weighted push up with weight plate

The Risk and Benefit of Adding Weight to Body Weight Exercises

In Playground Workouts, Suspension Training, Uncategorizedby Matt

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Yes, it looks impressive but………..

So you’re getting pretty proficient at body weight exercise and you’re thinking of adding a little extra weight to spice things up a bit.

Adding extra wait to body weight exercise is a great way to add intensity to your basic movements.

However there are some serious pros and cons to consider with such an undertaking.

What’s so great about adding weight to exercises like pull ups, lunges and push ups?

Progressing the intensity of calisthenics is done two different ways. You can alter your technique so that more work is performed through a decrease in leverage. While this adds many athletic and functional benefits it does take time and practice to get the technique down.  Until then it can kind of feel awkward in a full body tongue twister sort of way.

The benefit of simply adding weight means that you can quickly and easily increase the intensity of any basic body weight exercise without needing to learn any new techniques. This is why it’s the most common go-to method for many people who seek greater intensity with their exercise. It’s quick, simple and easy.

So what’s not to love?

The risk involved with adding weight to body weight exercise:

The downside of adding weight lifting is that there can be a shift in focus from performing a perfect technique to lifting more weight.

One of the reasons why body weight training can be so effective, is because an improvement in technique usually means a higher quality workout.

However, it’s very easy to fool ourselves once we have an external weight in the picture. Unlike calistehnics, it can be tempting to compromise your technique in order to stoke the ego and lift more weight.

This was certainly my case for a number of years, and every gym is filled with people who are lifting large amounts of weight, but with crappy technique.
If your form on a push up starts to suffer you can feel the quality of the workout drop. However, if you’re focused on the amount of weight you’re lifting it can become very easy to believe that you’re getting stronger as long as you’re lifting more weight regardless of the cost in your technique.

Always remember that no one got stronger by lifting more weight.
The root cause of all increases in strength happen through increasing frequency and intensity and improving the technique. Sacrificing technique to lift more weight doesn’t mean that your strength grows. It just shifts from one area of capability to another.

When you alter your technique to lift more weight you are no longer lifting more weight with the same technique.

For example, lets say you are rocking the push up and you want to add some heavy chain to spice things up a bit. However, in order to handle the load you open your arms a bit and shorten your range of motion. At this point you’re no longer adding weight to your same push up. Now you’re just using a different technique to more more weight.

If lifting more weight is your goal then this is fine. However if building yourself to be stronger and more capable is your goal be on the lookout for any technical erosion when you are lifting more weight with calisthenics

In conclusion always remember that there are many tools and methods for loading extra weight on your bodyweight exercises. You can use hand weights, barbells weight vests, chains, stones, bands, weight belts, sandbags and anything else that is heavy that you can add to your body weight.

Just keep in mind that no matter what tools you use, a little extra weight goes a long way when you’re strict about maintaining your technical proficiency.