Bodyweight WorkoutsGeneral

Calisthenics vs Weights: What’s the Difference?

In the fitness world, there’s an almost endless stream of lingo and terminology when it comes to exercise. Thankfully, we’re here to help end this madness by providing you with user-friendly guides and information on what all of these terms mean. Today we’re diving into the difference between two similar yet different kinds of exercises: […]

Published: 3/22/22

In the fitness world, there’s an almost endless stream of lingo and terminology when it comes to exercise. Thankfully, we’re here to help end this madness by providing you with user-friendly guides and information on what all of these terms mean. Today we’re diving into the difference between two similar yet different kinds of exercises: calisthenics vs weight training. Both are forms of weight training, but the two are not identical. In fact, there is one difference in particular that divides the two. Keep reading to find out what sets a calisthenics workout apart from weight training. 

What is Calisthenic Exercise?

Calisthenics is a form of exercise that uses your own body weight without the use of additional weights. Although you’re just using the weight of your body, there are indeed other tools that you can use that can help you to utilize your weight in unique ways to get a good workout in. Usually, these tools are lighter, handheld items like rings or wands.

A calisthenics exercise not only includes bodyweight training but it can even be a LISS workout. LISS training for beginners, or any fitness level, is another great way of getting exercise in without using external weight. The benefits of LISS can also include improving blood flow, reducing stress, and more. 

What is Weighted Exercise?

While a calisthenic is a bodyweight exercise, a Weighted exercise involves using additional weights, not just your own body weight, during your workout.

Why is the addition of weights useful? From a scientific perspective, when you strain your muscles with more weight than they are used to, they tear ever so slightly. While this may sound unnatural, it’s actually how we form new muscles. When our muscles tear, it forces our bodies to rebuild the tissue. As we rebuild more and more tissue, we increase our overall muscle mass and strength.

So a weighted exercise might require heavy weight training rather than a body weight exercise.

The Difference Between Calisthenics and Weighted Exercise

In general, calisthenic forms of exercise require more movement than weighted exercise training does. The main difference between these two isn’t necessarily even the actions themselves, but the desired result that you’re looking for.

Muscle Definition and Weight Loss

If your desired fitness goals are to have really defined muscles or lose weight, calisthenics are the more efficient option. Not to say you can’t or shouldn’t do both because engaging in both forms of exercise does allow for a more well-rounded fitness routine. However, calisthenics will help you more with fat loss and muscle tone than weight lifting.

Calisthenic exercises involve more active movement than lifting weights, so more energy is required to get calisthenic exercises done. As a result, the body burns more calories and sheds more fat in the same amount of time. If you’re looking for some examples of what calisthenics is, here are two of our favorites.

Increasing Muscle Strength

If increasing muscle strength and exercise is a key priority for you, then you should be hitting the weights—no question. Weight lifting is unique because you can have so much precise control on where and how you build muscle strength. This streamlines the muscle-building process and can help you get specific muscle results faster. So, for example, if you’re looking to increase your muscles’ tone and overall appearance, you would lean more into calisthenics and weight lifting using lighter weights. But if you are trying to achieve or maintain larger muscle mass to increase the strength and size of your muscles, heavier weights are for you.

Calisthenics and Weight Exercise Examples

Here are a few examples of some of our favorite calisthenics and weighted exercises:

Jump Squats (Calisthenics)

One type of calisthenics exercises is jump squats. If you’re looking to feel the burn, here it is. While jump squats may not necessarily be your favorite go-to for fun, they really kick your body into high gear to assist with toning. ​​Although some may choose to add an external weight, it’s not necessary and can be done as a bodyweight exercise. 

Begin standing with your feet hips distance apart. Bend down into a squat position, and then push into the balls of your feet, exploding upwards into a jump. Land back on the ground and repeat. 

Push-Ups (Calisthenics)

Another type of calisthenics exercises is push-ups.Push-ups use your body weight to get your body moving and start those micro muscle tears that lead to increased muscle build and tone in your core and upper body. 

Begin in a high plank position, with your feet and hips aligned and your hands underneath your shoulders. Engage your core muscles as you hinge at the elbows, lowering your body closer to the ground. Keeping your back body straight, stop when your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle, then push back up into a high plank and repeat.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press (Weight Exercise) 

A strength training exercise is a dumbbell shoulder press. This is a great workout to target a specific muscle group and is flexible with the resistance based on the dumbbell weight you choose. 

Using two weighted dumbbells of your choosing, hold them at about ear level and lift up towards the ceiling and back down repeatedly. This exercise strengthens your delts, triceps, and traps.

Weighted Squat (Weight Exercise) 

If you’re looking to strengthen and tone up your glutes, this is the one for you. While holding a weight across your shoulders along your upper back, assume a squatting position and then return to your original starting position. Build three sets of 5-10 reps.

A note about safety: Weighted exercise tends to carry more risk, so it’s incredibly important that you know your limits and can pace yourself in order to avoid any injury. If you’re not sure where to begin, start small with the weights and slowly increase over time. One preventative measure that helps with weight training is wearing protection, such as a back brace to protect you from a back injury. 

However, whether you’re heavy weight lifting or bodyweight training, it’s important to warm up before each exercise. While warming up may only sound essential to strength training and weightlifting, it’s important for any workout that involves movement and muscle engagement. The benefits of warming up before a workout are important to getting blood flow and for muscle recovery.

To Use Weights Or Not To Use Weights? (That’s up to you!)

Whether your looking for muscle growth or toned muscles, you can use either of these exercises to your benefit and fitness goal. We encourage you to give both calisthenics and weight training a go to see which one better aligns with your fitness routine and exercise goals. Need a place to try out calisthenics or weight exercises? Come on in to your closest Chuze fitness and gain access to top-tier exercise equipment machines, weights, and workout areas.

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