Bodyweight VS Gym Strength (Bench-press Challenge)

For those who didn’t see my previous videos and posts, three weeks ago I joined the gym – dun dun duuun! “What?! But you’re the boydyweight/home-workout dude, aren’t you supposed to be against the gym?!”

(prefer video than reading? click here to watch on Youtube)

Look, I didn’t join the gym because I got bored of my home-workouts or anything like that. Neither am I against the gym as some people might think. What I do believe though, is that having a solid bodyweight routine is key to a long-term fitness lifestyle. Bodyweight-exercises are amazing because you can do them anytime and anywhere – no matter what’s going on in your life. Personally I prefer training at home and now and then switching to a nice park-workout  when its good weather and I have time. But hey, that’s just me… You can be as flexible as you want!

For example, if you’re having days during which you feel like training in a more social environment – you can just go workout at the gym. If you have to train at inconvenient hours, or if you’re not in the mood to pack a big bag and get out of home – you can just do it at your place. If it’s awesome weather and you want to get some sunshine, head out to a nice park!

My point is that where you train isn’t that important. If you want you can mix training at home, at the gym, and outdoors! What matters is how flexible your workout plans is!

The Bench-press challenge (why I joined the gym)

The actual reason I joined the gym was because I wanted to test how much carry-over my “Homemade Muscles” had on weights. The exercise I chose for this experiment was the bench-press. Results? Turns out bodyweight-exercises combined to Mind-to-Muscle-techniques don’t only build relative-strength (strength in relation to one’s bodyweight). They most definitely also build absolute strength! Within 3 workouts I benched 220lbs (100kg) for reps as you can see in the video below! Not bad for someone weighing 159lbs and who hasn’t lifted weights for upper-body strength in almost a decade, right? (I’m curious how much I would bench if I did this challenge after finishing my Superhero Homeworkout last year at a lean bodyweight of 170lbs :/ )

Getting drawn to the dark side…

After benching 220 lbs for reps, I got pretty psyched.  Since improvement comes fast when you’re working on a new exercise, I thought why not go for an even crazier challenge. Why not try to bench-press 300lbs?! Sometimes I can be an extremist and lose track of balance when it comes to training. The dark side of the gym started to attract my ego….  I forgot about all the amazing benefits I’ve reaped physically and mentally from my bodyweight-based training philosophy the last couple of years. Things such as the fact that I haven’t had an injury in two years (ever since  I’ve been combining Mind-to-Muscle techniques with bodyweight exercises). Things such as the fact that I look better and stronger than most of my friends who keep on training at the gym. Things such as I can do Free Handstand Push-ups and other tricks that are way cooler than just lifting a lot of weights.

For the next couple of days I was obsessed over getting my bench-press up. I have a good feeling that I’d be injured by now if I hadn’t snapped out of this mindset after a week. After that, I continued to train for another week at the gym just to observe how people train. As usually, I saw that the majority is detached from their bodies. They just go through the motions, neglecting mind-to-muscle awareness and lacking results. Then again, I also saw some positive things that I hadn’t seen in gyms till now. To my amazement, there are actually groups of people who go to the gym to practice calisthenics!

Getting back to the Homemade Muscle Lifestyle

This challenge was a great opportunity for me in order to remember why I love my Homemade-Muscle fitness-lifestyle so much. It reminded me my true core values and how consistency and mental & physical balance trump superficial ego-driven goals. I don’t know about you, but I want to be that cool fit grandpa that one day that will take his grandkids to the playground and bust cool calisthenic moves with ease. I want my grandkinds to think what a bad-ass gramps they have as they look forward to mimicking me they grow up.

Do not fear my fellow bodyweight and home-workout warriors, I’m not abandoning my path. This experience only made my love for it deeper and stronger.

The force is still strong with this one…

Keep on training!

I don’t know about you, but I think that things like this are a lot more fan and cool then lifting weights!

(Leave a comment on Youtube if you agree!)



Anthony Arvanitakis

Anthony is a motivational personal trainer currently living in Amsterdam, NL. He has a B.Sci in Sports Science and Physical education and is a Bodyweight exercise and mindfulness meditation enthusiast. Learn more about Anthony's story in his recent 5-star book on amazon - Here.