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Do Calisthenics Burn Fat? (You’ll Be Surprised to Find Out)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 15, 2022

Many of my new fitness clients forget the early gym days with push-ups, pull-ups, and jumping jacks and assume that to increase muscle mass and strength, they must resort to weight lifting.

Well, in my years of working out and guiding clients as a personal trainer, I have learned, time and again, that proper bodyweight training will target body fat, encourage muscle definition, and promote weight loss in general.

Read on to find out how to lose fat with calisthenics while toning your muscles.

Quick Summary

  • Calisthenics exercises are compound, working many muscles at once, and require a lot of movement, which ultimately promotes fat burning.
  • A calisthenics workout is a type of resistance training that uses your body weight, requiring little to no equipment, making this a great activity to do anywhere.
  • Body resistance training seems to yield comparable benefits to body fat and muscle strength as weight lifting.

Do You Burn Fat Doing Calisthenics?

Doing pull ups outdoors

You can burn fat doing calisthenics because a lot of movement and muscles are involved. Let’s take a closer look at what calisthenics exercises are.

What Are Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is compound exercises that involve a lot of movement that uses a person’s body weight and little to no equipment.

Calisthenic exercises require multiple muscles and can improve coordination, flexibility, and strength.

Calisthenics span generations and continue to be popular today because they are easily performed by most people regardless of fitness or skill level, and most don’t require equipment.

Benefits

Incorporating calisthenics into your daily workout plan can be, even more than weightlifting, a great way to improve whole-body composition.

Exercises like pull-ups, jumping rope, sit-ups, and jump squats offer the following benefits:

  • Most individuals can perform calisthenics regardless of fitness level
  • Calisthenics workouts can help build strength and prevent injury
  • May boost metabolism
  • Improves aerobic fitness
  • Calisthenics burns calories and fat
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve coordination
  • Provides a whole-body workout
  • No equipment is needed and is not location dependent

“With calisthenics exercises, you can improve not only strength and endurance but also coordination and flexibility.”

-Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS.

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Get Six-Pack Abs

Having a six pack abs

Calisthenics represent compound exercises that use multiple muscle groups and often involve the entire body, including the core.

Each movement can increase core strength and help with fat shedding.

Proper form is essential; each movement can work the lower back, obliques, hips, glutes, and deeper muscles like the Transversus Abdominis, ensuring the core is strengthened.

Bodyweight Exercises Can Get You Ripped

You can get ripped performing calisthenics by increasing reps, decreasing rest time, increasing time under resistance, and training to failure.

You can choose several exercises and chain them together for a high-intensity interval training calisthenics circuit that can effectively burn calories and fat and promote muscle growth.

Be Good To Your Joints

A woman doing crunches

When you first begin, calisthenics requires your body to adjust to the new load on your connective tissue. Exercising wisely by using proper form and not going extreme out of the gate allows your body to adjust.

Working out smart will reduce the risk of injury and allow your joints to strengthen, leading to better joint health and longevity. Improving joint health can also make everyday tasks easier.

Calisthenics Is Your All-In-One For Cardio and Strength Training

Some may argue that lifting weights is the way to go for strength training, which is partly true.

Weight lifting offers an opportunity to target specific muscle groups, and a targeted approach can yield some great benefits depending on the context and your goals.

However, in my opinion, bodyweight training is the way to go for whole-body fat burning and, ultimately, weight loss.

You can up the intensity of bodyweight training and turn it into high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which can burn calories, promote fat loss, improve oxygen intake, boost metabolism, and improve anaerobic and aerobic performance [1].

Best Exercises For Burning Fat

Gym buddies performing an exercise routine

Some calisthenic exercises can burn more calories, promote fat loss, and help you lose weight. I encourage you to give the following a try if you want to lose fat.

  • Burpees will increase your heart rate and work your abdominal muscles and lower and upper body. Because of burpees’ fat-burning potential, they are a popular exercise in circuit training that strings multiple exercises together, like Crossfit or HIIT.
  • A Jump squat is another exercise that will work multiple muscles and increase your heart rate, encouraging fat-burning.
  • Mountain climbers are a high-intensity exercise that requires a lot of energy, promoting fat mass reduction and building muscles.
  • Crunches encourage losing fat in the belly and strengthening abdominal muscles.
  • A Plank may significantly improve your core strength, burn fat, and help you lose weight. Breathing and proper form are essential to reap the most benefit from this exercise.
  • Pistol squats can improve joint strength, particularly your ankle joints, while improving balance and stability.
  • Bench dips may not, on their own, burn as many calories as some of the calisthenics mentioned above but can be great when paired with other exercises like jump squats.
  • Walking lunges can significantly challenge your core, and you will feel this exercise in your abdominals and lower back. The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves will likely feel the coveted “burn” with this lunge variant.

Any compound exercise that simultaneously works multiple muscle groups is considered a functional exercise that mimics movements of everyday life, making you stronger and better for the types of movements basic living requires.

-Laura Williams, MSEd, ACSM-CEP

FAQs

What Calisthenics Burn The Most Fat?

Burpees are the calisthenics that can burn the most fat. Burpees involve the whole body and challenge your legs, core, back, shoulders, and chest and are one of the best calisthenic exercises to boost fat burning and weight loss.

Do You Burn Belly Fat With Calisthenics?

Calisthenics can burn belly fat. Jumping jacks is an effective calisthenics exercise to burn visceral fat, especially if you up the intensity.

Calisthenics can burn loads of calories, increase strength, and be a great stress reliever, leading to weight loss.

Burn Fat Doing Calisthenics

Whether my fitness client's goal is to lose weight, increase strength and mobility, or improve body composition, I encourage them to add bodyweight exercises into their exercise routine.

The basic formula for losing weight is a calorie deficit, so you must expend more calories than you are taking in and opt for a healthy diet.

And, one last thing. I have had great success with my clients supplementing with these natural fat burners:

Fat burners help increase metabolism and burn fat more efficiently, so consider adding them into the mix if you want to fast-track your weight loss journey.


References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit#benefits

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