When I decided to start calisthenics, I was a 30 years old guy who had not been working out for a few years. You know, family, business, etc. were far more crucial for me than my body. So, in the end, became a big overweight man. Actually, I was around 260 lb.
Getting started with calisthenics in such a state is very hard. Actually, it is harder than lifting weights since we can use resistance that we can handle comfortably. But, if we do bodyweight training, in most of the cases, we have to pull and push almost our total weight. And, that is why fat guys give up after the first attempt.
What can you do if you are overweight but want to start calisthenics?
Here is what I recommend and what I did.
You have to lose weight
The most crucial step is weight loss. Most of the people think they cannot do the bodyweight exercises because of lack of strength, but the main problem is that you are too heavy.
Just think about what power is required to pull up 6-8 times if you are 260 lb. According to this guide, a 200 lb advanced level athlete should do lat pull down with 260 lb. And, you are a beginner, so it would be magic if you could do that.
What should you do for weight loss?
You lose weight if your daily calorie intake is fewer than your body burns daily. So, if your body requires 2500 calories per day, you need to decrease it by 300-500 calories to reach a calorie deficit. That minus is in a range that provides a gradual and healthy weight loss.
The other way is if your body requires more calories to function daily. How can you do that? Move more! Besides working out, grab every opportunity to burn some calories. Instead of using the lift, get the stairs. Or, instead of getting into the car for a half a mile distance, walk. Each of these, activities add up at the end of the day.
Modify your diet – The first step to stop being overweight
Unless you have an illness, obesity comes from unhealthy eating habits. We overeat. And, on top of that, we consume too much processed foods that hold no nutritional value such as junk food. Also, we drink beverages in most of the cases which are full of sugar. If you get a greasy burger, soda, and piece of cake, the more than half of your daily calories are in. And that is just one meal.
If you just cut off junk from your eating routine and drink water instead, you are much closer to your calorie deficit. And, if you switch to healthy foods such as lean meat, veggies, fruits, whole grains that also speeds your metabolism up.
Note: Healthy foods are typically lower in calories as well, for example, veggies. So, if you like eating like me, you do not have to be afraid of starving. You can have 5 meals per day, but at the end of the day, you will not cross your calorie limit. Of course, you must control yourself.
Do cardio to burn more calories
Cardio is the best way to burn fat, and running is not the only option. For example, overweight people can start walking, then switch to brisk walking, jogging, and finally running. The rowing machine is another excellent full body cardio that is suitable for obese people.
On top of that, such activities develop your cardiovascular system, which leads to better performance when doing calisthenics.
If you are overweight and wants to start calisthenics, diet and cardio are the most critical steps.
Do beginner level calisthenics exercises
The fundamental bodyweight exercises are:
- pull ups
- push ups
The beauty of calisthenics is that it is versatile, and there are a lot of variations for people at any level. Hence, if you cannot do any of the major practices above because of your weight, you can perform various progressive exercises for each.
Maybe, it is the easiest to start with. Squatting until your thighs are parallel to the ground is not that hard, but you can use a chair or a stool for a bit of help. Personally, I go down until my butt almost touches the floor. This way, I can get a full range of motion, which leads to more effective strength development. So, I recommend you the same. (Although, there is always a debate on if going deep is good or not.)
The second hardest bodyweight exercise for an overweight person. We have to lift our entire bodyweight with the power of triceps, shoulders, etc. But, you can start with bench dips when your feet are on the floor, and your hands are on an elevated object.
More tips: Dip Exercise Guide
This is the toughest calisthenics exercise for heavy people that requires excellent strength. But you can do a lot of progressive practices.
For example, you can ask the help of someone while pulling yourself, use the assisted pull up machine or a rubber band. If it is still hard, you can start with bodyweight row aka Australian pull-ups.
More advice: How to Do More Pull-Ups
Another moderate exercise, but you can start with knee push-ups or even wall push-ups.
Note: Do not forget quality over quantity. It is good for nothing if you do exercises incorrectly. Start with beginner level exercises instead, and increase the reps gradually. Even up to 20-30 reps. This way, you build strength that makes it easy to switch more advanced activities that require more power. And you will be able to do them correctly.
More workout tips: Things You Must Know When You Start Calisthenics to Progress Faster
From overweight to fit with calisthenics
As with everything in life, dedication is vital if you want to start calisthenics, mainly if you are a fat guy. It needs a lifestyle change. Is it worth it? Well, here is some motivation. This guy has already transformed their body.
If you want to start calisthenics, and you are overweight, weight loss is the key. Strength will come. If you want to know more check out our bodyweight training category here. Or you can ask for help below.