For awhile now, resistance training and calisthenics (bodyweight training) have gained a lot of traction and interest. This is because of their innate ability to change one’s aesthetics, as well as physical properties like strength and explosiveness. There are people who believe your bodyweight is all you need - then, there are people who "religiously" engage in resistance training; preaching the bench, squats, rows and deadlifts.
But which approach is better, and what benefits can you reap from these types of training? In this article, we’ll answer this, and more - so if you’ve ever wondered which type of training is better, keep reading!
Bodyweight Training, also known as “calisthenics” is the activity of using your body weight to perform certain exercises under the force of gravity, without any equipment or added resistance. Some of the most common bodyweight exercises are movements like push-ups, squats, pull-ups, lunges, muscle-ups and dips.
On the other hand, resistance training involves the use of barbells, dumbbells, machines, cables, bands, medicine balls and other equipment to create resistance. The squat, deadlift, row and press are the four of the fundamental exercises you'll see in weightlifting, which are even a benchmark for strength! Now if you’re already wondering which type of training is superior, let us tell you this - both types of training are effective and can be utilized to leverage strength and muscle gains!
However, which one is superior depends on the context and the goal the individual has, so let us take you through the advantages and disadvantages of both types of training.
The Benefits of Calisthenics
Bodyweight training is most of all, a good way to establish fundamental strength and muscular development. Because, well, being able to lift your own bodyweight, before moving on to lifting weights, kind of makes sense doesn’t it? This fundamental relative strength can then give you the opportunity to ease into weight training and maximize your potential for physical development.
The bad part of calisthenics is that it gets too easy, too quickly, because you’re working with your bodyweight. In less than one year (of consistent training), pull-ups, push-ups and dips can become less challenging - and you then have to add resistance to the movements to keep progressing (in a strength capacity). Another option is to learn more complex movements like handstands, planche, front levers and others, but if your PRIMARY goal is to gain strength and grow your muscles, this approach will not get you there forever.
The Benefits of Resistance Training
In the context of maximizing muscle growth and strength potential, resistance training appears to be the king. The principle of both types of training is the same: Causing muscular strength "overload". However, with resistance training, the resistance and muscular tension is generated by an external force (sometimes in addition to your own bodyweight), making everything far more intense.
Additionally, resistance training can help you seamlessly target muscle groups that you can hardly work on directly, with just calisthenics (such as row movements). This implies that in terms of aesthetic development, resistance training is superior. This type of training at its very essence, allows you to do more intense work, during which you can easily increase the resistance by adding extra weight on the bar or picking heavier dumbbells/bands.
Which One Should YOU Choose?
Here’s a wild idea: You can combine both types of training (that's my approach, personally), but focus more on the one that resonates with your goals best. You like explosive bodyweight movements that look cool? Go for the pull-up bars and bodyweight/balance training. You are looking to maximize your strength and muscular development? Opt for a bench, bar and plates. As simple as that!
The human body is capable of a LOT, and it has plenty of potential lying within. It’s just a matter of YOU taking the necessary action to unlock that potential and realize it. Whether you choose to engage in bodyweight training or just go to the gym, you won’t be in the wrong!
Both of these types of training offer amazing benefits and can help you develop a good-looking, strong body. Start somewhere, see what you like better, what gets you closer to your goals and focus on that.