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Reassessing the 'Bodyweight' Exercises


Which, if any, "bodyweight" exercises (pushup, pullup, dip, GHR, hyperextension, etc.) can make you a better squatter, deadlifter, bench presser, overhead presser, etc.? I'm not limiting them to just bodyweight either; strap as much weight to your body as you want while performing them.

Are any bodyweight exercises really that effective at improving one's performance in the big 3? I'm starting to believe that, as useful as these movements can be for improving overall strength and fitness, for reasons I don't understand they do very little to make one a better powerlifter.

It seems like only barbell training renders strength gains that benefit powerlifing. MAYBE GHRs are an exception but I'm not certain. Does anybody else have similar suspicions?


SO you're saying big weights make you a better powerlifter and low resistance body-weight training does not? I know weighted dips and chins make me stronger. Reverse hypers and GHR's help injury prevention and hit the hamstrings differently. Less injuries means more training and, therefore, more progress. I'm not sure what you're getting at here......


Yeah I also love making up stuff that I don't understand...


What in the fuck is this?


Yes.... KK definitely never does pullups or ab rollouts. Very useless exercises.


Carryover from one lift to another depends entirely on the individual. Some thrive on specificity, others benefit from variety. Find out what works for yourself.

This is nonsensical. So you're saying that pullups/dips/hypers are useless but wrist curls will help your total simply because you're using a barbell?


In the slim chance you're not trolling, you are dead wrong. Bodyweight exercises are very useful for powerlifters especially when weighted.




Wrist curls? No. I hope you're just being daft here. By barbell exercises I mean multi-joint, full body stuff: sq/dl variations, rows, upper body presses at all angles, etc. Are you saying you have never noticed a discrepancy in certain people between what they can do with their bodyweight vs what they can do with an equivalent weight loaded on a barbell? For example, I can strap 100 lbs on my waist and do 10 full range of motion dips no problem. There is no way I could do 10 reps of my bodyweight plus 100 lbs loaded on a barbell in the bench. I know it's 2 different exercises but the difference in weight that can be lifted between the two is telling. I could devote myself forever to trying to perform dips and pullups and whatever else with more and more added weight but it would not result in bigger numbers in the powerlifts but rather in bigger numbers in dips and pullups. Bodyweight exercises don't seem to have much carryover to the powerlifts, that's all I'm saying. They may make you strong in a certain respect but not necessarily a more successful powerlifter. It's fine if you want to disagree but I'm certain there are quite a few lifters out there who have come to the same conclusion.

By the way, I still do bodyweight exercises every week because I love them and they definitely have their place in anybody's program who is interested in overall strength. I've just realized after many years of doing it all that they probably won't make you a better powerlifter.


Out of curiosity, what are your lifts? Weight?


Not that this necessarily means anything, but I've seen a few big benchers who also do dips with a shit ton of extra weight.


No, training the big 3 renders TECHNICAL gains that benefit powerlifting. Anything else is assistance to build your lifts and the muscle that will support them. How you decide to build them should be dependent on what has been shown to work for you. You'll never know what works for you if you don't try different stuff. Use a little bit of common sense though. Obviously 200 pushups =/= 400 bench.


For a beginner everything works, as you probably know. A powerlifter with ~5 years or less experience can and should most definitely build his strength base by performing bodyweight exercises (+ added weight). Obviously this will carry over to his achieving bigger numbers in the powerlifts. However it seems to me that as a powerlifter progresses in his development he will derive less and less carryover to the powerlifts from his bodyweight exercises (+ added weight). I'm astounded nobody here has experienced this, if not observed it in others. Surely there are people here who qualify as "seasoned" lifters, aren't there?


I don't doubt this for a second, but I submit to you that the big bench is more likely what enables the heavy dips, not the other way around.


My best powerlifts, which were far from world class, were 310 bench, 440 squat, 550 dl @185 lbs. They were done raw and drug free obviously. No wraps or belts of any kind, just chalk.

Why do you accuse me of trolling, whatever that means? It doesn't seem very complimentary.


I'm not sure why people are being so hard on you. You asked a good question and it's one I've been curious about in the past. You could have worded it better but I definitely don't think you're trolling.


lol you have not been around the internet much if you dont know what trolling means.

Reason I ask is I was curious as to how developed you were that bodyweight lifts were no longer helping you.

I think the problem here is partially the way you worded your question, and partially the point you are tryin to make. You state that you can put chains on your back and do bodyweight dips, but you cant add chains to your bodyweight on the bench and do the same amount of reps. Frankly, its not even close to the same thing. Your entire bodyweight is not being used when doing dips, while on the bench you are (should you add your bodyweight to the bar).

Pullups, dips, etc are all very beneficial to powerlifting NOT because they directly add weight to the bar BUT because they strengthen the muscles that perform the powerlifts AND they can add literal size and train your endurance, both of which lead to larger lifts on the Big 3.

For example, in his powerlifting days, Matt Kroc consistently used pullups, both bodyweight and with added weight to consistently make his back stronger and therefore his bench consistently bigger. I would say he is a seasoned lifter.

FTR - Best all time lifts - 700lb squat, 455lb bench, and 655lb deadlift, all single ply


Definitely surprising to see you get jumped on like this. Most of the powerlifting world (particularly outside the U.S.) agrees with you.

Interesting exercise: Find a list of IPF world champions through the years. Focus on the last ten years or so, and take a look at the flags next to the names. You will basically see two flags completely dominating. Why is it relevant? Because the methodologies most of these lifters used were derived primarily from weightlifting without the influence of bodybuilding and its random acts of variety.


I attribute most of my bench gains from 365-405 to a fuck ton of dips and pull ups. If you're a 250lb gentleman your bodyweight exercises offer enough resistance on pull ups and dips to provide real difficulty and real growth.

It's very largely bodyweight dependent and I will add that personally I've always found weighted pull ups when I was at lighter bodyweights less difficult than pull ups at heavier bodyweights even though I was stronger on every rowing exercise by a substantial amount at the heavier weights.

I'll also say if you can do real handstand push ups they are a cruel way to increase your overhead strength and again are made in my opinion proportionately harder. I also found handstand push ups to give me a better sense of stability and control on almost everything in fact I don't remember why I stopped doing them.

For perspective think about how few bodybuilders over 280 can do pull ups.
Now think about Konstantinovs doing 55 pull ups at 280 and being one of the most horrifically strong people to ever live.


Hmmm you definitely missed my point. The experience of the lifter is irrelevant to what I stated. CG bench is my best indicator for bench and weighted dips build up my chest, triceps, and delts to make my bench stronger. Why would something stop working for you simply because you got stronger? Something that gives you gains as a noob =/= something that works for you.