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Cardio Calisthenics: Why & How To Combine These Two Forms Of Exercise

Have you ever heard about cardio calisthenics? We all know of cardio exercise and calisthenics separately, but have you ever considered combining the two? Is this even something that can be done?


Cardio and calisthenics are quite similar in the fact that they often require little to no equipment to do and can be done almost anywhere. However, rarely do people think of combining cardio and calisthenics in the same workout session.

If you’d like to maximize your exercise session and aren’t sure how to, read on to find out how a cardio calisthenics workout routine could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Can Calisthenics Be Cardio?

Yes, calisthenics can be cardio but only if you make the deliberate choice to alter and adjust your training to fit more aerobic goals. To better understand this we need to learn a little more about what both cardio and calisthenics exercises are.


This is a type of body weight resistance exercise that requires little to no equipment. Such exercises consist of a variety of movements that target large muscle groups in the body.

According to Healthine and Medical News Today, this exercise was developed in Ancient Greece and today, such exercises are often done by military personnel, law enforcement officers, as well as fitness training athletes and people looking for a non-gym based training regimen to help them stay fit.

Regardless of their history, calisthenics exercises are used/done with the goal of building strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. Research has also shown that such exercises can help improve posture, increase muscle mass, and even improve body mass index – i.e. help with weight loss (10, 2, 8).

See also
Calisthenics Bicep Workout: 5 Ingenious Exercises With & Without Bars

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Cardio exercises 

Also known in full as cardiovascular exercises or aerobics, this refers to any kind of activity that elevates your heart rate. This kind of exercise is perhaps one of the most commonly performed workouts worldwide. Types of cardio exercises that are usually performed include dancing, jogging, walking, jumping rope, hiking, etc.

Some benefits of aerobics include improved cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of cardiovascular illnesses, improved blood circulation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stronger immunity, improved blood sugar regulation, better sleep, and weight loss (3, 7, 6, 1, 9).

As seen above, these exercises – and their goals – are quite different. However, this does not mean that calisthenics cannot be cardio. Remember that cardio exercises work to elevate your heartbeat. There are some bodyweight exercises (aka calisthenics), that, when done at a faster rate, can easily be qualified as cardio.

cardio calisthenics exercises

Can Calisthenics Burn Fat?

Yes, they can. This happens in two ways

  1. During the workout – As mentioned above, calisthenics involve a lot of movement. The more you move your body and muscles around, the more energy you use and, thus the more calories you burn.
  2. After the workout – It is good to remember that while calisthenics is a bodyweight exercise, the main goal is to build stronger and bigger muscles. The process of building and repairing muscle burns calories. 
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Back Workout Calisthenics Guide To Go From Novice To Pro

That aside, having more muscle in the body means that you actively and constantly burn calories even while at rest. A person with a lot of muscle is usually burning calories even while sitting on their couch and binge-watching a favorite TV show.

Fat and weight loss happen when you burn more calories than you consume in a day.

Should I Mix Cardio With Calisthenics?

Yes, you should mix cardio with calisthenics.

Listen, we all know it. Cardio is just not fun for a lot of us, but, like it or not, you should still do it. As seen above, these two kinds of exercises offer different benefits – when you ignore one, you end up doing a disservice to your body and health.

One study looking at the effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults found that (5):

  • Aerobic training (i.e., cardio) worked best to help reduce fat mass and bodyweight.
  • On the other hand, a resistance training program was better at increasing lean mass in middle-aged, overweight/obese individuals.
  • A combination of both (i.e., resistance training and aerobics) saw better results in reduced total body mass and fat mass as well as increased lean body mass,  as compared to just doing either cardio or resistance training alone.

Read more: Calisthenics and Weight Training: Should You Do Them Both?

Try doing a calisthenics cardio workout instead of picking one over the other. If you are unsure how to go about balancing cardio and calisthenics, there are two options that you can choose from:

Alternate cardio and calisthenics days  

  1. I.e., Monday – Cardio day. You can do exercises such as jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees, running in place, squat jumps, etc. for your chosen time period
  2. Tuesday – Calisthenics day – This will involve basic calisthenic workouts like push-ups, chin-ups, tricep dips, crunches, planks, squats, bodyweight hip thrusts, etc.
  3. Wednesday – Rest
  4. Thursday & Friday – Repeat Monday and Tuesday’s exercises.
See also
Calisthenics Workout For Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Doing only a cardio calisthenics routine 

Such a routine means doing some bodyweight exercises that, while at their core are calisthenics (i.e. they require just your bodyweight to do or simple equipment), doing them elevate your heart rate so much that they can also qualify as cardio.

Some of the best cardio calisthenics include mountain climbers, jumping lunges, burpees, jumping jacks, squat jumps, dancing, running, cycling, etc. You could end your routine after doing several sets of a number of the above-listed exercises. However, if you have some strength left, you could choose to add some traditional strength training calisthenics to the mix.

cardio calisthenics routine

Do Calisthenics Do Running?

Runners are often encouraged to do more calisthenics exercises as a form of cross-training. Cross-training is a mode of athletic training where athletes do different types of exercises/sports away from their main sport/exercise.

This helps strengthen and condition the other muscles that they don’t typically use in their main sport. Aside from bringing balance to your muscles, cross-training can help prevent boredom from doing the same routines and can help prevent injury (4).

While runners do participate in calisthenics, is running calisthenics? This would depend on the individual. Running itself is a form of calisthenic exercise – in the form that it only requires your body to do – and thus, anyone who loves bodyweight exercises can do it. 

See also
Calisthenics Workout For Abs: 5 Moves For A Solid Core

However, people doing calisthenics to build muscle may shy away from cardio calisthenics exercises like running as they believe it could hinder muscle growth. If this is your worry, we suggest not doing long-distance running – stick to short-distance runs. Cardio will not inhibit or delay muscle growth.

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What Are Some Low-Impact Cardio Calisthenics?

Low-impact exercises are any workouts that steadily bring your heart rate up and place less pressure on your joints. Some cardio calisthenics that fall into this category include walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga.

What Would A Full Body Calisthenics Workout Routine Look Like?

As the name suggests, such a routine would need to work out all the muscles and parts of your body and not just some muscle groups. A good example of full body calisthenics workout can include:

  1. Upper body – Pull ups, chin ups, and tricep dips
  2. Lower body – Jump squats, leg raises, box jumps,  wall sits
  3. Core – Different plank variations, crunches, V-ups, and hanging knee raises
  4. Full body – Mountain climbers, running, and burpees

You can choose 1 or 2 exercises from each section and do three sets of 8 to 10 reps. This will give you a great at-home calisthenics workout for both weight loss and strength building.

Read more: 6 Lower Body Calisthenics Exercises to Consider for Your At-Home Workout.


Is It Ok To Do Cardio Before Calisthenics?

The answer to the cardio or calisthenics first debate – more like the cardio vs. weights first debate – is mostly dependent on the individual.

See also
Calisthenics Workout 101: The Complete Guide To Bodyweight Training For All Levels

However, if your goal is to build muscle, then calisthenics before cardio might be a good idea. When you do cardio first, you might end up being too tired to give your all to resistance training, which isn’t the best for muscle growth.

But if your goal is incredible cardiovascular fitness, then start with cardio, give it your all, and any strength left after that can be dedicated to a few calisthenic exercises.

Is Calisthenics Better Than Running?

If your goal is muscle growth, then yes, calisthenics is better than running.

What Are Some Good Cardio Workouts To Do At Home?

Some good cardio exercises you can do in or around your home include Zumba, running in place, jumping rope, shadow boxing, jumping jacks, burpees, and running or walking up the stairs (Cardio Workouts To Do At Home).

Can I Do Calisthenics After Running?

Yes, you can. As previously mentioned, combining calisthenics and cardio is a fantastic way to work on your overall health.

The Bottom Line

Cardio calisthenics is a workout routine that combines typical cardio exercises with bodyweight calisthenics. This routine is a good way to ensure that a person neglects neither their strength training nor cardiovascular fitness in their exercise plan.

If you tend to prioritize one kind of exercise over the other, then this routine might be a good starting point for you to balance out your routine.



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. Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women: Midwest Exercise Trial-2 (2013,
  2. A randomized clinical trial to assess the influence of a three months training program (Gym-based individualized vs. Calisthenics-based non-invidualized) in COPD-patients (2014,
  3. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise (2018,
  4. Cross Training (2020,
  5. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults (2012,
  6. Exercise to Improve Sleep in Insomnia: Exploration of the Bidirectional Effects (2013,
  7. Impact of exercise on the immune system and outcomes in hematologic malignancies (2020,
  8. Protocol for Minute Calisthenics: a randomized controlled study of a daily, habit-based, bodyweight resistance training program (2020,
  9. Resistance Exercise Versus Aerobic Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2013,
  10. The effects of a calisthenics training intervention on posture, strength and body composition (2017,
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