Calisthenics vs CrossFit

If you want to start into a healthy lifestyle, you might have heard about calisthenics and CrossFit as your options. A lot of people have difficulty choosing between the two and we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between calisthenics vs CrossFit.

Calisthenics vs CrossFit

While calisthenics and CrossFit may have their differences, both aim to make your body fit and healthy. It’s hard to define which is better because they approach fitness differently. It depends on what works best for you and gets you the best result.

You can try both of them and see what appeals to you more. You can then focus on what works for you best and lessen the time you spend on the other. This article will help you make a more informed decision before you try them out.

Woman doing yoga

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics involves a variety of movements that target your large muscle groups. It uses your own bodyweight to perform resistance training. Calisthenics improves:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Aerobic conditioning

You may have already done calisthenics already. Every time you do squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, crunches, dips, jumping jacks, and broad jumps, you’re basically doing calisthenics. 

If you want to get fit without buying fancy workout equipment, calisthenics should be right for you. It’s the simplest form of exercise.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit involves high-intensity interval training (HIIT) while emphasizes strength and conditioning designed at a high-intensity level performed with functional movements. While CrossFit incorporates calisthenics to its workout, you perform it at a much higher intensity and faster pace.

However, CrossFit may also add workout equipment like kettlebells, speed ropes, and medicine balls. CrossFit also involves being in a community. CrossFit follows a standard “workout of the day”, which all members complete on the same day. 

You don’t have to worry about not able to keep up because you can tailor the workout according to your fitness level. If you want to workout with a community and at a much faster pace, Crossfit may be a great fit for you.  

What’s the Difference?

You can clearly see the obvious difference between calisthenics and CrossFit as mentioned above. CrossFit makes use of specific workout routines and markets it to a lot of people. Calisthenics involves the basics of physical training with the use of your own body weight.  

CrossFit works by assigning a workout for everyone to complete each day. You need to complete it as fast as possible on your fitness level. Crossfit encourages rapid and explosive motions by changing exercises quickly. 

Woman using a jump rope

Calisthenics makes use of simple workout routines and you can do it at your own pace. You don’t need to follow a specific workout routine and schedule and make your own one. 

Strength and Conditioning

Calisthenics shines more in strength and conditioning. Crossfit focuses more on cardio with its fast and rigorous workout routine. In calisthenics, you emphasize on proper form and technique.

Calisthenics works your muscles slowly exerting more pressure on it. It’s also hard to build muscles if you’re working on your cardio which affects your metabolic conditioning. 

However, calisthenics alone won’t be efficient for building strength. You also need to combine strength training like lifting weights. 


CrossFit helps you burn body fat with high-intensity interval training while also build a bit of strength by working with your own bodyweight. Whereas in calisthenics, you move slower than in CrossFit. 

Calisthenics slowly builds fitness as you continue to train. It emphasizes more on the form to get the most out of every exercise. 

You would want to go for CrossFit if you want to aim for overall fitness. CrossFit improves your cardio and strength at the same time and at a higher pace too. 

Risk of Injury

Because CrossFit involves fast pace action, you tend to get a lot more injured doing it. Especially if you’re a beginner and don’t know how to do the proper form and can’t keep up. You end up doing the improper form and put a lot of pressure on your body leading to injuries. 

Calisthenics on the other hand allows you to do workouts slowly and have the time to correct your form. If you want a lesser risk of injuries, calisthenics should make you feel safe. 

Fat Burning

You get more calories burned in CrossFit than calisthenics. Calisthenics doesn’t care about being fast but slow and steady in fat burning. 

Woman doing calisthenics outdoors

However, you can’t say that CrossFit is the most efficient way of burning fat. Running burns more body fat than CrossFit. However,  CrossFit allows you to pause and rest. Whereas in running, you need to maintain a constant pace and heart rate.


Without a doubt, calisthenics allows beginners to get into it pretty quickly. You also don’t have to buy workout equipment to get started. The exercise only requires you to move your body. 

In CrossFit, you need to find a class or group in your area if you want to do it correctly. CrossFit also has a lot to do with fast-pace movements which may shock beginners who aren’t physically fit. 

You also might need to purchase some equipment for CrossFit, ranging from knee sleeves to wrist wraps to various bands and rope.

Cost and Convenience

You have cheaper options in calisthenics than you do with CrossFit. While you may need to use workout equipment in calisthenics, that’s not generally the case. 

Whereas in CrossFit, you need to be part of a class or group and it comes with membership fees most of the time. Not to mention, you will use barbells, CrossFit bars, rowers, and many more as you progress throughout.  

Can You Train Calisthenics and CrossFit Simultaneously?

While you can technically do both, it will take a toll on your body. Fatigue will make you counterproductive and you’ll lose the motivation to exercise.  

CrossFit gets you into the group mentality and gets you motivated to finish the workout. Add that to the competitive nature of CrossFit and you’ll find yourself going the extra effort to outdo others. 

Both types of exercise help you in their own ways. It depends on what goal and lifestyle you want to achieve. For example, if you’re aiming for weight loss, then going for CrossFit instead of calisthenics should be your choice.


While calisthenics and CrossFit may have their differences, both will help you in your road to a healthy lifestyle. If you want more control over your workouts and want to start slow and steady, calisthenics fits you perfectly. If you want competitive, fast-pace, and group-oriented workouts, maybe signing up for a CrossFit class will help you thrive.  

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.