There seems to be a debate among the mixed martial arts camps as to which builds the most strength the fastest: lifting weights, or doing bodyweight exercises? I have done both and talked to some strength coaches and here is some helpful information. Lifting weights will build more muscle faster than bodyweight exercises. When people build a degree of muscle, their ability to do high repetitions of bodyweight exercises decreases.
Say for example that someone can do 15 pull-ups. That person lifts weights, their back strength goes up, and even their bodyweight goes up due to muscle mass increase. Now that person can only do 12 pull-ups. The strength that is necessary to move heavy objects is acquired only by lifting heavy objects. The old time strongmen of 100 years ago lifted heavy weights to acquire their strength. Pushups and pull-ups have their place, and I’m certainly not knocking this type of workout. In fact, I believe that bodyweight exercises should be included in any well-rounded training program.
I spoke to a strength coach at the gym just recently. He is magnificent at bodyweight exercise. I saw him doing several repetitions of one-legged squats with no support. He told me that at my weight (240 pounds) bodyweight exercises are much more difficult than for someone who weighs 160 pounds. He told me that he expected his football players to do at least 6 to 8 pull-ups. That may not seem like much to a lighter trainee, but for someone who weighs over 200 pounds, it is a good workout.
In conclusion, I recommend that you build strength by lifting progressively heavier weights (whether barbells and dumbbells or tire flipping), and you add in pushups, pull-ups, Hindu squats to your routine. As you build strength and even muscle with the heavier loads, don’t get discouraged if your repetitions decrease in your bodyweight exercises. In fact, expect it.