You don’t need to lift free weights to help build muscle, burn fat and lose weight. You have all the equipment you need to build muscle mass — your body.
For cardio lovers, you must do more than cardio exercise to lean and tone your body. Unless your cardio session is “bodyweight exercise cardio,” it doesn’t count as strength exercise.
Just a quick note: You can still lift free weights but it's not required to build the body of your dreams!
In a Mayo Clinic article, “Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier,” it stated that strength training includes bodyweight, resistance tubing, free weights and weight machines.
Bodyweight strength workouts burn fat and allow you to use natural body motions. Your joints don’t take the pounding that heavy weightlifting brings. And you can do these workouts anywhere, which saves you time and money.
Machine workouts do have value for beginners and those undergoing rehabilitation. But, even beginners should not stay with the machines for too long. Machines stabilize your body for you. You need to develop strength that forces your body to stabilize itself. Also, no two people have the same exact motions.
Doing bodyweight strength exercises will give you more calorie burn, more fat burn and will tone your body faster than doing similar exercises on machines. Bodyweight strength exercises allow you to train in all three planes of motion (machines usually limit you to training in one plane of motion--sagittal).
Burn more fat by working large muscle groups, not by working out longer! Compound (multi-joint) bodyweight strength exercises like squats, lunges, step ups, pull-ups, pushups, planks and bridges are great examples. Spend less time on single-joint exercises like calf raises.
An IDEA Health and Fitness Association article, Body-Weight Training Program, by Jason Karp, PhD, stated:
“While free weights and machines can certainly make your clients stronger, they often target muscles rather than movement.