Calisthenics vs bodybuilding: pros and cons if you are over 35

At the beginning of the training path, we face a choice – calisthenics vs bodybuilding. Because these are well-known in the whole world and extremely popular ways of body transformation. That’s why we see so many people in gyms and workout areas. 

But when we are young, our organism forgives us many mistakes and we have enough time to taste different kinds of fitness. In adulthood, when we are already 35-40 years old or even more, the choice of our sports hobby should be more meaningful.

Therefore, it’s very important to pay close attention when we make a decision – calisthenics vs bodybuilding.

calisthenics vs bodybuilding
Сalisthenics vs bodybuilding? Up to you to decide!
Arnold Schwarzenegger «Iron Arny» (left) and Chris Heria, founder of the Calisthenics Academy (right)
(photos from open sources and also from Heria’s Instagram)

Let’s figure out what is better when you hesitate over choice calisthenics vs bodybuilding. Especially if you’re a grown-up athlete

Bodybuilding pros and cons

I devoted more than 4 years to the “iron” sport. I won’t claim that I am a very cool specialist in bodybuilding. But I was training very persistent, have tried a lot of workout systems, and even made some progress in muscle growth. 

I propose to start with the benefits of bodybuilding:

  • it’s one of the best ways to create a muscular body
  • you have a huge selection of equipment – from dumbbells to fussy fitness machines
  • you significantly increase your strength and muscles
  • you’ll see the changes in the mirror in 4-6 months of diligent training
  • you will prolong your youth and active sex life

Now we’ll talk about the cons of bodybuilding:

  • you need constantly to increase the weight to progress, and this can lead to injury
  • you have to spend a lot of time learning exercise techniques
  • if you train without steroids, your muscles grow slower than you expect
  • heavy loads negatively affect the barebone, it’s a big “minus” when you’re about 40 y.o. and older
  • you must strictly adhere to nutrition and give up bad habits
Gym barbell
Bodybuilding is one of the best ways to create a muscular body

Basically, if you don’t have serious health problems and you are purposeful enough, bodybuilding over 40 is a good way to get your body in shape. I know several guys from my gym, which are already under 50 and they can easily take part in amateur Olympia. 

But why did I chuck up bodybuilding after four years of training? First of all, it was very hard for me to gain mass. I’m one of those who are called hardgainers. My weight stuck around 81-82 kg and I couldn’t move it up for two years despite abundant food. I received a couple of nasty injuries and dropped out of workout for a while. But the worst thing was that I wasn’t functional. I could squat with a barbell weighing 130 kg. But I couldn’t do even two pull-ups or run a mile. And it was a big disappointment.

Calisthenics pros and cons

In fact, I started calisthenic exercises during the epidemic of COVID-19. Due to quarantine, all gyms were closed. But I couldn’t live without training and I started to train on the sports ground. All I did there were pull-ups and push-ups. That’s when I shifted to calisthenic. And I’m in love with it already for more than two years.

What are the pros of calisthenics for adult athletes?

  • you can train wherever you are and even without equipment
  • if you will be making exercises with the correct technique, the risk of injury will be minimal
  • you need to acquire the minimum set of exercises to train the whole body
  • even workout only with your weight allows you to build muscle
  • you can train with pleasure until old age and stay fit

However, you shouldn’t forget about the calisthenics disadvantages:

  • be patient, it will take a long time to see the progress
  • many exercises, such as pull-ups or dips, may seem very difficult at first
  • overweight is a big enemy of calisthenics, so you have to fight it
  • calisthenics workout may be boring because you need to focus on basic exercises
  • sorry guys, but you will never be so big as bodybuilders
Calisthenics pull-up bar
You can do calisthenic exercises wherever you are and even without equipment

So who wins when it comes to calisthenics vs bodybuilding?

I think both kinds of training are good to keep your body fit and muscled at any age. But I choose calisthenics and plan to stay with it for a long time. Why? Because working with your body weight opens up a huge possibility for progress. If that’s not enough, you can always add extra weight for pull-ups or dips. Calisthenics is also less harmful to joints, ligaments, and bones. But the most thing is that thanks to calisthenics I feel not only strong and muscular but also functional. I own my body 100%.

Therefore, for me, the choice of calisthenics vs bodybuilding is clear-cut. But you may have a different opinion. I suggest you discuss it in the comments!