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|
|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.
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
Repeat this 2-3 times depending on how you feel.
- Heisman: 30 Seconds
Rest 30 seconds
- Alternating Jumping Lunges: 30 Seconds
Rest 30 Seconds
- High Skips: 30 Seconds
Rest 30 Seconds
- Jump Squat to burpee: 30 seconds
Rest 30 Seconds
- Front to back jumping squats: 30 Seconds