Calisthenics VS Weightlifting

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Based on a true story…

Weightlifting Freak

Calisthenics vs weighttraining

Calisthenics pfff, seriously, don’t insult my intelligence. Do you really think that you can get ripped like Calisthenics Kingz or Hannibal by just doing calisthenics?

First of all these guys are quite small and weigh about 140-160 lbs with tiny chicken legs. I could crash both Barbrothers with my bare hands.”

I am not trying to disrespect anybody but you know what? I did calisthenics for more than three years and was not at all happy with my progress. I just did not get big enough.

If you want to build muscle and become stronger get in the gym and lift some serious weight.  That is what I did and in less than a year I am buffed like crazy!

My size superiority enables me to do calisthenics exercises such as one arm pushups, handstand pushups, muscle-ups, and front levers with more ease.

Hey listen, you can use calisthenics when you are on vacation or locked up somewhere with no weights around.

I regret not having started out with weight training from the get go. I would have been a real beast by now.

So if you ask me ‘calisthenics vs gym?’, my answer is, ‘forget calisthenics’.”

Calisthenics Paladin

Calisthenics vs weightlifting

You are looking at it the wrong way. You need to know that calisthenics has its pros and cons just like all exercise regimes.

Not everyone who works out is looking to build ridiculous muscle mass.  Calisthenics is about body control, balance, core strength, endurance, and performance enhancement.

It makes sense that after getting big calisthenics has become easier for you. But that is because you had previously mastered calisthenics at a lower body weight with less strength.

How many strongmen and bodybuilders have you seen doing 30 pull ups or human flags?

Most importantly many people do calisthenics because they can’t afford to go to the gym or have no time to travel to one. It offers great flexibility and is free. They also learn cool bodyweight movements and that is their choice.

By the way, Kali Muscle still does calisthenics and he is twice your size.

Calisthenics vs weights? That’s a no-brainer for me”


Set your goals, understand how you are going to reach them and customize your exercise regime towards achieving them.

Every single one of us is unique and depending on body type and genes, our needs and our results will differ from the next guy. So you not only need to tailor your exercise regime to what works best for you, but you will also need to tailor your diet and lifestyle towards becoming the best you can be.

I for one love calisthenics and do just about anything out there that challenges me; as long as I enjoy doing it. So don’t forget to enjoy whatever it is you do!

Have you got experience with one or both disciplines, or are looking to start with one of them? Leave a comment below and we will respond. 

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Related Forums:

Lifting Weights vs. Bodyweight/Calisthenics

Weight Training vs Calisthenics

103 thoughts on “Calisthenics VS Weightlifting

  1. The purpose of this blog was to indicate that “If you want to get Big” then it’s not going to happen only doing Calisthenics. A lot of the comments were correct in saying that all form of exercise are good, but if your looking to get BIG, then it can only happen through weight training…. and I agree.

  2. Why does it have to be “either/or”? There are many benefits to weight lifting. I have no desire to “bulk up” now, at 70, but when I first reached my height of 5’10”, I only weighed 115. I ate like a horse but still could gain no weight. Weight lifting enabled me to get to 155. I have not been able to gain muscle weight much beyond that, but I think that’s just the way I am made. I don’t want to weigh more now, but I do want to keep my bones and muscles strong. Some kind of aerobic activity, not necessarily calisthenics, is also good for the heart, breathing, etc. I have found both to have benefits. For instance, aerobic activity seems to help prevent colds. Weight lifting helps with mental concentration. Both are useful for sports. Different sports require different emphasis. Folks might enjoy my book, The Winning Weekend Warrior. I am in the middle of writing a new one about how to help stay in shape when you have no time.

  3. calisthenics are far more better than weight training I have seen a big guy dead lift over 450 lbs but can’t do just 5 pull ups. I used to weight train few years before I gained weight and muscles but I was unable to climb my roof top of my house which a calisthenics guy did like pie of cake. so now I started doing calisthenics and gained a lot of real and useful strength and once I came across a gym hunk challenging me for a fight when I was a calisthenics guy . what happend ??
    he blows powerful punches and tried to grappel me but I some how dodged because he was slow like hell and choke him from his back and in a second or two he was down… lolzz be fast be active be fit not hulk

  4. I find it amusing when I read stories like this. It is arrogant to believe that any ONE form of exercise is the “right” type that everyone should follow. The healthiest and most fit people generally combine various skills to achieve maximal results. When egos are left outside the exercise establishment, more is accomplished inside. At nearly 56 years of age, I have learned over 37 years of exercise that 18″ arms will never keep my heart and lungs at maximal function. Incorporating all disciplines that one enjoys provides the best outcomes in most cases. We have a tendency to gravitate toward that which we excel at; not necessarily that which we may NEED! I enjoyed this posting.

      • I appreciate the compliment. My mentor was Jack LaLanne. He was an amazing individual living until 96 years old exercising 7 days a week. Back in the 1950’s he was letting the world know that sugar was the enemy. Way ahead of his time

  5. Very great blog. I have a question and I need help and suggestions. I like lifting because of the gains, but I like calisthenics because its fun and challenging. Im at a intermediate level in calisthenics and training to advance stage. I like my progress but my build is getting smaller and im not the build like I use to be when I lift. Now my question is how can I maintain my lifting build or gain alittle more size but at the same time advance in calisthenics?

    • Every body’s body is different and on top of that you must also know your body type. I would say consult a dietitian and a trainer to give you customized advise as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

      Thanks Tim

  6. As a (female) long distance runner, I certainly am not looking to “buff up”. I always lean towards body-weight exercises just because I enjoy them more. However, I technically lift weights a little bit, it’s just always using more than one muscle group (bicep curls while standing on one leg on a bosu ball, for example).

  7. Such a treat to come across your blog. I’ll pass this on to my daughter who will love this for sure and then can teach me. Ha, awesome! Thank you!

  8. Hi,
    Thank you for visiting my blog. Look at your blog has given me that extra kick that I need to get back into some kind of physical exercise.

  9. I’ve never done weights in my life. I never needed to and yet, when I was fit, I was nicely toned, strong and my CV was as good as I was going to get it (at 38 I was still able to run 22 year old men into the ground) considering I smoke.

    Keeping fit and body building are not the same thing. Being able to snatch 300 kg doesn’t mean you are fit. I could go on but I am sure you know what I am driving at. In the end, though, it is easier to stay fit as you get older than it is to keep huge muscle groups toned up.

  10. I have to use weights because for me it’s easier to do them correctly (getting results) than to do calisthenics. I do like doing martial arts though…although I guess that is more aerobics.

  11. I love calisthenics – I really find it a challenge and to be honest I place more value in being able to do x12 pull ups than an 80kg bench press. However I also enjoy weight training and try to mix them both

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  13. This was an enjoyable read! I agree it has a lot to do with your goals. I did calisthenics through bar method – that was the first time I ever enjoyed working out and stayed consistent. However, while I felt more flexible and did feel stronger I didn’t see much change in my body. I’ve always wanted to gain weight and target my lower body. I started lifting weights around 7 months ago 3X a week…and really pushing to lift heavy (and safe of course). I’m happy to say I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been! Went from 112.5lb to 122lb! So my vote goes to weight lifting, although calisthenics has helped me feel where I need to correct my form.

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  15. Thanks for the post, and stopping by mine. I’ve always been an avid weight lifter and runner. I reduced my running for a period of two years to see how much muscle mass I could gain. I went from 150lbs to 175lbs of solid muscle, and started running again. I am back down to my original weight but am more ripped than ever. I may now begin to incorporate calisthenics into my routine. Thanks for the post.

  16. I used to run until I got shin splints. It was never really something I enjoyed, but it was the “pet rock” fad of that decade. So instead of running, my 130 pound husband piggy-backed while I walked fast along Braes Bayou in Houston. It was great exercise and fun to watch people’s reactions (more than a few brakes applied at the sight). Later, I went to a gym. Boring. Now, I walk a lot (admiring the sky, trees and landscape) and that’s really all a person needs if s/he’s not looking for monster muscles, 6-pack abs or to streamline a body.

  17. Good, sound advice. Many people will perform a series of exercises believing that they will experience the same results as others, but their are several different factors that need to be taken into consideration. Thanks for stopping by and liking my latest post.

  18. Heya superb website! Does running a blog similar to this require a great deal of work?
    I have no understanding of coding however I had been hoping to start my
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  20. I use free weights but not in a very serious way, just so I stay relatively limber! This is a very good post, learned something here. And thanks so much for visiting my blog!

  21. I so sad for either of the two I can’t do. I was operated of my multiple hepatic liver cysts and removed my gallbladder with stone, a fracture on right wrist joint. Diet is only my alternative. My problem is my flabby arms to have it in firm. Hope you have a suggestion. Thanks.

  22. Great post! When I was younger I was those guys walking around trying to bench press the sky. At 40, though, low-impact is clearly the move for all sorts of reasons, so calisthenics obviously plays a big role in that.

  23. Good article and as you mentioned you need to find what’s best for you. As a martial artist, I find that balance is important when it comes to training. From a martial arts perspective your core training essentials include sparring, pad-work, grappling, and bag-work, but you can seriously enhance your performance by running, pushing weights, power lifting, calisthenics, and the list goes on. So I think finding a balance within you training regimen is important to achieve the goals you desire.

    • Thank Nick, that’s a great comment. Conditioning for a martial artist is key as you stated, for no one wants to lose a fight because of fatigue or unforced injury.

  24. The first picture looks like me – but with that tan of the second guy 🙂

    Interesting though both weights are cal/yoga are good – in fact they compliment each other.

    But as mentioned at the end : do what you like doing.

  25. I’ve always loved calisthenics and used to dread weight lifting, even as a college athlete when it is most definitely required. I’ve come around, though. And weight lifting has many health benefits for women. So ladies, if you’re reading, lift those weights!

    • For some reason, a lot of women think that if they lift weights, they’ll bulk up and look weird. The truth is, it’s much easier for men to gain muscle mass – and it still takes years of dedication to build a muscular physique! Strength training is for everyone, as is calisthenics. so, Rachel, i couldn’t agree more with your conclusion.

  26. I like to mix. They both have pros and cons and don’t really prove anything over each other. I can lift more weight than my girlfriend but she can do allsorts of handstand type stuff that I can’t do so I guess ‘It is what it is’.

  27. For the overwhelming majority of people who are out of shape & need to start somewhere, I go back to a guy I heard talking about exercise who said, “What’s the best form of exercise? The kind that you do!” If you are willing to do calisthenics but not weights– do it. If you can’t get into calisthenics but you are drawn to weights– do it. Most people would like to have a totally ripped physique but don’t want to do the work. Oh well. Tell ’em to do something, anything. Ya gotta start somewhere.

    • Yes James I know exactly what you are talking about. On days that I am absolutely demotivated to go to the gym I jump around with my lil daughter or run around with her at the park. That is also exercise :). She has more energy than I do.

    • Fantastic!!! Glad to have been able to post something you thoroughly enjoyed. That’s what we are here for. Hope your new-found love for calisthenics is going well.

  28. It’s been my experience that calisthenics are great for beginners. You should know how to work with your own body-weight before moving up. However, I would point out that weight-lifting IS a step up. If you want to gain size, weights is the only way. Then, once you’ve gained some size, use the calisthenics to tone it and harden the muscle.

    • It is always best to start with your own body weight indeed and then start lifting weights after you are a bit more fit and stronger. I agree!
      Thank you for the comment.

  29. I’m a huge fan of Calisthenics, mainly because of the convenience of being able to get a good workout in your bedroom. I think the more convenient your workout is the more likely you are to stick to it. And you can build muscle, you just have to introduce more difficult variations. Its just like weightlifting, you don’t do 4 sets of 12 to get big so why would you just crank out 50 pushups to get big? But I will concede that you probably can’t build the same type of huge muscles that you could with power lifting.

  30. the only way to get stronger is by fighting and becoming hard. i will never advocate lifting weights because there are total pussies who pump iron and a really tough guy of 200lbs will totally crush him. 🙂 it’s funny because it’s true. what good is lifting weights if you get in a fight and you get OWNED by a real warrior. ronnie coleman vs vladimir putin. Vlad wipes the floor with his ass

    • Yes Trip, technique beats muscle mass and size any day. However I don’t think we will live to see that fight. Hmmm I can imagine and have a laugh though. Thanks for the comment.

  31. Great blog. I have recently started doing calisthenics, I love it and find it really challenging but for me it will never replace lifting weights. I like the balance of the two and that’s important for all my training that I have different goals for each type that I do so when added together it will all be awesome! I have barely scratched the surface of calisthenics and am looking forward to learning more. 🙂

    • Very well said. I myself combine just about everything out there based on my goals. As a martial artist you need every edge you can create for yourself.
      Thank you for taking the time for visiting our blog. We aim to inform so people can make the right choices.

      • I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I would take an aerobic style exercise over weight lifting any day. To each his own but I find that there is a lot more life style piece involved in getting out in the country and riding a bike as apposed to sitting in a gym pushing a barbell up and down for an hour. However, if you like to do both that can be good too but I recommend sticking with the lighter weights and leaving the screaming and bench pressing 700 hundred pounds to someone else. Long term it isn’t good for you.

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