The reason why people get offended when you question their lifting doctrine is the need to associate with it. Admitting that your training method is inferior is like saying that you are ugly. Even if it’s true, we naturally want to lawyer our way out of every situation.
This is why you should be careful when someone is offering you training methods and ideas. Everybody has an agenda. They want you to become a follower and eventually a perpetual client. Since we all need money, this is somewhat justified, but only up to a certain threshold which is often crossed by the gurus.
If you spend a lot of time arguing over things like “barbells vs. bodyweight”, “dumbbells vs. kettlebells”, “low bar squats vs. high bar squats”, you have been brainwashed hard.
Nothing is Perfect
Below I have listed the major downsides of popular muscle building methods.
- Bodyweight exercises cannot replicate full body movements like the deadlift.
There are many advanced bodyweight exercises working the upper body and the core incredibly hard, but replicating movements like the deadlift, the snatch and the overhead squat with bodyweight drills is impossible. Technically, this makes training with weights more efficient.
- People with severe shoulder injuries may find themselves unable to perform many bodyweight exercises.
If you have sensitive shoulders, you will have to be extra careful when doing bodyweight drills. Depending on how severe the problem is, you may have to stay away from many movements.
- The bodyweight world is not very kind to tall people.
The bodyweight world will forever be the kingdom of short dudes. When you are tall, advanced bodyweight exercises become a nightmare. You will feel like a 5’3” guy trying to dunk a basketball. There is a reason why most gymnasts are so short.
- bodyweight exercises often serve as an excuse not to train your legs effectively
The bodyweight crews say that leg training is “extremely” important to them, and yet 99% of the videos showcase upper body work done by people with toothpick legs. If you are lucky, you may get to see high bodyweight squats and/or pistols.
If you want to have strong legs, bodyweight drills are not the perfect choice.
Dumbbell and Barbell training
- Gym membership
When your whole routine revolves around free weights, you cannot train without a gym or proper equipment in your home.
Back in the day, I had to travel 1 hour in both directions to reach an affordable gym. When you have enthusiasm this is not a problem, but eventually, you will realize that diversifying your way of training can save you time – the most precious commodity.
Combining bodyweight training and barbells is one way to achieve this goal.
- Lifting can become boring.
Barbell exercises do not change. You just add more weight. This makes the sport unattractive and repetitive.
- People use barbell training as an excuse to get fat.
Most permabulkers are found in the powerlifting community because heavier people lift heavier weights. The result is a bunch of wannabes who eat at McDonald’s ten times a week just to keep their bench press at 90% of their bodyweight.
- Dumbbells work too
All kettlebell exercises can be done with a dumbbell whether you want to admit it or not. I would even go as far as saying that some actually feel better with a dumbbell. For example, I prefer dumbbell snatches over the kettlebell version.
- Too much hype and propaganda.
The return of the kettlebell was possible thanks to serious propaganda. Kettlebells are effective but neither magical nor irreplaceable.
- Kettlebells force you to stick to high reps.
Eventually, you will be doing 100s of reps per set. This means that kettlebells are not efficient for building absolute strength.
The solution? Just mix it.
The best way to train is to mix everything according to your needs. As Bruce Lee says: “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
Never subscribe completely to any ideology. Tunnel vision is a byproduct of ego thinking and the need to establish your way as the best. Being offended by someone’s statements regarding “your” training methods is the equivalent of fighting over smartphone brands.
To prosper in this lifting game, you need to think in terms of doing instead of owning. You do not own any training methods because they cannot be owned. They are not yours, do not represent who you truly are, and thus, there is no need to get defensive. When choosing a training system, you should try to be objective, and realize that you are allowed to mix things any way you want.