I went through a period in my 30’s where I really focused on achieving tough bodyweight moves: muscle ups, one arm push ups, hand stand push ups, pistol squats, L-sits, front levers. My workouts were designed around these moves, and I was very much into the belief that this was superior than those who did barbell-centric routines.
-Working out that way is probably more CNS draining than heavy barbell lifting, as it’s simply tough to mentally get yourself up for performing these moves each workout.
-You can get very strong (at least relative strength but also total strength) from doing these moves. It takes a lot of strength to superset 1 arm push ups with muscle ups. That said, my barbell numbers never came close to some members on this forum.
-You still put quite a bit of strain on your joints. I would say I worked around nagging injuries about the same amount of time as when I did more traditional lifting.
-It’s great for natural “weight control” and aesthetics, as you simply won’t be bulking up much if you’re progressing on moves that involve moving your own body.
My longer term plan is to keep with a 531 program most of the time (these fit me well), but also rotate out each big barbell lift every couple of months. For me, this seems more important with the upper body pressing, where if I bench or OHP too long I tend to get impingement. I have found using weighted dips works well as a BP substitute, and for shoulders sometimes I just focus on plate raises and rear delt raises if I feel impingement.
Interesting to hear others’ experiences!