Calisthenics and weightlifting are both forms of strength training, useful for developing stronger muscles, healthier bones and better stamina. Calisthenics exercises do not rely on any equipment or devices, instead relying on one's own body weight for resistance. Weightlifting may use either free weights or specialized weight-training machines for resistance.
A primary advantage of calisthenics over weight training is the flexibility and ease of practicing in any place, at any time. Once you learn the proper technique for various calisthenic exercises, all you need is a clear space to practice powerful moves like pushups, situps, crunches and lunges. For a fuller routine, get a chinup bar to do pullups or a level stool to do stepups. Alternately, if you enjoy the camaraderie of exercising in a group, plenty of boot camp-style classes focus on calisthenics. Based on research carried out by the American Council of Exercise and the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Exercise and Health Program, the typical 40-minute boot camp class burns about 400 calories.
If your workout goals include developing muscle mass quickly, calisthenics probably aren't your best option. You can modify some moves to increase resistance, but ultimately, you're limited to your own body weight. Also, if you seek to focus on specific muscles, weight-training machines typically offer a better means of isolation. For beginners, calisthenics can pose a steeper learning curve because correct posture is vital to successfully completing the movements.
Lifting weights is an unbeatable method for strengthening your muscles quickly and dramatically. You can use either free weights or weight machines, depending on your personal comfort, your ability to maintain proper posture and whether you have a spotter available, which is advisable when using free weights. Weights let you intensify or decrease the resistance, as necessary, to train specific muscles at the correct levels.
The primary disadvantage of weightlifting is the limitation of requiring specific equipment. Even if you only use small dumbbells, it's unlikely that you will find it convenient to carry them along when you travel. If you rely on weight-training machines, you'll be obligated to visit a gym for each workout or buy large, expensive equipment for your home. Because weight lifting typically isolates individual muscles, it doesn't emulate real-life situations as well as calisthenics, which focus more on core strength and full-body movements. Lifting free weights also poses the same increased risk of poor posture as calisthenics. However, when lifting weights, the possibility of injury is far greater. Beginners should seek qualified instruction to achieve proper form and learn safe practices.