What is Calisthenics? 

Calisthenics is exercise that you can do with your own body. You don’t need any equipment or special materials.

The best examples of calisthenics are pull-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks. The number of reps you do for each exercise will determine the length of your workout and how much weight you lose.  

You can easily lose weight and burn fat with calisthenics.

The best part is that since you only need your own body, you can do the exercises even when you are on vacation or traveling. Using your own body weight is the perfect way to start getting fit.

It will also help your strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. It will also aid in weight loss.

Start with calisthenics today no matter your fitness level. 

How to start calisthenics if you are overweight

Starting with calisthenics when you are overweight may seem challenging or overwhelming, but it can be easy if you go about it the right way. It doesn’t have to be intimidating with the right plan and a good guide. 

The most important thing to remember when starting with calisthenics is that you want every change to be sustainable.

This means starting small. You only need to exercise about 20-30 minutes a day to start getting fit. Once you get more comfortable, you can work up to 45 minutes on some days.

Overdoing exercise can make you feel weak and make you more likely to pull a muscle. 

Do each exercise in reps to make sure your body has a resting period. It’s recommended you rest 15-30 seconds and then perform another rep.

If you feel tired, try a modified version of the exercise. For example, you can do push-ups on your knees for some of the reps. 

The more weight you have, the simpler you should start. You will also lose more weight if you have more weight, to begin with.

Be patient with weight loss and try not to weigh yourself every day. Pick a day of the week and time during the day to weigh yourself. 

Incorporating a healthy diet will also allow you to lose weight quicker. Try calisthenics with a healthy meal plan for faster results.

Can an overweight person do calisthenics?


Overweight people can take on calisthenics and should absolutely consider it as it’s a great way to get in shape and lose weight.

While working out using calisthenics may take a little more work when overweight, it is one of the best ways to see results fast.

Depending on the strength of the individual; and how overweight they are, certain modifications may need to be made to exercises.

If an overweight person decides to do calisthenics, there are a few tips and considerations:

  • Losing weight is the first step. It’s important to introduce small lifestyle changes to help with losing weight. This will help with progression in calisthenics exercises. 
  • Even the smallest changes help. For example:
    • Take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator
    • Walk short distances instead of driving
    • Add hill climbs/walks/stairs into workout sessions
    • Monitor calorie intake, reduce gradually if needed
    • Any extra physical activity is a plus. Even small things begin to add up quickly. 
  • Change your Diet– this can be a tricky one but it’s absolutely possible. This doesn’t mean people need to go on extreme diets or make massive changes but being more aware of foods can help.

For example: 

  • Monitor your number of calories daily. 
  • Change the type of foods you are eating. Avoid fast foods and fats. 
  • Don’t overdo it. It’s better to make small changes over time rather than dramatic changes. 
  • Find a beginner calisthenics program. Many programs have different levels of difficulty, but some are better directed towards beginners with gradual progressions. It’s important to build strong base strength and progress slowly.
  • Modify exercises as needed. While some calisthenics may be intimidating, there are a lot of exercises that overweight people can do. There are also a lot of possible variations and modifications if certain movements prove to be too challenging.

 Find a list of good exercises under the following questions.

Should I lose weight before starting calisthenics?

You can begin to lose weight and start with basic calisthenics at the same time.

This is a great option as the beginner calisthenics will only assist any steps you’ve taken to already lose weight.

It’s important not to take on too much at once. Many people can give up on diet and exercise if it feels overwhelming. It’s far better to alter diet and begin to introduce calisthenics slowly and progressively.

How should an obese person start exercising?

As mentioned above, it’s good to start with basic beginner exercises that have possible modifications should they prove too difficult. 

Low impact exercises are preferred to avoid harm or injury.

As previously mentioned, there are small changes in lifestyle and habits that can help drastically. For example:

  • Take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.
  • Park far away from the entrance to the store.
  • sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair or couch.
  • Walk short distances instead of driving.
  • Add hill climbs/walks/stairs into workout sessions.
  • Monitor calorie intake, reduce gradually if needed.
  • Begin basic calisthenics exercises.
  • Monitor calories.

Can you do calisthenics for Weight Loss?

Yes. Any form of calisthenics can aid in weight loss. There are even some programs or routines that are specifically directed towards weight loss.

If performing calisthenics with the goal of weight loss, try doing circuit training with short rest periods to keep the heart rate up throughout the workout. Also, choose exercises that encourage and incorporate a bit of cardio.

What are the best calisthenics exercises for losing weight?

  • Some of the best calisthenics exercises for weight loss-
    • Pull-ups
    • Push-ups
    • Dips
    • Burpees
    • Squats
    • Squat jumps
    • Lunges
    • Mountain climbers
    • High knees
    • Crunches
    • Jumping jacks
    • Step-ups

The best calisthenics exercises for overweight people with modifications:

  • Bodyweight squats are an excellent exercise to start with. Many people can do them without modification. If people find them too challenging, they can place a chair behind themselves and essentially sit down and stand up repeatedly until they work their way to a full squat.
  • Pushups – this one may be more difficult but there are a couple of modifications to try. Begin with wall pushups at a very slight angle, increase the angle as it becomes easier. Eventually, you will progress to pushups on the knees. 
  • Dips – This can be hard as it requires a bit of strength. If doing a dip with the legs extended is too difficult try bending the knees and placing your feet flat on the ground.
  • Pullups – many overweight people will find pullups too hard initially. Using exercise bands wrapped under the knees or foot is a good modification. 
  • Cardio – this is a great addition to assist in progressing and losing weight. Don’t start with running. Go for walks, climb stairs, walk up hills, use a treadmill, jog in place, or any form of movement and activity will help.

Looking at the Numbers: Proven Results of Calisthenics 

The following case studies have shown amazing results of calisthenics for those who are overweight. 

Hemodynamic changes in normotensive overweight and obese individuals following home-based calisthenics training

The purpose of this study done in 2014 was to determine if home-based calisthenics training can improve blood pressure measures as an intervention towards primary prevention in normotensive overweight and obese individuals. 

The studies were done with 22 normotensive males and females overweight and obese aged 25 to 55 years. 

They were assigned to either an eight-week calisthenics training group (CAL) (n = 11) or non-exercising control group (CON) (n = 11). 

Major Results

  • The CAL demonstrated significant changes in RHR (p = 0.000), RSBP (p = 0.003), RDBP (p = 0.025), RPP (p = 0.000) and RMAP (p = 0.003) from pre- to post-test
  • No significant differences were found in BMI (p = 0.059), RHR (p = 0.588), RSBP (p = 0.896), RDBP (p = 0.419), RPP (p = 0.891) and RMAP (p = 0.639) from pre- to post-test in the CON
  • The present study demonstrated that a home-based calisthenics training program is an effective, easy, and cost-effective method to improve hemodynamics. 

Effect of plyometric and aerobic exercise on obesity among school students

The purpose of this 2016 study was to find out the effect of plyometric and aerobic exercise on obesity among school students between the ages of 14 to 17. 44 students were selected. 

The subjects were divided into three equal groups of fifteen subjects each, named Aerobic Exercise Group, Plyometric Exercise Group, and Control Group.

The Aerobic Exercise Group was given cycling, calisthenics, Rhythmic exercises, and continuous slow running.

The Plyometric Exercise Group was given Squat jumps, simple jumps, hurdle jumps, step jumps, jumping rope, jump on boxes, and single leg-hops daily for twelve weeks.


  • The results of this study indicate that the Aerobic exercise group has significantly improved from plyometric exercise and control group the selected dependent variable namely waist circumference. 
  • However, the control group did not show any improvement in obesity as it was not involved in any of the specific training programs. 

This study in 2000 was done to determine the effects of equivalent diet, exercise-induced weight loss, and exercise without weight loss on subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, skeletal muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity in obese men. 

The participants were 52 obese men (mean body mass index [±SD], 31.3 ± 2.0 kg/m2) with a mean waist circumference of 110.1 ± 5.8 cm.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of four study groups (diet-induced weight loss, exercise-induced weight loss, exercise without weight loss, and control) and were observed for 3 months.


  • Bodyweight decreased by 7.5 kg (8%) in both weight loss groups and did not change in the exercise without weight loss and control groups.
  • cardiovascular fitness (peak oxygen uptake) in the exercise groups improved by approximately 16% (P < 0.01).
  • Although total fat decreased in both weight loss groups (P < 0.001), the average reduction was 1.3 kg (95% CI, 0.3 to 2.3 kg) greater in the exercise-induced weight loss group than in the diet-induced weight loss group (P = 0.03).
  • Similar reductions in abdominal subcutaneous, visceral, and visceral fat–to–subcutaneous fat ratios were observed in the weight loss groups (P < 0.001).
  • improvement in glucose disposal was similar in the diet-induced weight loss group (5.6 mg/kg skeletal muscle per minute) and the exercise-induced weight loss group (7.2 mg/kg skeletal muscle per minute) (P > 0.2).
  • Weight loss induced by increased daily physical activity without caloric restriction substantially reduces obesity (particularly abdominal obesity) and insulin resistance in men.

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