Can You Do Calisthenics If You’re Fat?

I gained 40 pounds this winter, and didn’t workout at all. This is the second time I will be losing weight using calisthenics.

Being fat doesn’t mean you’re weak, the extra weight just makes it harder to do the exercises, If you think of it as training with a weighted vest on and use the extra weight to help you gain strength faster. When you do lose the unwanted fat, you will have an excess of strength to do the calisthenics exercises.

You’re Heavy, So Train Heavy

My training background is powerlifting. In power lifting your goal is to get strong by lifting heavy objects. This should be your goal if you’re a heavy guy doing calisthenics.
As a powerlifter you have three exercise that you need to be strong at. The squat, bench press, and deadlift. Most of your training time was spent doing just those three exercises.
There was no reason to do a lot of different exercises.
The same rule applies to us. If you’re overweight you shouldn’t be trying to perform human flags. Start with the basic exercises, pull ups push ups and bodyweight squats.
If you train the basics until you can do can do a solid amount of reps on each, doing advanced exercises after you thin down will seem much easier.

It Starts Slow Then Builds Fast

As I mentioned, this is the second time I’m losing weight. The first time I lost 100 pounds, so I know about how slow it can be starting out if you’re overweight. Patience is the key.
Don’t have any preconceived ideas in your head about how long it will take to lose the weight or gain strength. Doing this will only set you up for disappointment and failure.
If you are consistent in your training, once you reach a milestone, you will find doing the next milestone will come much faster.

Set The Right Kind Of Goals To Succeed 

There is always talk about setting goals, and most of its bullshit. It has been taught to set yourself goals like “I will lose 40 pounds in six months”. Or having a number of pull ups that you will be doing in month. The problem will these kind of goals is that they are a finishing place with no plan. To tell yourself that your going to achieve something in a certain amount of time, still leaves you standing there wondering how you are going to do it.
The right kind of goal would be a performance goal. By telling yourself that you’re going to do 25 push ups, and making that your goal. You now have a plan to do 25 push ups. It is now up to you to succeed at your goal.
Keep your performance goals as a daily goal, saying that you’re going to do 125 push ups this week will leave you on Friday with a lot of push ups to do. Make your goals realistic, but challenging.

It’s Going To Suck In The Beginning

When getting down on the floor to do some push ups seems like a workout. Then barely being able to get one rep, can kill your motivation. You don’t even want to try a pull up, because you know that there is not a chance of you getting one. So I’m telling you now that this sucks. It’s embarrassing, and you might want to quit before you even get started.

                                                   DON’T QUIT!!!

Using Weight Machines Can Help In The Beginning.

If you have some home workout equipment, or access to a gym, take advantage of the lat pull down bar to increase your pull up strength. There are many possible exercises with machines like these. Try and do the exercises that will strengthen the muscles that are needed in calisthenics. Don’t waste time doing six different pushing exercises. Find two or three that work and do more reps on those. The same with pulling exercises, core work, and legs.
You don’t want to rely on machines any longer than you need to. The sooner you start doing the actual exercises the better. Even if you’re using an assistance band to do pull ups, this will improve your pull up more than continuing to use a lat pull down machine.

Sets And Reps

This is where things get confusing. Some will tell you to do high reps, because you’re trying to lose weight. We’re not going to listen to them right now. Your goal right now is to get as strong as you can. The weight will come off.
So to gain strength power lifters workout in the 1 – 5 rep range. This is where we are going to start. If you’re overweight and haven’t been working out, this will be the only rep range that you will have the ability to work out in, and that’s ok. By the time you are able to do five pull ups on every set you will have a good foundation to start doing more calisthenics exercises.
As far as sets go, that depends on how you structure your workout. If you’re doing full body workouts, you probably won’t have the endurance to do a lot of sets in one workout.
If your splitting your workout up, you should increase the amount of sets.
Me personally, I do as many sets as I have time for throughout the whole day if possible. I’m Impatient and want to speed up the result. So I can’t tell you how many sets to do. We all have different motivations, and drive. It’s not hard to know if you’re doing too much, you can feel it in your muscles.

Add Circuit Training To Help With The Weight Loss

Circuit training is when you put a series of exercises in a row with very little rest between sets. The number of exercises is different depending on the person. I find that that four works well for me. I choose one exercise for each general zone. Such as a pulling, pushing, legs, and core. This usually gives me enough time to rest a muscle before the next round.
There are two ways to introduce this into your workouts.

  1. Put this on the end of your regular workout.- By adding this to your workout is tough. In the beginning you may find you’re only able to do one or two circuits.
  2. Do circuit training between your regular workout days – You can do more circuits with this type of schedule, but it adds more days to your schedule. This could cause you to miss more of your regular workout days. Don’t trade away your heavy workout for circuit training.

What About When You Start To Lose Weight?

As you’re getting stronger, you will also be losing weight. If you find that the exercise are getting too easy for you, you may need to add a weight vest in order to continue gaining strength fast. At this time you may consider trying some of the more advanced moves.

When you get to the point that your losing weight, and doing the basic exercises is easy, you are ready to start training some skills.

Good luck on your journey







Trying to beat the hands of time is a challenge. I have found calisthenics to be an outstanding way to get into shape, and have some fun. I will tell you in my posts why I like calisthenics over pumping iron, for keeping in shape as I get older, and why you might want to give it a try.

Recent Content