When you are new to working out, it can be difficult to figure out which exercise program and method will work best for you so you can achieve maximum results. One of the most basic decisions you will need to make is: calisthenics vs weights for bodybuilding.
In this blog post, I am going to break down the differences between the two, so you can determine which is the best option for you based on your lifestyle and fitness goals.
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The Difference Between Calisthenics vs Weights
While both are forms of strength training, calisthenics are exercises that use just your bodyweight, while weight training uses external resistance.
With calisthenics, you generally don’t need any equipment or devices with the exception of a pull-up bar that’s easy to install and use.
Examples of calisthenics, or body weight exercises, are:
Weight training exercises include:
- Bench presses
- Bicep curls
- Overhead presses
It should be noted that there are some calisthenics exercises that you can’t simulate with weight lifting, and vice versa.
6 Awesome Benefits of Calisthenics
- Since calisthenics involve lifting, lunging, pulling, and pushing movements with little or no equipment, one of the best things about this form of exercise is that you can workout anywhere. You don’t have to go to the gym to get your workout in. Instead, you can easily work up a sweat at home, at the park, or in your office.
- When you are traveling for work or play, you can easily perform many of the movements in a hotel room or at a campsite.
- Getting started with calisthenics is also extremely easy. You don’t have to sign up for a gym membership or buy an expensive set of weights and equipment. Instead, you can start by doing some push-ups, planks, and sit-ups when you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night.
- When it comes to physical endurance, calisthenics are great because these movements aren’t about exercising to the point of exhaustion. Instead, the focus is building your core and strength. Holding a plank for two-minutes will do more for your endurance than lifting weights.
- Calisthenics help you strengthen your entire body, and they also contribute to developing physical coordination and movement control. These exercises will engage your motor reflexes of the brain, and ultimately, that will boost your functional strength.
- Calisthenics require more stabilizers. If your goal is to improve your balance, posture, and stability, calisthenics can access these kinds of muscles more efficiently than weight training.
2 Reasons Against Calisthenics
As for the negatives of calisthenics, here are a couple quick ones.
- It’s much more difficult to train specific muscle groups instead of your body as a whole. Trying to isolate tiny muscles becomes a challenge since most calisthenic movements requires that you work your body as a unit.
- Calisthenics build mass slowly. Most guys who train with calisthenics have a fairly lean and limber look. This is because calisthenic movements are somewhat difficult for creating a mass-building program. This is often better suited for weight programs.
4 Undeniable Benefits of Weight Training
- If you want to strengthen your muscles quickly and dramatically, weightlifting is by far your best option. There are so many exercises and machines created around the idea of training with weights that building muscle using this method has become very simpler in recent decades.
- No matter if you use free weights or weight machines, you will see amazing results because you can change the resistance and train specific muscles. Unlike calisthenics, muscle isolation and varying your training resistance is made much easier.
- It’s easier to tracking your progress. What’s good about weight training is resistance and weights are categorized and tracked by actual numbers unlike calisthenics. Many times with calisthenics, the only progress indicators you have are volume and body measurements.
- It’s easier to follow progressive overload. Progressive overload is the concept of incrementally increasing the resistance on a muscle so that it must continue to adapt and grow over time. Weight training makes following this concept easy since you can increase resistance by almost any increment.
5 Honest Reasons Against Weights
Of course, there are cons when it comes to weightlifting.
- First, you will definitely need to make a financial investment, either with a gym membership or buying a set of weights and home gym equipment.
- You need access to various equipment. You must have access to a power rack for squats and deadlifts, a bench, barbells, dumbbells. (Honestly, the list could go on and on.)
- There is also a higher risk of injury when using weights as compared to calisthenics. Heavy weights can affect your joints and your back, especially when you aren’t using proper form.
- Let’s be honest: weightlifting can get a little boring. Sure, you can keep upping the weight on your bench press, but that’s not as cool as being able to do handstand pushups.
- To get maximum results with weight training, you need to have some serious knowledge about exercises and routines. You will also need to know when to train certain muscle groups and when to rest. Plus, your diet and macros will have a significant effect on your results.
Calisthenics vs Weights for Bodybuilding Conclusion
Ultimately, only you can answer this question. It depends on your lifestyle and your fitness goals. Calisthenics do offer more advantages than weights because they don’t require equipment or a gym membership, but you probably won’t see results as quickly as you would with weights.
In fact, the Bodyweight Mastery Program is an outstanding muscle-building and fat loss program that uses calisthenics only. If you want to see our in-depth review that uncovers everything in the program then check this out first.
On the flipside, while weight training can give you killer results, you need to have the right workout plan on a weekly basis, and you need to keep up with your diet and proper macros.
If your goal is better mobility and a nicely built, strong, and fit body, then calisthenics are the better option. However, if you want to get bigger and stronger, then you should probably choose weightlifting.
That’s why I also recommend this Kinobody Program called “The Greek God.” This is if you’re interested in creating a visually-impressive muscular body using weight training.