Calisthenics vs Weight Exercising

Calisthenics vs Weight exercising

These both training forms have own strengths and are excellent for fitness. Let’s look into their uniques as well as similarities.

Meaning of Calisthenics

Calisthenics is exercise method, which focuses to train body without use of external weights. Instead Calisthenics (persons) use their own weight of the body as resistance in movements which need coordination abilities, motoric skills and muscle control. On fundamental level most of movements bases to moves as pushing, pulling, rotating, hanging, swinging, bending and so on. Towards every movement there has several variations as grip-widths, body positions and directions may change. Calisthenics exercising benefits by increasing extremely muscle endurance, giving still muscle strength and size. Overall coordination ability, mobility and flexibility develops greatly too. Calisthenics is not an exception that on this sport area has own competitions. World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation WSWCF is the organization behind competitions. Street workout is closely equate to Calisthenics. It is based to Calisthenics, gymnastics and parkour. As name tells, street workout is used to practice outdoors.

How to train Calisthenics

Source: MatanVizel @
Exercising on parallers. Street workout.

Beginning threshold of Calisthenics training is not high as the vast majority of the population can make moves on own bodyweight and get results already after early weeks. If body has extra fat or otherwise very heavy, it should never be an excuse to not start training as long as there is desire and it is not harmful for health due to serious illnesses or so. Training is possible to start on eased movements or with help of exercise bands and keep intention to make progress towards standard movements. The beginning of training could start from very basics like jumping jack, burbees or push-ups (or eased), chin ups (or eased with exercise-band), dips with chairs (or some other planes which does not force to dip all bodyweight) and different kind of squats. In exercises can move toward more demanding movements and their variations as progressing. Perhaps try to start connecting some movements together or make workout circuits, which means to make several movements each after without pauses until whole circuit is done. One good way to get great increase to specific results is to complete challenges beside with training program. As in 100 push-ups in a day for 30 days in a row as extra. It is good to still remember to keep common sense with practices, so not get hurted or injuries.

Weight training and how to train

To start weight training, it is ideal in the beginning to have at least some basic equipment as dumbbells, barbell bar with some plates and having bench would be excellent too. In the beginning training should not be too complicated or time-consuming. If trainer is completely new, focus should be in the learning process of clean movements at the first weeks especially.

How I should start training? It depends much how your body has got strain before and what you wish from exercises. You will get pretty fast idea about realistic goals after starting to exercise. For all pure strength, muscle size and endurance training, programs would look a bit different in the form of repeats, sets and chosen movements. Thumb rule is – smaller amount of repeats with higher % of maximum weight – gives more strength as in the other end of spectrum – higher amount of repeats with lighter % of maximum, gives more endurance for muscles. Ideal practice amount for beginners would be to start with 3 practice day in week and not to hurry with set amounts at first 2-4 week. The first two weeks could be even on 1 set per movement, just to keep focus in the learning movements as clean as possible and to find right weights in exercises. Later when training starts to feel more natural and your body is ready, it is time to increase sets in workout.

As example, when I started workout as completely new, my first program was like this: 8movements – full body, 8-10 reps each and as low as only 1 set per movement! I made three practices in week. After 2 weeks of practicing, I did add one more set to each. After month, I started to make 8movements – full body 8-10rep, 3 sets. Later after some months of constant training, I finally started with 4 day / week , no more fullbody, instead body parted for different days. I based my practise to the classic old Weider system.

The benefits from mixing up two method

Exercising with dumbbells. Source: StockSnap @
Exercising with dumbbells.

Training will feel more varied, not getting tired as easily. It gives better strength – endurance balance. Mixing may give necessary boost to improve results after long period of unsuccessful training. These exercises could do by mixing movements on using (extra)weight in Calisthenics practices or making both methods as separately. Calisthenics could give more explosiveness, endurance, mobility and movement flexibility to weight training, as weight training perhaps balances body structure weaknesses and gives more muscle mass into weak spots if there is some.

There is also popular training method called as Crossfit, which focuses to several body ability-areas as strength, speed and endurance. This uses mixture of Calisthenics and Weight-training approaches.

Which exercising method is best for me?

It is totally up to you, your goals and preferences. I suggest to try experiment on both methods or mix them straight ahead together to your training program. You will know what you like. There is not only one method to exercise.

Comparison and conclusion

When comparing Calisthenics and Weight exercising, in these both methods have own strengths and some disadvantages. It is quite obvious they benefit each other if trained beside.


Calisthenics (spiderman)

+ Develops greatly body balance, coordination ability, mobility and movement flexibility – acrobatic skills, body control!

+ Increases explosiveness, muscle strength and size. Greatly gives more endurance!

+ Cost is low. No external weights needed and general equipment need is quite minimal.

– If purpose is to get only huge muscles, perhaps weight training works better.


Weight training (hulk)

+ Gives extremely strength and muscle mass, also Explosiveness and some basic coordination skill.

– Endurance may stay forgotten, if not specifically focus into that too!

~ Cost may vary a lot, depending equipment need.

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