July 13, 2021 10 min read
One of the most common reasons for hitting the gym is wanting to lose weight.
The beauty of achieving that goal is that you’re not going to need any sort of special equipment if you know what you’re doing.If you can find a handful of calisthenic exercises that burn a lot of energy and progressively challenge your muscles, then you’ll be set for life.
Before we get into the exercises we should talk a little bit about how weight loss works. You need to know more than just “exercise more.” This is a process that involves changing habits and building systems that will streamline the weight loss process. Small things like thinking ahead about your meals and prepping, and big things like cutting out a significant amount of sugars and carbs.
When we think of weight loss tips, it’s easy to hear the “eat less exercise more” refrain. It’s a simple adage to live by, but if you’re not sure how to stave off hunger or keep your body from eating up your muscle gains, you’re probably not going to just “eat less.”
The weight loss results you’re looking for are made in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have to sacrifice every single morsel of food that brings you joy. Your diet just needs some essential swaps and reevaluation.
First of all: you want to cut down on foods that are high in sugar. We’ll talk about it more in-depth when we talk about fat cells, but a diet that’s high in carbs and sugar is going to make losing weight a nightmare. Your body loves to hang on to excess, so any glucose that enters your body and doesn’t get used up in the gym or during your daily life gets tucked away in your fat cells for later.
After that, you’re going to want to look for ways to satiate your hunger. A healthy weight loss diet doesn’t involve fats or crash dieting. If you’re feeling hungry constantly, you should reassess.
We want foods that are high in protein instead of high in sugar.
Protein is one of the nutrients that sets off your brain’s “I’m full” signal pretty quickly. If you find yourself snacking a lot (and you definitely will when your physical activity starts to pick up), you should try reaching for foods with lots of protein like lean chicken or almonds.
This goes hand in hand with switching up your diet.
Burning fat is going to give you a much slimmer look. We understand that weight loss isn’t just about losing weight it’s about looking the part too. You want your workouts to change the way your body looks, and there’s no shame in that.
If you want to burn fat you need to understand fat. Let’s start with where it comes from. Fat cells are your body’s way of storing excess energy. Your body uses sugar for energy, everything from thinking to sprinting uses a form of sugar in your body called glucose.
Glucose is just sugar when you get down to it. Carbs, granulated sugar, repurposed protein when times are tough, all of that becomes energy for your body and fuels your daily life. If you’re storing fat on your body, it’s because you’ve been over-fueling and underusing. This is the first step to burning fat.
You should adjust your diet to cut out sources of food that are high in glucose and carbs if you want to shed pounds quickly. The hardest part about burning fat is contending with additional fat being spackled on top of the fat you’re trying to burn. If you can limit your body’s fat production, then you’re going to have a much easier runway to success.
If fat is extra energy, then that means you need to find a reason for your body to break into that energy storage. This is one of the reasons that weight lifting is a surprisingly effective method of burning fat. Our knee-jerk solution is often to lean on cardio, but weightlifting is much more resource-intensive, and therefore, much more efficient for burning fat.
If you can burn through the readily available energy from your regular diet and break into the fat cells weighing you down, then you’ll start blazing through fat pretty quickly. Weightlifting also acts as a compound solution to your fat-burning problem.
When you’re building muscle, you’re creating more hungry muscle fibers that are constantly on the lookout for more energy. Your body will start storing more energy in your muscles and start more readily pulling from your fat cells when you’ve got hungry muscle to feed.
Your quest for simple bodyweight exercises ends here. We’ve compiled some of the best high-energy compound exercises that use just you and your body weight. The trick is to work out as many muscle groups as possible, so you’re going to see a lot of things like push-ups and burpees.
Burpees are intense. They’re easily one of the most grueling exercises out there. It’s like sprinting without the joy of wind against your skin. It feels like lighting every muscle in your body on fire. All of that deep unpleasantness aside, they’re incredibly effective.
If you can slip burpees into your workout routine at least once or twice a week, you’re going to be blitzing fat, building muscle all over, and marking your progress in a really obvious and tangible fashion. If there’s one exercise that you should be working into your routine to lose weight, it’s burpees.
Tricep dips, like everything else on this list can be done basically anywhere you get the gumption to slip in a workout. All you really need is a solid surface like a chair or a countertop at work or at home. Tricep dips work out our arms and your core in a way that’s very satisfying and simple to pull off in a quick pinch.
Push-ups are one of the most classic bodyweight standbys. They’re one of the most simple exercises to wrap your head around, they’re almost infinitely variable, and you can bang out a quick couple of sets basically everywhere that has a suitably clean floor. There’s really no reason for you not to be doing push-ups if you’re working out regularly.
Here we have another classic. There are hundreds of years of praises that have been sung in the name of body weight squats, and we’re here to add to that. Squats are a bodyweight exercise that stay challenging for a long time, and you can pretty simply add weight or resistance with a wide variety of tools.
The only real downside to body weight squats is the risk of injury to your knees. If you’re not careful about your form early on, then you’re going to build bad habits and ruin your knees after a while. As long as you’re smart about your squats and you don’t push yourself so far out of your comfort zone that you hurt yourself, you’ll get a lot of utility out of this simple exercise.
Mastering squats will help your weight loss journey along, but it will also open the door to a world of bodybuilding and strength training that can be exciting to follow if you catch the weightlifting bug.
One more thing about squats that shouldn’t go unstated before you start: a Lot of controversy surrounds how much you should allow your knees to travel past your toes or whether it should happen at all, we’re team “if it hurts you’re probably doing it wrong.”
If your body requires your knees to drift forward for a comfortable and effective squat, then let your knees travel. Otherwise, try to lower your butt straight down as much as possible.
Planking is an isometric exercise that gets a lot of mileage out of a relatively simple action. By holding your body with a very specific posture, you can push your core, an already pretty strong muscle group, to higher heights.
Planking is also a great alternative to something like sit-ups, because you’re not running the risk of a repetitive motion injury. In the long run, thousands of sit-ups a month is an easy way to turn your back into a network of agony.
This one seems to have fallen out of fashion over the years, but it shouldn’t have. A good set of mountain climbers is a great way to maintain the flexibility and mobility of your body while burning a lot of fat and energy when you add them into an energetic and regular workout routine.
This is an even more energetic and pliable version of regular mountain climbers. They’re great to graduate to if you’re a fan of mountain climbers but the novelty and challenge has worn off.
We like reverse lunges for working on your legs and core. They apply a lot of the principles of balance to your workout while maintaining a level of challenge that will burn a lot of energy, and encourage weight loss if regularly slotted into your workout routine.
Applying plyometrics (that’s jumping) to a relatively simple exercise will drastically increase the amount of energy required for the motion. If you feel like your body is growing accustomed to a bodyweight exercise, you can very easily jack up the challenge by adding explosive action and forcing your body weight off of the ground.
You might have done wall sits way back in elementary school. It’s a real classic. Kids love it for the unique challenge without realizing how far they’re really testing their limits.
As an adult, wall sits are an excellent way to build muscle and endurance in your quads and core.
If you’re having a hard time, remember the basics. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s a lot harder than you might think it is upfront. It requires sustained effort and you’re going to have to change your diet a little bit at a time in order to hit your targets.
Once you get in the swing of things, however, you’ll want to keep working out for the sheer joy of it. Good luck with the initial hump, and take your time.