Are bodyweight exercises enough to get really fit?

In our own training plans we use a lot of bodyweight exercises. The advantage of these exercises is that they can be easily adjusted to make it easier or harder. Beginners can do almost the same workout as pros and learn movements that build on each other step by step. Additionally, you will gain a better understanding of your body and the interplay of the muscles.

What are bodyweight exercises?

Bodyweight exercises are practically all exercises that use the weight of your own body as resistance. Typical exercises are pull-ups, push-ups, rowing, planks, and squats. Our dynamic and static sling trainer are often an integral part of our workouts because they allow for infinitely variable progressions of individual exercises. The sheer number of exercises and variations in combination with the unrivaled mobility make them the real allrounders of training equipment.

Bodyweight Exercises - Plank on verso360 Frame

Is that enough, though?

There are always those that claim bodyweight exercises are not enough to get you fit and strong. This instantly raises the question what strong and powerful actually is. When you say strong, are you actually just thinking of looking ripped, or do you mean the balance between individual muscle groups? Everybody has probably their own answer to this question but I would go out on a limb here and claim that an overwhelming number of trainees would be optimally challenged with bodyweight exercises. Here are some impressive examples:

Sam Tribble and Team


Ido Portal


Florian Hambüchen


Progressions are key

The examples above show how incredibly powerful you can get with bodyweight training. All of these exercises have one thing in common – they demand numerous progressions and many, many hours of training. Progressions are the key to advance in bodyweight training. To clear this up with an example – pull-ups are too easy for you? Work your way towards an one-armed pull-up:

Doing 100 squats forces nothing but a weary smile from you? Try some progressions towards a single-leg squat. They can be varied pretty good with progressions and regressions.

If all of this is no problem for you you can always do a movement more explosive or very slow. Both will lead to new training impulses and form the base for continuous improvement.

The real ‘problem’ with bodyweight exercises…

… is ones own ego. Sitting in training machines that guide your movements it is much harder to look stupid. Exercises with your own bodyweight, however, are a sudden reality check for your own performance, especially in the beginning. Sling trainers can be a great help here to guarantee an optimal start and make progressions easier and more ‘ego-compliant’. The most important variables here are the angle between your body and the suspension point of the sling trainer and your stance width (wider = easier because of more stability // narrower or single-leg stance = harder). You can learn more about this here.

If you can handle your ego you will benefit from the huge advantages of this training. Realistic movements patterns, that can often be found in your daily life, will be trained and improved. The risk of injury of external weights is eliminated. Endless variations and progressions allow for a varied training program that has more than enough ideas for life. And the best part is – you can do it wherever you are. In the gym, at home, or on vacation!

What does your training look like? Do you implement a lot of bodyweight exercises into your workouts? What exercises do you do? Pull-ups, push-ups, muscle-ups? Let me know in the comments below!

5 replies
  1. Markus Klein
    Markus Klein says:

    Perfektes Timing! Nach dem “Winter des Eisens” hab ich nun wieder vermehrt BW Übungen auf dem Plan. Der Aerosling hängt wieder im heimischen Baum und im Studio gibt es Dips, Pistols und Chins galore! Allein was man sich dabei schon Zeit spart welche sonst für Scheiben stecken oder die Suche nach der gewünschten Hantel draufgeht…

  2. Steffi
    Steffi says:

    Wahre Worte, echt gut geschrieben! Das größte Problem mit Bodyweight Übungen ist das Ego. Weil es eben ein sehr weiter weg bis zu supergeilen Calesthenics Übung ist und man mit einer Einsteigerprogression nicht so schön angeben kann 😀

    Ich liebe Bodyweight Übungen, vor allem mit dem Slingtrainer!

  3. Elmar
    Elmar says:

    @Markus: der Mix macht´s – sehe ich genau so. Du sprichst aber einen echt nicht zu unterschätzenden Punkt an: Scheibenbingo beim Hanteltraining. Da geht wirklich viel Zeit drauf. Bis von September bis November hatte ich ebenfalls eine Eisenzeit eingelegt und die Trainingszeiten sind komplett aus dem Ruder gelaufen. Inzwischen bin ich wieder auf 30-40 Minuten pro Training und da möchte ich auch nicht wirklich drüber.

  4. Elmar
    Elmar says:

    @Steffi: so sieht´s aus. Es ist halt auch schon sehr demotivierend, wenn man sich die Videos anschaut und zum ersten Mal auch nur eine Variante dieser Übungen nachturnen will! Heutzutage erwarten viele eine sofortige Belohnung bzw. sofortigen Erfolg und das können einem Maschinen eher geben. Ob das Sinn macht, ist allerdings eine andere Frage 😉

  5. Benjamin Fuhrmann
    Benjamin Fuhrmann says:

    Ich erfahre das gerade am eigenen Leib, dass Körpergewichtsübungen echt hart für das Ego sein können… Bis zur FIBO “noch schnell” einen Muscle Up lernen ist nicht. Ich muss wohl eher die FIBO 2016 anpeilen. Ich bleibe aber dran!

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