The Difference Between Calisthenics and Weightlifting

the difference between calisthenics and weightlifting


What is the difference between calisthenics and weightlifting? These two forms of training are among the most popular ways for athletes and healthy people to stay in shape. In this article we will break down the main components of both and equip you with a full knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages.

Here are the top tips from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

Calisthenics Weightlifting
  1. No equipment required, Does not develop muscle mass quickly
  2. Less stress on joints, more of a full-body workout, and promotes flexibility.
  3. Much lower risk of bone injury, tendonitis, and strained muscles
  1. Better for isolating muscle groups and increasing muscle mass
  2. Resistance training and strength building


Similarities Between the Two

  • Both calisthenics and weight training have the ability to increase your resting metabolic rate.
  • These forms of exercise burn fat and increase heart health.  
  • Though through different means, they both strengthen ligaments- providing you practice proper form in the exercises.  
  • Body fat percentage decreases after extended amounts of time following these forms of exercise.
  • Like any form of physical activity, both of these options act as stress relievers.


Unique to Weight Training

  1. Weightlifting is harder on the joints due to the added stress from the extra mass.
  2. It builds more muscle mass at a faster rate.
  3. One of the major advantages of weight lifting is it’s ability to target and isolate muscles. Conversely, this means you don’t have the ability to work the majority of your muscle groups in a single exercise.
  4. Studies have proven that weight training is a fantastic combatant for osteoporosis because it increases bone density.
  5. In old age, weight lifting helps you retain your muscle mass. Fact: more reps with less weight has greater effects than less reps with more weight.
  6. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER TECHNIQUE: Livestrong reports that if you have poor breathing habits like holding your breath while lifting, you can enlarge your heart- leading to complications later in life.
  7. In the long term, really working your muscles increases their ability to use glucose. This can even reduce the elevated levels of glucose associated with diabetes.
  8. Lifting weights allows you to alter the shape of your body versus just toning you into a smaller version of your current shape, because unlike calisthenics you can choose which parts of your body to engage.
  9. Regular weight lifting is an effective tactic for combating abdominal fat, especially as you age.
  10. Lifting induces the release of growth hormones and testosterone in weight lifters after exercise.


Unique to Calisthenics

  1. Performing calisthenics such as squats has been shown to  improve joint and ligament alignment.
  2. Regular practice of calisthenics improves your overall balance and stability.
  3. One source states that calisthenics allow for an exponential increase in the body’s capacity for, “fully body control, balance, speed, endurance, and flexibility”.
  4. One of the major advantages calisthenics presents is it’s ability to engage large muscle groups and multiple groups simultaneously. Unfortunately, this also means that you don’t have the ability to focus on a specific area or muscle.
  5. One research foundations states that by practicing calisthenics, you are tapping into the, “most effective way to build functional strength”.
  6. Through the practice of  regular calisthenics, your body increases the neuronal connections in the brain due to a release of growth factors.
  7. Both burpees and abdominal exercises have been proven to improve posture through working your back and core muscles.  By promoting better posture, you are also alleviating lower back pain and stress.
  8. In general it is safer to practice calisthenics than weight lifting; body weight exercises don’t present as much of a risk of straining your body under excess weight. Because calisthenics limits you to solely your body weight, you are putting less stress on your joints, which subsequently leads to a lower risk of joint injury.
  9. Because calisthenics traditionally involves performing large amounts of reps, it actually develops muscular endurance.
  10. Sprinting (a calisthenic exercise) has proven to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health; your fast-twitch muscles improve heart function, the explosive motions causes your heart to work harder- thus strengthening it.  



  1. Low weight, high reps is more effective than high weight, low reps…

    OK, isn’t that what calisthenics is? Low weight, high rep….

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