Are Weighted Calisthenics The Same As Lifting Weights (Explained)

Weighted calisthenics and lifting weights are very similar in terms of how they use extra resistance/weight in order to help you easily progressive overload [1], but require different equipment, target your body in different ways and help you grow different muscle groups and achieve separate goals.

To get the maximum benefits from both, you need to combine weighted calisthenics with lifting weight.

Here’s exactly why you need to combine them and how to do it based on science and my personal experience.

What you will learn

  • What are the similarities between weighted calisthenics and lifting weights?
  • What are the differences between weighted calisthenics and lifting weights?
  • Why do you need to combine weighted calisthenics and lifting weights?
  • How to combine weighted calisthenics and lifting weights (and what you need)

What are the similarities between weighted calisthenics and lifting weights?

They use weights/extra resistance: Both types of training use some type of weights as extra resistance against gravity. For weighted calisthenics that’s weighted vest, chains or backpack filled with heavy objects while in weight lifting that would be barbell, dumbbells and different machines.

Exercises are easy for progressive overload: Because you use some type of weight it’s super easy to track down your current progress and add a bit more weight for your next workout. That will make progressive overload really effective to do.

Target essential compound moves: You can easily target every small and large muscle group of your entire body through the basic compound movements which come from both categories – pull-ups, dips, military press, bench press, deadlift, squat and push-ups.

They help you build more muscle mass: Because of the extra weight, effective progressive overload and complete set of compound moves you will have no problem with gaining strength and muscle mass in a fast and effective way. (and do it continuously)

What are the differences between weighted calisthenics and lifting weights?

Lifting weights can isolate muscle groups: Because of dumbbells, different machines and resistance bands you can effectively isolate every big or small muscle group in your body and target it from different angles for maximum growth.

Lifting weights can help you work easier on muscle imbalances: And because of all those isolation exercises it’s way easier to fix muscle imbalances with weights compared to calisthenics.

Lifting weights can help you better target your legs: The leg muscles are very strong and in order to keep constant growth they require adequate resistance. With the help of weights you don’t have any problem with that. You can push yourself really hard on your leg workouts and make them grow.

They require different equipment: Weighted calisthenics mainly uses resistance bands, weighted vest or backpack filled with heavy stuff while weight lifting requires access to a barbell, dumbbells and optionally a couple of machines. Sadly you can’t reuse any of the equipment except resistance bands which is a huge drawback.

They build different types of strength: With weight lifting you develop strength to lift heavy objects against gravity while in calisthenics and weighted calisthenics you develop strength to be able to control your body and how it behaves against the forces of gravity. Those are two separate types of strength and both are important to have.

Why do you need to combine weighted calisthenics and lifting weights?

Here are the main reasons why you should combine weighted calisthenics with weight lifting:

  • You can target your whole body (legs included) and easily progressive overload for muscle mass and strength
  • You can isolate and focus on improving lacking muscle groups
  • You will have more equipment so you would be able to do more exercises and movements and target your body from different angles
  • You are going to build both the strength to lift heavy things off the ground but also the strength and balance to have complete control over your body and how it moves against gravity
  • You can build more muscle mass and strength

How to combine weighted calisthenics and lifting weights (and what you need)

Most efficient way to combine them: There are many ways to combine exercises from both categories but because you must rest a minimum of 48 hours after targeting specific muscle groups again according to science [2], it’s best to combine them in a 3-day split – push (chest, triceps and shoulders), pull (back, biceps), legs and do it twice per week.

The workout plan

  • Monday: Push
  • Tuesday:  Pull
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Push
  • Friday: Pull
  • Saturday: Legs
  • Sunday: Rest

The Workouts

Push Workout (Exercises): 

  • Weighted pull-ups
  • Weighted dips
  • Shoulder military press
  • Bench press
  • Weighted push-ups

Pull Workout (Exercises):

  • Weighted pull-ups/chin-ups
  • Barbell/dumbbell rows
  • Deadlifts

Legs Workout (Exercises):

  • Barbell squats
  • Walking lunges
  • Weighted barbell bridges

What equipment you need: If you have a gym membership you don’t need any additional equipment except for resistance bands (if they don’t offer any). If you are training at home or somewhere outdoors here’s all the equipment you would need to complete this workout. It is possible to us

My Equipment for weighted calisthenics:

  • Pull-Up bar you can attach to wall or ceiling (link to mine) / Alternative is free public one or something similar you can hold and use as one that has enough height
  • Portable dip bars (link to mine) / Alternative is free public dip bars, set of chairs or anything you can hold that is stable
  • A complete set of loop resistance bands (link to mine)
  • Wooden gymnastic rings (link to mine) / Alternative for pull-up bar and dip bars if you don’t have ones
  • Parallettes (shorter dip bars for push-ups) (link to mine)
  • Weighted Vest with at least 40 lbs max (link to mine) / Alternative is backpack filled with heavy objects like bottles of sand or water.

My home gym equipment:

Number of reps: 6-12 for muscle hypertrophy [3] (fail with proper form inside this range)

Number of sets: 3-4 per exercise (do supersets without any rest to save time and increase intensity)

How long to rest between sets/exercises: 30-90 seconds to maximize muscle growth [4] (track it using your phone’s chronometer)

How much weight/resistance to use?: Test every exercise and choose a weight that you can use to complete each exercise in full range of motion with proper form for anywhere between 6 and 12 reps. (write down that number for easier progress)

Now you know what are similarities and differences between weighted calisthenics and lifting weights and how to combine them. 

Use this knowledge wisely and you will build a strong and muscular body in no time.

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