Calisthenics for Weight Loss

Can you really lose weight with calisthenics?

The simple answer is yes.

It should be stated that to lose weight, one must combine good nutrition and caloric deficit with proper exercise. There’s a balance.

In this article, though, we will be focusing on the workout end of things—and we are working out calisthenics style!

Calisthenics for Weight Loss

Calisthenics is great for burning calories (especially if you are using bodyweight burners) because its aim is to build strength, and building strength (muscle) burns a lot of calories.

However, building endurance through time under tension repetitions, or reps, and aerobic exercise should not be ignored.

If you want to lose weight, you cannot simply rely on impressive, muscular holds. Then again, it’s not always correct to assume that raising your heart rate 70% every time you workout will burn fat. You need variance.

Don’t work out just to get used to an exercise, but to get used to the exercise and then advance. If you get used to something too much, not only will your body plateau, but so will your interest level. This will keep you from working out, and no work out means no losing weight! There is no calisthenics exercise or school of training that can fix your motivation for you.

The following calisthenics exercises were chosen to introduce you to different forms of traditional exercises or because they combine strength building and aerobics. If you want to lose weight, start with beginner bodyweight calisthenics, but then move onto these—they will help you achieve the results you want.

1. Sprints

You could run miles if you want, or you could do sprints—or you could do both! Sprint Interval Training is a good way to burn more calories at a faster rate because of its high-intensity training nature. To prepare for sprints properly, be sure to warm-up and build-up to the desired intensity. When you sprint, you are running all out. Starting off with all you have is an easy way to hurt yourself. You may also want to plan for just one-two days of sprints each week; repeating sprint interval training every day may not allow your body to recover.

Warm-up with some stretches before going into a light jog for 5-10 minutes. Gradually increase the intensity of your jog to a baseline run. Give yourself another 5 minutes at this pace. You will return to this pace after each sprint. Then go into your sprint at about half the intensity you want to achieve and maintain for the rest of your session. Do this for 30 seconds. Go back to your baseline run for another 5 minutes. Sprint at a higher intensity than before for another 30 seconds. Maintain this sprint intensity throughout the rest of the workout until you are used to it. Repeat the pattern at least 4 times, or as much as you feel you can; high-intensity training sessions do not require a lot of time to be effective. Cool down after your last sprint by gradually decreasing the intensity, allowing your heart rate to relax with you.

2. Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers are another effective way to burn calories as it is not only a compound exercise, working arms, core, and legs, but brings in cardio as well.

To begin, assume a push-up position with palms on the ground, a shoulder width apart. Your butt may stick up a little bit more on this exercise, but only because you will be moving your legs. Activate your core muscles to stabilize the body. Bring your first leg under your chest like you’re about to push-off the ground, but do not touch your foot to the ground, keep it just above. Switch legs, bringing the left leg under your chest while the right leg is pushed out to its original position. Alternate legs quickly, similar to running, keeping your hands on the ground and upper body strong. If you start to feel pain in your lower back, stop and readjust.

3. Burpees

Another exercise that incorporates strength training and cardio.The burpee in itself is pretty intense, but is still accessible to the beginner, which makes it a great one for any calisthenics list. The burpee is similar to a combination of push-up and jump squats.

While getting into the jump squat position, ready your hands to transition to the floor, palms facing down. Jump! After landing the jump, softly drop into the push-up position by pushing the balls of your feet out in back of you, keeping your back straight. Try not to hold the position for too long. Then jump back into the air with arms extended above your head, landing on your feet, and going right back to the ground. To increase the intensity of the burpee, you can try the push-up burpee and the star jump burpee. The push-up burpee has you doing a push-up when you get back to the ground after your jump. The star jump burpee has you extending your arms and legs like a “star” at the peak of your jump. Both small changes result in more work for your muscles, a higher intensity, and better cardio. You can also incorporate a mountain climbers set before you jump back up.

4. Bench Dips

Pure calisthenics. I am opting to choose the bench dip for this article as it does not require “bars” to perform, but more readily a strong “bench.” You may even be able to get away using your couch. This variation of a dip is challenging enough to give a satisfying workout, but easy enough for the beginner to start preparing for a bar dip. Your triceps are incredibly important for this exercise, so be sure to warm them up to allow for optimal flexibility. Before you start, consider your shoulders. If you have sustained injuries or currently experience problems with them, consult your doctor before attempting this exercise.

Face away from the bench. Lower yourself towards the bench, placing your hands palm down with knuckles facing outwards. Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., [insert hyperlink] states that this is the best way to set up a safe shoulder position. Keep your legs out in front of you or bend slightly at the knee. Squeeze the shoulder blades back, and open the chest. Now dip yourself slowly, maintaining tension in the shoulder blades. As soon as you feel yourself losing control, stop dipping and head back up.

5. Diamond Push Up

Oh, the difference the position of your hands make! When pushing up using a traditional shoulder-width hand position, the chest is the main target. When bringing the hands in, the focus is more on the triceps. This may seem like an easy push-up to do, but an entirely different muscle is taking over, so your body could be in for a surprise.

To successfully see out this exercise, assume a traditional push-up position, remembering to keep the back straight and head up and forward. Bring your hands in at an angle so your forefinger and thumbs touch, creating a diamond-shaped space between the two. With control, lower yourself to the ground, keeping your elbows tucked in. Push yourself back up. Repeat!

6. Sit-Ups

Sit-ups are not crunches. Crunches tend to isolate the abdominal muscles, whereas sit-ups are more of a compound exercise that include hip flexors and legs. Think of it this way: a crunch crunches your abs. Sit-ups want you to sit-up—all the way up. However, because of this there is more stress to the back and higher risk of injury. Form before fitness! If you do not have proper form, fitness can be delayed.

Start your sit up with your back and feet on the ground, knees bent. Place your hands behind your neck as a support, do not grip the neck, and tilt the chin in towards the chest. You can also position your arms by your sides or across your chest. Keep the feet on the ground and knees bent as you lift your upper body until it is completely off the ground and you are sitting all the way up. You can use something to support your legs—remember having a sit-up partner in gym class that held your feet to the ground?—but this will take away focus from the abdominals and put more on the legs. Either way, it will burn calories and build strength.