Calisthenics Workout vs. Pilates

You can do calisthenics anywhere.
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You can get your resistance training fix with either Pilates or calisthenics, but which is right for you? Both build lean muscle mass to make you stronger, and both offer strength-training benefits such as a healthier heart, more self-confidence and fewer sleep problems. The most important consideration is determining which exercise you enjoy the most. After all, the happier you are working out, the better motivated you'll be to keep up your routine. If your last workout session was years ago, play it safe by getting a physical exam beforehand.


The options are wide open with calisthenics; almost any exercise that uses your body weight as resistance counts. This includes pullups, pushups, lunges, crunches, plank poses and much more. One super benefit? You can perform calisthenics just about anywhere, from your bedroom to your work desk. You don't need to pay for a gym, classes or equipment, and you probably already know how to do many of the moves. Start out with a single set of 12 reps for each exercise, and work up to two or three sets.


Pilates, developed by physical therapist Joseph Pilates, is an exercise technique that focuses on your core. Some Pilates moves wander over to the calisthenics category because they don't use any equipment. However, machines play a large role in many styles. You may be able to do some of the body-weight moves at home, but classes are common. Pilates incorporates breathing techniques in addition to the physical movements, which may help relieve anxiety.

Toning Benefits

Both calisthenics and Pilates go a long way in building lean muscle mass, giving you a stronger, better-toned and more athletic body. Your newfound muscle will translate into a faster metabolism, because muscles use calories even at rest. The activity also burn calories, helping you lose weight when combined with a sensible eating plan. Performing light to moderate calisthenics at home melts about 211 calories per hour, roughly the same as an hour-long beginning Pilates class. An advanced Pilates class can torch more than 300 calories per hour.

Aerobic Benefits

As fabulous as strength training is, it's only half of the exercise equation. Aerobic, or cardio, exercise is also crucial for optimal heart health and weight management. You won't get your cardio from calisthenics, but you might from Pilates -- provided it is intense enough. The American Council on Exercise sponsored a study on Pilates in 2005 and found no aerobic benefit from a beginner routine, but a mild benefit from an advanced one.

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