Calisthenics vs Weight training: Which one is more effective ?

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Calisthenics vs weight training

Calisthenics vs Weight training: Which one is more effective ?

Before we talk about which one is better than the other, you must have some basic knowledge about what calisthenics and weight training is.

Calisthenics is doing exercises in which you use your body weight as resistance. In simple words, you are lifting your body weight instead of dumbbells or any sort of other weight.


Meanwhile, weight training is a type of training in which weights are used resistance for strengthening the body. Stress is created in the muscles by using weights (e.g dumbbells) or by using weight machines, these exercises will stimulate muscles to be activated and get stronger.

Pros of doing Calisthenics

Here’s a list of some advantages of doing calisthenics.

1. Calisthenics is absolutely free

You don’t need to have weights or any other fancy pieces of equipment to do calisthenics. The most extra thing that this type of workout includes is a pull-up bar and If you have that at home then you can even do your workout at home without stepping a foot outside! What’s better than not going outside amidst all this pandemic? A win/win situation right?

2. Improves flexibility and coordination

flexibility and coordination: calisthenics

Such exercises improve body flexibility because for doing calisthenic movements your entire body moves in unison (e.g pull-up) other exercises like lunges or squats require a great amount of mobility in the hips and shoulders.  The more you exercise, the more your body gets flexible.

3. Core training exercises

Most of these exercises need you to maintain a hollow body position which immediately activates your inner core muscles so you can balance yourself while doing such exercises.

4. Cool workouts

Cool workouts: calisthenics

Calisthenic exercises are the new trend nowadays. Do a handstand in the streets and people will applaud you wholeheartedly or try some advanced versions it will surely turn some heads!

Cons of calisthenics

While all of that sounds fun, let’s quickly go over the disadvantages of calisthenics as there aren’t many.

1. Should able to understand these exercises

You need to have a good understanding of how to use your body weight as resistance. You can even harm yourself if you don’t know the angle at which you should do a particular exercise. Some basic knowledge is a must for a calisthenic workout.

2. Some calisthenics progressions are very difficult

Calisthenics progressions

Simple pushup or pull up is easy and fun when your body gets flexible by performing exercises regularly. But for increasing your strength you must increase the intensity of your exercise by making some changes in the angle etc. It may get difficult which can lead to demotivation.


3. Limited leg exercises

A major and the last disadvantage is that calisthenic workouts have quite limited leg exercises as compared to upper body postures. If you want to strengthen your legs then calisthenics isn’t a good choice for you.

Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of weight lifting now.

Pros of weight lifting

1. Variety of exercises

There is a wide selection of exercises from which you can easily choose due to the open nature of free weights. It varies from compound movements like the back squat to isolated movements like bicep curls etc.

2. Easy progression

You can easily increase your strength with weight lifting as it is quite easy to add one kg of a dumbbell instead of doing a new variation of the calisthenic exercise. Hence, weight lifting is much easier to progress.

3. Target specific muscles

Target specific muscles: calisthenics

Weight lifting is better if you want to target specific muscles during your workout. While almost all calisthenic exercises are compound exercises in which collective muscles are targeted.

4. Leg exercises and muscle building

Leg exercises: calisthenics

Weight lifting has many leg exercises as well as upper body exercises. However, you can easily build more muscles while using weights rather than doing a calisthenic workout.

Cons of weight lifting

1. Proper guidance is needed

You can’t do weight lifting without going to the gym or without having a proper instructor for it. It can be dangerous if you perform the exercises without any guidance. There is a high risk of getting injured during weight lifting instead of doing a calisthenics workout.

2. Provides limited scope in flexibility and mobility

Weightlifting provides only a limited scope of improvement in the mobility of your body. It can increase body flexibility but only to a certain extent after that limit, the body itself doesn’t increase its potency.

3. Pieces of equipment are necessary

Pieces of equipment: calisthenics

You can’t do weight lifting without types of equipment. You must have at least a dumbbell or a set of weights. You would also need a bench and squat rack. This equipment can be quite expensive and you need to have a separate space to keep all these gears. If you don’t have space at your home then your next option would be to spend on gym memberships.

Calisthenics exercises are useful to increase body strength, fitness, and flexibility with different body movements. While, weight training helps in enhancing the size and quality of skeletal muscles or muscle fibers.


I have listed all advantages and disadvantages of weight lifting and calisthenics. Each of them has its benefits so if you do any of these workouts you can achieve amazing results. But for your ease, I’ve summarized a list of both.

You should do calisthenics if:

  • You prefer to work out at home, or do not have time for a gym.
  • You don’t want/need equipment.
  • You want functional strength in movement patterns.
  • If you’re a beginner and you want to start with basics.

You should do weight training if:

  • You have access to a gym or you can afford equipment at home (e.g squat rack, barbells, dumbbells, plates, bench press)
  • You already know how to use weights.
  • You desire to build more muscles.
  • You are obese and want to lose weight fast.
  • You want to target particular muscles.
  • I suggest that you should do a workout that contains both calisthenic exercises and weight lifting as it will enhance your body endurance and will strengthen it more.


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