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episode #327

New Study: Is Bodyweight or Free Weight Training Better?

February 5, 2024 in Podcast


I recently reviewed a study (PMID = 37133323), where researchers put middle-aged non-resistance-trained subjects on one of the following two workouts (BODYWEIGHT Resistance Program and FREE Weight Program) to see which performed the best for 8 weeks.

  • MRI used to measure muscle cross-sectional area before and after for the four quadriceps muscles
  • The bodyweight group increased quadriceps size by 3.6% over 8 weeks
  • The free weight group increased quadriceps size more at 6.3% over the same period
The study shows bodyweight training provides some muscle growth in beginners over this 8 week span. However, free weight training optimized hypertrophy more than just bodyweight exercises did but both can be effective depending on the experience of the individual.


Ogawa M, Hashimoto Y, Mochizuki Y, Inoguchi T, Kouzuma A, Deguchi M, Saito M, Homma H, Kikuchi N, Okamoto T. Effects of free weight and body mass-based resistance training on thigh muscle size, strength and intramuscular fat in healthy young and middle-aged individuals. Exp Physiol. 2023 Jul;108(7):975-985. doi: 10.1113/EP090655. Epub 2023 May 3.

Brian (1s):

Hello and welcome to the GETLEAN and Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn. I'm a certified health coach, trainer and author, and this podcast is for middle aged men and women looking to optimize their health and get their bodies back to what it once was 10 to 15 years ago. I will give you simple, actionable items to get long term sustainable results. Thanks for listening and enjoy the show. All, right Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn. I hope you had a great weekend and hopefully you had some chance to listen to my interview with Ian Clark.

Brian (42s):

He's the CEO of activation products. He's developed some really cool protocols and products around natural healing. He was actually pretty much on his be dead terminal illness age of 46 And. now he's thriving at the age of 66 So. we touched on some of the great products that he's developed and come out with one of 'em. Marine phytoplankton, we got into unrefined sea salt and much, much more. So if you haven't checked it out, it's worth a listen. My interview with Ian Clark, that's episode 3 26. Now in today's micro podcast, I wanted to get into a study that is, I think would be relevant for everybody. It's comparing the effects of free weights versus body mass based resistance training.

Brian (1m 26s):

And let me just share it with you real quick if you're watching on YouTube. There we go. So really cool study done recently, may of 2023, actually, yeah, may of 2023, excuse me. The Effects of free weight and body mass based resistance training on thigh muscle size strength in, in intramuscular fat in healthy young and middle aged individuals. And the question around it was, how do you know? How do you build muscle? Can you build muscle with doing bodyweight exercises compared to Resistance TRA training with free weights? And they did an eight week comparison measuring the quads.

Brian (2m 9s):

And I thought it wa the conclusions was pretty interesting because, you know, a lot of people think, and I'll stop sharing, but I definitely will put a link in the show notes if you wanna read more. I'm just gonna give you the highlights. But you know, a lot of people wonder, well, can you build muscle doing a BODYWEIGHT resistance program versus like a free weight program where you would probably do that maybe in the gym if you have no weights at home and you can build muscle. In this study alone, the researchers measured muscle hypertrophy at the beginning of the study, and then after eight weeks of training, they measured the muscle cross-sectional areas of the quads, the four quad muscles. At the end of the eight week study, the Bodyweight only resistance training group increased the size of their quads by 3.6%.

Brian (2m 53s):

That's a decent amount over eight weeks in compare. In comparison, the free weight resistance training group increased their quads by 6.3%. So I think the takeaway message is, yes, you can build muscle both using free weights and bodyweight. You have to make sure that obviously, you know, you're getting enough stimulus on the muscle. So if it's someone that's maybe a little bit more of an experience lifter, a BODYWEIGHT program might not work for them. But for someone that's starting out or maybe just a year or two into their, their lifting journey, I think a bodyweight only resistance training program can be effective. It's easy to do at home. You sort of get the excuses out of the way.

Brian (3m 35s):

And so, yeah, I think definitely worth a try if you've, if you've not done it, one of the things that I've included with my book, the Stepladder system, is I have a bodyweight Build Your Muscle in Your Basement Companion Guide that I sell alongside the book. So if you do purchase the book, you can also purchase this build Muscle in your basement guide that I put all a bunch of videos on And what to do. So check that out if you haven't already. But you know, I think the take home, take home message is this, if you're experienced, you might have to add some more resistance and some weights to the, to the equation. But if you're just starting out, you can build muscle doing a Bodyweight Resistance program.

Brian (4m 20s):

And if you're probably thinking, well, how can I sort of gauge that? Well, I've talked about it before, but you can do a DEXA scan and it'll measure your quad, your quad length, or excuse me, your quad circumference and your muscle mass within each body part. And then you can sort of see how you've grown, see if it's effective. So I'm all about self experimentation and if you, if, if doing a bodyweight program and outta your house takes the excuses out, I'm all for it. So, pretty cool study. I'll leave a link in the show notes and if you have any questions, you can email me, Brian at Brian Gryn dot com. Have a great rest of the week. And if you did wanna check out the Stepladder system, my book, just go to Brian Gryn dot com and you can click on the link there and check that out.

Brian (5m 5s):

And I, I do have a sort of an at home bodyweight program with some minimal weights involved that you know you can do do in your basement. So that's all I got for you today. I appreciate you listening. If you do love it, love the podcast, feel free to leave a review and yeah, have a great rest of the week. The sun is finally coming out in Chicago. What do you, what do you know? So I appreciate it. Have a great day and I will talk to you on Friday with another great interview. Thanks for listening to the GETLEAN E Clean podcast. I understand there are millions of other Podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes at Brian Gryn dot com for everything that was mentioned in this episode.

Brian (5m 50s):

Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again and have a great day.

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