Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Why Busy Mamas Should Stick to Calisthenics

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Both give amazing results, but I think you should stick to calisthenics. Why? Come and find out...

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Ok you want a smoking body, and you’ve heard, and seen, crossfit is a great way to get it.

And you’re not wrong.

Crossfit will certainly help with weight loss, fat loss, and building muscle. But, and this might be a controversial, unpopular opinion, in the calisthenics vs Crossfit debate, I think you should stick to calisthenics.

Wondering why?

Before you dismiss me, hear me out…

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: I think you should stick to calisthenics and here's why...

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Calisthenics will Improve Your Body Composition

Crossfit isn’t the only way to get a smoking body.

Calisthenics is just as capable at getting you ripped. If it’s paired with a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, obviously.

Do me a calisthenics movements and look at a few of the images.

It should only take a second. Come back when you’re done.

Did you notice anything about the people doing the movements.

The first thing you may have noticed is that most of them are men. Please don’t be put off by this. Calisthenics is not just for men. You are, or you can be strong enough. And you will not look like a man.

The second thing you hopefully noticed is that everyone has an amazing figure. Yes, I know they’re men, but they’ve got defined muscles and not a lot of fat. They look strong. And athletic. That’s the look you’re going for isn’t it?

Calisthenics workouts really do have the ability to get you the physique you’re after. Because calisthenics is essentially a type of strength training.

But, the added bonus is there is even less risk of you looking bulky.

I’ve spoken many times about how strength training won’t make women bulky. We just don’t have the testosterone levels needed to build muscle mass to the same level as men.

But, with calisthenics, because you’re only using your own bodyweight, no extra weight you’re really not going to look bulky.

One thing you should notice about all of the men doing it, they haven’t got massive muscles. Not compared to say a bodybuilder.

They are super strong. And they have lots of lean muscle yes, but muscle size isn’t the focus with calisthenics. Overall strength is. Overall fitness is.

Now, I love a good tussle with a really heavy weight. Lifting something above my head, or flipping a bloody big tyre. But, I know not everyone is like me. And women do get concerned about lifting heavy weights.

That’s where calisthenics exercises can help.

You’ll still be doing some really cool stuff, especially when you’re more advanced, but weights don’t come into at all. It is purely body-weight training.

So, if calisthenics and crossfit can get you the body you’re looking for, why do I think you should stick with calisthenics? In a nut shell, I think it’s going to be easier for you to workout if you stick with calisthenics.

Let me explain?

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Calisthenics Can Be Done Anywhere

One of the benefits of calisthenics is that it only requires your body weight. It can be done anywhere without any fancy equipment.

As I’ve mentioned above, calisthenics exercises are bodyweight exercises. It’s essentially bodyweight training to get you fitter and stronger.

You don’t need any fancy equipment. In fact you don’t need much equipment at all.

A pull-up bar maybe, when you’re more advanced. Possibly some resistance bands. But none of that is essential. You’ll get an amazing, very challenging workout with just own body weight.

And that means you can workout anywhere.

In the local park while your kids play on the swings. In your living room after you’ve put them to bed. Maybe your garden while they watch their favourite show.

As long as you’ve got your body and a bit of room you can do a workout.

Crossfit though is very equipment heavy.

The whole ethos of crossfit is that it takes principles from many disciplines. Powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics and functional training. And that means you could be using anything from resistance bands, to kettlebells, to medicine balls, to Olympic bars, to cardio machines, to dumbbells, to weight plates, to gymnastic rings, to a pullup bar. And the list goes on.

So, unless you’ve got a very well kitted out gym at home, and if you have can I come and play, you’re going to have to go to a local crossfit gym to get your workout done.

And before you say it, I know not every workout of the day, or WOD, will use all of that equipment, some will just be bodyweight movements, but, at some point during your crossfit program you will need access to all of that equipment.

So, if you need to fit your workout in around childcare, school runs, kids activities, etc. stick with calisthenics.

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Crossfit Has Some Complicated Movements

The clean and jerk is an Olympic lift that's popular in Crossfit. It is very technical though and you will need instruction to get the technique right.

As I mentioned above, Crossfit takes it principles from powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics. It’s this cross section approach that makes it very effective.

But, it also means there are some very complicated moves involved.

The clean and jerk and the snatch for example are not moves for beginners and you will need instruction to get the right technique.

I dabbled a bit with Olympic lifts a few years back.

I worked with a personal trainer, who specialised in Olympic lifting, weekly and I did that for about 6 months. And I was only just getting them smooth enough to include them in a workout.

And these are movements I’m familiar with. I hadn’t done them with Olympic bars before, but, I knew the mechanics of the movement, and what I was supposed to be achieving.

But it still took me months.

Even now, I wouldn’t be comfortable doing them on my own at home, or at speed during a WOD.

Calisthenics though, the moves involved in a calisthenics workout are probably very familiar to you.

Squats. Lunges. Push ups. Pull ups.

There are advanced versions of these movements, muscle ups for example, which you may need assistance with, but, at the beginner level, you should be able to do most workouts on your own.

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Risk of Injury

Another reason to get instruction with Crossfit is that the injury risk is quite high. It has been compared to the risk of injury in rugby.

Well, it’s going to be isn't it?

Intense exercises, at speed, potentially with heavy weights. It’s kind of a recipe for injury.

There are some statistics that show the risk of injury with crossfit is about 20%. Just to put that into perspective, calisthenics is about 9 injuries per 1000 hours of training.

So, yes, there is still a risk with calisthenics. But, to be honest there’s going to be a bit of a risk with anything you do. But, yes, crossfit is quite high.

One way to reduce the risk is to get instruction and have trainer involvement during your WOD. And that means going to a gym.

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Crossfit Isn’t Necessarily Going To Get You Strong

Bear with me on this…

Most crossfit workouts are done for time, that means you do the exercises, cycle through the rounds as quickly as possible.

Yes, that’s great for getting your heart rate up, and for burning body fat.

But it can mean you don’t build strength in your muscles.

I’ve been to a crossfit training style class or two and during the core section I always have a look around. And I would say the majority of people aren’t using any core muscles to do the moves.

They’re mostly using momentum. Momentum to get down and momentum to get back up. That and the muscles in their legs. Or their arms. Or their neck.

Anything but actually using their core muscles.

So how do you stop using momentum, and sky rocket the strength of your core?

Slow it down.

When you slow the movement down you’ll actually be focusing on using the muscles in your core. Concentrate on it.

Contract and engage your core.

But I can’t get that number of reps done AND slow it down.

And that, I think is the problem with Crossfit.

The focus is on getting the numbers done, as quickly as possible. It’s not always the best way.

It has it’s place, absolutely. But, not at the expense of proper form, and not at the expense of not working the muscles you’re trying to work.

If you can’t get that number done, then don’t do them.

Do half, and really focus on using those muscles and those muscles alone.

I promise you your core will thank you for it in the long run.

Calsithenics vs Crossfit: There’s nothing wrong with Crossfit

Top three tips to keep you safe during a crossfit workout.

Now, before you think I’ve just got a downer with crossfit, I’m going to say, I actually like doing Crossfit.

I go to a group class every week. Well, as close to every week as I can.

I find it fun. And challenging. And even as a personal trainer I find it pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s at a time I know I can get there. And it gives me an opportunity to get out of the house.

So, if you still really want to give it a try, then great.

Find somewhere that does group classes and be safe. I’ve got some tips below to keep you safe.

But, if you’d prefer the luxury of working out whenever you can, I really would stick to calisthenics. You won’t be sacrificing results. But you may just find that you’re able to stick to it a little more.

Having said that, if you do want to try Crossfit, here are my top tips to keeping safe:

Get some instruction

Learn the main moves before you go to a class.

WOD’s are fast and intense so you might not be able to get the help you need during the class. So, do it before.

You don’t have to stick to a crossfit instructor. In fact I’d suggest you don’t.

Remember, Crossfit’s training methods come from powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, gymnastics. So, seek out instructors in all of those field if you can.

The more the better.

Stop if something doesn’t feel right.

Remember the risk of injury is high with crossfit training, so if something isn’t feeling right then stop.

It might be difficult getting the attention of an instructor during the WOD, but you must if something has started to hurt or feel uncomfortable. Especially if it’s your lower back.

Don’t be afraid to stop and ask for help.

Ask them to show you how to do the movement properly. Or, let you know what you’re doing wrong.

A good rule of thumb, engage your core.

And by engage I mean tense. Like someone’s about to punch you in the stomach. Tense your core and lift your pelvic floor.

That should be enough to take the pressure off your lower back.

If it’s not. Ask.

Don’t be afraid to make your own numbers and do it at your own pace.

There will be a workout for you to do. And it will have the number of reps of each exercise. Whilst you should absolutely push yourself, don’t feel like you have to stick to the numbers.

Can’t do 50 lunges, 40 squats and 30 burpees in a minute?

Pick something a little more realistic.

Remember no is going to be checking on you, unless you’re competing in the crossfit games. Everyone else is concentrating on what they need to do. Nothing more.

Calisthenics vs Crossfit: Which One for You?

At the end of the day, what really matters when choosing the type of workout you’re going to do, is, are you going to enjoy it? And there is a lot to enjoy with Crossfit.

If you go to group classes you’ll be working out with like-minded people. You’ll be pushed way past any comfort zone you ever had. And you will, undoubtedly, get fitter.

But remember, calisthenics will be just as effective at getting you fitter and stronger.

Let me know which one you decide to try, and how you get on.

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