There’s a common misconception among people looking to get stronger and fitter that you need to lift heavy weights to build strength.
I’ve been a personal trainer for over ten years, and I can tell you that this just isn’t true. Although weights can be one way to get stronger, you don’t need to be constantly adding plates to the barbell to build strength and power.
If you want a high-level example of this, just look at gymnasts. Gymnasts have some of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any athletes, and they rely mostly on their own bodyweight to build their Herculean levels of strength.
In my own training, I rarely use weights. When I do, I never lift heavy. For years, my workouts have consisted of variations of pull-ups, push-ups, single-leg squats, sprints, and plyometrics — and I’m pretty strong, especially as someone who never identified as an athlete growing up. My clients’ workouts are similar. The main reason I’ll add weights to their workouts is for variety, not because they need weights to build strength and fitness.
Bodyweight exercises have several notable benefits:
- They’re functional, better mimicking real-life movements than machine exercises
- They help prevent injuries and are easier on your body over a lifetime of workouts
- They’re portable — you can do bodyweight exercises whether you’re in a hotel room, nearby park, or your tiny apartment
For those of us who like to keep life simple, bodyweight workouts also act as the perfect minimalist workout.
There’s so much you can do using your own bodyweight, and if you have access to a pull-up bar and a couple of resistance bands, you have enough to challenge yourself for a lifetime of workouts.