Are Calisthenics Better Than Weightlifting


It’s no secret that weightlifting can be incredibly effective for building muscle mass and strength, but it’s not the only way. In fact, there are a lot of people who would argue that calisthenics is a better option. If you’re stuck in between these two exercises and having a hard time deciding which is better for you, you might want to read on to see the benefits of each.

Is calisthenics better than weight lifting?🤔

🏆Both calisthenics and weight lifting have their own unique benefits, but the other might be a better choice for you, depending on your goals.

In this article,  we’re going to compare and contrast calisthenics vs weightlifting. We’ll take a look at the benefits of each, as well as how they might be better or worse for certain people. So If you want to learn if calisthenics is better than weight lifting, read on.👇

😃Advantages 🥺Disadvantages
  • Holistic development focuses on many fitness attributes
  • Done with minimal to no equipment
  • Build muscle and relative strength
  • Improves body control and awareness
  • Translate to daily movements
  • Learn specialised calisthenics skills
  • Done anywhere at any time
  • Limited absolute strength development, especially on legs
  • Progression not as straightforward
  • Require knowledge of progressive calisthenics 
Weight Training
  • Straightforward approach to building strength and muscle
  • CAN improve mobility
  • Effective in building muscle mass and strength
  • Accessible knowledge and tools on the internet
  • Other attributes are usually neglected especially mobility
  • Requires additional knowledge to cover specific attributes such as athleticism, balance, control, etc.
  • Prone to ego lifting
  • Requires equipment and/or gym memberships
  • Filtering of “bro-science” is needed


✨What is calisthenics?

Ring muscle ups

Muscle-up is an achievement that many are aiming for.

Calisthenics has been around for centuries. Gymnasts, martial artists, and dancers have used calisthenics to stay in shape. The word “calisthenics” comes from the Greek words kalos (beautiful) and sthenos (strength). So, calisthenics means “beautiful strength.”💯

⚡️How does calisthenics work?

Calisthenics is a form of exercise that uses your body weight as resistance. You can do calisthenics anywhere, and it doesn’t require any equipment. Calisthenics exercises are bodyweight exercises that use dynamic movements to work for multiple muscle groups at once.

Basically, it’s still a type of resistance training like weight lifting. But instead of using external weights such as barbells, dumbbells, and machines, you’ll be using your body weight against gravity to develop strength.

✊ Calisthenics is a type of exercise that is a great way to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

How does calisthenics work? The exercises gradually put more stress on the muscles through manipulating training variables, which grow more muscular and leaner over time. So when you perform calisthenics regularly, you’ll see improvements in your overall strength, endurance, and flexibility.

👍The Pros of Calisthenics exercise

Ring turn in and out

Aside from building strength for ring exercises, this movement is excellent for building your chest, biceps, and triceps.

There are many pros to calisthenics exercise, which is why it’s become so popular in recent years. Some of the most significant benefits include:

  • ✅ Done anywhere, without any equipment (but’s best to get SOME very accessible equipment: Ultimate Guide to Calisthenics Equipment)
  • ✅ Great way to get in shape and stay healthy.
  • ✅ Effective form of exercise for weight/fat loss.
  • ✅ Maximizes exercise efficiency so you can develop strength.
  • ✅ Has several progressions.
  • ✅ Great way to build impressive RELATIVE strength.
  • ✅ Helps improve coordination and body control and awareness.
  • ✅ Learn gravity-defying skills!

👎The cons of calisthenics exercise

Plyo Lunge Complex

Many claim calisthenics can’t build muscle but if proper protocols are implemented, then calisthenics can deliver results.

There are also some drawbacks to calisthenics. While the pros tend to outweigh the cons, it’s essential to be aware of both before deciding if this form of exercise is suitable for you. Some of the potential disadvantages include:

  • 🥺 Progression isn’t always as straightforward as weight training so sometimes, progress feels discouraging.
  • 🥺 To develop ABSOLUTE strength, you need to incorporate weighted calisthenics
  • 🥺 There are A LOT of myths and misconceptions that might affect your training and perception of the approach


What is weightlifting?🏋️‍♂️

Weightlifting is a type of strength/muscle training that uses external weights to resist gravity and increase muscle size and strength. You can do it with free weights, such as dumbbells, barbells, or weight machines.

This is a popular and traditional form of exercise for many people, as it has a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health. It’s also effective, and mostly marketed more compared to calisthenics because of the profitability companies can take advantage of through selling weightlifting equipment and gym memberships. It’s a huge market. Although, we cannot deny its capacity to deliver results.

🤔How does weightlifting work?

When you lift weights, you’re stressing muscle tissue. The body then repairs this tissue and builds it stronger and thicker than before. This is what causes muscles to grow larger and more robust.

👍The Pros of Weightlifting

Weight lifting isn’t just about bulking up and building muscle mass, the experts say. In reality, the MAJOR pros of weightlifting are quite similar to calisthenics since both are resistance exercises. Its benefits include:

  • ✅ Improved posture
  • ✅ Better sleep
  • ✅ Gaining bone density
  • ✅ Maintaining weight loss
  • ✅ Boosting metabolism
  • ✅ Improved mobility if done with a specific range of motion as exhibited in a 2021 research paper.
  • ✅ Staving off chronic disease
  • ✅ Straight forward approach to building muscle and strength.
  • ✅ Isolating muscle groups are easy to implement to overload muscle groups.

👎The Cons of Weightlifting

Like all things, weightlifting has its downsides. Some potential disadvantages include:

  • 🥺 You can injure yourself if you’re not careful and knowledgeable of the approach.
  • 🥺 There’s a risk of “ego lifting” or doing/lifting too much too soon.
  • 🥺 It can be expensive to buy weights and equipment.
  • 🥺 It can be repetitive and boring for some people.
  • 🥺 Prone to muscle imbalances if favoring specific muscle groups.


🧐Does calisthenics build strength faster than weights?

Bodyweight exercises and lifting weights help build strength, but they do so in different ways. For example, weightlifting is better for building ABSOLUTE strength, while calisthenics is better for developing RELATIVE strength.

What does this mean?

Absolute strength💪 is the amount of force you can exert regardless of other factors. With weight training, you can continue adding up weights and the strength potential can be limitless.

Planche Training on the Rings

Planche on gymnastics rings demands a high level of specific relative strength and body mastery.

With calisthenics, you will be limited with your body weight so you will be developing your RELATIVE strength. This pertains to the amount of strength in relation to your body weight. It’s why gymnasts and calisthenics athletes can easily manipulate their body positions while resisting gravity. Because their strength and power are gained through bodyweight resistance.💯

HOWEVER, you can also implement a weighted calisthenics approach that uses fundamental calisthenics movements in a weighted fashion. This allows you to build ABSOLUTE strength while honing and mastering the calisthenics movement patterns.

For more tips on weighted calisthenics, check this article: How to Use Weighted Calisthenics for Ultimate Strength Gains


🔎Is calisthenics better in building muscle size compared to weightlifting?

Let’s begin by first stating that, YOU CAN BUILD MUSCLE WITH CALISTHENICS.

Which is better for building muscle?

A common notion is that calisthenics is for “beginners” or for “lean muscle mass” while weights are used for bodybuilding. However, calisthenics can still deliver the results like what you can achieve with weight lifting.

🏆 It’s all about using the right progression and meeting enough training volume that suits your current skill level to build muscle.

A 2020 study even shows that push-ups (given that training volume and intensity are equated) can build your chest, shoulders, and tricep muscles similarly if you used a bench press to build muscle.


Can you build muscle with calisthenics only?😱

The answer is yes! 😲 Calisthenics is a great way to build muscle, but it’s important to note that you won’t see results overnight (similar to weight training).

It takes time and consistency to see any changes. When starting up, you need to know the basics of calisthenics for building muscle mass. You’ll also need to understand hypertrophy and its principles.

After that, select calisthenics exercises for building muscles and put together a workout routine that focuses on your goals.

Building muscle is as simple as these three things:

  • 🔥 Train harder every session
  • 🔥 Eat properly through proper nutrition
  • 🔥 And recover well through high-quality sleep and stress management


👀Are bodybuilders more muscular than calisthenics?

With the nature of how calisthenics work and the kind of training required for bodybuilding, it’s hard to directly compare with bodybuilding. However, we need to consider WHY bodybuilders build their physiques the way they do and why calisthenics athletes have their own physiques.

In general, calisthenics athletes are focused on building strength and muscle SPECIFIC for learning skills. They don’t need more muscles to perform calisthenics skills. In fact, it can be a hindrance since lean muscle is heavier than body fat. This is also why specialised calisthenics individuals have relatively smaller legs. It’s not that calisthenics can’t build the leg muscles, IT CAN. However, it will all come back to the goal of calisthenics athletes (especially the specialised skills proficients) which is to perform calisthenics skills.

Bodybuilders aim to build more muscle specifically for competing in bodybuilding competitions. So their training structure, program, and protocols are geared toward this goal.

In terms of general muscle building, calisthenics workouts can deliver the same results. If implemented with bodybuilding principles, you can also get a bodybuilder’s result granted that you’ll take on more advanced calisthenics exercises such as ring push-ups, and ring dips.


Is calisthenics safer than weights?🤕

Wall pushup

Wall push-ups are perfect for complete beginners to build upper body strength. It might look silly and easy at first, but try it out first!

🤒 Risk and accidents are inevitable in ANY FORM of exercise, but it would be calisthenics to answer your question of which is safer between the two.

The reason is that with weights, you are lifting heavy objects, which, if not done correctly, could lead to severe injuries. However, with calisthenics, the only thing you are lifting is your body weight, making it safer and lowering the impact on the joints.


👊Why Calisthenics is better than weight lifting?

Bodyweight training comes with many unique benefits compared to lifting weights in the gym.

Some of those benefits are:

Moreover, bodyweight training develops efficient body control and keeps your joints healthy.


Which one burns more fat? Calisthenics vs. Weight lifting for fat loss🔍

While both exercises promote weight loss, calisthenics is known to burn more fat as it can also offer training protocols that are better for fat loss such as Calisthenics HIIT.

Weightlifting can promote the development of muscle mass, which can lead to a higher resting metabolic rate and an increase in calorie-burning potential.

However, if your goal is to reduce body fat percentage, then calisthenics is the better option as it can offer cardiovascular training options that help burn fat faster.

✊ More optimal fat/weight loss, a combination of cardiovascular training plus resistance training, whether it’s calisthenics or weightlifting, must be integrated into your training so you can still retain or even gain lean muscle mass in the process. This is supported by research conducted in 2012.


💥Can I do calisthenics and weight lifting?

Yes, you can! You can do a combination of calisthenics and weightlifting exercises in a single strength training routine. This will allow you to focus on developing the best of both worlds.

  • 🔥 Weight lifting frequency – You must lift weights at least three days each week. According to research, training at least two days each week is required to maximize muscle growth.
  • 🔥 Calisthenics frequency – You can do traditional calisthenics if you are more inclined to improve strength, balance, and fitness. You should perform calisthenics 2-3 times a week.
  • 🔥 Muscle recovery time – make sure to have at least 48 hours of recovery time between strength training workouts that target the same muscle group. Don’t overtrain!


⭐️Is calisthenics good with weight training?

Yes, calisthenics can be a great complement to weight training. Both types of exercise can help you build strength and muscle, but they work different parts of your body in different ways.

Calisthenics tends to focus on more bodyweight-based movements, while weight training relies heavily on using dumbbells and barbells. However, doing both types of exercise can give you a well-rounded fitness routine that helps you build strength, muscle, and endurance.

If you want to implement this type of training, you can use the main calisthenics movement as compound movements and then use isolation exercises from weights. You can go the other way around and use weightlifting for compound exercises then use a lower intensity calisthenics movement to increase training volume.


✨So, Is calisthenics better than weight lifting?

Pistol vs weighted

Pistol squats vs weighted squats are an excellent example of different movements that deliver different results.

Calisthenics is a great way to get fit and stay in shape. They’re simple and effective, and you don’t need any special equipment. Plus, they can be done anywhere – making them perfect for busy people on the go.

There are many reasons why calisthenics is more beneficial than machines or weights.

  1. ✔️ First, calisthenics work your entire body – not just isolated muscle groups as machines or weights can. This means that you’ll get more overall fitness benefits from calisthenics than from weightlifting or using machines at the gym.
  2. ✔️ As a result of the compound movements, this can translate better to daily movements and overall body control.
  3. ✔️ Second, calisthenics is low-impact and easy on your joints. This is especially important as we age and our joints start to deteriorate.
  4. ✔️ Third, you can do calisthenics anywhere – you don’t need a gym membership or access to weights or machines. All you need is your body and some space.
  5. ✔️ Fourth, calisthenics is great for beginners as well as advanced athletes. They can be scaled to any fitness level, making them perfect for people just starting out or for those who are more experienced.
  6. ✔️ Last but not least, calisthenics is affordable and easy to do. Outdoor or home workouts are free, and all you need for a good calisthenics routine is a simple set of exercises that you can find online or in a fitness book.


📌Bottom line

👊Calisthenics is a great way to get fit, build strength, and stay in shape. They’re simple, effective, and easy on your joints. Plus, they can be done anywhere – making them perfect for busy people on the go. So if you’re looking for an affordable and convenient workout option, calisthenics is the way to go.

But to answer the question if calisthenics is better than weight lifting, then the answer still depends on many factors such as your goal, preference, needs, and what will fit your lifestyle.

👊If you enjoy reading this article,  please share it with others who might find it helpful.

If you’re interested in calisthenics, then following a personalised training program is your best bet to get results efficiently and safely as possible.

Begin your personalised journey by taking the short test to know what your body’s capable of and what you need to work on next.