Can a Fat Person do Calisthenics? (10 Top Exercise Modifications)

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Do calisthenics interest you but you don’t feel you should perform them because you are overweight? Can a fat person do calisthenics exercises and reap any benefits?

Yes, a person who is overweight or “fat” can participate in calisthenics exercises because the exercises have the ability to easily be modified to make them less difficult to perform.

Let’s get into it.

Can a Fat Person do Calisthenics?

Yes, a fat person can do calisthenics because the exercises can be modified to accommodate any fitness level.

The main aspect to focus on if you are overweight is to use modifications that put less stress on your joints while still providing a good workout and allowing you to still become stronger over time.

These modifications are easy and you do not need any type of special equipment.

You can utilize these modifications to classic calisthenics exercises with items from your home and you can even perform them outside.

Let’s start off by discussing the basics of calisthenics and the exercises that are a typical part of a calisthenics program.

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a collective term used for exercises that you can do with your body weight only.

For better understanding, you can think of pushups, pull-ups and jumping jacks.

These exercises don’t require any type of equipment or machine and they can be performed anywhere.

Calisthenics is an excellent method to improve your strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination all at once.

The basic concept is that you use your body weight as resistance to help build muscle. This type of exercise is suitable for all fitness levels because the intensity can be adjusted.

Classic Calisthenics Exercises for Beginners

  • Squats
  • Push ups
  • Pull Ups
  • Sit Ups
  • Lunges
  • Chin ups
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Planks
  • Dips
  • Lawnmowers

Each of these exercises can be modified to make them easier or harder, depending on your fitness level.

However, calisthenics which helps gain strength, flexibility and endurance, can seem challenging or scary for overweight people.

This is because the heavier you are, the more difficult it is to support your body weight when performing these exercises.

How to Start Calisthenics Being an Overweight Person?

The start is always difficult when you are overweight with calisthenics, and it may seem impossible and overwhelming. The key is to start slow.

While starting calisthenics, it is crucial to know that every change should be sustainable.

It is recommended to start slow, working in 15-20 minutes a day in the initial days.

Once you and your body feel comfortable, you can increase this time to 45 minutes.

Being overweight, you should start each exercise with less reps. Start off with 10 reps or so. You can also take a minute or two in between sets to regroup.

Another important part of starting any new exercise program is to assess your tolerance.

This means not only how your body feels but also what you are capable of mentally.

It is okay to feel a little bit uncomfortable when starting something new.

However, if at any point you feel pain, stop the exercise immediately.

The Power of Warming Up

Remember to ALWAYS warm up before starting any exercise.

Warming up the body before starting exercise is important because it helps to prevent injuries, increase blood flow and heart rate, and loosen up the muscles.


There are a few things you can do to warm up your body before you start your calisthenics routine:

  • Jogging in place
  • Stretching such as arm circles, leg swings, and torso twists
  • Easy bodyweight squats

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most common and effective warm up exercises.

The more important part is to get your heart rate up and to loosen up your muscles.

Warming up might also prevent muscle fatigue and ache after working out.

Calisthenics Programs for Overweight Beginners

First of all, search for an overweight beginners calisthenics program. It is important that you begin a program that is within your level and abilities as an overweight person.

Many overweight beginners of calisthenics find it difficult to as most programs offers different levels, most of them for which they find they are not able to perform adequately.

It’s important to note that being overweight means starting slow and building base strength.

Great news! You can modify the calisthenics exercises as per your need.

Now, let’s talk about the top ways you can work in some modifications that will allow you to perform almost any calisthenics exercise as an overweight person.

The Top 10 Easy Calisthenics Modifications

1. Modified Squat

Do you find squats difficult? An easy way to modify squats to make them easier to perform is to use bodyweight only, and also place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

Another modification you can make is to place your hands behind your head or out in front of you for easier balance. You can also use a chair for support if needed.

2. Modified Push up

The push up is one of the hardest exercises for beginners. To make push ups easier to perform, start out by doing them on your knees instead of your toes.

You can also place your hands closer together to make the exercise easier, which will work more of the triceps.

As you get stronger, begin to widen your hand placement on the floor and eventually move up to doing regular push ups on your toes.

3. Modified Pull Up

Pull ups are another difficult exercise for beginners.

The best way to modify a pull up is to use an assisted pull up machine, or have someone help you with the exercise.

You can also use a band. Place the band around the bar and put your foot or knees in the loop. This will take some of the weight off of your arms and make the pull up easier to perform.


4. Modified Sit Up

The easiest way to modify a sit up and make them less strenuous on your neck is to place your hands behind your head instead of across your chest.

You can also put a towel or small pillow behind your lower back for extra support.

This is especially helpful for those who have a little more in the midsection that gets in the way and makes the sit up even harder to do.

5. Modified Lunge

Lunges are not terribly hard to perform as a beginner, but if you find them hard to perform because of your weight, it is best to start out without any weight at all.

As you get stronger, you can add dumbbells or a barbell to the exercise.

Another modification is to place your hands on your hips instead of holding them out in front of you.

This will help with balance and also take some of the strain off of your arms and shoulders.

6. Modified Chin up

Do you hate chin ups? Try this.

Use a chair. Simply lie down beneath the chair, and use the end of the chair where you would sit and grip with your hands.

While laying on your back simply pull your upper body and touch your chin to the chair.

7. Modified Jumping Jack

Jumping jacks are thought to be an easy exercise, but not for all.

If you find jumping jacks hard to do, you can modify the exercise by simply stepping side to side instead of jumping.

You can also put your hands on your hips or hold them out to the side for balance.

8. Modified Planks

An easy modified plank variation is to place your forearms on the ground instead of your hands.

You can also place your feet wider apart for more stability. If you find this difficult, you can drop down to your knees and still get a great core workout in.

9. Modified Dips

Dips can be very difficult for some people. If you find them hard to perform, try placing your feet on a chair or stool in front of you and only dip your upper body down.

You can also place your hands on the edge of a table or countertop and dip your body down that way.

10. Modified Lawnmowers

Lawnmowers are one of my favorite exercises to really work the lower trapezius and overall back muscles.

If you find this exercise hard to perform, simply start off by using no weight. You can also use milk jugs instead of dumbbells and fill them with increasing amounts of water over time to build up strength.

You can also use this simple tip to gain strength of filling milk jugs gradually with more water over time for all exercises that utilize dumbbells if you feel uncomfortable with them.

Do I Need to Lose Weight Before I Begin Calisthenics?

No, you do not need to lose weight before starting calisthenics.

While starting these exercises when overweight will be harder when overweight, they are still able to be performed with modification.

Also, when performing these exercises along with a calorie deficit, losing weight will actually become easier, because you will be increasing the amount of calories you burn.

Combining diet with exercise is the best way to lose weight efficiently.

Can a Tall Person do Calisthenics?

Yes, a tall person can perform calisthenics exercises because they can use their height as an advantage.

Tall people may actually have an advantage when performing calisthenics exercises over their shorter counterparts.

This is because they have more mass, and they can generate more force, which can make the exercises more challenging and effective.

Additionally, tall people tend to have longer limbs, which can give them a greater range of motion and allow them to perform some exercises more effectively.

Tall people can definitely do calisthenics, and they might even be very good at it and their height may benefit them.


An overweight person is able to perform calisthenics exercises and work their way up to harder levels by utilizing modifications of typical calisthenics exercises suitable for a beginner.

Your strength highly dictates your ability to perform bodyweight exercises, so it is important to build strength over time.

Progressive overload is key when trying to build strength or build muscle. This consists of increasing the difficulty of exercises over time.

Remember, if your goal is to lose weight, you need to focus on a calorie deficit through diet in addition to any exercise program to burn fat and keep it off.

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