In the dynamic and ever-changing world of fitness, it’s sometimes hard to understand the differences between various types of workout routines. CrossFit and calisthenics are two popular styles of exercise that are done worldwide. But are they the same thing, or is one a variation of the other? Let’s delve into the details and unveil the truth behind the question, “Is CrossFit Calisthenics?”



What is Calisthenics?


Calisthenics, at its core, is a form of exercise centered on bodyweight movements. Strength and endurance are built by moving your body against gravity, rather than by lifting external weights like barbells. It includes a range of movements such as push-ups, lunges, and pull-ups. Calisthenics is known for its simplicity and effectiveness, requiring minimal equipment and focusing on functional strength.



What is CrossFit?


CrossFit, on the other hand, is a high-intensity fitness program that combines elements of weightlifting, metabolic conditioning, and gymnastics. It, too, prioritizes training functional movements, but does so through a wider variety of exercises than calisthenics. Bodyweight movements, such as ring dips and L-sit holds, can be intermixed with externally loaded exercises, like snatches and sled pushes, and cardio, like biking or running.

Because CrossFit WODs change daily, there are some days where you may do nothing but calisthenics. Alternatively, there are some where you won’t do any calisthenics at all. For example, check out these classic CrossFit workouts known as benchmark WODs:


  • Cindy (All Calisthenics) = 20 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible):
    • 5 Pull-Ups
    • 10 Push-Ups
    • 15 Air Squats


  • Helen (Partial Calisthenics) = 3 Rounds for Time:
    • 400-meter Run
    • 21 Kettlebell Swings
    • 12 Pull-Ups


  • DT (No Calisthenics) = 5 Rounds for Time:
    • 12 Deadlifts
    • 9 Hang Power Cleans
    • 6 Push Jerks


Furthermore, these workouts may only be 1 of 2 or 3 done in a single CrossFit class. For instance, you may start the day with 15 minutes of slower-paced strength building, such as back squatting, and then perform Cindy. To view samples of CrossFit LPF’s programming, click the grey “WODs” circle in the bottom left corner of each page on our website. As you will see, calisthenics is a piece of the CrossFit puzzle rather than the whole picture.



The Benefits of Calisthenic Exercises


Whether done in isolation or within a CrossFit WOD, here are a few reasons why we love calisthenic exercises:



At CrossFit LPF, we believe that EVERYONE can exercise. We just need to find the right version of each exercise for each person! Calisthenics are very easy to scale up or down to make them appropriate for any fitness level. Let’s examine some options for the burpee. Perhaps you have a hard time getting up from the floor. Instead of dropping to the ground, place your hands on an elevated surface, like a box or bench, and drop down to that height instead. Maybe, instead, your joints aren’t ready for a lot of impact yet. You can step your feet in and out of the burpee instead of jumping. Lastly, if traditional burpees are easy for you, add a high jump to the top of every rep. The possibilities are endless!


Require Minimal Equipment

Because calisthenics consists of bodyweight exercises instead of weightlifting, it requires very little equipment. This makes calisthenics a great option for busy or smaller gyms, home workouts, or people on-the-go. Some exercises may need a pull-up bar or a set of rings, but you can still get an amazing workout without these tools if you don’t have access to them.



Both calisthenics and CrossFit aim to promote “functional fitness.” This means both program exercises that allow you move better in everyday life. Squats help us get on and off the couch. Lunges make it easier to get on and off the floor. Calisthenics and CrossFit movements are chosen because they have the specific purpose of improving your overall health and wellness practically.



So, is CrossFit Calisthenics?


In conclusion, CrossFit is not synonymous with calisthenics. Calisthenics focuses solely on bodyweight exercises, while CrossFit includes these movements alongside other weightlifting and cardio exercises. Both can improve your strength, mobility, and conditioning to help you reach your fitness goals. Come down to CrossFit LPF to try a mix of calisthenics and other exercise modalities for yourself!