Calisthenics For Women – Is It Good For You? [ULTIMATE] Guide
More and more women are interested in calisthenics these days.
Calisthenics doesn’t require any equipment and can be done anywhere and at any time.
But is bodyweight training good for women? Will it help you achieve your goals?
In this article we’ll discuss:
- What women need to know about calisthenics
- Whether calisthenics can help women lose weight
- Whether calisthenics can help women build muscle
- How to start calisthenics as a woman
Let’s get started.
What Women Need To Know About Calisthenics
The first thing you need to know about calisthenics is:
Calisthenics is a form of exercise that builds muscle and strength by moving the body through space.
Think pull ups, push ups, dips, inverted rows, squats, and hip thrusts.
A common error is thinking that calisthenics consists of bodyweight exercises only.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Calisthenics consists of bodyweight as well as weighted calisthenics.
So is weighted calisthenics or bodyweight calisthenics better for women?
- If you don’t have the strength to lift your bodyweight plus an external weight, then bodyweight calisthenics is a good place to start.
- Once you’re strong enough to lift your bodyweight plus an external weight, then weighted calisthenics will be more efficient at building strength and muscle.
- Bodywegiht calisthenics can be extremely challenging for the upper body. But when it comes to the lower body, bodyweight calisthenics falls short.
Thus if you want to:
- Lose weight
- Get strong
- Build a fantastic booty
- Learn to do a handstand, get your first push up or pull up
Whichever path you choose, weighted calisthenics is the best way to go!
Read More: Calisthenics Vs. Weights – Which Is Better?
I still remember the time my girlfriend asked me to train her. She wanted to achieve her first pull up and push up!
I told her that it was going to be a long road ahead, but she was committed.
The second thing you need to know about calisthenics is:
Calisthenics is harder for women than it is for men.
It is a physiological fact that women have lower amounts of testosterone (the male hormone) in their bodies.
This means that as a woman, you:
- Build less muscle mass than men
- Store more body-fat than men
- Are physically weaker than (most) men, especially when it comes to upper body strength
But, the great thing about calisthenics is that EVERY exercise can be modified to suit your current strength level!
Can Calisthenics Help you Lose Weight?
If you’re looking to use calisthenics for “weight-loss”, think again.
What you actually want is “fat-loss” and “muscle-gain”.
Simply losing a whole bunch of “weight” will have you looking “skinny-fat”.
You will have no muscle definition and won’t have that “toned” look most women want.
I know that’s a lot of quotation marks, but if you want to look great at the end of your fat-loss journey, you must build or maintain as much muscle as possible!
And this is where calisthenics can help!
Calisthenics can help women lose fat and build muscle at the same time (if you are a beginner, or have not worked out in a while).
But using exercise to as a fat-loss tool is not the best idea. Exercise should be used to build or maintain muscle instead!
Exercise is not an efficient way to reduce the amount of calories you consume.
You’d have to workout for hours on end to burn off the calories you binged on in a couple of minutes!
It’s simply not sustainable!
So what do you do instead?
Use your nutrition to restrict the calories you consume instead!
Because when it comes to fat-loss its all about calories in versus calories out.
If you eat more you’ll gain more and if you eat less you’ll lose more. It’s really that simple.
Thus, it is better to use your diet to lose fat, and use calisthenics to maintain or build muscle instead!
Exercise can help put you in a calorie deficit, but not by a lot.
Calisthenics exercises, like hiking, jogging, jumping rope or bodyweight circuit training can help put you in a caloric deficit and thus help aid fat-loss. But don’t use these exercises as your primary weight-loss tool!
Your diet is more important than calisthenics or any other training modality when it comes to losing fat!
Can You Get Strong With Calisthenics?
Strong is the new sexy they say!
Having a good base of strength will give you a sense of independence as a woman. Strength will keep you less reliant on your male counterparts when push comes to shove.
Strength is the way we interact with our environment, and you must get strong.
Calisthenics can make you strong! But bodyweight calisthenics will only make your upper body strong.
Want to be able to climb a fence? Scale a wall, or just have a good time at your rock climbing gym? No problem, calisthenics has got you covered!
But bodyweight calisthenics won’t build a strong lower body. And the majority of your strength comes from the lower body, the part that’s in contact with the ground.
Bodyweight calisthenics falls short – in the legs department.
Now of course, if you don’t exercise, doing a set of bodyweight squats will be challenging. But it won’t be challenging for long.
Sooner rather than later, bodyweight squats will become way too easy. Then what?
Lungs, Bulgarian split squats, Step ups, will all get easy very quickly as well.
At some point, again, sooner rather than later, you will have to add weight to your bodyweight training.
Believing your favorite fitness Instagrammer or YouTuber says the set of butt circles they did was going to build your booty just like theirs is naive.
If someone you’re following has thick well defined legs, and a massive butt, they’re lifting heavy ass weights.
And that’s what I suggest you do as well. Nothing will grow your booty better than sets of heavy squats, weighted hip thrusts and deadlifts.
Trust me ladies, if you want a big booty, you’re going to have to work for it.
No amount of butt circles from your favorite Instagrammer will build your glutes, quads and hamstrings like heavy barbell work will.
So when it comes to the lower body, get your weighted calisthenics game on!
How To Start Calisthenics As A Woman?
Whether you’re a guy or girl, the calisthenics exercises you perform won’t change.
There’s this big myth in the fitness industry that men and women should perform different exercises, but nothing could be further from the truth!
So what are the best exercises to perform when starting calisthenics as a woman?
Just as with a man, it all depends on your current strength level.
Before starting any exercise program, learn the correct form and technique of each exercise and start with caution.
This means starting with low intensities and exercises that are easier to learn and perform.
In general you want to be able to perform the following exercises at some point in your calisthenics journey:
- Pull Ups
- Overhead press
- Barbell Back Squats
- Barbell Deadlifts
You maybe wondering why I have barbell back squats and deadlifts added to a calisthenics program.
That’s because, if bodyweight squats are considered bodyweight calisthenics, then barbell back squats are weighted calisthenics. It’s that simple.
The deadlift on the other hand is another weighted calisthenics movement. Think about it, when deadlifting, your entire body moves through space as you pick the barbell off the floor.
Barbell back squats and deadlifts will also build your quads, glutes, hamstrings, lower back and lats. These are the areas most women are looking to improve in terms of aesthetics.
Pull ups and dips and the overhead press will take care of the rest!
But what if you can’t perform the exercises mentioned above?
Fret not, just perform the regressions (easier variations of the same exercise).
- To make pull ups easier – do inverted rows.
- Can’t do barbell back squats? Start with your bodyweight.
- Can’t deadlift? Pick something off the floor, anything will work just fine to start.
- Can’t do dips? Do push ups instead!
- Can’t do push ups? The article below will have you doing your first push up in no time!
Read More: Push Up Progression – Master The Push Up!
NOTE: The name of the game is progressive overload.
If you are not making progress with the exercises mentioned above, your body will refuse to change!
The next thing you’ve got to do is make things harder during your next workout.
This will ensure you’re making progress!
How Often Should Women Train Calisthenics?
Three alternate days a week works well, you don’t need to do anymore!
An example would be:
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Repeat again next week.
Make your workouts full body; use variations of the exercises listed above for a couple of sets and reps. Then make it harder the next training session.
You will make great progress this way. This is how it’s done, there is no magic bullet to hard work and progress!
Calisthenics for women is no different than it is for men.
Stick to the basics, and make things harder the next time.
Whenever an exercise becomes easier to perform, all you need to do is add some weight!