interesting conversation with a fitness instructor just now. He told me that our muscles are stupid.

Muscles are stupid? What the heck is he talking?

His explanation – Muscles only recognize two things, whether they are being stretched or in tension. They will not know whether the stretch is caused by Yoga or weight lifting or Karate kicking. As for tension, it happens when we place resistance on the muscles. Again, whether the resistance comes from your grocery bags, dumbbell, barbell or even body weight, our muscles will not know.

True enough. Now, wonder what is he trying to tell me?

He said, “Because the muscles are stupid, whether using body weight or additional weight plates, if you can’t take your own body weight, don’t bother to place too much weights when you do bench press, wide grip lat pull down or others.”

Yes. Many are trying to make exercises harder by adding external load even when they are not able to handle their bodyweight in the same exercise. Some people can do 150 lbs of bench press, but they fail to perform 8 push ups in correct form. However, I was not totally convinced up to this point, but he continued to elaborate.


“Have you looked at those Summer Olympic gymnasts? Look at their body shape.” Now, I have to agree gymnasts have one of the best boy shapes compared to other sportsmen. Their arms are toned. The shapes are great. And all gymnasts practice use mainly their own body weights. Asking these gymnasts to do chin up is piece of cake while layman like us have to struggle to complete 10 repetitions.

Some people are arguing which is more effective – body weight or weight training? We both agree that we should not argue over this. Just do both. Both offer different ways to challenge your muscles. So, we should not limiting ourselves to just one style of training. The fact is, most of us started out with bodyweight training when we were younger. We climbed, we ran, we jumped…Now, we are adults, as we improved, we naturally evolved to weight training for more of a challenge. Because of that, weight training with dumbbell, barbell, kettle bell become the de facto type of weight training. Keep training with both weighted and non-weighted basic methods. Have goals for each, and keep them progressive. More repetitions or harder variations.

Out of no where, the other of my friend chipped in, “So, are you saying that training with body weight without using free weights is just like…eating with our fingers without using fork and spoon?” We both turned and looked at him. Speechless.




Category: Other Fitness/Sports Articles

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8 responses so far ↓
  • mao // Aug 12, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    is plank consider body weight training?

  • Mun // Aug 12, 2010 at 11:08 PM

    Yes, it is.

  • Chung Nguyen-Le // Aug 13, 2010 at 6:04 AM

    That comment from your friend had my laughing :)

    I’m a bodyweight-only fan.

    I find by getting used to (and getting creative with) body weight exercises makes it far easier to keep the training habit going – after all you cant make excuses like not having the right equipment around.

    I also feel I have a lot more functional strength than a lot of my friends.

    Start with the foundation exercises then make them harder.

    Pushup > Diamond pushup > wide pushups, clapping pushups > one arm pushups…

    Squats > Loaded squats > one leg pistols…

    Situps > Crunches > Russian twists > V sits

    Chin ups > Pull ups > wide pullups > full arm chinups > explosive chinups…

    Thats just a few ideas on how easy it is to develop progressions

    If they all get too easy? Try and do 100 reps.

    Personally I think gymnasts have the best physiques; guys lean and muscular and girls supple and fit.

    Plus I’ve never met a bodyweight enthusiast who looked physically unbalanced – they all look naturally good.

  • Jack Bronson // Aug 13, 2010 at 6:27 AM

    Hey Mun,

    This is a great article. I’m currently a big supporter of bodyweight workouts because they’re easy, effective and really help people gain a sense of their bodies. I’ve been though the weight training programs and I found that I looked better and was proportionally stronger by doing bodyweight exercises so I’ve made the decision to focus on this kind of exercise exclusively.

    I think our society often tricks people into thinking they need a lot of equipment or special routines involving complex machines to get fit when in reality our ancestors have been fit for generations. This kind of article sheds light on a lot of those misconceptions.

    Great stuff, keep it up!

  • Lance // Aug 13, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    I am fan of bodyweight training too and i really gotta agree with Chung Nguyen-Le that bodyweight does make it easier to keep the training habit going. you dont need a lot of stuffs to workout. Probably a pull up bar, the floor , a wall and your own bodyweight.

    Additional to the exercises you all mentioned, there’s still this Handstand Push-Up which is definitely a killer exercise for the shoulder, and i believe it’s a hardcore exercise or even the easier version -Pike-Push up too. Also, horizontal pull up (inverted row), bridges, Glute Ham Raise are all effective bodyweight exercises.

    Great Post by Mun.

    Thanks a lot and keep this going. Love reading your blog :)

  • Chung Nguyen-Le // Aug 13, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Great exercises

    The only equipment I’ve bought is a HotGym which is a great piece of equipment for chinups, dips etc. Its easy to set up and doesnt take up much space when packed away.

    I agree with Lance, handstand pushups are an awesome exercise for the shoulders.

    Another useful site for showing how powerful bodyweight exercises are, is the tutorials over at

    Good stuff Mun, keep it up :)

  • Chung Nguyen-Le // Aug 20, 2010 at 4:51 AM

    No worries. Good luck. I’m working hard on my handstands. I can do proper one arm pushups easily now – hand stands however – a completely different story.

  • Ninie Ahmad // Sep 3, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    Both photos above (and gymnasts’ bodies) look like yoga to me ;)

    Hi Mun, long time no see!

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