Does Calisthenics Muscle ‘Stay With You Longer’?

Calisthenics is closely associated with strength training and incorporates a variety of movements for exercising different muscle groups of the body.

Unlike weightlifting and other exercises, it does not require a lot of equipment and puts more emphasis on bodyweight exercises. Another way by which it differs from weightlifting is that the former aims to help improve not just your strength but also muscle endurance and flexibility. 

It means you can achieve different fitness goals like better body awareness, cardiovascular conditioning, stamina, etc. However, a common question that many people ask is whether the muscle gained through Calisthenics lasts longer than through other workouts, like weightlifting. 

This guide aims to shed some light on the subject and help answer that question.

Building Muscle With Calisthenics 

Calisthenics exercises can help you build muscle by using your own bodyweight as resistance. This resistance causes overload, which leads to muscle growth and is similar to how lifting weights works but without any external equipment. Instead of weight lifting, Calisthenics relies on workouts like push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, pistol squats, jump squats, etc.

Additionally, body weight exercises, the basic component of Calisthenics, involve a lot of movement. The mobility needed for them is much greater than what is required in weight training, where the focus is on using weights to provide resistance for building muscle mass. 

Greater mobility means more muscle groups are targeted during workouts, leading to proper form and overall muscle development. In contrast, weightlifting focuses on the same muscle groups in a particular area, like the biceps, triceps, upper chest, abdomen, and calves. However, since gaining muscle is not the primary and sole purpose of Calisthenics, you do not gain as much size as with weightlifting exercises. It provides a leaner physique that is more mobile and flexible. 

Compound exercises form a vital part of weighted Calisthenics, which involves using more than a single muscle group at a time. This means it isn’t possible to isolate a specific muscle group and work on its growth and development, as it is when using weightlifting machines or free weights. 

The similarity between Calisthenics and weightlifting is that both need to be complemented by proper nutrition and adequate rest for muscle recovery. 

Does Calisthenics Muscle Last Longer?

Resistance training is the primary focus in weightlifting, with the weights being lifted providing the required resistance instead of body weight, as in Calisthenics. This means the external load is much greater, and muscles have to work harder, so muscle growth is more significant than in Calisthenics. 

However, bodybuilders and athletes who rely on weightlifting exercises often experience rapid loss of muscle when they stop working out regularly. This has led many to believe that the muscle gained through bodyweight exercises as part of Calisthenics workouts might last longer. 

While it may be valid to a certain extent since a Calisthenics workout routine targets several muscle groups, muscle loss generally occurs at the same rate in both cases. This is because the human body does not make any distinction regarding workouts, whether it is Calisthenics training or weightlifting. 

The only real factors affecting muscle gain and loss are resistance, the time muscles are under tension, and the nutrition the body receives. Athletes who feel that muscle gained through bodyweight training lasts longer simply do so because Calisthenics does not have the same level of intensity as weightlifting. 

Since the muscle gain in weightlifting is greater, it is more noticeable when it starts degrading after you stop training. In Calisthenics, there are no isolated movements, and various workouts, such as leg exercises, chest exercises, leg raises, etc., utilise all the muscle groups in those areas. 

Therefore, muscle loss may not be immediately noticeable when you stop working out, as in the case of isolated muscle groups. But it will take place at around the same rate as weightlifting.     

Calisthenics Vs. Weight Lifting – Which Is Better For Building Muscle?

Both callisthenic exercises and weight lifting can help you get rid of body fat, lose weight, and gain muscle mass. Plus, both require a proper routine, complemented by a nutritious diet and rest for muscle recovery.

This can make it confusing for people to choose between the two, especially since muscle loss occurs at almost the same rate in both cases when you stop working out. However, if your goal is to build muscle or increase muscle size, weighted exercises might be better. 

The reason is that an external weight can provide additional resistance that bodyweight exercises, like a pistol squat or pull-up, cannot. This puts more strain or load on the muscles, causing damage, which forces the body to perform muscle repairs. These repairs result in muscle growth while also helping increase muscle strength.

That is why competitive bodybuilders and wrestlers prefer to lift weights through exercises like bicep curls, barbell squats, and eccentric movement to increase their maximum strength. Additionally, lifting external weights is beneficial for losing weight since the harder exercises keep the metabolism higher for an extended period, which helps lose fat. 

While you can gain muscle using callisthenic exercises like a handstand push-up, or a one-arm push-up, the muscle gain may not be as significant. That said, your athletic ability might be much better in this case.  

Final Thoughts

Calisthenics and weightlifting are different routes that you can take to ensure perfect physical fitness. And irrespective of which one you opt for, the muscles gained last for nearly the same period, though it is more evident with weightlifting. 

The best way is to combine the two techniques to get the benefits offered by each. This can be done in various ways, such as by combining Calisthenics exercises that require minimal equipment, like a handstand push-up, with weightlifting ones like a bench press.

Or, you can alternate between the two, performing Calisthenics one day and weightlifting the next. Just make sure to avoid overdoing it, and consult a personal trainer if you need assistance.

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