When starting or following a regular exercise regimen it is important to understand the theory behind each type of exercise. Why? Because it helps you to plan a workout that is sound and will fit your goals and needs. A correct workout can mean the difference between gaining results or not, and also in how fast those results can be achieved.

Knowledge is power and king, and this applies to life and fitness. So, let’s consider the anatomies of two popular workouts carefully, here is a comparison of Kettlebell workouts versus good old calisthenics.

Kettlebell Workouts Versus Calisthenics

Kettlebell exercises involve a high amount of motor neurons firing at once to stay balanced and in good form.  Interestingly, the same can be said about calisthenic exercises.

When you look at each workout separately, they can both give you similar benefits.  Lean muscle mass ranks high on this list.  Every rep you do with a kettlebell causes you to work multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as with a clean and press.  The same can be said with a calisthenics exercise like a burpee.

Main Difference

The main difference here is you are only using the weight of your body as resistance with calisthenics.  In some cases, this can make the exercises harder and in others, it can make them easier.

Take pull-ups for example.  These require you to pull the entire weight of your body up to chin-level on a pull-up bar.  It takes a lot of strength to achieve this feat with proper form.

A kettlebell row, performed by pulling the weight up by your side from a half-bent position, works similar muscles, but is not nearly as hard.

On the other side of the coin, a ballistic kettlebell exercise like a snatch, gets your heart rate elevated really high, while also working muscles in your shoulders, butt, thighs and abdomen.  You rarely get this same type of effect from calisthenic exercises.

Combining Calisthenics With Kettlebells

Here’s where things get interesting. You can actually use kettlebells in conjunction with calisthenic exercises.
Let’s go back to the pull-up example. When you are able to do multiple reps with good form, it’s obvious that you have reached a pretty high level of strength.

Since the pull-up is a body weight driven exercise, you need to add resistance to your body to make it harder.  By wearing a dipping belt and strapping a kettlebell to it, you just found out how to do that.  This also applies with dips on dipping bars.

Total Body Workout

Kettlebells and calisthenics actually pair well to create a total body workout.  Since kettlebells are easy to maneuver and transport, you can combine specific kettlebell exercises with specific calisthenic exercises to build a complete, total-body workout.

For example, you can do pushups, renegade rows, presses, jumping jacks, squats, pull-ups and Turkish get-ups all in one workout.  The end result is full body recruitment that improves muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, balance and flexibility.

With all the similarities, there is one major difference.  If you travel and are unable to bring a kettlebell with you, yet you rely on it for a workout, you are out of luck.  However, that’s certainly not the case with calisthenics.  All you need is the weight of your body and you can pretty much work any muscle group.

This is especially beneficial if you are confined to a hotel room and do not have access to a quality gym.

Aside from the obvious exercises like push-ups, squats and crunches, you can also do variations:

•    Alternating t-stands
•    Handstand push-ups with your feet on a wall
•    Pull-ups on the bathroom door with a towel draped over the top
•    Inverted push-ups under a sturdy desk
•    Dips on a desk chair and step-ups on a bed

Bottom Line

All and all, both kettlebell workouts and calisthenics are hard to beat for a one-size-fits-all approach.
Each can stand alone to tone and strengthen your entire body, or they can work in unison.  Just be aware that both forms of exercise take expertise, skill and practice to learn and master proper form and technique.

You are best served getting the basics down and then move forward from there.

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