Crossfit vs Calisthenics: Which Is The Right One For You?

There are a lot of workout techniques out there, and we have covered many of them. Today, however, we want to compare two specific methods whose adherents seem to be at odds with one another. Based on the title, you already know that I’m talking about Crossfit and calisthenics.

Although these two methods are pretty similar in some ways, they have developed a little bit of a rivalry in recent years. Ours is not the only article on the internet to compare these two rivals, but we hope it will be the most informative. We leave it to you, the reader, to decide that.

What Is The Difference?

First, we must explain the difference between Crossfit and traditional calisthenics. The main difference is that Crossfit is a specific workout routine that has been marketed as a commercial product since 2000. Calisthenics, on the other hand, is just a general principle that has been utilized since the very beginnings of physical training (though not always under that name, of course).

Any exercise that uses the weight of the human body as its only resistance can be classified as a calisthenic exercise. Some examples of this type of exercise would include:

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Tricep Dips
  • Planking
  • Burpees

Crossfit works a little differently. Users are assigned a workout to complete each day, and it is meant to be completed as fast as possible. If you’ve ever watched a Crossfit routine, you already know that they change exercises very quickly and encourage rapid, explosive motion.

Because of this, you need some pretty good endurance to make it all the way through. Here, you can watch a Crossfit workout that has been slowed down so that you can learn the motions and perfect your technique. These workouts incorporate a very eclectic mix of influences, including weight training, cardio, gymnastics, martial arts, and more.

Factors To Consider:

The only fair way to judge these two contenders is to look at one factor at a time. In the end, we will award points for each category and crown a winner.

Factor One: Difficulty For beginners

As a beginner in calisthenics, you need very little. All of these exercises require only a healthy body. Some of them, such as pull-ups, may require some sort of simple equipment, but a pull-up bar is pretty easy to improvise. If nothing else, find a low-hanging tree branch, as long as it’s strong enough to hold your weight. All you really need to get started with calisthenics is your health and a little bit of knowledge.

With Crossfit, you will need to find a class in your area if you really wish to do things correctly. Crossfit is meant to be a competitive fitness sport, in which you try your best to out-do the other competitors. This cannot be fully duplicated at home. There are video lessons available, and those are your next best option if there isn’t a class in your area. You may or may not require some equipment for a Crossfit workout.

In this category, the point should clearly go to calisthenics. While Crossfit is a very specific type of training, calisthenics is just a general idea, and that is always a lot easier to duplicate at home.

Factor Two: Ability To Build Muscle

There is little question that Crossfit is going to get the win in this department. One look at these two contenders is enough to tell us that a Crossfit workout tends to be a little more intense than a calisthenics workout.

However, we do have some research on the subject. Scroll down to the improvement graph on the page marked “3169,” and you will see that Crossfit produced some very significant strength improvements under highly monitored conditions. This is very impressive and is more than enough to gain Crossfit the point in this category.

Factor Three: Risk Of Injury

Although many people have found Crossfit to be effective, there is no doubt that this particular exercise style carries a higher risk of injury. The biggest problem comes from the competitive nature of the style.

When people are trying their best to out-do everyone else in the class, it is going to create a problem with over-training. People are going to push themselves as hard as they possibly can because they want the prestige that only comes with victory. In effect, they are encouraging people to hurt themselves. To be fair, the injury rate seems to be about 20% based on our sources, but that is still quite high in comparison to most other methods.

So how does the calisthenic method match up? This study gives us the answer. Based on figures from Australian researchers, the average rate of injury for those participating in a calisthenics program was only 2%. Winner: Calisthenics.

Factor Four: Calories Burned

This one is very difficult to judge. On the surface, it would seem that Crossfit would burn more calories, but there is one problem with this argument: the number of calories burned through calisthenics will vary according to the duration and intensity of your workout. Once again, calisthenics are not a set program, so we cannot set a single value with which to make a judgement. Hence, this category must be ruled a tie.


In the end, calisthenics obtained a decisive win over Crossfit. Although Crossfit was a strong contender, it lost some serious points for having a high injury rate. In fairness, it should be said that the injury rate among Crossfit participants is not as high as we would have expected.

Still, the Crossfit only shined in one category, while calisthenics was able to win two. Since our final match ended with a draw, calisthenics is the winner of this contest. If you have enjoyed this honorable contest, we invite you to follow us on Facebook to receive more great articles like this one.

The post Crossfit vs Calisthenics: Which Is The Right One For You? appeared first on Gaspari Nutrition.

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