Should you do calisthenics or lift weights for your sport and fitness goals?
Calisthenics and weight training are both well-respected forms of training. Which one should you do, or can you combine bodyweight training and weights for your goal?
What is calisthenics?
Calisthenics is defined as a form of strength training using bodyweight movements (sometimes with minimal equipment) to build strength, muscle, stability and co-ordination. Take one look at any dedicated calisthenics athlete and you’ll see that calisthenics work definitely builds a muscular body. But is it the best choice of training for your fitness goal?
Is calisthenics the best workout for me?
Start by identifying your training goal. Do you train for a competitive sport or team sport, do you want to build a specific type of physique, or do you train for health and longevity?
Calisthenics is an ideal form of strength training for any goal. Because the load comes from your own bodyweight and gravity (rather than an external force), it naturally adapts to your level. As you get stronger, you can do more, and as you do more, you get stronger.
Calisthenics is great for total beginners, and it’s challenging enough for elite athletes. It will give you an athletic, aesthetic body (if that’s your goal). It will strengthen your joints and core as a great foundation for other sports. And it complements other types of training if you’re looking for a well-rounded approach to functional fitness.
Can you build muscle with calisthenics?
Yes, you can definitely build muscle with calisthenics. Take a look at any calisthenics athlete or coach in the world to see the muscularity you’ll get from consistent calisthenics. There are some contexts where calisthenics won’t deliver - if want to be a mass monster bodybuilder, or want to specifically work on particular muscle groups to sculpt a specific “look”.
But if you want an athletic, functionally muscular body that tells the world “I train hard and look after myself”, calisthenics is for you. Calisthenics exercises use your bodyweight as load, and will build muscle equally over your upper and lower body, in particular your back, chest, shoulders, arms, and abs.
Is calisthenics better than the gym for bodybuilding?
Can you use calisthenics for bodybuilding? It really depends on what you mean by bodybuilding. If you want to compete on stage as a bodybuilder, it’s unlikely that calisthenics will build the amount of muscle mass you need. You’ll need to hit the gym and follow a full body programme with barbells and dumbbells for weights.
But if you want the lean, muscular look of a bodybuilder without the goal of competing, calisthenics can definitely build muscle mass and balance you need.
Is calisthenics better than the gym for endurance sport?
Maybe you’re wondering if calisthenics is the best form of weight training for your sport. If you play sport or compete, you need to be functionally strong. That means building enough muscle to be powerful, whilst being able to move your body as your sport requires.
Calisthenics is an amazing way to add strength training to your sport routine. Calisthenics doesn’t just build muscle, it also teaches your body to move and carry its own weight in a functional way. This will directly transfer to the demands of any sport.
Is bodyweight training better than lifting weights?
We think calisthenics is a better option than lifting weights for everyone except those who need to use weights in their sport (powerlifter, Olympic weightlifter) or those who need to build a hugely muscled body (powerlifter).
Calisthenics is a fun and practical form of strength training for anyone who wants an athletic look, functional strength, and powerful muscle.
7 benefits of calisthenics
1. You don’t need a gym
Calisthenics training can be done with very little equipment, and you can do it anywhere. At home, in a hotel room, on your travels.
2. The equipment is portable
Calisthenics equipment is small and light, so it’s easy to pack up and take with you. Parallettes, gymnastics rings, jump rope, kettlebells – it’s all small!
3. It’s easy to learn
Calisthenics has moves for everyone, so there’s no big barrier to entry. Get started with beginner moves and keep learning!
4. The workouts are varied
Calisthenics workouts are fun, challenging, and never boring! There are so many moves to learn and combinations to try.
5. You build functional strength
Calisthenics training builds functional strength that doesn’t just make you look good, it makes you strong and healthy for life.
6. It helps with other sports
This type of training transfers to other sports and develops strength, power, and co-ordination that will benefit other activities.
7. You learn cool skills
Calisthenics teaches you moves that will make you feel like a boss!
How to get started with calisthenics
Gravity Fitness is your go-to brand for calisthenics equipment, advice, and content designed to make your fitness journey easier. Shop our store for quality equipment to for your calisthenics training, and keep an eye on our socials for training tips.