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Calisthenics Vs Weight Training – What are the differences?

Calisthenics is a type of training that focuses on bodyweight exercises and requires little to no equipment. Some examples of calisthenics exercises include push-ups and pull-ups where strength is gained in relation to the individual’s bodyweight – and progressions are achieved by tweaking angles and form.

This is vastly different to weight training where strength is gained in relation to external resistance such as a barbell or weight. Those undergoing a weight training program will be found racing to the squat rack or executing bench presses rather than doing bodyweight exercises.

The Benefits of Calisthenics

calisthenics training

Completing a calisthenics program does not require a gym membership and exercises can be completed at home or at a park with a public pull-up bar. Unlike a weight training regime, calisthenics also pays more attention to core muscles and develops greater core strength.

This is the reason why those doing a calisthenics program often fair better when switching to weight training than when weightlifting athletes crossover to calisthenics. Core muscles play an integral part in building strength and provide a solid foundation for weightlifting exercises. Considering core muscles surround and support the spine, it is no surprise that the latest research has discovered that a calisthenics programme can also improve posture.

Calisthenics is a safer form of exercise for many, especially when comparing it to weight training. External weights can influence the poor form and increase the chance of injury. However, calisthenics may not be suitable for overweight people because excess body weight can cause joint injuries.

Advantages of Weight Training over Calisthenics

Overweight individuals may be better off using weight training to improve their strength and fitness, but it should still be done with correct form.

Weight training has an advantage over calisthenics as it is the optimal way to increase muscle size and strength. While an athletic physique and muscle definition is possible with calisthenics, significant muscle gain is only possible with weight training.

This is most evident in the lower body because bodyweight squats done in calisthenics are significantly less effective than squatting with external weight. Consequently, many gym-goers choose to add squats and deadlifts to their calisthenics routine.

Weight training is often advised in elderly groups to avoid muscle deterioration as we get older. Yet, calisthenics can also offer benefits to these older groups as studies suggest it can improve coordination, a declining motor skill as we age.

What Type of Training Should You Choose?

Whether to go ahead with a calisthenics routine or a weight training program will depend on your situation and your goals. Calisthenics training is realistically the only choice for those without access to a gym or equipment, but those who still go to the gym may prefer calisthenics.

Weight training will help you develop larger muscles and greater strength while calisthenics will help you develop relative strength. Combining aspects of both types of training is also possible and even advised.

Adnan Munye

A certified personal trainer, Adnan specialises in weight loss, muscle building, body conditioning, core strengthening and injury rehabilitation. Adnan comes from a sporting background, where he has played football, badminton, rugby, and swimming all at various levels.

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