Although in calisthenics you work with body weight and in the gym with external weights, the movement patterns that are performed in compound exercises are the same, and therefore the ability of our muscles to perform them can be trained with both disciplines.
This means that if you have been training calisthenics for a long time and start training in the gym, you will see that you have remarkable capacity in most exercises.
Especially, and from my experience, it seems that calisthenics athletes have a very good capacity in exercises such as the bench press and military press (horizontal and vertical push), and in cable rows (vertical pull). In addition to all the machines that replicate this type of movement.
Three of the great pillars of calisthenics training are push-ups, dips, and pull-ups. So it is not surprising that calisthenics athletes show great ability in gym exercises that have the same patterns.
It is quite common to see someone who trains Calisthenics and who has never trained in the gym try and be surprised that he can do the full machine on the lat pulldown or move a noticeable amount of weight on the bench press.
Do weight exercises help with calisthenics static exercises?
This question is very common and generates many doubts. If I train weighted pull-ups, will I increase my resistance? would I be able to do the muscle up? Will it help me to front lever? If I move a lot of weight in the bench press, will I be more capable in planche? etc.
The answer is yes, these gym or weight exercises carry over to bodyweight exercises and tricks, BUT to a degree and NOT THAT MUCH that they form the main part of your training for said trick or move.
For example, doing weighted pull-ups will help you get the muscle up and the front lever, but it's not as effective as doing specific progressions and specific routines of these exercises.
The key is that if you want to benefit from gym exercises and transfer them to calisthenics, use them as a COMPLEMENT, but not as the main part of your calisthenics training.
How do you combine Weighted Calisthenics with the Gym?
Actually, the main weighted calisthenics exercises, such as weighted pull-ups, weighted dips and heavy squats, are exercises that the best bodybuilders usually use in their training. Therefore we can say that weighted calisthenics integrates perfectly into a gym routine.
In many cases we can see how the use of weights is placed as an intermediate step for the combination of both disciplines: a person who starts training calisthenics over time adds weighted exercises and finally ends up combining calisthenics exercises, weights and purely gym exercises.
Advantages of calisthenics over gym exercises:
- You can learn tricks: One of the biggest attractions of calisthenics is that, in addition to getting in shape, you can learn technical and striking movements such as the muscle up, the handstand, the front lever, planches, etc.
- Control your body: Calisthenics exercises are not guided nor fix your body to a machine. To perform them you must have spatial control and stabilization, in addition to having the necessary strength to move the weight of your body in different positions and levers.
- Progressions are more enjoyable: To progress in an exercise or muscle group in calisthenics you will do different variations of it: explosive, in different positions, technically more difficult exercises, etc. However, in the gym the progression is usually simply using more weight every time, or maybe do some high intensity technique.
- Training outdoors: Many people enjoy training outdoors more, especially if the weather is good, than in the sweaty and stuffy environment of a gym.
- Create community: The atmosphere in calisthenics parks is usually relaxed, the music is on a speaker, the bars can be shared without having to ask for permission, people talk and interact, they become friends rather than training partners . However, in the gym the environment tends to be more individualized, many people wear their headphones, and the only interaction is usually to ask "how many sets do you have left?" or "can we take turns?"
- It's more fun: If you combine the above factors, you'll realize that for most people training in the park, outdoors, learning tricks and body control movements, interacting with others, etc. can be much more fun or entertaining than a workout at the gym.
- It's free: One of the key points of Calisthenics is that you don't have to spend money to train it, so it opens the doors to people who have fewer resources, who can't afford that expense, or who don't want to pay for training.
- You can train without equipment: With a floor and a wall it can be more than enough to do an effective Calisthenics training. If you also add a couple of chairs and somewhere to hang yourself, you are already fully equipped, so to speak.
If you want examples of routines to do without equipment, take a look at our section on routines at home.
Advantages of gym exercises with respect to Calisthenics:
- It is more analytical and easier to monitor your progress: Many of the gym exercises are designed to train very specific muscles in isolation. In addition, to progress on them, it is enough to use more weight on said machine. On the contrary, in calisthenics, most exercises work several muscle groups and to progress you must learn new variants that add technical difficulty.
- You improve your absolute strength directly: Absolute strength is your ability to move a weight, regardless of your body weight. In the gym you can work absolute strength directly, while in Calisthenics you always work relative to your body weight (unless you train weighted calisthenics).
- You can have great intensity without technical complexity: Many times in Calisthenics to increase the intensity of the stimulus, especially when you are intermediate or advanced, you need to increase the technical complexity of the exercise. However, in the gym it is enough to simply increase the weight you move in each exercise, without the need for its execution to be more complex.
- A more direct approach if the only thing that interests you is hypertrophy: As a consequence of the previous point, if the only thing that interests you is a hypertrophy stimulus to gain muscle mass, with the gym you get it more directly and without complications.
- Trainers: One of the peculiarities of Calisthenics is that you train in the park, where normally there are no people working who can guide, advise or correct you, beyond the training partners that you meet. However, in the gym you have coachs at your disposal that fulfill this function.
Our Calisteniapp app arises from this last point, to guide you, advise you and plan your workouts without problem, wherever you train. With the app you will have training programs, individual routines, routines with intelligent progress, explanatory videos of the exercises and much more.
How to combine Calisthenics and Gym
To mix both disciplines we have three main approaches, which we will explain in detail. The first would be to mix them into each workout, the second would be to alternate gym-only days with Calisthenics-only days, and the third would be a seasonal or opportunistic approach.
- Mixed approach on each routine: It consists of training in the gym with routines in which you perform some exercises with machines, external weights and others and some body weight exercises such as pull-ups, dips or push-ups. In addition, you can take advantage of the gym equipment to train weighted Calisthenics.
- Approach combining full days: It consists of some days you go to the gym and do a classic gym routine, and some days you go to the park and do a Calisthenics routine. This approach depends on how you organize your week and how you prefer to do each workout. A very common example is that of people who do their upper body routines in the Calisthenics park and their leg routines in the gym.
- Seasonal opportunistic approach: This approach is that of people who pay the gym fee during the winter, but since the good weather arrives they start training outdoors in the park.
With this we hope that you are clearer about everything related to the differences, similarities and synergies between Calisthenics and Gym. Remember that in our application you have routines, training programs and much more for both Calisthenics and weighted Calisthenics.