Figuring out your physique and strength goals at the gym can be challenging. If you don’t make the right choice, you could spend a lot of time doing the wrong kind of workout.

One way of avoiding this is to pick whether you want a calisthenics body vs gym body. We’ll cover both in this article.  

For Building Strength

When comparing a calisthenics body vs a gym body, you'll want to know which one allows you to derive the greatest strength. Both types of exercise provide benefits for building strength.

Calisthenics is best for defining muscles that you've already built, whereas gym workouts are better for increasing the size of your muscles. 

This is because lifting heavy weights is the best way to grow muscle. But both calisthenics and gym exercises are suitable for functional strength as they both offer compound exercises.

For Burning Calories 

A calisthenics body vs weightlifting body comparison regarding calorie-burning will give the advantage to the calisthenics body. 

Calisthenics involves a broader range of movements than weightlifting exercises, which use more of your energy.  

This energy comes from your body burning calories, so the calisthenics exercises force the body to use stored fat as fuel.

But it’s essential that you push yourself as far as you can in your workouts to burn as many calories as possible in a single session.

Calisthenics Body Vs Gym Body (Should You Lift Weights?)

For Losing Weight 

Because calisthenics is the clear winner when it comes to burning calories, it is the most suitable choice for losing weight. A gym body vs calisthenics body in terms of weight loss will show that more weight is lost faster using calisthenics.  

Calisthenics also provides more flexibility in the way that weight is lost. For example, a beginner looking to lose weight may need to rely on movement more than weightlifting to burn fat. In this case, calisthenics will definitely be the most useful option.

Keep in mind, regardless of which type of exercises you're doing, you'll need to hone in your diet to continue to burn fat and enter a caloric deficit.

When Building Stamina 

If you're interested in increasing stamina, then a bodybuilder vs calisthenics body comparison will show you that you can get similar results with either approach.

Stamina is another word for endurance, and this is increased through regular repetition of intense exercises. These are available within weightlifting and calisthenics.

This means you can choose either route to get results with your stamina. Because both types boost your stamina, you can also mix the two to find a combination that works best for you.

For Upper Body Development 

To support the development of your upper body, it’s a good idea to know whether a calisthenic body vs gym body will be better for you. Calisthenics is the way to go if you’re starting from a low baseline.

It will help you to build the frame of your upper body so that you can start targeting muscle groups later in your fitness journey. It also emphasizes the upper body, unlike a standard gym routine that focuses on many areas at once.

For Lower Body Development 

Lower body development is better when done as part of a gym workout. You’ll have access to weighted exercises like squats and deadlifts with a gym workout.

These are powerful compound exercises that benefit the whole body but focus on the legs and back. In calisthenics, there are exercises you can perform that involve the lower body, but most of them don’t directly work out the lower body.

For Good Physique 

If your main goal is a good physique, there is no clear winner. Calisthenics and gym workouts are both legitimate and effective routes to developing a good physique. 

However, you can improve your physique with a workout entirely based on calisthenics or entirely reliant on gym machines. It mostly depends on your priorities.

If you’re truly dedicated to developing the best possible physique, then the input of a personal trainer with the physique you desire is the best way forward.  

For Six Pack Abs 

Calisthenics exercises are ideal for defining your core muscles and developing a six pack because many of these exercises rely on the core for stability and posture [1]. 

This means it has to strengthen to perform calisthenics exercises correctly. But there are also weighted exercises that can support the development of six-pack abs. Examples include deadlifts or squats.

It’s important to note that for your abs to appear, you need to have a low body fat percentage, so diet is crucial when aiming for a six-pack, regardless of the workout you’re doing.

man doing hanging leg lifts in a gym

What Is A Calisthenics Body? (Bodyweight Benefits)

A calisthenic body is developed through the application of calisthenic exercises. These exercises rely on your body weight.

Each exercise within calisthenics varies by rhythm and intensity. You’ll develop a physique that’s both lean and defined. Here are some benefits.

Affordable & Convenient 

Calisthenics exercises require very few pieces of equipment to perform and can be done at home. At the gym, you’ll only need to use some bars or resistance bands for most of the exercises you’ll want to do.  

Easy To Modify 

Because calisthenics exercises rely entirely on your body weight, you can easily adjust their rhythm and intensity. All you have to do is perform more or fewer reps and sets or change the strength of the resistance band you’re using. 

Uses Multiple Muscle Groups At Once 

Many of the exercises within calisthenics target several major muscle groups simultaneously. These are known as compound exercises and include squats, dips, and press-ups. This allows you to get a substantial whole-body workout from calisthenics alone.

Improves Flexibility, Balance, And Stability 

Flexibility, balance, and stability are all improved by calisthenics because it works to mold the body into an improved version of itself. Developing these three abilities will allow you to progress to more complex exercises and sustain high-intensity workouts.

Related Article - Full-Body Calisthenics Workout Plan For Beginners

man doing calisthenics outdoors

What Is A Gym Body? (Benefits Of Lifting Weights)

A gym body is what you develop from regular gym attendance, which also has many other benefits [2]. It’s achieved if you’re consistent in going to the gym, do the right workouts, and have a good diet. Many exercises can be performed at the gym. 

These exercises are available for everyone who’s able to complete them, and the benefits include:

  • Easy To Progress 
    When you get started at the gym, you’ll be able to perform exercises at your preferred level. This means you’ll be able to progress quickly and reach a higher level sooner rather than later.
  • Can Isolate Specific Muscle Groups
    The equipment you’ll find at the gym enables you to target which muscle groups you’d like to work on and perform exercises specific to them. 
  • Access To Tons Of Equipment
    Not only will you be able to target particular muscle groups at the gym, but you’ll also be able to switch between lots of different pieces of equipment.
  • Improves Bone Health
    Exercising at the gym will make your bones stronger, and if you start exercising while young, your bones will be stronger as you age [3].
  • Boosts Metabolism & Weight Loss
    Going to the gym regularly and doing the right exercises is a great way to increase your metabolism, burn calories, and lose weight.
  • Muscle Building
    One of the most fundamental aspects of regular gym training is that your muscles will grow larger over time.
man doing ez bar bicep curls

Should You Combine Calisthenics & Gym Exercises?

Yes, you can combine calisthenics and gym exercises, and it’s better if you do. This is because by mixing them, you get the benefits of both.

Calisthenics will improve flexibility, stability, and posture while defining your muscles. Gym workouts will increase the size of your muscles and the strength of your bones.

Therefore it makes more sense to rely on both approaches in your fitness routine rather than just one. Which exercises you combine will depend on what parts of your body you’re targeting and whether you’re still a beginner or have some experience.

If you're a beginner, more straightforward exercises are preferable so that you can get familiar with working out. This often means calisthenics or gym exercises with low weights.

If you’re targeting your whole body, the compound exercises available with barbells are a great choice.

If you’re aiming to condition specific muscle groups, you may benefit from more research on which approach has the most suitable exercises. 

Common Calisthenics Vs Gym Questions

Can you build muscles with only calisthenics? 

Yes, you can. Using your own body weight is a viable way to build muscles, especially if you're just starting out. Even when you’ve got a good baseline level of fitness, you’ll benefit from calisthenics to tone and define the muscles you do have.

Are calisthenics athletes stronger than bodybuilders? 

It depends on the particular routine the athlete is following and their goals. But a common trend you’ll notice is that a calisthenics approach is slower than lifting weights. This is because you’re only using your body weight, whereas a gym routine gives you access to much heavier weights. 

Can you get in shape by just lifting weights? 

Yes, you can. Weightlifting includes a range of exercises, and some of these are compound exercises. These target the entire body and allow you to work on multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Because of that, you can improve your physique with weightlifting alone.

Is calisthenics harder than gym exercises? 

No, it will end up being easier in many cases because you won’t be lifting heavy weights. But when you progress to more complex exercises like handstands, the precision and focus required may make them harder than lifting weights. It depends on how you approach your workouts and deal with nearing your limits.  

How long does it take to see results with calisthenics? 

The general rule is roughly 6 months, as long as you perform the exercises correctly. You will find that your muscle mass is greater, and your body fat is lower. You should be able to see this reflected in the mirror, especially if you took a photo of yourself before you began calisthenics.


Calisthenics and gym workouts have a powerful effect on your physical development and performance. Both can be used in their own right, or they can be combined. Combining them is our recommendation because you get the benefits of both.

Now that you're ready to dive into the world of calisthenics and weightlifting, don't forget to check out our guides on the essentials when building a garage gym and setting up a calisthenics home gym!





Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.