People often wonder whether training using their own bodyweight or lifting weights is better. It’s a very common debate, especially for people who are just starting their fitness journey. Seasoned exercisers, who are looking to take their fitness to the next level, also wonder if they should be using weights or doing calisthenic workouts. First, we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both types of training. Then, we will determine which method is better, as well as who would benefit the most from each of the aforementioned training methods.

Examining Calisthenics

Calisthenics is also known as bodyweight exercises, which can be performed with little to no equipment. One of the reasons why bodyweight exercises are great is because they don’t require any expensive equipment nor gym memberships. Calisthenics can be done anytime anywhere and are ideal for those who are short on time and money to invest in gym memberships. Additionally, bodyweight exercises are fantastic for people who are trying to overcome injuries or for those who are first starting their fitness journey. On the other hand, weight training can be very intimidating for beginners. This is because, without a fitness professional by their side, it can be difficult to determine how much weight, how many repetitions and how often they should lift. When it comes to bodyweight training, as long as the exercises are done with proper form and the appropriate number of repetitions given the participant’s fitness level, the risk of injury is lower. Additionally, bodyweight exercises are easier on your joints than lifting heavy weights. However, the aforementioned statement is only true in the case of those who use weights improperly or lift weights that are too heavy for their fitness level.

Although there are many benefits to calisthenics, there are also a few drawbacks. For one, although you will get stronger if you do calisthenics, you will not build visible muscle as quickly as you would if you lifted weights. With bodyweight training, you are limited with the amount of resistance that you can add to your training. Therefore, in order to increase the difficulty of your bodyweight workout, you will most likely need to get creative, find new and more challenging exercises or increase the number of repetitions. However, keep in mind that if you increase the number of repetitions, your workout will take you longer to complete. To many people, that is definitely a drawback. Although you will be able to lose fat and get stronger if all you do is bodyweight exercises, if you are looking to build big, prominent muscles, calisthenics is not the best way.

Some examples of calisthenics exercises include:

All of the aforementioned exercises can be adapted to suit all fitness levels. Not only that but if you do all of the exercises that were mentioned here, you will notice that you will have worked every major muscle in your body. If you are just getting started with bodyweight training, try the following workout:

  • 20 squats
  • 10 pushups
  • 30-second plank
  • 20 jump squats
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 leg lifts

Set your timer to 10 minutes and repeat the aforementioned exercise sequence until your timer runs out. This will definitely make you sweat and it will get easier as you do more. V-ups, chin ups and pull ups are typically best for the advanced participants.

Examining Weight Training

Next, let’s discuss weight training. Fitness competitors, especially bodybuilders, are big fans of weight training. Weight training involves lifting dumbbells, barbells, as well as using strength training equipment at gyms. When you use weights, you are able to progressively overload your muscles so that they grow bigger and stronger. Another benefit of weight training is that you are able to track your progress much more easily. For example, if you were doing 10 bicep curls with a 20 lb dumbbell on January 10th, 2018 and then over time, as you progressively lifted more and more, you ended up being able to do 15 bicep curls with a 35 lb dumbbell within three months, you will be able to track it. When it comes to training using weights and resistance machines, there are definitely more opportunities to make your workouts more diverse and more challenging. Many will argue that the greater the challenge, the better results you will get.

On the other hand, weight training does have its drawbacks. First, if you are not familiar with how to use the equipment and how to lift weights with proper form, your risk of injury definitely increases.  Second, not everyone has the money to join a gym or buy expensive strength training equipment. Lastly, weight training limits where a person can do his or her workout.

Conclusion: Weights or Bodyweight Training?

In conclusion, both methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. There is no way to determine which method is the best without first knowing what the participants’ ultimate fitness goals are. If someone is looking to make massive gains in strength and size, weight training is the better choice. However, if someone is looking for a convenient way to stay fit and healthy, as well as get marginally stronger without spending too much money on gym memberships and equipment, then bodyweight training is best for him/her.