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Calisthenics for Women’s Weight Loss: 8 Exercises to Help You Get in Shape

Juggling a busy schedule, caring for the household, and managing a career can be pretty demanding for many women. In such moments, juicing, detox diets, and other forms of extreme dieting may seem tempting. However, these fad diets often lead to short-term weight loss and can be harmful in the long term.

You don’t need to give up exercise when you’re tight on time and one of the best options for busy women is calisthenics. It needs minimal equipment, costs virtually nothing, and doesn’t require a significant amount of time.

The benefits of exercise for women go far beyond weight loss. Regular physical activity can improve mood, boost energy levels, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes (7).

In this article, we’ll explore 8 calisthenics exercises that are perfect for women who are looking to lose weight and get in shape.

Is Calisthenics Good for Losing Weight?

Calisthenics is good for losing weight, as it requires you to use your body weight as resistance. It’s a form of strength training. Strength training helps build lean muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and burns more calories throughout the day (3).

Having a higher muscle mass also means (2):

  • Decreasing your body fat percentage becomes easier due to higher caloric expenditure.
  • You have a toned and defined physique.
  • You have slower age-related declines, which leads to better posture and balance as you get older.
  • Your overall strength increases.

Calisthenics is also a form of cardiovascular exercise, as it gets your heart and respiratory rates up. This has many benefits beyond weight loss (5):

  • It strengthens your heart and lungs, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • It improves blood circulation and regulates normal blood pressure.
  • It increases endurance and stamina.
  • It relieves stress and boosts mood.
  • It helps with sleep quality.
  • It can improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Many of these aspects contribute indirectly to weight loss, which makes calisthenics a great exercise choice for women who are looking to shed pounds and improve their overall health.

It should be noted that weight loss is a complex process that is influenced by various factors such as diet, genetics, and hormonal changes. While calisthenics can help speed up the weight loss process, it should be combined with a healthy diet to see the best results.

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Is Calisthenics Good for Females?

A calisthenics weight loss program may be particularly beneficial because:

It’s Customizable

Your needs and goals are unique, and calisthenics allows you to customize your workout based on your fitness level. You can modify the intensity of each exercise by adjusting the number of repetitions or sets. You can also modify the exercises themselves, making them easier or more challenging, depending on your abilities.

It’s Time-Efficient

Women often have limited time to dedicate to exercise. Calisthenics allows you to get an efficient workout in a short amount of time, which makes it perfect for busy schedules. By combining different exercises and performing them with little rest in between, you can get a great full-body workout in just 20-30 minutes (or less).

It Can Be Done Anywhere

Calisthenics requires minimal equipment, making it easy to do at home, outdoors, or even in a small space such as a hotel room. This eliminates the excuse of not having access to a gym or equipment.

It Targets Multiple Muscle Groups

Many calisthenics exercises engage multiple muscle groups at once, which allows for a full-body workout without the need for specific equipment or machines. This results in increased calorie burn and overall strengthening of the body (4).

It Improves Functional Movement

Calisthenics exercises mimic everyday movements, which makes them great for weight loss and beneficial for improving overall functional movement and preventing injuries. This is particularly important for women as they often have to juggle a variety of physical tasks throughout the day (4).

It Can Be Fun

Calisthenics allows for creativity and variety in workouts, which makes it more engaging and enjoyable. You can mix and match different exercises to create a routine that suits your preferences, keeping you motivated to continue on your weight loss journey.


Will Calisthenics Make Me Bulky as a Woman?

No. A “bulky” appearance is often associated with bodybuilders who utilize stringent exercise programming involving high volume and generally heavy weights, anabolic supplementation, and very strict and specific diets to achieve that look. As women have lower levels of testosterone, it would be incredibly difficult for you to get a bulky appearance through calisthenics alone.

In addition, female bodybuilders who compete and train in an enhanced class often use performance-enhancing substances, which contribute to their bulky appearance. Calisthenics can help increase muscle mass and definition, but not to the extent of a bodybuilder.

Furthermore, women’s bodies are designed to carry a higher percentage of body fat for reproductive purposes and they typically have smaller muscle fibers than men. What this means is that women are less likely to develop bulky muscles, and even if they do, it will take a significant amount of time and effort (6).

Read more: The Complete Guide to Weight Loss Shakes With the Ultimate Secrets to Homemade Shakes or Branded Powders

Is Calisthenics Better Than the Gym for Fat Loss?

Calisthenics may be better than gym for fat loss for you if:

  • You dislike the idea of using traditional gym equipment.
  • You have limited access to a gym or equipment.
  • You have limited time, as calisthenics often allows for a more efficient workout.
  • You prefer to do your workouts at home or outdoors.
  • You want a more functional approach to fitness.

That being said, the gym has certain advantages over calisthenics, including access to a wider variety of equipment and the ability to lift heavier weights for muscle growth. Ultimately, the best exercise for fat loss will be dependent on your personal preferences and fitness goals. Both forms can lead to significant improvements in strength, endurance, and functional mobility, and help with weight loss.

Best Calisthenics Exercises for Weight Loss

A female calisthenics workout program for weight loss should include a combination of exercises that target different muscle groups and incorporate both strength and cardiovascular training. Effective calisthenics for women’s weight loss include:

  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jump squats
  • Push-ups
  • Planks
  • Lunges
  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees


Burpees are a high-intensity, full-body exercise that combines a squat, push-up, and jump into one rapid exercise. Famous for their ability to boost cardiovascular fitness and burn a significant amount of calories in a short amount of time, they’re a staple in many high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines.

This dynamic move targets several muscle groups, engaging the chest, arms, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core. By requiring a coordinated effort of these muscles, burpees strengthen and tone while also improving endurance and flexibility in the major joints of the body.

To perform burpees:

  1. Start in a standing position: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and arms at your sides.
  2. Squat down: Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat position.
  3. Hands to the ground: Place your hands on the floor directly in front of and just inside your feet. Shift your weight onto your hands.
  4. Jump back into the plank position: Jump your feet back so you’re now in a plank position. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels. For added intensity, perform a push-up.
  5. Jump your feet forward: Jump your feet back to their starting position, landing just outside of your hands.
  6. Reach up and jump: Explosively jump up into the air, reaching your arms straight overhead. Land softly and immediately lower back into the squat for your next rep.

To heighten the challenge of burpees and further amplify their benefits, you can:

  • Add a push-up at the bottom of the movement.
  • Increase the speed of your repetitions.
  • Include a tuck jump instead of a regular jump at the end of the movement.
  • Wear a weighted vest to add resistance.

Proper form is essential for maximizing the effectiveness of burpees and minimizing the risk of injury. Start with a moderate pace to ensure you perform each part of the exercise correctly, then gradually increase the speed and intensity as you become more comfortable with the movements.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a dynamic, cardio-intensive exercise that mimics the movement of climbing a steep slope. This exercise is incredibly effective for burning calories and strengthening the cardiovascular system, which makes it a valuable addition to any weight loss or fitness regimen.

Mountain climbers primarily target the core muscles, including the abdominals and obliques, but they also engage the shoulders, chest, arms, hamstrings, and quads. The rapid leg movements required for this exercise enhance agility and coordination, while the sustained plank position strengthens the upper body and core.

To perform mountain climbers:

  1. Start in the plank position: Begin in a standard plank, with your shoulders directly over your wrists, your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Drive your knee toward your chest: Swiftly bring one knee toward your chest, with your toes just off the ground.
  3. Switch legs: Quickly switch legs, extending the bent leg back to the plank position while driving the opposite knee towards your chest.
  4. Maintain speed and form: Continue alternating legs at a fast pace. Keep your core engaged and your back flat throughout the movement.

To increase the intensity of mountain climbers and further challenge your cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance, you can:

  • Add a twist to the movement by driving your knee toward the opposite elbow, engaging the obliques more intensely.
  • Increase your speed, aiming for maximum repetitions in a set time.
  • Incorporate sliders under your feet, which require more core engagement to control the movement.
  • Perform the exercise with your hands on an unstable surface, such as a medicine ball, to engage more stabilizing muscles.

Focus on keeping a steady pace that allows you to maintain good form, particularly in the alignment of your hips and back, before you attempt to increase speed or intensity.

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Jump Squats

Jump squats are an explosive variation of the traditional squat that combines strength training with cardiovascular effort, which makes them perfect for fat loss. This plyometric exercise targets your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves, while also engaging your core for stability. The addition of the jump significantly increases the heart rate, which contributes to higher calorie burn.

To nail the jump squat:

  1. Start in a squat position: Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged.
  2. Lower into a squat: Bend your knees and lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, keeping your chest up and knees behind your toes.
  3. Explosive jump: Explosively jump up from the squat position, driving through your heels and using your whole body for momentum.
  4. Land softly: Land softly back into the squat position, ready to jump again.

You can amp up jump squats by:

  • Increasing the speed of your jumps, while still landing softly to protect your joints, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Trying different variations, such as  jumping from a narrow to wide squat position.



Push-ups are a classic exercise that engages several muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core, which makes them a versatile addition to any workout routine aimed at fat loss. By modifying the speed, positioning, or surface, push-ups can be adapted to suit any fitness level.

A proper push-up is done by:

  1. Start in the plank position: Hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your body: Keeping your body in a straight line, lower yourself until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  3. Push back up: Exhaling, push back to the starting position.

To add a twist to your push-ups:

  • Place your feet on an elevated surface for decline push-ups, targeting your upper chest and shoulders more intensely.
  • Introduce a plyometric element by adding a clap in between for increased power and calorie burn.
  • Attempting different push-up variations such as diamond push-ups to engage the triceps more.

Maintain proper form throughout each push-up, keeping your body in a straight line and avoiding any excessive arching or sagging. Start at a moderate pace and gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable with the movements.

Check out our blog, Benefits of Push-Ups for Females, to discover how push-ups can benefit women.


Planks are a powerful isometric exercise that targets the entire core, including the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques, in addition to the shoulders, chest, and back. By holding a single position for a given period, planks help improve muscular endurance, posture, and stability.

Perfecting the plank:

  1. Elbows or hands: Start in a push-up position or on your elbows, with your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Engage your core: Keep your core tight, squeezing your glutes and keeping your back flat.
  3. Hold: Maintain the position without letting your hips sag or lift.

Elevate your plank game by:

  • Shifting from side to side to engage the obliques.
  • Incorporating leg lifts to challenge your balance and strength further.
  • Trying a reverse plank to focus on the lower back and glutes.

Keep your hips from sagging to avoid any strain on your lower back. Start by holding for short periods and gradually increase the duration as you build your core strength.


Lunges are a fundamental lower-body exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, offering a balanced workout that improves strength, flexibility, and balance. Performing lunges correctly involves:

  1. Start standing: Begin in a standing position, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step forward: Take a large step forward with one leg, shifting your weight so your heel hits the floor first.
  3. Lower your body: Lower your body until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle, making sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and your back knee doesn’t quite touch the floor.
  4. Push back up: Push back to the starting position through your front heel.

To increase the intensity of lunges:

  • Include a jump when switching legs to turn them into jumping lunges.
  • Add a twist with your torso to further engage your core.
  • Try walking lunges to keep your body in constant motion.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are a high-impact cardiovascular exercise that works your entire body, particularly targeting the leg and shoulder muscles. This classic calisthenics move is also excellent for increasing heart rate and improving muscular endurance and coordination. The basic steps include:

  1. Start standing: With your feet together and arms at your sides.
  2. Jump: Spread your legs wider than hip-width apart while bringing your arms above your head, almost touching.
  3. Return: Immediately jump back to the starting position.

Enhance the challenge by:

  • Increasing the speed of your jumping jacks.
  • Trying different variations such as star jumps or cross jacks.
  • Super-set jumping jacks with strength exercises such as push-ups or squats.

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High Knees

High knees are a dynamic warm-up or cardio exercise that targets your core, quads, hamstrings, and calves while also boosting your heart rate. They’re great for improving flexibility, strength, and coordination of the leg muscles. Performing high knees involves:

  1. Start standing: Keep your feet hip-width apart and your chest lifted.
  2. Lift and lower: Quickly drive your right knee up to at least the level of your waist, then swiftly lower it as you simultaneously lift your left knee.
  3. Pump your arms: Use your arms in a natural running motion, opposite arm to leg.

To make high knees more intense:

  • Increase your speed with the aim of getting your knees up higher and faster.
  • Super-set them with other cardio exercises such as jumping jacks or mountain climbers.
  • Use an elevated surface for your foot plant, which will force you to lift your knees higher.

In our blog, Calisthenics Workout for Women, we explore the many benefits of high knees and other calisthenics exercises for women.



  • Is calisthenics good for skinny people?

Calisthenics is an excellent choice for skinny people who are looking to gain strength, build muscle, and improve their overall fitness. Bodyweight exercises may not provide as much resistance as weightlifting, but they can still be very challenging, particularly when done with proper technique (4).

  • Does calisthenics burn a lot of fat?

Calisthenics can definitely help burn fat, as it is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that promotes muscle building, cardiovascular endurance, and weight loss (1). By increasing your heart rate, calisthenics exercises also ramp up your metabolism to help you burn more calories, even after you’ve finished working out. In comparison to low-intensity exercises, such as steady-state cardio, calisthenics can burn more calories in less time.

  • Can calisthenics help me build muscle and lose weight?

Yes, calisthenics can build muscle and help with weight loss. By challenging your muscles through bodyweight exercises, you can stimulate muscle growth and increase strength. In addition, the high-intensity nature of calisthenics promotes fat-burning and high calorie expenditure, which helps with weight loss (4).

  • Can calisthenics burn face fat?

Calisthenics won’t directly target fat in the face – no exercise can spot-reduce fat from specific areas. But by incorporating calisthenics exercises into your overall fitness routine, you can promote overall weight loss and reduction of body fat, including in the face.

The Bottom Line

Calisthenics works for women’s weight loss. It’s a low-cost, convenient, and effective form of workout that can help you achieve your fitness goals. By incorporating different calisthenics exercises into your routine, you can build strength, burn fat, and improve your overall health. Remember to start slow and focus on proper form and technique to avoid any injuries.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Effects of high-intensity interval training on lean mass, strength, and power of the lower limbs in healthy old and young people (2023,nih.gov)
  2. Is Muscle Gain Good for Your Health? 5 Benefits (n,d,medicinenet.com)
  3. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism (2013,nih.gov)
  4. The advantages of body-weight exercise (2022,harvard.edu)
  5. The cardiovascular health benefits of resistance training (2018,msu.edu)
  6. The effect of body composition on strength and power in male and female students (2021,nih.gov)
  7. Women may realize health benefits of regular exercise more than men (20204,nih.gov)
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