Many people believe that calisthenics and weight training are mutually exclusive. Although both are considered "resistance training" and both can increase muscular size, strength and endurance, they involve different types of workouts and yield different results.
Calisthenics mainly utilizes your own body weight as a resistance tool and does not require any special equipment. The only piece of equipment that you'll need is a pull-up bar to perform pull-ups, along with dip bars to perform dips, but you can probably perform dips using a park bench, a sturdy chair at home or the side of a couch! Other popular calisthenics exercises like push-ups, squats, crunches, planks, and lunges do NOT require any equipment at all and can be performed anywhere.
In fact, the majority of calisthenics exercises do NOT require any equipment or machines. Weightlifting, on the other hand, will always require either a dumbbell, a barbell, or a machine of some sort. The most common weightlifting exercises like the bench press, tricep extensions, bicep curls, military press, barbell squats, and deadlifts all require equipment. Popular bodyweight exercises in calisthenics include pull-ups, push-ups, dips, squats, lunges, and crunches. Calisthenics is more affordable and convenient as they can be practiced without equipment.
Hybrid Calisthenics is the idea of combining both in a single workout, and I'll go over some hybrid workout examples later in this article. Oh and there's also "weighted calisthenics" which involves using a bodyweight vest, or kettlebells to add resistance, but we'll cover that in another post.
You can find a set of pull-up and dip bars at your local park, or install them at the comfort of your own home. Our calisthenics instructor, Pat Chadwick, recommends you purchase any of these 10 pieces of calisthenics equipment to rock your home fitness routines.
Weight lifting utilizes weighted objects as a form of resistance. You will simply lift these weights for the desired amount of repetitions which targets specific muscle groups. This can be done with fixed exercise machines or free weights. Examples of weight lifting include bicep curls, bench presses, shoulder presses, leg presses, and tricep extensions.
With this in mind, if you enjoy both types of training you can combine the two together to create a form of workout that is called “Hybrid Calisthenics”. This is ideal if you want to maximize strength and hypertrophy. Moreover, it will enable you to be an overall complete athlete.
Hybrid calisthenics allows you to lift heavy. For calisthenics, this could be weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, weighted push-ups, and it is good to switch this up by doing conventional deadlifts, back squats, and bench presses. This will increase motor unit recruitment where your muscles develop contractile strength, which results in hypertrophy.
This style of training is suitable for all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced because it is highly adaptable to your current training level. You will need to establish a good understanding of where your body currently stands, then you can modify your workout.
For example, to make pull-ups easier, you can regress to Australian pull-ups, also, to make push-ups easier you can place your knees on the floor to do knee push-ups. On the other hand, progressing or regressing in weightlifting is straightforward, you can simply increase or decrease the weight of the free weights or exercise machines.
Once you have figured out your training goals, you can then determine if hybrid calisthenics is the best approach to help you reach your workout. This training style is ideal if your goal is to gain strength and size.
To create a successful hybrid calisthenics program, you would make training splits and you can do this two ways, either separative training (alternate between weighted and calisthenics sessions) or combining the two in a single session.
Here is a training split example:
If you are new to weight training, it is highly recommended you start with an empty bar with usually weighs around 45 pounds. Concentrate on doing one quality rep at a time and be able to do 10 clean reps before including additional weight plates on top.
It is essential to have a strength training program to provide you with structure so that you can keep your workout consistent. Here is an example hybrid calisthenics routine you can do on a weekly basis:
Day 1: Push Day
Day 2: Pull Day
Day 3: Leg Day
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: Push
Day 6: Pull day
Day 7: Leg Day
Weight lifting is better if building strength and size is your goal as external weight makes it easier to overload specific muscle groups which promotes muscular tears and repairs. However, if you include calisthenics on top of this, it can seriously boost your strength and size through a different type of tension on your muscle fibers, and this also triggers growth.
Resistance training provides benefits that include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem. In fact, empirical research suggests that ten weeks of resistance training could increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg, and increase resting metabolic rate by 7%.
Hybrid calisthenics will allow you to become an overall complete athlete, as the strength you gain from both forms of training will be transferrable to each other. Weight training will allow you to lift heavier, therefore improving your muscular strength. Whereas calisthenics will build up your endurance and stamina, enabling you to execute reps for longer before becoming fatigued. Both your fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers will be developed.
Although calisthenics and weight training offer much variety in terms of exercise variations. When you combine the two into your training routine, this offers much more diversity in your workouts, which creates new stimuli on your muscles constantly, therefore, creating more progress over time. The likelihood of you getting bored of training could very well decrease because of more exercise variations.
A 2019 study concludes that varying exercise selection had a positive effect on enhancing motivation while providing greater increases in lean mass and strength compared to a fixed exercise routine.
My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.