Breaking Down Calisthenics VS Weights

woman weightlifting

In the world of fitness, many types of training are widely available. You’re not limited to performing only one category over a period of time. You can mix up your routine by adding different disciplines of training to your weekly routine.

Calisthenics and weightlifting are very different styles of working out. Depending on your goals, one or both of these disciplines could bring you the results you want.

In this post, we’ll answer your burning questions about calisthenics vs weights. Keep reading to find out which is best for you.

What Is the Difference: Calisthenics vs Weight Training?

It’s important that we clearly define the difference between calisthenics and weight training. In this way, you will have a better idea of which route you want to take for your workouts.

Calisthenics uses your body strength and weight to perform exercises. Weight training on the other hand involves weighted equipment, such as barbells or adjustable dumbbells.

Next, we take a look at some common questions asked about weightlifting and calisthenics.

Are calisthenics better than weights?

man doing squats

It depends on you as an individual and your motives behind your workouts.

Calisthenics is a convenient option. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or pay for a gym membership.

With weight training, you will lift weights. You will need to buy weights of different masses and possibly heavy-duty equipment like leg press machines.

Calisthenics can get quite complex as you progress. There are also different styles of calisthenics that you can try.

  • Aesthetic calisthenics
  • Military calisthenics
  • Playground calisthenics

You can find out more about these styles of calisthenics here.

Weight training builds muscle and creates muscle definition. Calisthenics is beneficial for resistance training, weight loss, and also developing core muscles.

As you get stronger and work out for longer, the weighted exercises you perform will feel less difficult. To keep building muscle, you need to keep upping your weights and challenging yourself.

Similarly, you will need to push yourself with calisthenics by progressing in variations, sets, and reps of exercises.

Does calisthenics burn fat (or weightlifting)?

Both calisthenics and weightlifting burn fat.

With weightlifting, muscle is metabolically active and burns calories. Adding muscle mass with lifting enlarges your energy output and raises your metabolic rate. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.

Calisthenics combines strength training with high-intensity cardio spurts. Jump squats and burpees are exercises that increase power and strength while raising your heart rate.

person on a scale

Body fat loss will vary depending on how often you train, what you eat, and how vigorously. You can’t out-train a bad diet so bear that in mind if fat loss is one of your major goals.

Does calisthenics build muscle like lifting weights?

Weightlifting increases your muscle strength and overall muscle mass. It’s exceptionally beneficial for building strength within a specific muscle group through isolation exercises. So, if you’re looking for large biceps and shoulders, weightlifting is a good choice.

With calisthenics, the compound movements performed require body strength. This makes you strong and increases mobility and balance. You can also build muscle, but it is not the major goal.

Calisthenics focuses on progression and variations. Muscle endurance is at the forefront, especially if you advance to higher-level calisthenics exercises.

However, if you add weights and use the proper technique, there is nothing to stop you from increasing your muscle size.

two people working out

Build muscle mass with these calisthenics exercises:

  • Pistol squats
  • Push ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Lunges

Weight lifting exercises to increase muscle growth:

  • Bench press
  • Deadlift
  • Dumbell clean

Side by Side: Calisthenics vs Weightlifting

woman using kettlebell

You can do calisthenics and weightlifting in a single strength training session. It might be a longer session but you would get the benefits of a great calorie burn and improved muscle mass and endurance. You could also perform a weighted calisthenics session for improved muscle growth and strength in less time.

In this way, you will be able to work multiple muscle groups through your strength training workouts. An aerobic exercise circuit could be a great way to start. Play some feel-good music and maybe try some weighted lunges, squats, and leg lifts.

Splitting up your workouts is an option too. You can do weight training and calisthenics sessions on alternate days of the week.

If you do it this way, we can drop the ‘weightlifting vs calisthenics’ argument altogether. It’s very possible to get started with both of them.

Is Calisthenics Strength Training?

Yes, Calisthenics is strength training – also known as resistance training. Its main aim is to use your body weight as resistance to build strength and power.

man doing calisthenics workout

You will need to understand your overall body composition when doing calisthenics strength training. We suggest analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you can pay attention to neglected muscle groups.

Let’s say you have a weaker upper body. Exercises such as negative pushups are great for you to increase upper body power, especially if you find a standard push-up difficult. Whereas pistol squats and dynamic lunges are ideal for you if you have better lower body strength.

Strength training exercises examples:

  • Goblet squats
  • Thruster squats
  • Muscle-ups
  • Plank rows
  • Dumbbell row
  • Glute bridge
  • Hollow body hold
  • Push ups

Calisthenics vs Weights: What’s Best for You?

So, we’ve taken a look at the differences between calisthenics and weights. Calisthenics is great for convenience; you can do it anywhere without equipment. Weightlifting is excellent for muscle growth and increasing muscle mass for specific muscle groups.

man and woman doing home workouts and high fiving

The good news is you don’t have to choose one or the other. If you want to build your overall power, muscle mass, strength, and mobility, you can do both.

Create a routine with weighted calisthenics sessions or alternate between weightlifting and calisthenics on different days. You’ll start seeing results in no time at all.

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