Workout Tips

Bodyweight Training: Are You Strong Enough?

Super-human levels of strength can be achieved with nothing more than your bodyweight.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES

Two-hundred-sixty-pound Indian super heavy weight wrestling champ “The Great Gama” built a 56-inch chest, coupled with a 50-year undefeated wrestling career and was considered to be one of the strongest men in his day by training with nothing more than his bodyweight.

Since the early 1990s, law makers have crusaded to ban weights from correctional institutions but nearly every prison yard boasts scores of inmates that could easily waltz into the first call of a natural bodybuilding show—all built with nothing more than bodyweight training.

SEE ALSO: 15 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Men>>>

Go to your local chain gym and compare the physiques of “gym bros” to gymnasts who train with nothing more than their bodyweight—the gymnasts have more muscle and better symmetry.


“Anything outside of your bodyweight is a luxury,” says iconoclastic Southern California Strength Coach Dr. Rusty Smith. He is 100 percent correct!

Bodyweight exercises have many advantages over traditional exercises like the clichéd dumbbell curl or shiny, chrome machines. For example, bodyweight movements are considered closed kinetic chain exercises. In “gym talk,” a closed kinetic chain exercise is one in which you move, while an open kinetic chain exercise is one in which the weight moves. A bench press is an open kinetic movement because your effort moves the weight (attached to a bar) up and down. A pushup is a closed kinetic movement because your effort moves your body up and down.

Closed kinetic exercises can be more beneficial in terms of results and safety because they build functional strength and are easier on your body. Closed kinetic movements are able to build functional strength because they train the body to move its own weight, a prerequisite for almost any real-world activity, from lifting yourself off your couch, to transitioning into a liver punch.

SEE ALSO: Jailhouse Strong: Pushup Challenge>>>

Closed kinetic exercises are considered safer, because they allow an individual’s body structure to determine the movement pattern of the joints. This allows for a more natural range of motion that may remove excessive stress from the joints and enables the muscles to perform the workout. With this natural range of motion, joints are less likely to be injured and muscles are more likely to grow.

In addition, most bodyweight exercises are classified as compound exercises, which means they are multi-joint movements that work several muscle groups simultaneously. Performing big compound exercises (as opposed to small, isolated movements) can produce big muscles and release a large amount of anabolic hormones.

Even more importantly, bodyweight exercises do not require bulky, expensive gym equipment.

See next page for the 5 ways to overload bodyweight training.

For access to exclusive fitness advice, interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!