Is Calisthenics Strength Training: Calisthenics, derived from the Greek words “kallos” (meaning beauty) and “sthenos” (meaning strength), is, at its core, a form of exercise that employs the resistance of one’s body weight to build muscle, strength, and endurance. This age-old discipline traces its roots to ancient Greece, where athletes honed their physical prowess through bodyweight movements, paving the way for a legacy that endures to this day.

While traditional strength training often involves lifting external weights such as dumbbells, barbells, and resistance machines, calisthenics takes a minimalist approach by utilizing movements like push ups, pull ups, dips, and bodyweight squats. But does this simplicity undermine its status as an effective strength-building method? The answer lies in understanding the principles that underpin calisthenics.

Calisthenics emphasizes functional strength, focusing on compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This approach not only promotes balanced muscle development but also enhances overall body control, agility, and coordination. Through progressive overload and gradual skill acquisition, calisthenics practitioners push their physical limits, gradually increasing the difficulty of exercises to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains.

Is Calisthenics Strength Training

Is calisthenics also strength training?

Commonly, strength training is associated with lifting weights, but there are many ways to do it. You can also do calisthenics, which uses your own bodyweight as resistance. Although weightlifting and calisthenics are both forms of strength training, they yield different results.

Muscle Engagement: Calisthenics movements emphasize compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This approach promotes balanced muscle development and enhances overall body control and coordination.

Progressive Resistance: Calisthenics enthusiasts continually challenge themselves by increasing the intensity and complexity of exercises. This progressive resistance is a fundamental principle in strength training, fostering muscle growth and strength gains.

Functional Strength: Calisthenics emphasizes functional strength, meaning that the skills and abilities developed through these exercises can be applied to real-world situations. This is a key element of strength training, as it focuses on practical and functional fitness.

Muscular Endurance: Calisthenics workouts often include high-repetition sets, which help develop muscular endurance, another essential component of strength training.

Does calisthenics build muscle or strength?

Calisthenics is amazing for building functional, full-body muscle but there is a limit to the amount of sheer mass you can gain with calisthenics. Calisthenics will build as much muscle as free weights to a point, but if you want to push past that point then you’ll need to train (and eat) like a bodybuilder.

Building Muscle with Calisthenics:

Calisthenics can be an excellent tool for muscle building, often referred to as hypertrophy. To achieve this goal, individuals can focus on exercises and routines that involve higher repetitions and time under tension. Common muscle-building calisthenics exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, dips, bodyweight squats, and various core exercises. By performing these exercises with a focus on volume, individuals can stimulate muscle growth.

  • Progressive Overload: Muscle growth through calisthenics can be achieved by applying the principle of progressive overload. This involves gradually increasing the resistance or intensity of exercises to challenge the muscles and promote growth. For example, using weighted vests, resistance bands, or incorporating advanced variations of exercises can intensify the workout and lead to muscle development.
  • Nutrition: To support muscle growth through calisthenics, proper nutrition is essential. Consuming an adequate amount of protein and calories, along with proper hydration, is crucial for optimizing muscle development.

Building Strength with Calisthenics:

Calisthenics is also a highly effective method for building strength. Strength training with calisthenics emphasizes exercises that challenge the body’s capacity to lift, hold, and control weight. It often involves lower repetitions and higher intensity. Exercises such as one-arm push-ups, one-arm pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and planches require a tremendous amount of strength and provide the necessary stimuli for strength gains.

  • Neuromuscular Adaptation: Strength gains in calisthenics are not solely due to muscle size but also involve neuromuscular adaptation. This adaptation enhances the efficiency and coordination of muscle contractions, allowing the body to exert more force.
  • Specific Skills: Calisthenics strength training often incorporates specific skills that demand increased strength. Mastery of these skills is a testament to the development of considerable strength in addition to muscle.

Is calisthenics better than strength training?

Although it’s true that both calisthenics and weight training have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, there isn’t such a big difference between the two overall. In fact, research shows that there are no significant differences between calisthenics and weight training when it comes to certain metrics.


  • Minimal Equipment: Calisthenics requires little to no equipment, making it accessible to individuals who may not have access to a gym or weights. This makes it a cost-effective option for many.
  • Functional Strength: Calisthenics places a strong emphasis on functional strength, which means it helps you develop strength that can be applied to real-world activities and sports.
  • Bodyweight Control: Calisthenics promotes better body awareness, control, and balance. It often involves complex movements that require coordination and skill.

Strength Training (with Weights):

  • Targeted Resistance: Traditional strength training allows for precise control of resistance, which is particularly useful for isolating and developing specific muscle groups.
  • Progressive Overload: It’s easier to apply progressive overload by increasing the weight you lift incrementally, which is a key factor for muscle and strength gains.
  • Efficiency: Strength training with weights can be time-efficient because it allows you to target specific muscle groups efficiently.

Does calisthenics build real strength?

Yes! Calisthenics can build an awesome physique and great strength at the same time. Exercises using bodyweight have been more of an underground workout style that is often used for people with injuries or to lose weight.

Functional Movements: Calisthenics exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and bodyweight squats, are compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. These movements mimic everyday activities, requiring strength that can be directly applied in practical situations.

Bodyweight Control: Calisthenics promotes better body control and awareness. The exercises often involve complex movements that require balance, coordination, and control of your body in space, contributing to functional strength.

Core Strength: Many calisthenics exercises engage the core muscles, which are essential for stability and power in various real-world activities, from lifting heavy objects to maintaining proper posture.

Skill Development: Calisthenics includes skill-based movements, such as handstands and planches, which demand high levels of strength, balance, and coordination. Mastering these skills demonstrates a high degree of functional strength.

Why are calisthenics guys so strong?

The functionality of calisthenic movements is another reason that these athletes are so strong when it comes to basic, weighted movements, such as the squat, bench, and deadlift. Another benefit of calisthenics, which Alex Bromley covered in the video, is that they force you to stay in shape, body fat wise.

Bodyweight Resistance: Calisthenics primarily uses the resistance of one’s own body weight for exercises. This form of resistance challenges the muscles differently than lifting external weights. By mastering their body weight, calisthenics practitioners develop a high level of relative strength, meaning they can generate significant force relative to their own body mass.

Functional Strength: Calisthenics focuses on functional strength, which means that the strength developed is not only for show but also highly practical. The movements and exercises mimic real-world activities and sports, making it easier for practitioners to apply their strength in various practical scenarios.

Compound Movements: Calisthenics emphasizes compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, dips, and planches require coordination and simultaneous activation of numerous muscle groups, resulting in well-rounded strength development.

Is it OK to do calisthenics everyday?

if you want to build pure strength & NOT put on mass, then you approach each day as a “practice”, get plenty of rest between sets and keep the reps low, trying to perfect form. Yes, you can do calisthenics every day.

Fitness Level: If you are new to calisthenics or physical exercise in general, it’s not advisable to start training every day. Your body needs time to adapt, recover, and prevent overuse injuries. Beginners should start with 2-3 days a week and gradually increase frequency as their fitness level improves.

Goals: Your goals play a significant role in determining the frequency of your calisthenics workouts. If your objective is muscle hypertrophy (muscle size), it’s often more effective to include rest days for muscle recovery. However, if your goal is to focus on skill development and you can manage your volume and intensity effectively, more frequent training may be suitable.

Exercise Intensity: The intensity and volume of your calisthenics routine matter. If you perform high-intensity workouts every day without adequate rest, it can lead to overtraining, injuries, and burnout. Lower-intensity sessions or active recovery workouts can be done more frequently.

Recovery: Adequate recovery is essential to prevent overuse injuries and promote muscle repair and growth. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, and hydration to support your recovery. Incorporating rest days or light recovery days into your routine is crucial.

Who is stronger calisthenics or bodybuilding?

As mentioned, building RELATIVE STRENGTH with calisthenics is far superior to bodybuilding. Relative strength pertains to the power your muscles can generate with respect to your weight. That’s why advanced calisthenics athletes can perform crazy gravity-defying skills.


Relative Strength: Calisthenics often emphasizes relative strength, meaning the ability to generate significant force relative to one’s body weight. This can lead to impressive strength-to-weight ratios.

Body Control: Calisthenics also promotes body control, balance, and coordination, which are essential components of functional strength.

Skill Development: Many calisthenics practitioners develop impressive strength in specific bodyweight skills, such as muscle-ups, planches, and handstands. Mastering these skills requires a high degree of strength and control.


Hypertrophy: Bodybuilding primarily focuses on muscle hypertrophy, or muscle size. It involves training with the goal of maximizing muscle growth through resistance exercises using weights.

Muscle Isolation: Bodybuilding often includes isolation exercises that target specific muscle groups. It aims to build aesthetically pleasing and well-defined muscles.

Absolute Strength: Bodybuilders can also develop substantial absolute strength, especially in the muscles they have emphasized during their training.

What type of training is calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a form of strength training that uses the resistance of your body and gravity to help strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination, endurance and mobility. In fact, almost all common bodyweight exercises are calisthenics exercises such as squats, push-ups, lunges and crunches!

Bodyweight Resistance: Calisthenics primarily uses your own body weight as resistance, which means you don’t rely on external weights or equipment for most exercises.

Compound Movements: Calisthenics exercises often involve compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This promotes balanced muscle development and functional strength.

Functional Strength: Calisthenics places a strong emphasis on functional strength, which means the strength developed can be applied to real-world activities and sports.

Skill Development: Calisthenics includes a wide range of exercises and skills, from basic moves like push-ups and pull-ups to advanced skills like handstands and planches. This makes it suitable for individuals interested in skill development and mastering complex movements.

Is Calisthenics Strength Training


Calisthenics, by its very nature, is a form of strength training. It fosters muscle development, enhances muscular endurance, and promotes progressive resistance, all hallmarks of traditional strength training methods. Through foundational movements like push-ups, pull-ups, and bodyweight squats, and advanced skills such as muscle-ups and planches, calisthenics practitioners progressively challenge their bodies, fostering muscle adaptation and strength gains.

The effectiveness of calisthenics lies in its focus on functional strength, where compound movements engage multiple muscle groups, promoting balanced development. Calisthenics enthusiasts are not only building strong muscles but also honing body control, agility, and coordination. This style of training stands as a testament to the capability of the human body to harness its own weight to foster growth and development.

Moreover, calisthenics is versatile and accessible. It can be tailored to suit diverse fitness goals, whether you aim to sculpt an aesthetically pleasing physique, enhance athletic performance, or simply cultivate a healthier and stronger body. This adaptability is a testament to the all-encompassing nature of calisthenics, making it a valuable tool in the fitness arsenal of many.

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