If you’ve ever started a fitness routine, you may be familiar with callisthenics and kettlebell training.
Both training methods form the basics of fitness that many adopt as a part of their strength training. The major benefit of these methods is that they engage the entire body, allowing you to build body weight and strength systematically.
But there are several differences between the two, and knowing them can help you plan your training sessions better. So, if you’re looking for a definitive answer to which is better, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on to find out if one exercise trumps the other and how you may be able to use both to improve your workouts.
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Callisthenics is a popular strength training form due to its low barrier to entry. It consists of several motions that involve multiple large muscle groups in the body that may be left out during other training methods. These motions include standing, pushing, pulling, grasping and many more, all of which burn a lot of calories in a short time.
The appeal behind callisthenics is that it requires little to no equipment and can be performed rhythmically. This gives it high accessibility, and nearly anyone can perform it with no trouble whatsoever. You may even find some similarities between callisthenics and free-form dance due to this rhythmic quality.
With callisthenics, you can reap the benefits of aerobic and muscular conditioning, along with a host of other benefits. Balance, coordination and speed are just a few such benefits.
Some of the more common calisthenic exercises include push-ups, squats, sit-ups, burpees, chin-ups, pull-ups and more. There is virtually no end to the kind of exercises that can be performed as a part of callisthenics. Add in cooperative callisthenics that involve two or more individuals partaking in the exercise, and the horizons expand even more.
Furthermore, if you’re applying for a sports or military organisation, you may be required to perform these as a part of the physical fitness test. Callisthenics form the baseline for physical evaluation tests around the world, making them quite important.
Kettlebells are small round weights with a handle on top for lifting. At first glance, they may appear light and easy to lift, but they can be as heavy as 32 kgs. It’s no wonder that they have been used for strength training for centuries at this point.
The premise of kettlebell training is largely the same as dumbbells. Where the two weightlifting implements do differ is in their structure, as kettlebells are inherently less stable. As a result, they demand that you improve stability while building strength, which is more beneficial for your overall fitness.
By lifting these weights by the handle, you will be making use of the large muscle groups in your arm, leg, shoulder, back and abdomen. The simple act of lifting the weight causes these muscles to pull, which helps stimulate bone cell growth. Not only does this improve your overall strength, but it also benefits your posture.
Beginner exercises are generally simple to perform, involving picking the kettlebell up and walking a certain distance several times. These exercises vary in difficulty based on the variation of this basic premise, such as using one arm to pick the weight up.
Callisthenics Vs Kettlebells: Which Is Better For Strength Training?
By now, you may already have the answer to this question. Though callisthenics and kettlebell training target similar muscle groups and have the same overall goal, they are fundamentally different.
For strength training purposes, kettlebell training is a great option to consider. Since the training builds the strength of several muscle groups, it is highly effective at helping you reach a specific strength goal.
And while callisthenics can achieve the same goal, they target more compound movements than kettlebells, which may make it less effective at training strength overall, when you reach a limit. Where callisthenics do shine, however, is by improving your balance, endurance, coordination and speed. The low barrier for entry and ease of performing them makes callisthenics a vital part of your workout sessions.
Combining The Two: Making The Most Out Of Your Workout
But to receive the maximum gains from both, why not combine the two? After all, there is great synergy between the basis of each training method.
Despite both training methods being around for ages, only recently has there been talk of combining the two. And the results speak for themselves.
Performing callisthenics with kettlebells in your hands will push the workout to the absolute limit that will improve your results. Your body will become leaner, and your muscles will grow more defined by doing so.
Callisthenics may not be as effective at building back and shoulder strength, but with kettlebells, you can cover those muscle groups as well. You can begin by combining basic training with kettlebells to see how they suit you. For instance, you can use kettlebells while performing:
- Push-ups (single arm and handstand variants)
- Pistol squats
There are several combinations that you can try to this end, such as kettlebell curls, armpit curls, hang cleans, kneeling preacher curls and more. For a full-body workout, you can perform swings, goblet squats, lunges and twists with kettlebells in your hands.
To Sum Up
When talking about callisthenics and kettlebell training, the most important part to remember is that you don’t have to limit yourself to one. While kettlebells are better for pure strength training, performing callisthenics is just as important for building strength and endurance.
This is why combining them both is the ideal prospect. The resulting workout regimen is highly versatile and carries the benefits of both training methods. In the process, not only will you see great strength gains, but your balance and muscle development will see improvement as well.
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.