Why Calisthenics Burns More Fat Than Weight Lifting

Calisthenics differentiates itself from weight lifting by the effectiveness of losing weight. The amount of energy required and the sheer amount of muscles used makes it the ideal form of strength training to burn calories.
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Losing Weight with Exercise
Image Source: Parade

Losing Weight with Exercise

Many people begin their journey with working out because they want to shed off some extra weight. Whether it's cardio, weight lifting, calisthenics, or anything in between these all constitutes ways to burn calories and live a healthier lifestyle.

What you need to know is how effective these actually are in terms of losing weight. Let's begin by comparing weight lifting and calisthenics to learn the differences between them and what they have to offer.

Calisthenics vs. Weight Lifting 
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Calisthenics vs. Weight Lifting 

Calisthenics is a form of training that uses a person's own body weight as resistance. In comparison, weight lifting requires external weights to be used like dumbbells and barbells. 

Even though these are both valid ways to exercise and grow muscle they are completely different from one another. 

Specifics of Weight Lifting
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What are the Specifics of Weight Lifting?

This is the ultimate form of strength training. By completing an exercise while using heavy weights a person can steadily increase in strength in the muscle group they want to target. The reason behind why muscles grow after weight lifting is that it puts stress on the muscles and grows in size due to that stress.

The advantage of weight lifting is that it is easy to target specific muscle groups. With the outstanding amount of ways to lift weights, any muscle can be targeted quite easily, making this form advantageous for isolation exercises. 

Isolating muscles is the way to specifically target that one muscle. For example, an isolation bicep curl is done in a way that only hits the bicep and no other muscle. Isolation exercises are a good way to grow a specific muscle if you are looking to do so.

Additionally, weight lifting also includes compound exercises, which means that multiple muscles are targeted per exercise. This form of training has a wide range of techniques that allow a user to target as many or as few muscles as they want. 

So in terms of gaining muscle mass and looking bigger weight lifting is the ideal form of training, but let's talk about losing weight. The fact is that when completing heavy lifts the emphasis is put on the muscles being targeted and they grow accordingly. When doing isolation exercises, as mentioned above, the energy needed is less than compared to a compound exercise that utilizes many muscles simultaneously.

Calisthenics in Detail
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Calisthenics in Detail

Calisthenics exclusively uses the bodyweight of the individual to work out. Exercises like the push-up, pull-up, and squat are good examples of what a calisthenics exercise looks like, but almost anything can be turned into it if you exclude the extra weights. 

What calisthenics does well is that it includes many muscles in every exercise. Meaning that they are all compound exercises. It allows an even increase in the muscles around your body and requires a lot of energy to complete the movement. The sheer amount of muscles working together to perform that motion makes the intensity higher when compared to lifting weights.

This is the case because calisthenics movements are difficult to perform. Thus requiring an enormous amount of energy to control one's body in the correct way. 

The biggest difference with calisthenics when compared to weight lifting is the weight loss involved. Even though they are both forms of training they differ in this aspect. 

Weight Loss Due to Calisthenics 

First, let's compare a bicep curl to a pull-up. Which one requires more energy to perform? As you probably guessed the pull-up uses more energy than a bicep curl. A pull-up targets the back, shoulders, arms, and core. Whereas a bicep curl only targets the bicep. 

With that in mind, compound exercises are more demanding than isolation exercises. Resulting in more calories burned.

In summary, the more muscles used in an exercise the more energy it will require. 

While calisthenics holds an edge in weight loss due to compound exercises, it doesn't end there. This is a very wide form of strength training that includes a lot of different aspects. Those being HIT and a calisthenics circuit.

HIIT Exercise
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What is a HIIT Exercise?

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a subform of calisthenics that effectively burns fat and stimulates the growth of muscles. It is a form of training that incorporates time to maximize the effectiveness of the workout.

What HIIT implements is the idea of active rest. What that means is that in between the sets of calisthenics an individual will be actively resting by performing an exercise that increases the heart rate. Take, for example, exercises like jumping jacks, high knees, and jump rope. These are exercises that can be incorporated as the active rest component of the HIIT training.

Here's an example of a HIIT workout. Begin with a warmup of either jumping jacks or jump rope for two minutes. After that do around 4 to 5 sets of calisthenics exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges for around 40 seconds to 1 minute. Then in between the sets jump rope for 1 minute as the rest and keep going until all of the sets are done. I guarantee that you will be sweating by the end of this.

What is a Calisthenics Circuit?

Another form of calisthenics is a circuit. This is an intense workout that incorporates low rest time between sets or otherwise called circuits. 

Calisthenics circuit work by having multiple exercises that you want to complete in that round. For example, a calisthenics circuit could look like, 20 push-ups, 15 burpees, 25 sit-ups, 25 squats, and 20 lunges with no rest in between.

Once all of those exercises are completed in succession rest around a minute and a half and do it again. Most calisthenics circuits are completed around 4-5 times. Of course, it could be changed up by including time as the measure instead of a certain number, so 45 seconds for each exercise. 

This is guaranteed to get your heart rate up and burn calories. With little rest your body requires more energy to complete each exercise the longer you go on. 

How does Rest Time Impact the Intensity and Amount of Fat Loss of the Workout? 

Rest time is used to increase the intensity of a workout. The amount of rest time in between sets determines if the muscles used in the previous exercise will be able to recover or if they will remain stressed and exhausted. The longer the rest, the closer the muscles are to regaining their natural strength. 

By implementing less rest time in between sets, before your muscles get a  chance to recover, more energy will be required to perform the exercise. Meaning that more calories will be burned because excess energy is necessary to complete the routine. 

In calisthenics, little rest time can be safely incorporated into a workout. By only using your body weight, the amount of stress placed upon the muscles is less than if you were to lift weights.

Meaning that if weight lifting is your preferred method of exercising, it is still recommended that you wait 1-2 minutes before performing another set, but calisthenics doesn't have that strict of a barrier.

On the other hand, it is still very important to listen to your body and not overdo it. So please do incorporate at least a little rest in between sets so you do not injure or overwork yourself.

Abs Involved In Calisthenics
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How Are Abs Involved In Calisthenics?

As I mentioned earlier, calisthenics is compound exercises. Another important muscle that is included in many calisthenics movements is the core. The abs are an essential muscle when talking about calisthenics because stabilization is required in many exercises. The push-up, chin-up, pull-up, dip, and many more use the core to stabilize the body to be able to execute the exercise with the correct form. 

With this in mind, you can think of calisthenics as an indirect ab exercise just by itself. Another reason as to why calisthenics has an edge when it comes to slimming down and looking leaner. 

I myself noticed a change in my body when I started calisthenics. Before I had little muscle definition and couldn't be considered muscular in nature. When I began calisthenics I saw a change relatively earlier in my body and especially my core. My six-pack was developing and I wasn't doing anything else besides my calisthenics routine.

How to be Consistent with Exercise

A big reason as to why working out, calisthenics and weight lifting included, can be insufficient to lose fat is because there is little motivation to exercise in the first place.  

The only problem is that motivation only lasts so long. What do you do when you lose motivation? The answer is simply being consistent.

Consistency in the gym is what gets results. An improper schedule or regiment does not result in any fat loss or muscle gain. Sticking with a program and having the discipline to follow it on a regular basis is the only way to see results. 

How can one stay consistent with exercise? I get this question a lot. I have been working out with calisthenics for over a year and a half now, but before that, I was always in and out of the gym when I felt like it. I never stuck to a program and used to dread my workouts. Now I enjoy my workouts and look forward to them. Here's how I changed.

I switched from an hour to an hour and a half long session in the gym to 30-45 minutes of calisthenics. It made my workouts more palatable. I condensed my workouts to only 5 exercises of 3 sets with little rest time. This made it easier for me to complete and I had very few excuses to not do it because it took up less of my time. After Doing this regularly for 2-3 months I became disciplined enough to add more exercises and increase the intensity.

What I am trying to say is the only way to be consistent with exercise is to do something that suits you. Make a plan that fits your schedule and find a way to exercise that doesn't get boring immediately. 

If you haven't already tried calisthenics then I would give it a shot. It worked for me and I still love doing it today. Being consistent begins with the first step. That first step could be calisthenics.

Actual Calories Burned Per Calisthenics Workout

The calories burnt during calisthenics vary from person to person depending on how long the workout is and how much they weigh. 

To calculate around the exact amount of calories you will burn for a calisthenics routine use a calorie burned calculator. On average a person weighing 125lbs burns 135 calories. For someone weighing 155lbs, they burn 166 calories. Lastly, for someone weighing 185lbs, they burn 200 calories. That is all on average measured with a moderately intense calisthenics routine that lasts half an hour. 

Completing exercises like squats, sit-ups, burpees, mountain climbers, and planks regularly along with Calisthenics, weight loss is achievable. 

Calisthenics requires more energy to be consumed than weight lifting and from that more calories are burned per workout. If you are looking to build muscle and lose fat, calisthenics is a great form of strength training that does just that.

Hello everyone! My name is Ethan Oilar and I love to write. If you happen to read my articles and enjoy them I would love to hear about it!

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