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Daniel Mesa

Can You Use Calisthenics For Weight Loss?

calisthenics for weight loss

Aside from the muscle-building benefits, calisthenics workouts also have the unique benefit of fat loss due to the high-volume nature of most calisthenics routines. For this reason, many of the best physiques you see online belong to calisthenics-only athletes.

But can you use calisthenics for weight loss? The answer is that calisthenics can be very effective for weight loss and muscle gain as long as you combine it with other weight loss methods.

In this guide, we will go over some of the reasons why calisthenics burns so many calories, why calisthenics athletes are usually lean, and how you can use calisthenics to lose weight as well.

What Is Calisthenics?

calisthenics for weight loss reddit

Calisthenics is a style of training based on the idea of using your own body weight as resistance. This style of training is appealing to many people as it requires minimal equipment yet can still require high levels of muscular development.

Since calisthenic athletes cannot simply add weight to a bar, they make their sessions by either switching to harder exercise variations or adding in more volume. Thanks to the higher volume style of training, calisthenics workouts will often burn more calories than regular weight training.

How Many Calories Does Calisthenics Burn?

As we already mentioned, calisthenics workouts tend to be higher in volume. Moreover, the majority of the workouts are made up of compound exercises that will use more muscle and burn more calories than isolation movements.

So in a typical hour-long calisthenics session, you can expect to burn around 300-400 calories.

How Does Calisthenics Burn Fat?

Calisthenics on its own will not burn fat. The key to calisthenics for weight loss is that the average calisthenics workout will burn more calories than other styles of training. This means that over the course of weeks and months, you will burn thousands of more calories and therefore be placed in a larger calorie deficit.

That being said, while 300-400 calories are more than what you can expect from regular weight training, you can still not out-train a bad diet using calisthenics. To really lose weight, you should combine calisthenics with a strict diet and cardio.

Why Are Calisthenics Athletes So Lean?

does calisthenics burn fat

Part of the reason why calisthenics athletes tend to have low body fat can be attributed to the higher levels of energy required by their workouts.

But you also have to understand that in calisthenics, the name of the game is relative strength. As in how strong you are in relation to your body weight. Therefore, there is a large advantage in staying leaner as even 10 pounds can make a pull-up or dip dramatically harder.

Not to mention, you cannot really do some of the more advanced movements like the handstand, planche, or lever unless you are relatively lean. As you can see, within calisthenics there are many advantages to being leaner, unlike weightlifting.

How To Use Calisthenics For Weight Loss

Any calisthenics workout you do will push you in the right direction of weight loss. However, there are some key things you can do in designing your workout, that can make your time and effort even more effective for your goals.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the goal is to burn calories. As such, you should be trying to move as much as possible. This means that the majority of your workout will be made up of compound movements.

Secondly. you should aim for these compound exercises for higher reps. In this context, it is preferable to choose an easier variation if it means you can do double the reps.

Best Calisthenics Exercises For Weight Loss

Some calisthenics exercises are going to be much better for weight loss as they involve more movement and therefore burn more calories. Aside from the level of movement, we are also looking for exercises that will allow us to move at a higher tempo.

Here are some of the best calisthenics exercises for weight loss that you can include into your routine:

Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight squats are a basic but effective exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Since your legs are working very hard hear, expect to burns lot of calories.

How To Do Bodyweight Squats:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outwards.

  2. Keep your chest up, back straight, and core engaged.

  3. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, as if you are sitting down on a chair. Make sure your knees are in line with your toes and don’t let them cave inward.

  4. Keep your weight on your heels and push through them to return to the starting position.

  5. Squeeze your glutes at the top to fully engage your posterior chain.

  6. Repeat for reps.


Burpees are a classic exercise that will really get you moving. Do your best to not allow your form to break down as you get deeper into the set.

How To Do Burpees:

  1. Start in a standing position.

  2. Squat down and place your hands on the ground.

  3. Jump your feet back into a plank position.

  4. Do a push-up.

  5. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up.

  6. Jump up as high as you can.

  7. Repeat for reps.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a high-intensity exercise that target your core, shoulders, and legs. What is great about these is that they allow you to really up the tempo and get your heat rate up.

How To Do Mountain Climbers:

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your core engaged.

  2. Bring your right knee towards your chest.

  3. Quickly switch legs and bring your left knee towards your chest while extending your right leg back.

  4. Continue alternating legs as if you are running in place.

  5. Repeat for reps.

Plank Toe Taps

Plank toe taps are a challenging exercise that targets your core. Unlike other core exercises which require minimal movement, plank toe taps will get your entire body moving.

How To Do Plank Toe Taps:

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your core engaged.

  2. Lift your right foot off the ground and tap it to the side of your left foot.

  3. Bring your right foot back to the starting position.

  4. Repeat with your left foot.

  5. Continue alternating legs for reps.

Plank Jacks

Plank jacks are a challenging exercise that target your core, shoulders, and legs.

How To Do Plank Jacks:

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your core engaged.

  2. Jump your feet out to the sides while keeping your upper body stable.

  3. Jump your feet back together.

  4. Repeat for reps.

Jump Squats

Jump squats are a high-intensity exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

How To Do Jump Squats:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Squat down as if you are sitting down on a chair.

  3. Explosively jump up as high as you can while raising your arms overhead.

  4. Land softly and lower yourself down into a squat.

  5. Repeat for reps.

How To Use These Exercises In Your Workout

If you already have an established calisthenics workout routine you like to follow, consider adding some of these in so you get the added benefit of higher caloric burn.

If you are just starting out, I would recommend taking a look at some of our calisthenic workouts and exercise lists so that you begin to develop your own routine. From there, you can also use the exercises we listed in this guide to help you better achieve your weight loss goals.

Rules For Calisthenics Weight Loss

Calisthenics is just one part of the equation when it comes to losing weight. There are several other factors that you to consider if you want to really make some dramatic changes in your physique.

Here are some basic rules you should follow if you want to make the most of calisthenics for weight loss:

Eat Clean

eat clean

Losing weight can only be achieved through being in a calorie deficit. While working out can help, creating a calorie deficit through caloric restriction is the most proven way to consistently lose weight over time.

This does not have to be complicated either. While calorie tracking is useful, just follow these general principles and you will be heaving in the right direction

  • Eat more protein

  • Opt for whole foods

  • Avoid eating out

Do Cardio

The king of calorie burning is cardio no matter which style you do. For the purposes of weight loss, just pick a style of cardio you enjoy (steady state, HIIT) and stick to it. Even doing something as simple as walking outside 30 minutes a day goes a long way.

Avoid Injury

One injury can set back weeks if not months of progress. In calisthenics, while it may be tempting to jump in and try some of the more advanced exercises, you should still take things slow.

Take the time to warm up and master the form on every single progression. Also, ensure that you are doing some kind of mobility work.

Final Thoughts

Calisthenics is a great way to kick-start your weight loss journey. It requires little to no equipment and will do a great job of packing on some muscle as well.

As long as you stay consistent and combine calisthenics with other weight loss methods as well, you will be well on your way to fat loss.


Can you lose belly fat by doing calisthenics?

Yes, calisthenics will burn fat across your entire body including your belly. Just keep in mind you cannot only target your belly for weight loss and that your diet will also play a large role in fat loss.

What is better for weight loss calisthenics or lose weight?

Both are good for weight loss, but calisthenics will burn more calories as the workouts tend to be higher in volume.

How long does it take to lose fat with calisthenics?

If you are consistent with your calisthenics routine and are eating clean, it is possible to lose 1-2 pounds per week using calisthenics. While this may not sound like a lot, you have to keep in mind that this compounds quickly.