Calisthenics and Weight Training – Which One Is Better?

Marvin Eder combines bodyweight and weight trainingBodyweight training or weight training? A lot of people get confused in their choice. They try to find the ultimate tool for gaining strength, building muscle, getting ripped. Some of them became fans of one tool, some prefer the other. It’s ok. But people are funny creatures. Some of them just need to make their point of view as the only possible. And there’s no better place to make it than the internet. That is why we have epic battles of calisthenics disciples and weight training advocates. Life-or-death battles. And get even more confused.

As an open-minded, reasonable and smart trainee you should ask yourself: “Ok, so which one is better?” The answer may surprise you. Read on.

So Which One Is Better?

The right answer is none. None is better. Calisthenics as well as weight training have their own places in training world. Well I may go even further and state this: it’s possible that you won’t get complete development with just one of them. Besides, you can always mix them as you wish. One doesn’t exclude the other. Oldtime strongmen knew that. Their goal was ultimate strength. They didn’t divide their strength training into tools like we see now. If they couldn’t move their body through space, then they were weak and worked on that area. If they couldn’t lift the barbell or dumbbell, or kettlebell in the way they wanted, then they were weak and worked on that area of strength. If they couldn’t lift sandbags, stones or other real-world objects, they considered them weak and worked on that area too. That’s the approach I like. This way you have no weak links. That’s all strength training. Listen to old school wisdom. Don’t be afraid to cheat your favorite training tool with the other. It’s not cheating – it’s all-around strength development. Don’t limit yourself to one implement. They all are fun and useful.

But How Can I Get Time for All of Them?

Well, try to find it. Again you don’t need to devote a lot of time and effort to minor tools. For example, if your main priority is bodyweight proficiency, then you can add 2-4 training sessions per week with weights. Use simple approach like Pavel’s “3-5 method”. You can learn it from his book “Beyond Bodybuilding” (which you can find here). Otherwise, if your main goal is to master weights, it would be by all means wise and beneficial idea to throw in some dips, pull-ups, pistols and handstands to the mix.

Closing Thoughts

It’s really frustrating when people start idealize one tool over the other. If your goal is to build as much muscle as possible and you don’t care about strength (I don’t get it, but there are lots of such people out there), then barbell and dumbbells are your best friends. This type of training doesn’t involve a lot of thinking. [UPDATE: not until advanced stages] Just pick some routine, eat big, sleep big and grow your all-show-no-go body. You probably won’t need any other tool. Regarding strength, their is powerlifting, which is fine until those guys begin to use their supercostumes, wrap all possible joints, fat up to move more weight etc. That’s not strength in my opinion. With every gadget you make lift easier instead of making it harder. In the end they all end up screwed up, fat guys who can bench, squat and deadlift plenty but can’t do a pull-up. That’s not right.

Anyway, the main point here is that strength is all about weak links. You are as strong as your weak link is. Don’t be foolish and ignorant. Start thinking. Eliminate your weak links and become superstrong.

Thanks for reading. Share, comment, subscribe, like and stuff.

Play rough!

Alex Zinchenko

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11 thoughts on “Calisthenics and Weight Training – Which One Is Better?

  1. LittleBeastM

    Great post.. combining the 2 and many other things make you ofcourse more experienced,stronger,smarter, you shock the body more.. use anything.. and elements around you.. dont limit yourself.. this is exacly what i will bring to my website..

  2. Ben

    Fantastic, as always. If it works, use it. That’s all weights, bodyweight, etc, are. A means to an end, be it strength, muscles, whatever.

  3. Matt

    I love this type of exercise, but the problem is… I gained a lot of weight in the past years and I’m trying to lose it now. But it is really impossible for me yet do to exercise with bars that you have to use your whole body. Even one single pull up is a nightmare.

    What do you recommend? There is any alternative exercises? I could never find an answer for that.

    Maybe a should just stick with the gym for a while, then?

    Thanks, great blog you have here.

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Thanks for kind words, Matt.

      As for your problem, it’s obvious to me that you need to loose some fat before considering intermediate/advanced calisthenics. You need sound and solid diet approach. As for training stick to basics as long as they work for you. For more information you can contact me through e-mail:

      1. Matt

        Thanks a lot.

        Maybe someday you could make an article on exercises for people who have dificulty with some of the tradicional ones.

        Anyway, i’ll be going to the gym to lose weight now, and i’ll keep reading here.

        Thanks. :)

  4. Pingback: Weighted Calisthenics: Best of Both Worlds

  5. Ironthumb

    My especialty is training for MUSCLE GAIN
    and I do 100 PERCENT
    that moves wherein one moves his body along a space score highest in the CNS involvement criteria
    hence these moves are staple part of our regimen and
    one cannot go through advanced stages of muscular development without these.

    more CNS involvement equal
    MORE adaptational response

    Ever seen a bodypart stripped off of neural connections? Its muscles would be atrophied
    Thus the need for lbodybuilders to actually prioritize moves that:
    Dont involve machines
    involve moving several joints at one time
    involves moving their own body along a plane
    preferably with the extra weight

    To tell you the truth its NOT advanced bodybuilders who really need this more
    newbies really need high CNS moves MORE!
    But instead you see them doing cables, adn single joint lifts


    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Yeah. Newbies doing curls every session are sad. If all they did were squats and presses, they could be powerhouses in 3-5 years (comparing to what they are now).

      – Alex

  6. Dan Söderberg

    This post was perfect fits like hand in glove putting words on my way of thinking outdoors indors tools free weights anything goes When you dont limit yourself youwill also get more free and creative in your approach Congratulations you nailed it


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