Calisthenics vs the Gym: Which route to take?

Calisthenic athletes and gym goers have been debating with each other for long in determining which is better over the other. While both of these workout methods require completely different approaches, are there any benefits over the other? Can one be substituted with the other? Is calisthenics better than the gym?

We will tackle the answers to all these in this article, to settle which one is the best between the gym and calisthenics. Let’s dive into it!

Pros Of Calisthenics

Here are some reasons why you might want to consider doing more calisthenic exercises

calisthenics vs weights

1. They Are Relatively Safe

When it comes to calisthenics vs weights, use of bodyweight for exercise is considered to be quite safe for everyone irrespective of age and level of fitness. As long as you have the correct form for every exercise, you can do them without the worry of injury.

2. They Are Quite Cheap

Gym equipment can be quite expensive. When working with weights, you will have to buy equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and more. Since calisthenics just require your body weight and gravity, you do not need to spend a dime on and fancy equipment. Also, you end up saving money on a gym membership.

3. Convenience

Most people will do their bodyweight workout from basically anywhere. Be it at a park or at home, you can easily find time to get in a quick workout session. With 30 minutes to spare and some space around you, you can get a full-body workout. You can even get in a quick session during vacation.

4. Balance And Coordination

Since calisthenics require you to be mindful of your body rather than some equipment you are holding, you will end up building better balance and coordination.

5. It Is Easy To Find Simple Workouts

When starting a workout regimen, it can be quite daunting to figure out which workouts to choose. The best thing about calisthenics is that it has multiple easy to follow exercises that result in a workout of more than one muscle group. You can quickly build a fun and simple yet effective routine with a few moves.

6. Compound Workouts

As stated above, bodyweight workouts can easily target multiple muscles in one move. This is beneficial for busy people who would still like a full-body workout but are too busy to dedicate 1 to 2 hours each day.

When it comes to the cons of calisthenics, there seems to be only one. Since you just require body weight, you can not get any more resistance to the workout other than what your body provides you.

Cons of callisthenics

Physical Therapy

If you are suffering from an injury or had surgery, calisthenics will not be the best training for you.

After having knee surgery, it might be impossible to do a bodyweight squat. You may need the assistance of a machine.

Bodyweight exercises are fundamental, but you are still using a lot of weight. Doing a push-up or pull up is challenging when you don’t have enough strength. Add in a shoulder injury, and either exercise will become impossible.

Using a light dumbbell will allow you to isolate a particular muscle group so it can get stronger and heal. Calisthenics uses many muscles, leaving you with less control over your injury.

Difficulty Progressing

When training, the name of the game is progression. The focus of each workout is towards getting you stronger than the last.

However, calisthenics training is difficult to progress quickly. You will build muscle and strength, but will also end up hitting a plateau. Knowing what to do next is challenging.

With weight training, progression is straightforward. The answer is always to add a bit more weight until you cannot increase the weight further. In calisthenics, adjusting your body’s position will increase the difficulty of an exercise.

However, that slight adjustment can make the exercise a lot more difficult. It could be equivalent to adding 20-30 lbs of body weight rather than 2.5-5 lbs extra on the bar.

You may need the help of a professional when it’s time to progress to the next stages in calisthenics.

Benefits of weightlifting 

Weightlifting uses weighted objects as resistance. You repeatedly lift the weight, which challenges your muscles.

This method can be done with free weights or weights on a machine. Examples of weightlifting moves include:

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

Easy to progress

Compared to calisthenics, progressing your effort is more straightforward. For instance, you can simply use a heavier dumbbell to make your workout harder.

Can isolate specific muscle groups

Performing isolated exercises is easier when weightlifting. These movements use just one primary muscle group, which works against all the resistance. This concentrated load can make it easier to increase the size of specific muscle groups.

Weights Are An Investment

If you have the money for it you can buy weights which you can use freely at the comfort of your home.

Access To A Trainer

The best thing about going to the gym is that you are surrounded by multiple trainers and experts at any given time. You can approach them, and they can show you the best way to use these weights and get the most out of them.

Cons Of Weights

1.Higher Risk Of Injury

Without access to a trainer, it is much easier to hurt yourself when using weights. Lack of proper form and added weights can cause serious harm to your muscles.

2. Weight Machines Workout One Muscle Group At A Time

This means that if you are looking to do a full-body workout, you will have to spend an eternity at the gym.

3. Cost

Gym memberships, free weight or machines, and trainers can be quite costly, and not everyone has the luxury to afford them. This could discourage many people from working out.

4. Not As Convenient

To establish a good workout routine and muscle growth, you need to be able to work out easily and from anywhere. If you are used to using weights or going to the gym, some situations can seriously impact your progress. For example, when you go on vacation, finding a gym for a week or two can be quite a hassle, and most people would rather not bother. On the other hand, a pandemic, like the one that the world is currently going through, can seriously affect your access to a gym.

In this instance, benefits of calisthenics vs weights, the latter seems to fall short of calisthenics due to access, costs, convenience, and safety factors.

Which training technique is better for building strength? 

If you want to build strength, weightlifting is the way to go in the long run.

Using external weight makes it easier to overload muscle groups, promoting tiny tears in the muscle that stimulate repair. The result is muscle growth, or hypertrophy, which increases muscle strength.

That’s not to say calisthenics doesn’t make you strong. The dynamic, compound movement of calisthenics requires a great deal of strength. Plus, with the right technique, you can add enough resistance to increase muscle size and strength.

However, if your main goal is to build strength in a specific muscle group, weightlifting is your best choice.

Which training technique is better for burning calories?

Calisthenics is better for burning calories, which in turn may help you lose weight and body fat. That’s because it uses a lot of movement. This requires more energy, which your body gets by burning calories. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose.

Calisthenics can also be used in more vigorous workouts, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or circuit training. This can add even more movement and further increase your caloric burn.

The isolated movements of weightlifting don’t require as much energy. Yet, it’s worth noting that it will still contribute to overall weight loss. Building muscle increases your basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn at rest.

What about combining the two? 

Another option is to combine calisthenics with weightlifting. This is ideal if you want to enjoy the benefits of both techniques at the same time.

There are a couple of ways to combine calisthenics and weightlifting:

Do both techniques on the same day. You can do a combination of calisthenics and weightlifting exercises in a single strength-training session.

Do them on alternative days. If you prefer to focus on one method at a time, try alternating between calisthenics and weightlifting throughout the week.

Remember, both techniques add resistance to your muscles, so it’s important to avoid overdoing it. Be sure to add rest days and pay attention to your body.

Which one proves better?

Both of these workout methods are great in their own perspectives and serve their own niche. If you are looking to isolate your muscle groups and build them, then the gym is your best answer. Calisthenics is great if you are looking to build your overall strength and flexibility as it mostly uses compound movements that targets several muscle groups at the same time. Starting with calisthenic movements and shifting to the gym once you master it is utilising the best of both worlds. Calisthenics helps in building a mind muscle condition which helps greatly once in the gym as you will find it easy to isolate your muscles and build it better!

No matter the preference , calisthenics is vital in the journey of developing s great physique

Ridhiman Das
Ridhiman Das
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