Originally Posted by Jay Guindon
I read an interview with Coach Sommer and he said he's seen gymnasts with no lifting experience lift ridiculous amounts the first time they do. Here is an excerpt
Sommer: Gymnastics training does indeed build incredible strength. For example, I was not a particularly strong gymnast, yet I was able to do a double bodyweight deadlift and weighted chins with almost 50% extra bodyweight on my very first weight training attempts.
One of my studentís, JJ Gregory, far exceeded my own modest accomplishments. On his first day of high school weight lifting, JJ pulled a nearly triple bodyweight deadlift with 400 pounds at a bodyweight of 135 and about 5í3" in height. On another day, he also did an easy weighted chin with 75 pounds
I've also heard Ido Portal talk about this and say that being strong at moving your bodyweight transfers really well to moving external loads, but being strong at moving external loads does not transfer to being good at moving your body weight.
Is this really true? For those of us interested in functional fitness what does this mean? Can we train only gymnastic bodyweight stuff and still be able to lift heavy boxes off the ground (deadlift), put heavy loads on shelves above our heads (shoulder press), and get an 80lb bag of ice melting salt onto our shoulder from the ground (clean)? These seem like things that only weightlifitng can achieve.
Just as important as these things is being able to pull myself up over fences (pull up), get onto a tree branch or onto scaffolding (muscle up), push myself onto a ledge that is chest height (dip) etc. These things are clearly only achievable through gymnastic training as it has been noted numerous times that meatheads have a hard time moving themselves through space.
I've also heard that bodyweight stuff causes less injuries and is better for people who aren't interested in sport as much as health, longevity, and enough functional fitness to easily achieve lifes daily tasks. Having said that, it is very hard to argue that deadlifts, presses and squats, aren't functional because they are the most functional lifts.
Sorry for the long post.
IMO, weights are superior for strength for the lower body. There's no extremely good enough lower body stimulus for strength save sprinting and in most cases it needs to be supplemented by lifting. Plyometrics can do it, but it will take vastly longer. (Most of the good Parkour guys from about 3-5 years ago did not really do much S&C... much more of them now do though)
For upper body I believe, like Ido, that a correctly constructed bodyweight routine is superior to weights for strength. However, that does not mean supplemental weightlifting is detrimental or anything. Being able to master your own body gives huge proprioceptive and neural increases in strength due to odd angle torque in most cases. Much quicker than pure barbell work IMO.
Bodyweight work is not inherently safer -- yes, you can still injure yourself. But it's more likely that it will be from overuse than from say a heavy external load falling on you.
Am writing something on this now btw.