Bodybuilding vs. Calisthenics: Can You Do Both?

  • By: Dave Moffat
  • Date: December 13, 2023
Bodybuilding vs Calisthenics

The age-old debate between bodybuilding and calisthenics has been going on for quite some time.

Many gym-goers don’t know what to think about the debate about which type of training is better.

The truth is, both can be incredibly effective, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. The most significant distinction between the two disciplines is the source of resistance used.

Bodybuilding employs weights and machines, whereas calisthenics utilizes the individual’s body weight.

Each method has its advantages, and it depends on your personal goals and fitness levels.

Whether you’re striving for lean muscle or trying to get stronger, there’s definitely a method that will work for you.

What is Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is a type of exercise where you use things like weights to make your muscles bigger.

The goal is to work out your muscles as much as possible. Use different workout equipment and do various kinds of exercises.

When bodybuilding, you mostly focus on the muscles you can see. These include your shoulders, chest, arms, and stomach.

You might think of professional bodybuilders when you hear “bodybuilding.” However, anyone who wants to get fit and look better can do it.

It takes hard work, self-control, and knowing how to get the most muscle growth from exercise, eating right, and getting enough rest.

Pros and Cons of Bodybuilding

When it comes to bodybuilding, there are both pros and cons to consider. Bodybuilding is highly effective at building muscle mass. It’s a great choice for those looking to bulk up.

Bodybuilding can also help you lose weight because it requires a lot of sets with a lot of reps.

However, there are also some drawbacks to this style of training. One of the main complaints about isolation exercises is that they are done too much, which can lead to muscle imbalances and even injury.

Also, athletes who have been hurt before might not want to do bodybuilding. It doesn’t have specific exercises to help them.

Bodybuilding promotes an impressive physique. However, the skills developed may not transfer over to other sports. It’s also worth noting that bodybuilding can be a time-consuming and equipment-heavy pursuit.

Typical Bodybuilding Workout

In a usual bodybuilding workout, you work on your upper body and lower body in different sessions.

These sessions often start with heavy exercises, like squats and bench press, that work many muscles at the same time.

After these main exercises, bodybuilders do extra exercises that focus more on specific muscles. They usually do more repetitions of these exercises to help build muscles.

Some popular extra exercises are bicep curls and chest flies with dumbbells.

Bodybuilders can shape their bodies by following a workout routine that’s made for their goals. They can also get the amount of muscle and muscle detail they want.

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a type of exercise that’s become popular because it’s easy to do and really works.

This kind of workout uses your own body weight to make your muscles stronger. It’s perfect for people who like to exercise without using equipment.

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Calisthenics is different from bodybuilding. It uses exercises that change how hard your body has to work.

To be good at calisthenics, you need strength, endurance, agility, and coordination.

No matter if you’re just starting out or have been working out for a while, calisthenics is a great way to get a fit and healthy body.

Pros and Cons of Calisthenics

Calisthenics, a form of exercise that utilizes body weight movements, come with a set of pros and cons.

One advantage is that they are accessible and easy to learn, making them an ideal exercise option for beginners.

However, one downside is that there are few progression options in the early stages. Also, compared to other forms of resistance training, calisthenics tend to lead to slower muscle growth.

Another challenge is isolating specific muscle groups during compound movements. This makes it harder to achieve targeted results.

Typical Calisthenics Workout

Calisthenics workouts are a fun change from regular bodybuilding routines.

In bodybuilding workouts, the exercises usually get harder as you go along. But with calisthenics, you start with the hardest exercises and then do the easier ones.

This way, your body gets tired before you do the less hard exercises, which helps you get the most out of your workout.

Plus, calisthenics workouts are quick and easy to do, so they’re perfect if you don’t have a lot of time.

And, you can do them almost anywhere, like outside or even in your own room.

Some common calisthenics exercises are bodyweight dips, pull-ups, push-ups, and bodyweight squats. They are medium-hard exercises that work many muscles at the same time.

Calisthenics or Bodybuilding for Muscle Mass?

People often talk about whether calisthenics or bodybuilding is better for building muscles.

Both ways have good and bad points. Bodybuilding lets people get bigger muscles faster and gives them more control over what they’re doing.

But, calisthenics makes muscles grow more slowly.

Still, using both ways can be good for making a complete workout program.

By adding bodybuilding techniques, people can get bigger muscles. They can still get the other good things that calisthenics gives.

It’s important to think about what the person wants and likes when deciding which way to go.

Athletes and Sports: Bodybuilding or Calisthenics?

When it comes to being good at sports and specific skills, there’s a clear winner between bodybuilding and calisthenics.

Bodybuilding can make you look strong. However, it doesn’t help with skills like knowing where your body is in space, specific motor skills, and holding a muscle contraction for a long time.

Calisthenics, though, is really good at building these important skills. Unless someone is playing a sport that needs exercises with weights, calisthenics should be the main choice for training.

For athletes, it’s important to focus on skills that are directly related to their sport, and calisthenics is a great way to do this.

With calisthenics, athletes can get stronger overall while getting better at the things that matter most in their sport.

Bodybuilding or Calisthenics for Fat Loss?

If you want to lose extra fat, both bodybuilding and calisthenics are good choices.

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Each type of exercise has its own special benefits, but both can help you reach your weight loss goals.

You might need to do more reps with calisthenics to burn the same amount of calories as bodybuilding. However, it’s a great choice if you don’t have a gym or equipment.

On the other hand, bodybuilding is a good pick if you have the right places and tools to do it.

In the end, the most important thing is to find a workout routine that you like and that works for you. This way, you can keep doing it for a long time and get the results you want.

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Mixing Bodybuilding and Calisthenics

Mixing bodybuilding and calisthenics has become a favorite way to get fit around the world.

This combined way of training helps people improve their muscle strength and last longer during workouts. It also helps them look better by using exercises from both types.

Some popular combinations include doing pull-ups and barbell rows together. Another popular combination is doing dips and bench presses together.

The real magic of mixing these two types of exercises happens when you pick and mix them in a smart way to get the most fitness and muscle benefits.

This flexible way of training can help both athletes who’ve been doing it for a long time and beginners reach their goals if they keep at it and don’t give up.


If you want to reach your fitness goals, bodybuilding and calisthenics are two popular types of training. They focus on different things.

Bodybuilding is all about building up your muscles. Calisthenics is about getting better at athletic skills and tricks using your own body weight.

But remember, mixing both types of training can give you the best results because each one has its own good points.

When choosing between the two, think about your daily life and what you want to achieve with your fitness to figure out which one is best for you.

No matter what type you pick, make sure you get enough rest, eat right, and slowly increase how hard and intense your workouts are to be successful.

Dave Moffat

Hi, I'm Dave Moffat the founder and Chief Editor of and certified International Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritionist. My passion has always been bodybuilding but with 15 years' experience in weight loss programs too, it's hard not to mention all that when you're working at your fitness level fullest (I hope). When Im not in the gym or spending time away from my family i often think about what advice would help others achieve theirs goals just like these inspired mine.