Article The forgotten art of bodyweight training - why we should train with the best tool mother nature gave us: our bodies 14 2013 Life coaching Health coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub

The Negative Impacts of Weight Lifting Versus Bodyweight Training

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Bodyweight training is what nature intended


There was a time when the sheer awe-inspiring potential of bodyweight training was well know and discussed in many circles. The recognized term for training using only your body weight as resistance was known as 'Calisthenics.'

The ability of bodyweight to sculpt men into the epitome of pure, raw strength and pack on fantastic amounts of powerful muscle mass wowed the masses, showcased by the leading strong-men of the time, in an era when performance enhancing substances were virtually unheard of.

Sadly though, times have changed. The art of old-school calisthenics is an endangered species, edging closer to the brink of extinction, being drowned out by the emergence of fancy new machines, and the misconception that lifting barbells and using dumbbells is the only way to get big and strong. The fitness industry, as we know it today, has fooled the population.

To understand the principle of bodyweight training is to see weight lifting for what it really is, with all its ugly truths and blemishes.

There is no doubt that lifting barbells and dumbbells effectively can provoke the building of muscle mass. You can certainly get to a very respectable size too, this much is true. But how often do you hear about the negative impact weight-lifting has on the body? I would wager 'not very often'. The fitness industry of today will not tell you this but I will gladly enlighten you.



See weight lifting is largely unnatural, and when you execute 'big' lifts, such as the bench press or the bent over row, you force the body to move in mostly unnatural ways.

Each and every rep you perform applies crushing pressure, and this mammoth pressure goes straight to the ligaments, joints and tendons. Your body is not designed to cope with this stress and, as I have witnessed so many times before, if you continue to subject your body to this punishment, you will eventually inflict enough damage to cause injury.

Trying to find a man dedicated to the iron who doesn't have some sort of injury is a challenge. Professional body building may be steeped in acclaim but these muscle-bound freaks, who pump performance enhancing drugs into their system, are merely unnatural, walking bill boards, advertising the inescapable downsides of weight lifting.

The massive poundages they shift completely obliterate the very parts of the body they should be fortifying – the spinal erectors, the rotator cuffs and the wrists and elbows, to name a few. Sure, so they look good on stage, but you don't see the cortisone injections or the physio, and if you could see the condition of their joints and tendons or deep muscle tissue, you would likely be horrified. We only get one body, and everyday millions of people shoot it to pieces.

None are exempt from the inevitability of lifting weights in the above manner – injury is a surety, a complete certainty – or better put – injury is a bi-product of weight training.

Read that again – injury is a guaranteed bi-product of weight training. Those with good form and those with poor technique are all in the same boat – some just reach injury quicker than others. So why do people do this to themselves day after day? The answer is simple – the giants of the fitness industry tell them too.


But what if there was a way to pack on muscle mass and develop true strength, the sort of strength that is rarely witnessed in a gym? What if there were a way to do this and actually fortify the ligaments, joints and tendons in the process?

There is, of course there is – bodyweight training fit the bill. A trainer in a gym will never tell you this and this is because you can train in the art of calisthenics with virtually no equipment, which means no membership fees for them. It therefore makes perfect sense that such an effective and powerful training principle would be hidden from you.

Mother nature never intended for us to lift weights in this manner. The goal of a body builder is to place as much stress upon a particular muscle group as possible but this actually causes the muscles to adjust much more quickly than the joints.

The more muscular and stronger a body builder becomes, the more the potential for injury and ailments such as tendonitis and arthritis increases.

  • Bodyweight training allows the body to work in synergy, just as mother nature desired, and this in turn develops the muscles and joints together, in proportion.
  • Bodyweight training is progress and efficiency without the inevitable injury. 
  • Bodyweight training encourages many muscles in the body to work together, unlike the isolation techniques often employed by body builders.

It therefore stands to reason that a person seeking to pack on slabs of muscle would welcome the opportunity to target multiple muscles at once. Again, sadly, the world of body building preaches otherwise, and this is because it is flawed.


The art of bodyweight training has so much to offer those with an open mind, and its potential to transform is truly awe inspiring. It was good enough for the Spartans and they certainly didn't have nautilus machines or barbells.

Your body will thank you for it, and if you stay dedicated, you will build terrifying strength that most cannot match. Impressive muscle mass will be yours, and weak or weakened body parts like the knees and spine, for example, will become incredibly strong.

With these benefits, and the fact that weight training is essentially a game of Russian-roulette with your joints, my money is clearly on bodyweight training.


I hope this has provoked some deep though in the minds of those who weight train or are thinking of doing so. I'll delve deeper into this fascinating art as time goes by. Thanks guys.

Check out my other articles about health and fitness:

Cheat Day Diet Tricks

Best Fat Loss Supplements for your Health Goals

Interval Sports Training

Is Walking Good for Weight Loss?

How to Find True Happiness in Life

Photo Credit : Nhan Khuong


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  • Lynna
    May 23, 2014

    Great point and great article. Weigh-lifting is not a natural movement for the body. I've been saying this for years about running; running is not natural for the body but walking is. Thank you for thinking outside the commercialism and greed "box."

  • hello
    June 10, 2014

    I disagree with much of this article. There are several exercises for which the body weight version of a motion is more dangerous than the equipment assisted version. There are two reasons for this, odd body positions and lack of ability to fine-tune resistance. Also, there are several muscle groups for which there is no body weight exercise. Examples would be the biceps and shoulders to name just a few. I am a fan of body weight exercises in general but weights do have their place in a comprehensive workout program. Also, many physical therapy exercises would be impossible with body weight alone.

  • Jerry Cinnamon
    September 03, 2014

    @ Lynna. Thanks for your response, it was nice to read. I'm glad you enjoyed the content and I hope any training or activities you may be doing are going well for you. My pleasure Lynna.

  • Jerry Cinnamon
    September 03, 2014

    @Hello. Thanks for the feedback Hello. I fully appreciate that there are many conflicting views regarding a multitude of different aspects of training, and in this case body-weight training of course. I've found through years of personal training and performing my own routines that no orthodox body-weight movement, intended for the purpose of training and exercise, is dangerous if executed in the correct manner with proper form and awareness.

    Can I ask which exercises you are referring to there please? Regarding not being able to fine-tune the resistance, I can see exactly where you are coming from here, however the purpose of body-weight training is to use mother natures best tool - the body - which therefore negates the need for resistance machines and equipment. Wrist and ankles weights can be utilized to up the difficulty but this is something I don't advocate when training clients.

    Now while my prescribed training routines require absolutely no equipment, body weight exercises such as pull ups place a great deal of emphasis on the biceps, although with a little imagination they can be performed in many places. The humble press up is a massively underrated exercise but, if executed properly, hits the majority of the entire body, from the chest and shoulders right down to even the muscles in the shins. A more advanced exercise to directly target the shoulders would be the likes of a hand stand shoulder press, but for those just embarking on a fitness regime, the press up is more than adequate in my professional experience.

    Regarding your last points, it's never my intention to discourage people from training with the likes of dumbbells, barbells, and so on, and I will never say that the correct implementation of a weight training routine and good nutrition will not yield increased strength and muscle mass. It's only my intention to highlight that the body is not naturally equipped to deal with the prolonged stresses of weight lifting and will eventually become injured if subjected to this sort of punishment for long enough. Using only the body to train promotes the strengthening of joints, tendons and ligaments, can increase muscle strength and mass and lead to fat loss. Training with weights does bring most of these benefits to the table but it actually degrades the joints, tendons and ligaments and makes them more susceptible to damage.

    Regarding the use of body weight exercises during therapy, this is outside of my field of knowledge so sadly I can't comment on that.

    It's always great to share opinions and experience - this is how I've done most of my learning after all - so I'm always happy to hear from anyone who wants to contribute. I'd love to hear more about your approach to training Hello and if you have any questions or comments feel free to get in touch. Thanks again guys.

    Thank you both for your comments.

  • planepilot
    August 25, 2016

    great article

  • Allison
    January 18, 2017

    Where are your resources for your claims about weight training? Any research articles you have read that show negative effects of resistance training? Certainly if you are doing lifts incorrectly and not giving your body the appropriate amount of rest you can suffer an injury or go into a state of overtraining, but overall your claims are erroneous. Weight lifting increases bone mineral density and slows the effects of sarcopenia--both incredibly important for aging populations. You want to talk about obliterating a rotator cuff? Try never doing any strengthening exercises for those muscles and see how long they last.

  • Greg
    July 17, 2017

    In a few words....lifting weights is a shortcut(more accurately an easily understandable and executable method) for building muscles which created by human beings just like creating vehicles for day to day transportation needs regardless of our body's natural mode of locomotion. So, it is more for convenience and less for health and accepted by us because of the former. In my case, I go for lifting weights only twice a week that too in moderation because it more convenient to burn calories in short period of time...but I mostly do calisthenics because I feel like doing it and believe me calisthenics progressions are the fun also helped me to increase my skills in Aikido training and athletics

  • bob m
    September 13, 2017

    I agree with this article. Having trained with weights my entire life, 40+ years, I've seen what the effects have been on my body. Conversely, I've seen that body weight exercises have challenged me in more ways than I give credit. To this day, I struggle to do more than 5-6 clean pull-ups (no cheating) even though I can deadlift 300 pounds or clean and jerk 135. I'm 55, 175. These are not my max lifts. I used to deadlift 475. I have chronic arthritis in my shoulders, osteoarthritis in my back, and L3/L4 issues. Weightlifting makes me walk like a robot and tightens my hips. I did Jiu jitsu for a couple of years and realized the importance of body weight strength, agility and flexibility. I had to quit Jiu jitsu due to other reasons and my back went to hell.

  • Denial Smith
    February 06, 2019

    Thank you very much for your great article. You are right, in fact, working with your weight you can do much more for your body than with weights. As for health, to deal with their weight will be much better than to drag a big pile of iron.

  • David
    June 06, 2020

    Nice article it was eye opening

  • The Chosen One
    September 30, 2020

    This article is correct and as a bodybuilder its more to this than just muscle mass and strength..When your work muscles , you body drains all your resources to repair and build that muscle like blood, sugar, hormones , enzymes and etc..I almost became a diabetic because your muscles can also drain the pancreas from insulin to your muscles too instead of help digesting the foods you eat for energy ...I had mild nerve pains at times but when i stopped the weights, i healed up all over the body ...When you see most bodybuilders with health issues and competition issues with passing out on stage , now you know why ..Crossfit and body weight training is really the best way to go..If you wanna get fit and defined , train body weight training like football players and crossfit ..

  • michael
    June 01, 2021

    This article is basically just one big fallacious appeal to nature with no actual evidence to back up its claims that are disagreeing with the overwhelming body of research. You can just look at the rates of injury in strength sports like weightlifting and powerlifting and compare them to the much higher injury rates of other sports like basketball ball where the forces acting upon the players are almost entirely from their own body weight

  • Mariah Carey
    April 19, 2023

    While weightlifting has its benefits, it is important to acknowledge that improper form or overexertion can lead to injuries. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified trainer or medical professional before starting any exercise program to ensure safety and effectiveness.

  • Blake Red Elk
    August 21, 2023

    Basketball players are a terrible comparison they're high impact sport from al the jumping repetitively on a court that is a hard unnatural surface.The magic in bodyweight movement is it's close chain w full body synergy. But, you still have to move properly or its just as injurious as free weight/ machines are that unnatural and sometimes not proper for your anatomy and altogether with setup/complicated form leave much more room for error.


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