bodybuilding, calisthenics, fitness, health

Calisthenics vs. Weightlifting?

It has already been 5 years of weightlifting which got me nice and lean physique while also built up decent strength, flexibility and endurance that made me think why am I actually training when already have more than had expected and initial goal was being met “get fit effective.” Therefore, you should find answer to your why? so you can get disciplined and find your style that suits your needs best.

You can either do both and get more benefits out of your training, life (balance, strength, motoric) or choose and stick with one. Both disciplines have their advantages and disadvantages so let´s start there and lastly, my experience and tips to get you on the right foot 🙂

No matter what your experience/fitness level or age, calisthenics is suitable for everyone as it uses only its own body weight, thus no overload threats lurking unlike weightlifting (most common injury by weightlifting). On the other hand, lower limbs development limited as there is primary use of overbody (shoulders, core, arms).

The other thing is once again same as with fitness, what is your training goal? for example, doing advanced movements/exercises stresses more attention to joints treatment through extra stretching and nutrients.

If training only for muscles (hypertrophy) perhaps calisthenics is your best choice in terms of effectivity (training both inside, outside no financial resources needed). Moreover, you attain incredible strength and balance that even bodybuilders must acknowledge.

Weightlifting is more popular due to heavy marketing and current consumer habits (most still prefer hitting gym). It is relatively easier, for example using machines to correct your technique or getting a fitness trainer so you can focus more on weights (your growth). That makes it also expensive compared to calisthenics. However, that should not be your excuse to skip or totally dich exercising.

I personally, see weightlifting as a strength tool preparing you both mentally and physically for more adventures or opportunities  ready to be grasped. If you are still unsure, I would suggest getting introduced to weightlifting then, expand to calisthenics if you want to of course.

If we take holistic approach, calisthenics is predominant and that by various reasons: safe, effective and resources friendly. It is also widely used by olympic athletes for its immense benefits from which benefit the most strength and balance related disciplines or sports such as parkour.

When it comes to progression and variation which is main factor towards your results as you need to increase the stress to constantly surprise your body in order to make positive changes to your body/life. Progression in calisthenics could be intensity and number of reps where also applying more advanced exercise (different angles, more strength needed).

As to variation, in fitness not that needed so you can do the same exercises all the time – why should you change something that is so effective? only make improvements to it. In calisthenics it is of high relevance, especially when doing advanced movements (muscle up) for you need to strengthen some parts before performing a full movement.

In other words to achieve “muscle up” you need to go through different exercises (variation) to master it (knee raises, chin-ups, negative muscle up). The real question is then, how far you want to go with your skills?

Although, that is not your issue if you are there just for muscle and strength (get fit). Then you just focus on basics (foundation), same as in fitness (basic exercises). 

My decision to embark on calisthenics/streetworkout was initiated by my life philosophy (kaizen – constant improvement). After hitting maturity stage in fitness, the focus shifts towards agility (quick use of body) – thus, using strength, speed and flexibility in more creative way (calisthenics). The other reason is more of survival issue as health and fitness industry is very popular nowadays, so there is need to distinguish yourself and stay progressive.

On the picture, from left to right, you can see back lever and human flag (advanced calisthenics). To do these, you need to tighten up in more muscle groups and current strength might be lacking and you get tired faster. Find more on @imrehw 😉

My progression would be hardly possible without focusing on quality and effectivity (Effective Fitness) because it gave me more time for regeneration when training one to two times a week, thus more opportunities. Secondly, all the exercises in effective fitness are more than enough to do well in calisthenics for it targets all big muscle groups, improves and optimize balance and strength competencies. 


Ashley Kalym (2015). Calisthenics. Das ultimative Handbuch für das Bodyweight-Training. Riva Verlag, München.

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