Are building strength and endurance your fitness goals for this year? If yes, then calisthenics is a type of workout that can help you achieve these goals.
As this workout type utilizes your body weight to build strength, there is considerably less equipment involved. The exercises may seem simple, but these simple exercises will continue to challenge you as you progress.
Another advantage of calisthenics is that you can have a full-body workout with minimal equipment. You can set up your home gym and work out as per your schedule—without wasting time commuting or waiting in line to use a machine.
This article will take you through 9 home gym calisthenics equipment which you can use to build a complete workout routine.
9 Best Pieces of Calisthenics Equipment for Your Home Gym
You have decided on your fitness goals and have chosen to work out from the comfort and privacy of your home. Here are nine pieces of equipment to help you get started on your journey with calisthenics.
1. Pull-Up Bar
Pull-up bars are one versatile piece of equipment that can be a part of a traditional or calisthenics home gym. With this equipment, you can work on your back, shoulder, arms, and core.
A pull-up bar is a metal bar that comes with rubber or foam grips. Four types of pull-up bars are primarily available depending on their mounting style. You have the wall mount, door mount, ceiling mount, and a freestanding pull-up bar.
You will need sufficient wall space or a door frame for the wall and door mount pull-up bars. In the case of a ceiling mount, you will need an exposed joist or a beam to mount the bar.
The freestanding pull-up bar will stand tall on its own legs and base, but it will take significantly more space than the other types. They can also be comparatively expensive.
Consider other factors like build quality, weight capacity, and grip options. As you advance, you may add weights to increase resistance. These factors will help ensure the pull-up bar you purchase will be up to the task.
Some of the exercises that you can perform with a pull-up bar are:
- Cliffhanger pull-ups
- Knee raises
- Inverted hang
- Back levers
2. Resistance Bands
A resistance band is a heavy-duty elastic band commonly used for strength training.
Calisthenics can be challenging at the beginning. You may not have the strength required to complete the exercise moves in the proper form. This is where resistance bands come into play. They provide support for difficult exercises and reduce your effective body weight.
For example, pull-ups can be one of the hardest exercises for beginners. You can use a long resistance band to attempt the exercise while maintaining your form. You can secure one end of the band to the bar, pull the other end, place both your feet inside the loop and hold the bar. This will effectively reduce your body weight and make the move a tad bit easier.
You can use resistance bands further for isometric exercises, warmups, stretching, and rehabilitation.
Some of the typical exercises that you can use the resistance bands for are:
- Front levers
3. Dip Bars
Similar to the pull-up bars, dip bars are another essential piece of equipment that can add functionality to your calisthenics home gym. Dip bars come in pairs. They can be tall but compact enough to be starred away after use.
You may be tempted to use chairs or benches for your dips, but that might not be wise. You may not get a good grip and have a bad posture which can lead to shoulder injuries.
Dip bars will provide you with a safer and more stable foundation to perform your dips and other exercises. The chest, back, shoulders and triceps are the major muscles you can target with dips. As you progress, you can add weights to your dips to make the exercise more challenging.
Some exercises that you can perform with dip bars are:
- Chest dips
- Triceps dips
- Band assisted dips
- Front levers
- Knee raises
4. Gymnastic Rings
Gymnastic rings can be an excellent addition to your home gym calisthenic equipment list if you want to step up your fitness routine.
For example, doing pull-ups using gymnastic rings will be more challenging than doing them on pull-up bars. This is because using these rings will require more core strength on your end. So this automatically helps you break through a plateau and increase the difficulty level.
These rings are typically made from wood, steel, or plastic. They can be suspended using ropes or canvas straps. The Olympic standard 1:1-inch girth works well for most people. But depending on your hand size, you may opt for a relatively smaller or bigger ring size.
You can hand the gymnastic rings high, middle, or low depending on the muscles you want to target. With these rings, you can effectively work out your chest, back, shoulder, core, and even legs.
Some exercises that you can perform with gymnastic rings are:
- Levers (front and back)
- Leg raises
- Pike push-ups
- Reverse fly’s
- Donkey kicks
5. Weighted Vest
Weighted vests are another piece of equipment that can help break a plateau and improve your strength training routine. They can be used to temporarily increase your body weight and increase the difficulty level of exercises.
For example, you can do the same pull-ups and push-ups, but with a weighted vest, you can improve your endurance and muscular strength. Such a vest can add anywhere from 11 to 55 lbs to your body.
You should be comfortable with the weighted vest around you for the duration of your training. For example, if the vest is too heavy, you may not be able to maintain your form. Thus, we recommend you opt for adjustable weighted vests, which can help you from your intermediate to advanced stages of calisthenics.
You can choose from short to full-sized weighted vests. From a calisthenics point of view, short vests will provide extra weight and mobility for bodyweight exercises. On the other hand, full-sized vests would be ideal for cardio.
The typical exercises that you can perform with a weighted vest on are:
- Diamond push-ups
- Incline push-ups
- Elevated glute bridge
6. Dip Belt
A dip belt functions similarly to a weighted vest. These sturdy belts are to be worn around your natural waist. The belt comes with a steel chain which can be used to suspend weights, effectively increasing your body weight. So you get to use free weights, but your hands are still free for calisthenics movements.
As the weights are hanging down from your waist, your mobility does get affected. In comparison, weighted vests offer the freedom to perform most kinds of calisthenics movements. But the advantage of using a dip belt is that you can use significantly higher weights.
For example, a weighted vest can be around 50 to 70 lbs of additional weight. But dip belts can hold anywhere from 100 to 2000 lbs. You can go well above 2000 lbs as well.
While buying a dip belt, consider factors like weight capacity, material, chain length, and size. The belt should comfortably sit on your waist; if not, using weights could become painful.
As the weights can limit your range of motion, it would be best to stick with simple exercises like:
7. Power Tower
Opt for a power tower if you have space in your home gym. It is one of the comprehensive pieces of equipment when it comes to calisthenics. In addition, it can provide the functionality of a pull-up and dip bar together.
Structure-wise, a power tower has a broad base, on which will be two tall vertical bars. At the top, a horizontal bar will be between the two vertical bars. And in the middle, there could be two protruding smaller parallel bars.
Using this equipment, you can work out your full body. Like other home gym calisthenics equipment, ensure the construction and material is of high quality and it can sustain your body weight.
With a power tower, you can perform a range of exercises. Some of them are:
- Pull-ups and chin-ups
- Leg raises
- Bicycle crunches
- Deep push-ups
Parallettes are similar to dip bars but sit much closer to the ground height-wise. These bars come in different lengths and heights. Suppose you are looking for portability or something that will occupy less space; opt for mini parallettes. These can be good for push-ups.
If you are at an advanced stage and want to try exercises like planche variations, opt for taller parallettes.
You can perform the same exercises on parallettes and dip bars. But parallettes are much better suited for exercises closer to the ground.
For example, dip bars are considerably taller. Therefore, doing push-ups on these bars may be less effective as there is less resistance involved. On the other hand, parallettes can mimic the experience of doing push-ups on the ground and offers increased resistance.
Similarly, planche variations on parallette bars are more effective than dip bars. Your ultimate goal might be to do the planche unassisted, and these bars can help the best along the way.
Some exercises that you can perform on parallettes are:
- Handstand push-ups
9. Skipping Rope
Introducing cardio into your workout is a good way to build endurance and maintain your cardiovascular health. Skipping ropes can be highly compact and help you get some cardio along with your calisthenic moves.
Skipping ropes further helps with your coordination, balance, and agility. The exercise may also help strengthen your muscles. The improvements you make with skipping ropes can help you perform calisthenics exercises better.
When buying a skipping rope, take your height into consideration. You may trip and fall if the rope is too long or short. If you are focussing on building agility, opt for unweighted ropes. On the other hand, if you are concentrating on building upper body strength, weighted skipping ropes are also available.
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What Are Some Optional Calisthenics Accessories You Can Invest in?
Apart from the nine must-have pieces of equipment, here are some optional accessories that can elevate your calisthenics experience.
1. Chalk (Dry or Liquid)
Chalk is used to soak up moisture on palms and fingers and provide the user with a better grip. This comes in handy when using gymnastic rings, parallettes, and pull-up bars.
The choice of dry or liquid chalk depends on your preference. Dry chalk can be affordable and gentle on the skin. Liquid chalk can be more resistant, convenient, and less messy.
2. Wrist Wraps
Some exercises can put pressure on your wrists, leading to injury. These wraps can provide support and stability to your wrists and protect them during high-intensity exercise sessions.
3. Foam Roller
As with calisthenics, you are focussing on building your muscle strength; you also need to give your muscles a chance to recover. Foam rolling may help get rid of muscle soreness and fatigue.
4. Lacrosse Ball
Similar to foam rollers, you can use lacrosse balls in your recovery process post high-intensity workout sessions. They can also help relieve muscle soreness, but their surface area can be much more focused.
Calisthenics can be a great workout to build functional strength, improve your muscular and aerobic endurance, and improve the longevity of your joints, among others.
The other advantages are that you need minimal equipment and can work out from the comfort of your home gym. You can invest in some core pieces like pull-ups and dip bars and use accessories like resistance bands and free weights to increase resistance.
We hope the above list of home gym calisthenics equipment can help you build a workout routine suited to your fitness needs.