Calisthenics vs Weightlifting: Which One Works Best?

Strength training, or resistance training, is a form of exercise that regularly uses weight training or other resistance-based exercises to prevent muscle loss and promote the growth of new muscle fibers. 

Sports like powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting utilize strength training, as do calisthenics and bodybuilding. But which one is best for you?

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a form of strength training that uses one’s body weight to condition and build muscle, making them leaner and stronger over time through a variety of movements such as push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, planks, etc. 

Calisthenics Vs Weightlifting

The main focus when performing calisthenic exercises is to isolate a certain set of muscles to achieve a targeted effect. For example, the main objective when performing a pull-up (which uses your back and arm muscles) is to do as many repetitions as possible without assistance from other body parts such as your legs. The core characteristic of calisthenics is that it can be done anywhere at any time with no equipment or gym membership required.

Who are the Best Candidates for Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds looking to make strength gains using their body weight, which makes it beneficial for everyone who wants to stay active while growing stronger.


People of all fitness levels can find success in integrating calisthenic exercises into their daily workouts due to the amount of freedom you have when programming your regimen. 

For example, if you’re an absolute beginner to exercise, beginning with simple exercises like planks and push-ups can help build a strong foundation for more intense movements such as pull-ups and flys later on down the road.

On the other hand, people who already have experience working out and want to keep it fresh can find success in adding calisthenics into their workouts by choosing harder variations of moves they’ve done previously or mixing up which muscles they target during each workout session.

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Benefits of Calisthenics

As mentioned above, there are lots of different benefits when performing calisthenic exercises such as:

  • You do not need any equipment whatsoever to perform calisthenic exercises.
  • Low barrier to entry (i.e. simple movements that are easy to learn)
  • Can be done anywhere at anytime with no gym membership required
  •  Anyone of any fitness level can perform calisthenic exercises

Risk of injury

Although calisthenics provides a great way to gain strength using your body weight, there is also the possibility of sustaining an injury. Since many calisthenic movements involve extending your body’s full range of motion (e.g. pull-ups).

It can be beneficial to start with easier variations before progressing to more challenging forms of the same movement (e.g pull-ups vs. chin-ups). This way, you can reduce the risk of injury and ensure that your form is perfect each time – with any exercise or workout regimen, it’s important to take things slow and pay attention to detail at all times.

What is weightlifting?

Like calisthenics, weightlifting is another great form of exercise that uses free weights or machines to build more lean muscle mass over time. As the name suggests, weightlifting involves lifting different types of weights/barbells to target specific muscle groups.

Weight lifting

For example, during a bench press, you’ll want to try and push as much weight up as possible, while during a bicep curl you’ll want to try and raise the weight with your arm. 

Weightlifting is great for people looking to pack more size onto their frame to get leaner / stronger – however, unlike calisthenics, it can be harder to learn how to do some of these movements correctly without proper guidance from an experienced trainer.

Who are the Best Candidates for Weightlifting Techniques?

  • People who are more interested in getting bigger and stronger over time
  • People who have no experience lifting weights or have done so before
  • People looking for new challenges that keep them motivated
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Benefits of Weightlifting?

Some great benefits of performing weightlifting techniques include:

  • Compound exercises which require many muscles to work in unison
  • Builds more lean muscle mass over time
  • Can be fun/exciting when trying new moves and pushing yourself

Risk of injury

People who are new to weightlifting may experience injuries such as:

  • Back or shoulder pain due to improper form
  • Tendonitis if overused / not warmed up before attempting intense workouts
  • Stress on joints which can be problematic for those with preexisting conditions

To avoid injury, always warm-up before performing weightlifting techniques and be sure to keep your form as best as possible throughout each movement.

Calisthenics vs Weightlifting: Which One Is Best for You?

Both calisthenics and weightlifting are great forms of exercise that should be a staple in every person’s workout regimen. While both have their own unique benefits, it is important to remember there is no “best” form of exercise.

Calisthenics Vs Weightlifting

The best type of fitness regimen for you will depend on your interests/goals/fitness level, etc. If you’re looking to get started exercising more, try reading up on calisthenics and weightlifting to determine which one might be best for you.

Which training technique is better for burning calories? 

Calisthenics and weightlifting both burn calories when performed – however, calisthenics is known to burn more calories in general due to the types of exercises that are typically utilized. 

For example, if you were trying to lose weight or improve your cardiovascular system it would be a better idea to perform mostly calisthenics.

Which training technique is better for building strength?  

For pure strength, weightlifting techniques are always going to be more beneficial than calisthenics. A good example of this is the bench press – during a bench press you want to try and push as much weight up as possible.

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This means that an increase in weight will equate to an increase in sheer physical force being exerted onto your arms/chest muscles. This kind of exercise doesn’t really have any “equivalent” form within the realm of bodyweight exercises.

There are lots of great examples of calisthenic exercises which you can use to improve your strength but none which look exactly like a weighted bench press. This makes weightlifting “more effective” at building strength.

Calisthenics vs Weightlifting: Combining The Two

Many people choose to combine both weightlifting and calisthenics into their fitness regimen – this is a great way to get the best of both worlds. When trying to build more lean muscle, it can be a great idea to perform higher reps with lower weights.

This allows you to keep your heart rate at a steady pace while building lean muscle tissue. If you’re looking to get ripped or lose weight, then it can be effective to focus primarily on calisthenics.

Just remember that an effective workout regimen should include some form of both calisthenics and weightlifting to work all parts of your body/muscles effectively.

The Bottom Line 

Both calisthenics and weightlifting are extremely beneficial in their own unique ways. While people looking to build strength will generally “benefit more” from techniques like weightlifting, it is important to remember that the best type of exercise for you will depend on your personal goals. 

For example, someone who is just starting with exercising might benefit more from calisthenic exercises – while someone looking to become really strong both in terms of muscle mass/size and functional strength might do better focusing on weightlifting instead.

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Praise Adughele

I am a practising physician and medical expert also a blogger and content creator

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