Calisthenics and weightlifting are both forms of strength training. Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a physical activity that uses your muscles against resistance. This makes them stronger and bigger. Moreover, this kind of activity is key to any fitness regimen.

Most of the time, strength training is linked to weightlifting. However, there are so many ways to do it. One of them is using your body weight as resistance, which is also known as calisthenics.

Now, you can mix these two, or do only one of them. But which is better?

Advantages of Calisthenics

When it comes to calisthenics, you will have to use your own body weight in order to do an exercise. That is why you don’t usually need any special equipment. However, you might need a pullup bar for more strength when performing pull ups or other types of calisthenic exercises.

Below are some common bodyweight exercises:

  • Crunches
  • Pullups
  • Pushups
  • Lunges
  • Squats

Convenient and Affordable

Calisthenics usually doesn’t require equipment in order for you to perform the exercises correctly. That is why it is quite convenient and affordable. Moreover, you can do calisthenics as long as you have enough space to move.

Easy to Modify

Calisthenics can be modified easily. However, it might take some practice, creativity, and body awareness. It would help if you learned to understand how your body moves. This is to determine if it is time for you to modify your workout efforts.

For example, you can set your knees on the floor to make pushups a little bit easier. On the other hand, performing push ups using one arm alone would make them more difficult than it already is.

Takes Advantage of Multiple Muscles at Once

One of the major benefits of calisthenics is that it uses compound exercises. That is why multiple muscle groups are worked on all at once. Moreover, this activity needs you to have a high amount of movement. This allows you to burn so many calories even in just a short period.

The result of calisthenics is lower body fat. This also increases your muscle definition. Not only that, but it also gives your body a lean and chiseled look with obvious toned muscles.

Improves Balance, Flexibility, and More

Calisthenics can help enhance the following:

  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility

Advantages of Weightlifting

Unlike calisthenics that uses your own body weight as resistance, weightlifting uses weighted objects instead. By lifting the weights repeatedly, your muscles are challenged. This can be done either by using weights on a machine or free weights. Below are some example of weightlifting moves:

  • Tricep extensions
  • Leg presses
  • Bicep curls
  • Bench presses
  • Shoulder presses

Easy to Progress

Unlike calisthenics, progressing your effort in weightlifting can be straightforward. For example, if you want to make your exercise even challenging, you can simply add weights.

Can Isolate Certain Muscle Groups

When it comes to weightlifting, it is easier to perform isolated exercises. The movements only involve the use of one primary muscle group. This will particularly work against all the resistance. Furthermore, this concentrated or isolated load can make it easier for you to increase a particular muscle group’s size.

Which is Best for Strength Building?

If your goal is to build strength, weightlifting is a great way for you to perform in the long run. With the use of external weights, it would be a lot easier to overload certain muscle groups that promote little tears in the muscle that revitalizes repair. Furthermore, the result would be hypertrophy or muscle growth.

The explanation above doesn’t mean that calisthenics cannot make you strong. The compound and dynamic movement of this activity need an ample amount of strength. Besides that, by using the right technique, you can add more resistance in order to increase your muscle strength and size. However, if you want to build strength in a particular muscle group, weightlifting is still an excellent option.

Which is Best for Burning Calories?

When it comes to burning calories, calisthenics is a very good choice. It helps you lose body fat and weight. This is because it involves many movements that require more energy in your body. In return, your body burns a lot of calories. Furthermore, the more calories you burn, the more you lose weight.

Calisthenics can also be taken advantage of in more vigorous or intense workouts such as circuit training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This adds more movement to your calisthenic routine and even increases your caloric burn.

On the other hand, under weightlifting, energy is not much required. However, it is vital to know that weightlifting can still contribute to your overall weight loss. Moreover, building muscles can help increase your basal metabolic rate or the number of calories you will burn at rest.

What About Combining Calisthenics and Weightlifting?

You can also choose to perform both calisthenics and weightlifting. This makes sense if you want to indulge in the benefits of both activities at the same time. Below are some ways to combine both physical activities:

  • Do both activities on the same day. You may choose to perform a combination of calisthenics and weightlifting exercises in one strength training or resistance training session.
  • Do the activities on alternative days. You have the option to do one method at a time. If you prefer to do so, it would be best to alternate calisthenics and weightlifting throughout your week.

It is essential for you to know that both strength training techniques add resistance to muscles. That is why it is best to avoid overdoing these activities. Furthermore, it is best to add rest days and pay close attention to your body when doing these exercises.

To have guidance as you do these techniques, it would help if you work with a trainer. They can help recommend to you the great combination of exercises for your fitness goals.


Both calisthenics and weightlifting are great strength training techniques. If you find it challenging to choose between calisthenics vs. weightlifting, it would be best to consider your workout style and fitness goals. Calisthenics takes advantage of your bodyweight and includes compound exercises. This requires you to supply a lot of movement, which makes it great for defining your muscles and losing weight.

On the other hand, weightlifting uses external weights such as dumbbells. It includes having isolated exercises that help increase the size of a particular muscle group. Moreover, if weightlifting is done regularly, it helps build strength and increase muscle size.

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