Calisthenics vs Weights: The Debate Rages On

Yes. We’re going to add onto the age-old debate of calisthenics vs weights. While a lot of people know about the benefits of weights – there are many – they don’t realize that calisthenics can produce the same amazing results minus the costly gym membership.

Compound Muscle Movements

Working one target muscle at a time isn’t truly efficient. Yes, you can build up weak muscles that lack behind like this, but it’s often using a movement that is not truly functional. What’s the point of doing a concentration curl if it’s a movement that is not optimal for lifting up an object?

Instead, pull ups work your:

  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Biceps

Depending on the grip (close or wide) you can engage other muscle groups at one time. When compound muscle groups are used, it’s a lot more effective when trying to build muscle.

This isn’t to say that you can’t use weight to make a pull up harder, but they’re plenty hard without any weights added. If you want to make it more difficult, you can move to one-arm pull ups or you can do pull ups with air cycling or invisible stairs.

Compound muscles used with calisthenics provide functional movements that help you see results faster.

With all that said, there are certainly plenty of compound weight lifting exercises. Such as squats, deadlifts, barbell rows and others. But a lot of lifters get caught up with doing multiple isolation exercises per muscle group. While almost all calisthenics exercises are compound movements.

Calisthenics Is Less Stressful on Joints

Joint issues are not a problem for younger fitness fanatics. However, as you get older or if you are heavier, you may notice aches that eventually develop into pains that are simply not comfortable.

Most of the time, this occurs because of:

  • Improper form
  • Adding too much weight to a workout

Calisthenics is all about your bodyweight. This means that less stress is put on your joints and ligaments. Inherently, less overall weight used will always put less stress on the joints. So, anyone with hip, ankle or knee pain will be far more comfortable doing a calisthenics workout vs weight lifting. Once you start getting to very advanced movements such as the planche and handstand pushups you do have to be a little more careful. Just don’t over do it! Listen to your body.

Forget the Mundane Routines

Sometimes, you want to be able to enjoy a routine that is as fun as it is flexible.

Since you can do calisthenics without any machines or weights, you’re able to:

  • Perform routines you like best
  • Follow a less rigid schedule
  • Workout in different environments

Being too strict and not fun leads a lot of people back to the couch and away from reaching their fitness goals. This isn’t to say that a varied weight routine can’t be fun – it can be – but routines are often rigid and boring compared to calisthenics.

This isn’t to say that you can’t make up your own routine. A lot of people do make a calisthenics routine because they want to build different muscle groups, or practice certain movements. This is recommended if you like routines and structure, and find that you stay more motivated by following a strict routine.

Do whatever works best for you.

On a side note, it is fun to go to a party and hang from doors, or walk on your hands, or perform a handstand for everyone. It’s a lot of fun. People seem to be more impressed with these things as opposed to telling someone you bench 400 pounds.

No Memberships, No Expensive Equipment

I haven’t found a gym that lets you to use their facilities for free. Heck, you can’t blame them either – equipment is very expensive and their overhead is expensive. When people are tight on money, the first thing to go is always the gym membership. People won’t give up an entertainment item, such as Netflix, but their gym membership? Gone with the wind.

Calisthenics uses all of your own bodyweight.

Whether you’re doing pushups, lunges or jump squats, you’ll be using your own bodyweight. Thankfully, you aren’t charged for this.

There is also virtually no equipment needed that can’t be found at a local park. If you don’t feel like doing chin-ups, you don’t even need equipment. For the most part, there is no investment needed to get started unless you want to buy a pull-up bar. Otherwise, you can find everything you need at the local park, or in your home.

No membership or equipment requirements means:

  • You can exercise while traveling
  • You can exercise in a small space
  • You can exercise on your own schedule

Not having to pay the average $40 – $50 a month to go the gym is just the icing on the cake.

There are some awesome pieces of calisthenics equipment that you can buy if you do not feel like going to the park. We wrote a list of them down which you can view in this article HERE. Do you absolutely need them? Definitely not but it can help reach your goals quicker! It also won’t set you back anywhere near 4,000-10,000 on a home gym. Or a $600 yearly gym membership.

The Beautiful Outdoors

What beats working out on the beach? Or just being outside and soaking in the sun while getting fit! Being outside and working out just feels amazing. Your workout environment can play a huge role on how you progress.

Increased Flexibility

Flexibility is not stressed enough with weights. Most people ignore stretches, and the workouts they do, don’t require a massive amount of flexibility. With calisthenics, you’ll be gently stretching muscles to get into certain poses and positions.

Increased flexibility comes from the range of motion that calisthenics provides.

Weights follow rigid movements that don’t stretch your muscles or even require much stretching at all. If a person is hanging sideways from a pole, you better believe that they are pretty darn flexible and in control of their body.

Weights Are Not All Bad

In the debate between calisthenics vs weights, it’s obvious which one we would choose. However, this doesn’t mean that weights are bad. There is no denying that weights can lead to faster muscle growth and are better for some people than others. For certain sports weights can easily be superior for enhancing performance.

Whatever gets you motivated, you have to do it whether its weights, calisthenics, kickboxing or jumping rope.

Getting active is far more important than what type of exercise you’re doing. If you’re a fan of using weights, we suggest:

  • Adding calisthenics slowly.
  • Swapping exercises.
  • Giving it a try.

You can choose to do pushups instead of a bench press, or you can choose to do pull-ups instead of lat pull downs. Weights and calisthenics together provide amazing results, and there is no harm in doing both if you really enjoy weights.

If you’re going to give calisthenics a try, I recommend reading our beginner guide. This follows a basic routine that can be done multiple days per week without worrying about over training or not hitting the right muscles.

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