My Accidental 10 Year Experiment: Free Weights vs Body Weight

Dwayne Oxford
Aug 11, 2019 · 2 min read
Bodyweight vs Free weights? Which one is the superior approach?
Which is better? Body weight or Free weights

Originally published on March 25, 2014

As some of you know I’ve become a big fan of home workouts (calisthenics) instead of public gyms. You can read all about it here. Over time I’ve lost hope in the “public” gym being a space where I can work out efficiently and progressively, but I never lost hope in becoming stronger. As someone who was a big advocate of bench press and heavy compound movements with free weights, I had my fears about a home workout coming up short against free weights.

At that time of my transition to a home based regiment, I did bit of research on some of the most challenging and heavy resistance body weight movements. Many props to 24hr ghetto workout, Calisthenics Kingz, Tony Horton of P90x, Bartendaz and Barstarzz. Over time these moves would become core to my strength routine.

I was curious to see if I used mostly bodyweight movements, would I have the same strength I had roughly 10 years ago. I found out that answer a couple months back, working with a colleague of mine at the gym on my compound. After 10 years of completely ignoring push movements with free weights, my current strength is no different than it was 10 years ago. My 1 rep max is around 250 pounds (113 kg). Although I’ve included resistance bands and a weighted vest (25 pounds), that’s only been in the last year.

So what is the point of saying all this? There are many approaches to building strength. You can get creative like this brother in this video, and get insanely strong. The “free weights” are better dogma needs to be put to rest. Both free weights and body weight movements complement each other and doesn’t have to live without the other. However, my accidental experiment is not yet finished. My next goal is to see if I can build enough strength to move my 1 rep max to 315 pounds while focusing on mostly bodyweight movements. I’ll keep everyone posted on the progress.

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