Strength training, using either weights or body weight through callisthenics, has consistently been practical for improving physical appearance, athletic performance, losing weight, and building muscle. But it needs to be clarified whether this holds whether you’re using fixed weights from weightlifting and bodybuilding or your fluctuating bodyweight from callisthenics. In this article, we will compare the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches and aim to determine which is the best for achieving optimal physical results.
- Calisthenics is a type of strength training where the participant uses their body weight instead of external physical weight.
- Calisthenics has many advantages, including being simple and affordable, enhancing core and body movements, and having cardio advantages.
- However, callisthenics has some disadvantages, such as the difficulty of escalating intensity or progression and the need for more mass-building.
- The body is strengthened by using additional external weights as resistance during weight training.
- Weight training has many advantages, such as making it simpler to gain muscle mass, maintaining specific muscle groups, and accelerating the rate at which fat is burned.
What Are Calisthenics’ Main Advantages?
#1. Convenience and Economicalness
The fact that you don’t need a gym membership to perform regular callisthenics is their most significant advantage. In actuality, you only require a small amount of space and a towel, along with possible jump ropes or pull-up bars and an optional gym mat.
This can entail exercising at home, in a park, or even during your lunch break at work.
Additionally, callisthenics is simple. While form is undoubtedly important, it is much simpler and safer to perform pushups than it is to perform a bench press.
#2. Better Body Movements & Core
Bodyweight exercises are also incredibly beneficial for improving one’s flexibility, core strength, and overall body movement. This is because almost every activity demands a certain level of balance, which can only be attained by strong core muscles.
Similarly, callisthenics can significantly improve coordination and flexibility compared to using weights because many exercises also call for the full range of motion from various muscle groups in the body.
#3. Has Cardio Health Benefits
Last but not least, one of the more unexpected benefits of callisthenics is that they provide many of the same cardiovascular advantages that one would anticipate from jogging or other cardiovascular exercises.
This is due to the fact that callisthenics can be considered cardio exercises even though they are primarily a strength-based form of exercise because you are using your entire body and strengthening your core.
You can anticipate a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and an improvement in the condition of your heart and lungs.
What Are the Primary Disadvantages of Calisthenics?
#1. Difficult For Overweight & Obese People
To begin with, a sobering fact for many beginners, while calisthenics has many benefits, it may be a bit of a challenge for those who are heavier set.
While a few extra pounds aren’t going to put too much strain on things, the same cannot be said for those who are overweight or obese. This is because, as previously stated, callisthenics is based on increasing your strength while using your existing body weight. This means that, between two beginners, the skinnier person will have an easier time performing callisthenics than someone who has to carry two, three, or four times as much body weight.
The good news is that callisthenics also serves as cardio, meaning consistent effort will result in rapid weight loss.
Still, because of the increased strain on your wrists and joints (as well as your muscles), you should proceed with caution when using bodyweight exercises.
#2. Difficulty in increasing intensity or progress
On the other hand, Callisthenics can quickly become tedious for those who already know what they’re doing. Because you’re only lifting your body weight, it isn’t easy to gradually increase the intensity or progression. Most people must become experts before attempting more advanced (and dangerous) forms, such as handstand pushups or hanging sit-ups.
#3. Unsuitable for Muscle Mass Gain
Finally, if you want to “bulk up” or see yourself as larger or physically more imposing, callisthenics may not be the way to go. A gymnast and a bodybuilder are two good examples of this. Even though both individuals spend hours in the gym, gymnasts are much smaller and less imposing than bodybuilders.
This is because, as beneficial as callisthenics are for increasing strength and metabolism, they are not intended to bulk you up or provide you with a lot of muscle mass. Remember that you are strengthening your muscles concerning your body weight. That means your muscles can only get so big before they start focusing almost entirely on strengthening.
What Are the Primary Advantages of Weight Training?
#1. It’s Easier to Gain Muscle Mass
Let’s begin with the most apparent reason for weightlifting: increased muscle mass. There are no denying it, folks. While callisthenics can help you get the ripped look of Spiderman, weightlifting can help you get the jacked look of Thor, Hulk, or Thanos.
As previously stated, weight training accomplishes this by overloading your muscles through outside weight resistance (i.e., the weights you lift). This allows you to gradually cause your muscles to atrophy, eventually growing larger and stronger.
While possible, using only your body weight is much longer and more complex.
#2. Has the ability to strengthen specific muscle groups
Weight training is unique in its ability to “spot focus” or isolate your attention on building up a particular part of your body, whether it’s leg presses for your lower body or focusing solely on your biceps, triceps, or upper body. This is primarily true for weight machines, though it can also be done with barbells.
You use your entire body when performing callisthenics (even as simple as a pushup). Yes, your focus may be on your arms, legs, or core, but almost all your movements require you to engage your entire body to some extent. As a result, every part of your body gets a light workout.
Weight training is less demanding. Because the weight comes from an outside source, the only body part engaged is the one focused on, and no other part of your body is bothered. This makes it easier to rest those areas and ensures that a weaker side or area can “catch up” to the rest of your body.
#3. Burns Fat Much Faster
Weight lifting allows you to build muscle, which can help to increase your metabolism and keep it running efficiently, as opposed to needing to work to keep your metabolism high through other means actively.
Not only does the physical act of building muscle help burn calories and fat in the first place, but you also burn between 6 and 10 calories per day per pound of muscle you have. This means that a person with 10 pounds of muscle burns at least 60 calories daily without doing anything. When combined with actual gym time, it’s easy to see why so many bodybuilders don’t have much fat.
Callisthenics is an excellent option for many people, but it does not result in the same levels of muscle mass as weight lifting. As a result, you may not experience the same daily 6-10 calorie deficit, and you may need to work longer and more intensely to keep your metabolism running as fast as possible.
What Are the Primary Disadvantages of Weight Training?
#1. Significantly More Expensive & Dangerous
Weight training has drawbacks, though not quite as many, and can often be dangerous. The most significant disadvantages of weight training are the cost and the risk factor.
Just as callisthenics only requires a small amount of space and some workout clothes, resistance training frequently necessitates using a gym membership or a reasonably open workout space. While a gym membership does not have to be expensive, it is unquestionably more expensive than the “FREE” that callisthenics provides. This becomes clear when you consider the cost of establishing a home gym, which can range from hundreds of dollars on the low end to thousands (or even tens of thousands) on the high end. Once again, this is far more than Free.
Even if you go to a commercial gym, you’ll almost certainly need to pay for a personal trainer to ensure you don’t have any problems by teaching you proper form or acting as a spotter. Many ego boosters and people unwilling to invest in a teacher have suffered severe injuries while lifting weights, frequently lifting incorrectly or lacking the strength to keep it lifted.
#2. Lack of flexibility and range of motion
Calisthenics will result in flexibility but not large muscles, and vice versa. You can expect to gain impressive muscles while losing flexibility and physical range of motion. As you might expect, this is because your muscles can become too large at some point, making bending them more brutal than if they were smaller or more defined.
Finally, while all exercises can become monotonous over time, weightlifting can become especially so. This is because you’re lifting a weight up and down repeatedly. In fact, for many beginners going it alone, the monotony of it can be disappointing or even confusing (often leaving them wondering, “Is that it?”).
Lifting weights may provide some motivation by gradually increasing your weight, but something more exciting will occur.
Calisthenics vs. Weights: Which Is Better For Me?
Callisthenics and weight training both have advantages and disadvantages. As a result, it depends on your ultimate goal for your body.
Callisthenics is the way to go if you want to increase your endurance, improve your cardio health, and have a slimmer, sleeker appearance. If, on the other hand, you want a bulkier frame with stronger muscles and a well-developed lower body, you should spend more time with the machines and free weights.
Of course, you can get the best of both worlds by varying your workout and incorporating callisthenics and weights into your exercise regimen. This results in a more robust, bulkier body that is more flexible and has a stronger core.