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Weights vs Calisthenics: Which Is Better? 

by Sally Aquire
March 4th 2022
Man doing calisthenics outside on a rcok with a sunset in the background

Are you wondering whether it’s better to do weight training or a calisthenics workout? Both are forms of resistance/strength training, which can keep your muscles and bones strong and healthy as you get older and improve your metabolism. Beyond that, they have their own pros and cons and this can influence which will work better for your fitness goals. 


What Is Calisthenics?

No doubt you’ve engaged in calistenics exercises a lot, probably without even realising it. Pushups, lunges, squats, chin-ups and situps are all examples. Like weight training, calisthenics is technically a type of strength training.


Benefits of Calisthenics

If you’re wondering whether to do more calisthenics exercises, here are some of the benefits:


Because you’re only using your bodyweight, calisthenics exercises are very easy to do wherever you are.  As long as you have enough space to do the exercises, you’re good to go.


What do you need in terms of calisthenics equipment? This is the great thing about calisthenics – you can do it without any equipment whatsoever. This is a big plus point compared to weight training, which often needs gym equipment.

Improves balance

Using your bodyweight means that calisthenics exercises can improve your balance and coordination.

Can work multiple muscle groups at the same time

Calisthenics exercises can work several muscle groups simultaneously so it’s great for a full-body workout. This can burn more calories and increase muscle definition.

Less chance of injury

One of the downsides of weight training is the potential to injure yourself if your form isn’t right. Calisthenics is generally less risky and can be done by almost anyone, but you still need to have the right form.


Calisthenics for Beginners 

Not sure where to start with calisthenics?

Try these exercises to get you started:

  • Walking lunges
  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Burpees
  • Crunches
  • Mountain climbers
  • Box jumps


Benefits of Weight Training

Weight training has several benefits and they’re not solely linked to muscle growth:

Isolates muscle groups

Weight training targets one muscle group at a time. This is great if you want to focus on building muscle in certain parts of your body.

Builds muscle

If you’re looking to build muscle, it’s hard to beat weight training. When you’re lighting weights, your muscles become damaged, break down and have to repair themselves. It’s this process that leads to muscle growth.

Easier to see your progress

The progress made in weight training is much more obvious compared to calisthenics. You know when your lifting is progressing as you’ll be able to lift heavier weights. There’s no ceiling for how far you can go whereas you can hit a plateau with calisthenics as there’s only so much resistance you can create from your own body weight.

Keeps your metabolism higher for longer

Weight training can be surprisingly good for burning fat. Muscle growth can increase your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn while you’re at rest), which means you can keep burning calories after you’ve finished your weight training workout.


Calisthenics Vs Weight Training 

Weight training usually uses free weights or weight machines. These create external resistance and help to build stronger muscles. The amount that you can lift isn’t tied to your bodyweight.

Calisthenics is very different. There’s no equipment involved and it’s also known as bodyweight training as it’s your body that creates resistance. You’re using your body strength to do this rather than using equipment to create resistance.

Which one is better? That depends on your aims. If you want to get fitter and a little bit stronger too, calisthenics can work well. But if building muscle is your biggest goal, weight lifting is your friend.

It’s not necessarily a choice between the two. It’s possible to combine them through weighted calisthenics, especially if you want the benefits of calisthenics with added muscle definition.

by Sally Aquire

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