Calisthenics vs Weightlifting + Full Routine

One of my coworkers asked me to write this post since he was interested in knowing the differences between calisthenics and weight lifting routines, and if one was more beneficial than the other. So with that being said, I am going to provide everyone with a simple but informative post on which one may work better for you. Personally, I love weight lifting routines rather than calisthenics. However, this varies with everyone, I know my roommate really enjoys calisthenics and loves the freedom of them! For the purpose of this post, I ended my back and bicep day, found an empty studio and tried a HIIT workout. Both of which will be available at the end of the post. But for now, let’s start with some basic definitions of the two:

Calisthenics is a classification for exercise that focuses on a body-weight training approach. Calisthenics workouts will focus on improving your flexibility, over all body strength, and fitness through an exercise that utilize more than one muscle group.

For example: You’re watching a home body fat burning and toning video. The instructor has you perform lunges, gives you a certain rest time and then moves into another, like sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, dips, squats, etc.

On the other hand…

Weight lifting is an exercise that focuses on building and training a specific muscle group in order to gain strength and/or bulking. Here you’re going to want to dumbbells, weighted bars, etc.

For example: If you’re at the gym, you’ll see someone on the squat rack, dead lifting, using a smith machine, cable machine, etc.

So now that we know what we’re working with let’s look at the pros and cons with a handy-dandy chart.




Often targets the whole body Not ideal for rapid muscle growth
Improves flexibility No weights = harder to challenge muscles
Can be performed basically anywhere Harder to isolate specific muscles
No weights needed
Usually free


Weight Lifting

Improving strength at a faster rate Restricted to gym/buying own weights
Best for targeting a desired area Doesn’t recreate real life movements
Can use free weights/machines Greater change for injury if wrong form
Can intensify or decrease the difficulty Costs money
Super fun (personal pro)


With that being said, I’m not going to tell you which one you should do. That is completely up to you and what you prefer/are working on/need. My favorite things about fitness is that you completely make it your own. What I will say though, is that it is important to have a balance in your regime. Maybe you will perform some calisthenics exercises at the beginning or end of your weight lifting routine, or will do a calisthenics routine twice a week instead of a weight lifting routine. Seriously, do what you love and what makes you happy.

However, if you’re trying to bulk up or are an aspiring body builder, hit the free weights. If your goal is to do an overall tone, I would recommend calisthenics routines with some weight lifting. Weight loss is tricky because everyone claims different types of exercise is the absolute best, but that also depends on your lifestyle and body type. Some may find weight-lifting dangerous if they have chronic joint or back pain. Even with proper form, it can pose a problem if you have a specific issue.

My experience with calisthenics is that it is incredibly fun and at the end, I often feel more worked out. I’m not sure if others feel like that, but I find weight lifting doesn’t raise my heart rate like that of cardio/calisthenics routines that are consistently making me exert maximum energy. What I have really found helpful lately are HIIT workouts.

With all being said, both calisthenics and weight lifting routines have their pros and cons. Whichever you’re completing, you’re making a conscious effort to focus on your body’s health and that’s what really matters in the end.


in text.jpg
Front to back jumping squat (left) and high skips (right)


As I said before, I’ve provided one of my back and bicep routines to give you guys an idea of what kind of exercise to complete for both calisthenics and weight lifting. I completed one of Whitney Simmon’s HIIT workouts (link provided) and it was awesome.


Quick Warm Up

Superset: 2 Sets

Triceps Dips: 10 reps (elevate your legs with another bench for a harder set)

Plank Jumping Jacks: 20 reps (to make it easier, do one leg at a time)



Superset: 4 sets

Lateral Straight Arm Pull-down (Cables): 12 reps

Bicep Curl (cables) 12 reps


Superset: 4 Sets

Bent Over Delt Raise: 10 reps

Bent Over Cable Row: 10 reps

(You’ll need the cable machine for both of these exercise and supersets, which is why I pair them together)


Barbell Curls: 12 reps x 4 sets

(Choose the weight well! You want to make sure you can reach 12 reps but you want the exercise to burn nearing the end)


Triset: 3 sets

Single Arm Row w/ Bench: 12 reps each arm

Single Arm Chest Fly: 12 reps arch arm

Bicep Curl Complex: 15 reps

(Note: You can do the single arm rows together then singe arm fly OR do your right arm row and fly, then left. Whichever you prefer)


Lat Pull Down: 15 Reps x 4 sets

(Note: for variation use different attachments. I usually use the pull down bar, however you can use opposing hand grip attachment. You can also perform the lat down behind your head to change it up and increase intensity. Pictures below)


End of Workout Burnout

Long Ropes: 3 minutes


Rope Pull Machine: 3 minutes


Whitney’s HIIT Workout

Repeat this 2-3 times depending on how you feel.

  1. Heisman: 30 Seconds

Rest 30 seconds

  1. Alternating Jumping Lunges: 30 Seconds

Rest 30 Seconds

  1. High Skips: 30 Seconds

Rest 30 Seconds

  1. Jump Squat to burpee: 30 seconds

Rest 30 Seconds

  1. Front to back jumping squats: 30 Seconds



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s