Lifting free weights isn’t the only way to build muscle size and strength. To give you more options for mixing up your routine, consider the findings of a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that compared training with free weights to a variety of body weight exercises.

Ten college aged males with weight room experience performed 3 sets of 10 reps using 75% of their one rep max. On separate occasions they also did 3 sets of push-ups for 20 reps on the floor and also an exercise ball. Then these subjects combined push-ups with burpees and lateral crawling. Another circuit involved 3 half-minute bouts of rope battling and planks. The rest interval for all protocols was 2 minutes.

Oxygen consumption was greatest for rope battling and burpees. There were no differences between push-ups on the floor or an exercise ball, but adding the crawling element significantly increased metabolic demands. Planks were the easiest exercise to perform and the most challenging free weight movements were squats, lunges and deadlifts.

True Strength Moment: Switch up your stale routine by substituting some lifts for rope work and bodyweight exercises. Depending on how you plan it out, there’s a potential for concurrent training in this versatile group of options.

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