What’s Better, Lifting Weights or Weightlifting?

lifting weights vs weightlifting

A lot of people get caught up in arguments over what’s better…or, what’s best. This is especially true when talking fitness, strength & conditioning, or training, in general. Everyone has an opinion, and many people like to tell others they’re wrong. It’s tribalism at its finest. But I’ve found that these arguments are rarely black and white.

So, let me ask you some questions…

What’s better, free weights or calisthenics?
What’s better, low intensity cardio or high intensity cardio?
What’s better, training hard or training smart?
What’s better, swinging clubbells or swinging kettlebells?
What’s better, setting goals or making a plan?
What’s better, joint mobility training or PNF stretching?
What’s better, pushups or dips?
What’s better, being able to get started or being able to keep going?
What’s better, running the track or running the trails?
What’s better, boxing or Brazilian jiu jitsu?
What’s better, back squats or front squats?
What’s better, general physical preparedness or specific physical preparedness?
What’s better, physical training or mental training?
What’s better, Parkour or MovNat?
What’s better, training well or eating well?

I’ve heard all kinds of arguments both for and against every single one of these issues. Passionate arguments. The kinds of heated debates that give keyboard warriors insomnia for days on end.

But here’s the thing: the answer to every one of those questions is both.

If your mind is about to explode, let me explain…

There are great things about training with free weights, and the same is true of calisthenics. Plus, there are things you can do with free weights that you can’t do with calisthenics, and vice versa. And of course, there are some things for which calisthenics are the superior choice, and vice versa. Regardless, these are both great training tools and there are unique pros and cons to each of them. And so, neither one of them is “better” than the other one, in-and-of-itself.

Similarly, low intensity cardio (e.g. long, slow distance training) is great for building endurance, burning calories, and promoting recovery, among other things. High intensity cardio (e.g. HIIT), on the other hand, is great for improving your conditioning, building grit, revving up your metabolism, and extending your calorie burn well beyond your training session. They’re both great strategies, and they complement each other very well. And get this. The best way to improve your fitness, body composition, and conditioning is to use both.

Likewise, training smart is important, but it won’t get you very far unless you also train hard. And the opposite is also true.

Want the best chest development? Do pushups and dips, instead of just one or the other.

Want to be a better fighter? You should focus on striking and grappling arts.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

The Bottom Line

Stop paying so much attention to the stuff that doesn’t matter. Sure. Some things work better than others for different goals. But usually, it takes a combination of things to produce the best overall results. And despite what fitness marketers will tell you, rarely is one thing the only or even the best solution to your health or fitness problem. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

So, don’t get caught up in the trivial details of health, fitness, and training – the minutia. Instead, let’s focus on what we agree on, and then get back to doing the things we already know we should be doing. Start with the basics and keep applying them until you’re happy with your results (and then keep it up!).

And if you stop making progress because you’ve got all of the basics covered (serious question: do you really?), and you want slightly better results, perhaps then you could start worrying about the little details then. But for the vast majority of us who are not professional athletes, life’s too short and there are far too many other more important things to worry about than arguing over this stuff.

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