If you want to pack on muscular size and strength, it can be tempting to head straight for the weights and do compound lifts such as bench presses and squats rather than press-ups, lunges and other body weight exercises. There's a common assumption that body weight moves are too easy to be effective in building muscle, whereas heavy lifts break down the most fibers in your muscles, shocking them into growing back bigger and stronger. While body weight training does have its limitations - it can't effectively target your back and biceps, for instance - it offers many more benefits beyond the fact that you can do it anywhere, at any time. These moves can reduce your risk of injury, are a perfect way to warm up and can actually improve your ability to go heavier when hitting the weights.
Body weight moves are great for people who don't have a gym membership or access to kit. They are especially beneficial to beginners whose own weight is a sufficient stimulus to improve muscular size and strength. For beginners their own weight provides the right level of resistance and poses less of an injury risk: it's hard to get the form wrong, unlike lifting weights, which can be dangerous without correct form.' Body weight training can also help injury-proof more advanced trainers. Because they are compound moves that involve more than one joint movement, these exercises recruit all your small, stabilizing muscles. Press-ups are great for improving the stability of the typically delicate shoulder joints.
Ego prevents many gym-goers from doing body weight moves because they don't get you the bragging rights like a new bench press or deadlift one-rep max does. But if you are training to build muscular endurance as well as power, body weight training is ideal. That's why combat athletes are some of the biggest advocates. Although favored by fighters, body weight training has huge transferable benefits for all sports in which you need to move your body powerfully and efficiently. They are also great as a warm-up before bigger lifts, or during interval runs - sprint for 20m before doing press -ups or squats. And do them immediately after a set with weights to crank out a few more reps to really fatigue your muscles. In fact, making bodyweight training a core part of your regime could even lead to lifting heavier weights.
Although body weight moves have plenty of benefits, for bigger and stronger muscles you need to lift weights. Once your muscles can lift your own weight comfortably, you will stop making strength gain. Once you can do 20 controlled press-ups, you need to increase the load for increased strength. That's not to say that a session doing bodyweight moves is an easy session. You can make most kit-free moves harder. For example, putting your feet on a chair increases the amount of weight your upper chest and shoulders must move during a press-up. You can also work your shoulders incredibly hard by doing handstand press-ups, while single-leg pistols are far harder than standard squats. But they are still no substitute to heavy weights if you want to add size.
The big problem with bodyweight training is that it is impossible to effectively target your back and biceps. This, and the limitation on how much you can ever lift, makes kit-free moves unpopular with gym-goers who want to pack on size by isolating each muscle and developing it to its maximum potential. To develop a muscle fully you need to target your muscles from many different angles and through their full range of motion .which is only possible with free weights, machines and other special kits.