High Volume Calisthenics, Fat Loss, and Endomorphs

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenics

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Hey guys! My name is Reece Lawton. After a year of student life and powerlifting, I got poor and fat. So, I quit the gym, stopped eating as much, and started researching bodyweight workouts and fat loss. My field of study is Ancient History, so I was looking at sculptures like the Ares Borghese on an almost daily basis. These men (and women) built their physiques before steroids and barbells existed. They used Calisthenics, and I wanted to use Calisthenics too. I started following the Convict Conditioning workouts, before discovering Old School Calisthenic. I’ve since come to realize that Calisthenics is more than just a way of working out; it’s a discipline that literally puts you against yourself, both physically and mentally. My physique, fitness, and happiness have improved massively after spending only a few months following the principles of Old School Calisthenic; I look forward to carrying on with my journey and achieving that Greek God look.

Before reading this article, I highly recommend you read the nutrition articles already on this site. They cover the core aspects of nutrition, which apply to everyone regardless of body-type. Once, you’ve read those, come back here.

So, you’ve read the articles, and you want to apply the information therein to losing fat. The first thing to state is that the only way that you will lose fat is by being in a calorie deficit. A good place to start is by taking your body weight in pounds and multiplying it by 12. For example, I weigh 170 lbs., so to lose weight I should be consuming around 2,040 calories for six days a week. Then, once a week eat bodyweight x 15. This is your re-feed day, and it replenishes your body?s fat burning hormones- leptin.

To track weight loss, you can do a number of things. Firstly, you can weigh yourself daily and work out your average weight for that week. This will allow you to track weight loss and account for factors such as water weight. If you don’t wish to weigh yourself every day, then weigh yourself in the morning before food and drink on the same day each week. However, this can give skewed results due to water weight and other factors. For example, your weight may stay the same from one week to the next, but this may be because you’ve lost a pound of fat and gained a pound of muscle. I weigh myself once a week and will account for things such as this. As long as my strength is increasing, and my weight not increasing, then I am happy.

So, what if you are still struggling to lose fat after following these calorie guidelines? Firstly, make sure you’ve been doing it for a few weeks. If you don’t see any change, then it is time to adjust. You are most likely an endomorph. If you already think yourself to be an endomorph, then still follow the previous step for a few weeks.

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Quite a few articles on this site lean towards helping ectomorphs build muscle; endomorphs do not have an issue with this. So, what is an endomorph? To put it simply, endomorphs were the famine survivors in hunter-gatherer times. On the positive side, their shoulders are larger, their upper arms are larger, and their upper thighs are larger than other body types. The downsides are that your body does not want to burn fat, and having too much fat will hold back your training. The most important thing to do seems counter-productive. If you decrease your calories hoping it will restart your weight loss, your body will fight back. Your genetics will hold on to fat when your calories go too low. To lose weight, you must increase calories. Instead of calculating your calories as 12 x BW (bodyweight) six days a week and 15 x BW one day, change it to BW x 13 and BW x 16. Or, if you are very active, have even more calories. Endomorphs have to coax their body into losing fat, or their body will resist it. Once you have a feel of how much you need to eat to maintain and lose weight, get rid of the calorie counting. Calorie counting is like stabilizers on a bike- necessary for the beginner, but eventually, you should get rid of them.

The focus of this site and project is high-volume calisthenics, and this is ideal for endomorphs. High frequency with low rest periods will deplete your glycogen stores. If your body can no longer rely on carbs for energy, it will tap directly into your fat reserves. Calisthenics is also useful for losing fat or keeping it in check because you are using your body weight, and so your workouts keep you accountable.

I recommend building up a base level of strength using the beginner programme, and then you can start to customize. I myself have made a programme tailored to my own body and goals using Old School Calisthenic’s principles. As you will be able to see, I am focusing on shoulders (close grip pull-ups, and building up to high volume Handstand Pushups), and focusing on increasing my skill level with regards to the Pistol Squat and Handstand Push Up. Keep rest for non-skill work at a maximum of two minutes to maximize fat burning. Once again: this is my programme, tailored to my body and my goals. Don’t follow it like gospel.

Monday and Thursday: Wall Handstand Pushups (1-4 Reps, 3 Sets), Wall Handstand (As long as possible, 2 Sets), Dips (8-14 Reps, 2 Sets), Pushup variations (8-15 reps, 3 Sets)

Tuesday and Friday: Close Grip Pull-ups (5-8 Reps, 3 Sets), Close Grip Chinups (5-8 Reps, 3 Sets), Neutral Grip Pull-ups (5-8 Reps, 3 Sets), Bodyweight Rows (10-15 Reps, 4 Sets).

Wednesday and Saturday: Pistol Squats (3 Reps each leg, 4 Sets), skipping for one minute followed by a sprint (6 sets), Prisoner Squat (20-30 Reps, 5 Sets), Box/Stair Jumps (3 Reps, 4 Sets decreasing in height).

Sunday: Rest. I have also started incorporating running and cycling throughout the week. For core work, I do it whenever I have a few minutes free to plank, do some leg raises or sit-ups.

Fat loss tips:

  • Intermittent Fasting will aid you with being in a calorie deficit and has a myriad of health benefits. You can either limit eating to an 8-hour period or simply eat 4-6 hours after you wake up.
  • Remove snacks from your house, or replace them with healthier, lower-calorie snacks.
  • Make small changes. If you don’t work out, begin with 3 days a week (push, pull, legs and HIIT). Then you can start increasing your workout frequency and adding in more cardio.
  • Black Coffee can help blunt appetite whilst fasting.
  • Drink A LOT of water.
  • See Adorian’s nutrition articles for examples of good, whole, filling foods.

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