What is the difference between Crossfit and Calisthenics?

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: January 7, 2023
  • Time to read: 16 min.

Calisthenics and CrossFit have become two of the most popular exercise methods today.

Evidence suggests they are both great ways to train the whole body and no matter your fitness level, they can help make you stronger while being totally enjoyable.

These workouts are steadily increasing in popularity with people keen to get involved and no doubt determine which system is best for them.

However, with such similar intentions to increase strength and agility through conditioning exercises it would be easy to make comparisons between the two.

Thankfully, understanding their subtle differences can help you find which works best for you when it comes to getting fitter and healthier.

Both calisthenics and CrossFit are popular methods of exercise that involve training the whole body, but with different approaches. Calisthenics is a bodyweight-based form of exercise that typically uses simple movements like pushups and squats.

CrossFit, on the other hand, is a strength and conditioning program that combines high intensity moves and varied workouts to push the body in new ways.

Comparing calisthenics and CrossFit or determining which one is better can be quite tricky as they offer different sets of benefits.

This article provides an overview of both methods so that readers can decide which type of exercise suits them best.

What is the difference between Crossfit and Calisthenics?

What Is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is an effective form of strength training that utilizes the bodyweight of an individual as resistance.

This type of exercise has been popular because it can be performed anywhere at any time, with no need for specialized equipment. Various exercises make up calisthenic routines, such as push-ups, chin-ups and dips, among others.

Many of these movements are simple and well known to many people which may explain the popularity of this type of training. Calisthenics was originally developed for street workouts, but due to its versatility and ease of use, it is now practiced by people from all walks of life.

Calisthenics offer an impressive range of options to challenge even the most experienced athletes. Some advanced calisthenic exercises include levers, muscle ups, squat jumps, hyperextensions, l-sits, planches and handstands.

Alongside these, calisthenics also incorporate simple yet effective aerobic exercises such as burpees, mountain climbers and shuttle runs for an all-round fitness experience.

This versatility makes calisthenics a great option for anyone looking to improve their physical conditioning regardless of skill level or ability.

What Is CrossFit?

Making its debut in the early 2000s, CrossFit is a trademarked fitness regimen created by Greg Glassman. It combines elements from various disciplines and channels energy into achieving maximum results in the shortest amount of time possible.

The credo of this workout is to shed focus on the particular weights used, and to hone in on how fast one can move them. This groundbreaking concept has since evolved beyond personal training and into a worldwide sport.

From high intensity interval training, to gymnastics and strongman, CrossFit encompasses a wide array of movements focused on pushing athletes to their limits and aiding them through every step of their fitness journey.

CrossFit is becoming more and more popular as a way to stay healthy and fit. It brings together people of all ages and levels of experience.

Every summer, CrossFitters from across the world come together for the CrossFit Games, where they compete in various events to prove their strength and agility.

Alongside this competitive aspect of the sport, there have been increasing developments within the field of CrossFit-related apparel and equipment even resulting in its own set of terms that are specific to this trend.

Despite this growth in popularity, many claim that if not properly supervised, serious injury can occur due to a lack of focus on form while training in CrossFit.

Therefore it is important to consider both positions when looking into taking up CrossFit as a lifestyle or recreation.

Calisthenics vs CrossFit – the Biggest Similarities

Calisthenics and CrossFit are two different fitness programs that have unique goals when it comes to achieving success in one’s pursuit of physical health. Both have similarities with each other, such as:

Functional Moving Exercises

Both CrossFit and Calisthenics offer individuals an approach to staying fit without the use of machines or gym equipment.

The movements one does in each are always active and can be incorporated into one’s daily routine, thus making it more likely that the individual will adhere to their fitness goals.

Not only do these practices promote an overall healthy lifestyle, but they also help prevent potential injuries that can otherwise occur with workout machines.

To top it off, both crossover into the realm of activities such as outdoor climbing and will work those areas of your body that don’t usually get worked indoors.

Thus adding another layer of fitness that is great for any strength and endurance program.

Go For an Athletic Look

CrossFit and Calisthenics are both effective ways to help get in shape, but more importantly, are great for improving overall fitness.

Not only do CrossFit and Calisthenics help to activate the cardiovascular system and burn more calories than traditional training, they also make sure the whole body is being worked out evenly.

That being said, traditional training gives hypertrophy or a ‘swollen look’ due to developing the muscles. Therefore, those who are looking for a full body conditioning workout should consider mix of methods like CrossFit and Calisthenics along with dieting.

It’s important to note however, that proper diet still plays an integral role in one’s fitness journey regardless of what workout is employed.

Both are Challenging

Calisthenics and CrossFit share several core elements that make them both great workout options for a wide variety of people.

Both training methods are designed to be very challenging, encouraging the development of strong muscles, cardiovascular endurance, and overall strength through a mix of exercises targeting multiple muscle groups and body parts.

Moreover, both can be done with minimal equipment and in any kind of environment And best of all, you don’t need a gym membership or expensive tools.

Especially if done together with partners or friends, these exercise forms can become very competitive and also provide opportunities for exchanging tips and techniques to grow faster. 

Upcoming Community

Calisthenics and CrossFit both have massive followings with a growing amount of content on the internet.

People can connect and interact within their respective communities by using popular apps, blogs and Facebook pages.

This provides ample references for new athletes to come up to speed quickly with training tips and provides an outlet for seasoned athletes to stay connected and network with each other.

Additionally, being part of these communities offers support from like-minded individuals so everyone can reach their health or fitness goals together.


Calisthenics vs CrossFit – the Biggest Differences

Calisthenics and CrossFit are two popular workout regimens that have grown in popularity over the years. While they share many similarities, there are also distinct differences that may make one more suitable than the other depending on a person’s fitness goals.


Joining a gym or signing up for an exercise program can be a great way to stay healthy and fit, but budget-conscious people may balk at monthly membership costs.

CrossFit, one of the most popular exercise programs in the United States, can cost between 140 to 299 dollars for a monthly membership. For those looking for more affordable options, local gyms often cost 33 to 60 dollars per month still more expensive than free methods such as calisthenics.

Calisthenics is an exercise program that utilizes minimal equipment like pull-up bars/racks, parallettes and rings; items often seen in public parks where it is possible to participate in calisthenics with no membership fees.

By providing this fun, effective form of exercise all around the world and especially in cities calisthenics encourages citizens everywhere to get out and stay active!

Places to Train

When considering whether to take up calisthenics or CrossFit, a key factor to consider is the environment. Calisthenics can be done almost anywhere in your living room, backyard, park, or even at a beach.

It requires no additional equipment but your own bodyweight, so you won’t break the bank setting it up. On the other hand, CrossFit is expensive and needs specialised gym and equipment in order to do it properly.

If you pay for unlimited access to a CrossFit gym and the times suit you – meaning it’s open from early to late then that could be a great advantage of doing CrossFit over calisthenics.

However if the weather isn’t on your side then you will still have options available with calisthenics as mentioned before. Ultimately it’s down to individual preference and lifestyle factors as to which sport will suit them best.


CrossFit is certainly more intense than calisthenics and HITT oriented training. It consists mainly of time-based exercises where trainees have to finish a certain set of tasks within the pre-set time limit, even when their energy levels are dropping low and it becomes increasingly difficult.

The group dynamic also adds a layer of motivation since each member needs to keep up with pace or else they risk falling behind and being left behind.

While it might be possible to apply this same approach with calisthenics, it isn’t as effective or as common since people can often take short breaks here and there in order to regain their strength.


CrossFit offers a significant number of certified coaches, which makes it easier to set yourself up with a reliable coach. Calisthenic trainers exist, however they’re not as widely available and accessible.

Finding one in a city like New York is relatively easy; however, it’s more difficult if you live outside of a metropolitan area or larger city.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of options available for aspiring calisthenics athletes from online coaching to attending events organized by groups in the community.

The key is to do research, ask questions and identify reputable trainers who can offer the best guidance for your particular goals and objectives.

Calisthenics vs Crossfit for Beginners

When it comes to exercise for beginners, many are torn between calisthenics and Crossfit. Although Crossfit provides a rigorous challenge for those looking for a real challenge in the gym, it is important to note that its training programs are scalable.

This means that whatever your fitness level, you can start at any stage and gradually build your way up as you become stronger and more used to the movements.

It must also be noted however, that Crossfit is competitive by nature and has a reputation of being high-risk when it comes to potential injuries something newbies should bear in mind before embarking on the journey.

Calisthenics is an excellent form of exercise that suits people of various ages and abilities, making it more versatile than other popular forms of exercise.

The ability to easily transition from one type of movement to another means that fits sessions can remain engaging, while also being flexible enough to fit in quickly between other activities.

However, the main drawback to calisthenics is that there is no clear roadmap or instruction guide, requiring users to seek some external guidance in order to get started and ensure that the exercises are carried out safely.

Factors To Consider:

When comparing calisthenics to Crossfit, it is important to consider each factor separately. This allows for a fair comparison and evaluation of their various aspects. 

Taking all of these individual points into account will ultimately determine which one scores higher overall.

Difficulty For beginners

Calisthenics is great for those looking to exercise their bodies at home, as little equipment is needed a healthy body and knowledge are all that is required.

Crossfit, on the other hand, is more competitive in nature, and typically done in a class or following video instructions. It may also require some additional equipment which can become quite expensive.

As such, calisthenics is definitely the better choice for people wanting to keep fit without making too big an investment.

Ability To Build Muscle

Research has revealed that Crossfit is more intense than calisthenics, leading to significant increases in strength through high-intensity workouts.

As a strength and conditioning program that melds elements of aerobics, gymnastics, weightlifting and plyometrics, Crossfit encourages practitioners to improve their overall physical fitness as quickly as possible.

The intensity and variety of exercises involved make this an incredibly effective way of increasing strength in a relatively short period of time, making it far superior to calisthenics alone.

Its popularity worldwide serves as testament to the success of such training programs.

Risk Of Injury

Crossfit is an effective fitness regime but care must be taken due to its competitive nature leading to a higher injury risk compared to calisthenics.

Studies show the average rate of injury for Crossfit participants is around 36%, while the average rate of injury for those participating in a calisthenics program was only 2%.

While Crossfit provides excellent results, its vigorous nature means it may not fit with everyone’s fitness goals and that individuals should consider other programs where their safety is less of a concern.

Calories Burned

Although both Crossfit and calisthenics burn a variable amount of calories depending on the effort put in, it is impossible to compare the two due to their vastly different approaches.

Crossfit is a regimented program designed for strength and conditioning, whereas calisthenics can vary greatly with more flexibility in their movements and intensity levels.

Therefore, after all evidence presented has been examined this category must be ruled a tie it all depends on how hard an individual pushes themselves to reach the maximum potential outcome.


Which One Is Better?

CrossFit and calisthenics both offer a well-rounded way to train the body, making them popular choices among fitness enthusiasts. Ultimately it is personal needs and goals that will determine which method of exercise is best for an individual.

Before selecting either CrossFit or calisthenics, take into account whether you need more flexibility or strength training.

Also consider your fitness potential if you are looking for extreme results, then one method may be better than the other.

It is important to do research on both methods of exercise, read about the benefits of each one and compare it to your own lifestyle to make an informed choice.

Muscle Building

Calisthenics offers a superior choice for building muscle, as the methodical movements require the exerciser to stay focused and in control of each muscle contraction.

This key emphasis on focus yields both static strength and dynamic strength gains, allowing muscles to increase endurance as well as power.

The flexibility of creating a workout plan has allowed hundreds of people to reach their goal of growing their muscles by simply utilizing calisthenics, no additional weights needed.

Calisthenics is an ideal exercise regimen for anyone looking to naturally stimulate muscle growth.

CrossFit may be a great way to get into shape and promote cardiovascular health, however it is less ideal when it comes to gaining lean muscle mass.

While there are some gains possible through CrossFit routine, the lack of focus on technique and form make it difficult to see big increases in muscle gain due to the nature of this particular exercise style.

To achieve greater success with gaining lean mass, an individual should look at calisthenics exercises such as chin ups, dips, hanging leg raises, pull ups, push ups, face pulls, handstand push ups, and human pullovers.

All are productive ways of building up more muscle without compromising technique or form.

Strength Training

Both calisthenics and CrossFit can be effective in building muscular strength, though they employ different techniques to achieve similar results.

Calisthenics focuses on using bodyweight exercises and movements to improve coordination and flexibility Think of activities like push-ups or pull-ups, which require both concentration and energy expenditure throughout the body.

On the other hand, CrossFit takes a slightly different approach. Here, the emphasis is still on physical output but also includes exercises that help build cardiovascular endurance like running or swimming.

Calisthenics is more focused on building and strengthening each muscle group on its own, making it ideal for individuals who prioritize form and technique over the amount of weight they can lift.

Conversely, CrossFit has more of a focus on explosive strength and full body movements, making it the better choice for activities requiring greater power or endurance over time.

Depending on the goals and preferences of the individual, either method can produce impressive results.

Injury Risk

When it comes to assessing the relative risk of injury between Calisthenics and CrossFit, it is important to note that Calisthenics offers more control over routines and exercise progression.

This in turn allows for a slower and more controlled approach which minimises the risk of injury. Because exercises are easier to monitor and progress is tailored towards an individual’s capability, injuries from Calisthenics tend to be less severe than those associated with CrossFit.jury.

CrossFit is a type of intensive exercise that consists of highly dynamic, explosive movements that can put excessive strain on your joints and muscles.

While the risk of injury may be greater than with other types of exercise, most people who take part in CrossFit can get through it without experiencing any issues.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that soreness after a workout is common with CrossFit, as the level and intensity of physical activity is much greater than most forms of exercise.

By following proper technique and maintaining a healthy level of fitness before starting CrossFit, you can reduce the chance for serious injuries and keep soreness to a minimum.

Weight Loss & Fat Burning

CrossFit offers an effective weight loss and fat burning program when compared to calisthenics. Not only do CrossFit exercises tax the body more with their explosive nature, but they also demand a swift transition between stations, ensuring your body is pushed to its limits during each workout.

This increases your caloric burn rate, making it easier to achieve those weight loss goals you’ve been aiming for. Furthermore, each session tends to be completed in less amount of time giving you the opportunity to increase the intensity of your workouts if desired.

CrossFit is a popular exercise modality that has gained recognition for its effective weight loss benefits due to its incorporation of many of the same principles as high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Not only is HIIT known to elevate the metabolic rate for hours or even days after a workout, but CrossFit also includes short rest times during its workouts, contributing further to its effectiveness.

While calisthenics are another form of exercise for weight loss, overall CrossFit workouts tend to be much more successful in achieving desired results in this area.

Cost & Convenience

CrossFit is one of the most popular branded exercise routines that require users to find and pay for a subscription in a CrossFit branch.

However, having access to the facilities where provided can become very expensive, specially given that many people who participate in CrossFit tend to purchase extra, dedicated and often quite pricey gear.

Fortunately, if you’re looking for an affordable way of training according to the CrossFit principles and have limited access or no access at all to a CrossFit branch, following the basics of this style can be just as effective.

You could even put together your own home gym or enrol yourself in a regular commercial gym, obtaining satisfactory results without the need to overspend on the exclusive CrossFit resources.

Calisthenics is a great free exercise option. Whether you’re short on time, or money, this form of exercise can be completed from many places like your home or local park with minimal equipment required.

If you have access to specific pieces of equipment for more complex moves, the exercise routine can become much more beneficial for full body strengthening.

Compared to CrossFit, calisthenics is ideal due to its convenience and economical price. Even if you are limited in time and resources, calisthenics is a reliable go-to for exercising.

Home Workouts

Calisthenics is the ideal form of exercise for using a home gym as it requires little to no equipment and can be completed almost anywhere.

With these advantages, it’s easy to understand why many people are turning to this type of workout for at-home fitness solutions.

However, buyers should be aware that calisthenics does not offer the same range of motion that CrossFit does since CrossFit requires specialized equipment and attendance at a dedicated CrossFit gym.

That said, there are now home gym systems available that incorporate calisthenics into traditional fitness equipment so that users can benefit from a variety of movements in their own home environment.


Calisthenics and CrossFit offer an ideal entry point for those looking to break into fitness, as they both require basic movements that are simple to pick up.

But make no mistake, as each approach can be extremely challenging for more experienced participants. Both options require dedication and a sense of focus in order to reach advanced levels of proficiency, and a steep learning curve is certainly encountered along the way.

Beginners may prefer calisthenics due to its accessibility, however it can take a long time to reach progress milestones that grant satisfaction.

On the other hand, taking the CrossFit path can be a bit daunting at first due to shared gym spaces which could lead to feelings of social discomfort.

If this issue does not present itself then CrossFit would be the most efficient option for those eager to get fit quickly with measurable results.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

While calisthenics can still be a great way to improve your cardiovascular conditioning with resistance training, CrossFit has a leg up in this category.

CrossFit is known for its explosive movements, which are more likely to get your heartrate up and have it fluctuating.

This helps to force the heart muscles to become stronger over time, giving you an improved cardiovascular conditioning so you’ll be able to perform at higher levels for longer periods of time.

With such intense moves working almost the entire weight of your body in every exercise, there is no doubt that calisthenics is still beneficial, but when it comes to improving cardio through resistance training, CrossFit offers a more effective option!


If you’re looking to boost your cardiovascular conditioning, explosive power and overall fitness level, CrossFit is the superior choice.

With a combination of strength training and HIIT, each session is designed to maximize calorie burn and promote muscle development whilst providing an exciting and unique workout experience that maximizes results.

The intensity at which you choose to take part in any CrossFit session can be adjusted to accommodate for beginners as well as more experienced athletes who may wish to push themselves further.

Ultimately, when it comes to taking up a new form of exercise, the decision between which style of training is best suited for you will purely come down to personal preference.

Calisthenics is arguably the best choice of exercise for those who desire complete muscle development, individual muscle strength, or to train at home.

It is also advantageous for the time conscious and budget conscious individuals as calisthenics provide an effectual workout when conducted correctly, with minimized risk of injury due to less specialized equipment needed.

Furthermore, if forced to choose between calisthenics and weight training, a clear advantage exists as calisthenics has a greater list of benefits than weight training.

Thus in sum, calisthenics provides a cost-effective and safe way for individuals to build muscle strength and improve overall health.

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