As a personal trainer with over a decade of experience, I can share that while calisthenics primarily relies on bodyweight, incorporating specific equipment can amplify your workout and yield more remarkable results.
Drawing from my expertise, I've dedicated significant time to researching and selecting nine essential items. These tools are beneficial whether you're embarking on your calisthenics journey or striving to perfect advanced and fully benefit from this type of workout.
What Equipment Do I Need to Start Calisthenics?
The equipment you need to start calisthenics is a dip bar, power tower, pull-up bar, gymnastic rings, resistance band, jump rope, weight vest, workout gloves, and ab wheel.
Let's discuss the role of each accessory below.
Calisthenics Dip Bars
I remember the first time I incorporated dip bars into my routine – the versatility they brought was a game-changer. I’ve tried both separate and fixed dip stands. While I loved the stability of fixed ones, the portability of separate stands made them a favorite, despite occasional instability issues
Dip bars can potentially increase upper body strength through various dip variations, such as static holds and bar dips .
Although dip bars might be pricey and big, they allow you to perform various core exercises like dips, L-sits, V-sits, pull-ups, handstands, etc.
And if you’re creative enough, you can make them using things you have at home, or you can get parallettes instead.
Calisthenics Power Tower
My journey with the power tower began as a novice, and it’s astounding to see the progression over the years.
Every pull-up and dip reminds me of the initial struggle and the triumphant feeling of conquering that first unassisted pull-up. It’s not just equipment; it’s a testament to my growth as an athlete.
As a functional all-in-one piece, a power tower allows you to perform multiple simple and complex movements.
Even though a power tower takes up a bit more space, I’d highly recommend it because it’s great value for the money, safe, stable, and comfortable.
Calisthenics Pull-Up Bars
Pull-ups were my nemesis, but not anymore. Each type of pull-up bar I’ve owned, from the ceiling-mounted to the free-standing, has its own story of triumph and challenge. Every grip, every pull, echoes the sweat and determination that turned my once nemesis into a trusted ally in my fitness journey.
Depending on your workout type, available space, and other factors, you may choose one of these pull-up bars:
- Ceiling-mounted - seem to be best for a more intense workout because they can carry the heaviest load
- Wall-mounted pull-up bar - stable and suitable for intense exercises
- Doorway - most popular because they’re affordable and can be easily installed
- Free-standing pull-up bar - flexible, easy to disassemble, and doesn’t require screws
Whichever type of pull up bar you pick, make sure it’s stable, adaptable, and allows you a comfortable non-slip grip.
The first time I suspended myself on gymnastic rings, the wobble of uncertainty was real. But so was the exhilaration of achievement with every mastered movement. Each session is a dance between gravity and strength, a testament to the gains in balance and muscle that these rings have gifted me.
I highly recommend gym rings to intermediate or advanced athletes but not to beginners because they require outstanding strength and balance.
They’re affordable, light, and easy to set up. You can hang them anywhere, even on a tree.
Just make sure that they are good quality for safety reasons and have adjustable straps to put less strain on your joints.
I used to underestimate resistance bands until I felt the burn and saw the results. Each band in my collection, from the lightest to the heaviest, marks a milestone in my strength journey.
They’ve been companions in warm-ups, workouts, and cool-downs, proving that size and simplicity can indeed coexist with power and versatility
Bands either add resistance to make your movements harder and help you progress through particular calisthenics exercises, or they take resistance away to make exercises easier if you lack strength.
I’d recommend getting a set of bands with different resistance levels for different exercises.
Related Article: Resistance bands vs dumbbells
Another piece of equipment fantastic for warm-up, stretching, coordination, burning calories, and intensive cardio training is a jump rope .
Whether you choose a light rope or one with weights in the handles, you may achieve fantastic results. Just ensure the rope length is adjustable and it has non-slip handles that provide your sweaty palms a secure grip.
Weighted vests can enable serious athletes to step up their game by adding extra weight and resistance while reaching advanced stages of various progressions.
I don’t think those just starting out should rush to buy a weighted vest until they become strong enough and know how to perform all the movements correctly to avoid injuries.
A weight vest might be pricey but it’s worth the money if you want to increase your training intensity, muscle mass, and strength faster.
You can also mix it up with suspension straps, like the guy in the photo.
If you’d like to engage all your abs, lower back muscles, arms, shoulders, and chest, adding an ab wheel to your arsenal would be sensible.
You can use it to add resistance when doing various bodyweight exercises and progressions on your knees, toes, on a sloped surface, with one hand, etc., as long as it’s non-slip with comfortable handles.
Also, it’s easy to disassemble, so you can take it with you wherever you want.
You can check out the best ab wheels here.
Wrist and hand issues like blisters and calluses are usually unavoidable when you exercise hard.
The right pair of workout gloves can help protect your hands, improve your grip, and evenly distribute the weight you’re lifting.
With or without fingers, gloves are helpful as long as they’re flexible, made from excellent materials, and provide good wrist support and hand protection.
How We Tested the Calisthenics Gear
Rigorous Selection Process
Before diving into the hands-on testing phase, we embarked on a comprehensive research journey to identify the most popular and highly-rated calisthenics gear in the market. Our selection criteria were rooted in the gear's quality, user reviews, brand reputation, and features offered.
Our team of fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes, with years of experience in calisthenics, were at the forefront of the testing process. Their expertise ensured an in-depth and objective evaluation of each product's performance, durability, and safety.
Real-World Testing Scenarios
We believe in the authenticity of real-world testing. Each piece of gear was subjected to a series of exercises mimicking the intensity and variety of a typical calisthenics workout. We evaluated the gear’s performance in different environments, from indoor gyms to outdoor parks, ensuring a holistic assessment.
- Performance: We assessed how effectively each piece of gear facilitated and enhanced the workout experience. Factors like grip, stability, and versatility were key in this criterion.
- Durability: The gear was subjected to intense usage to evaluate its wear and tear over time. We looked at the quality of materials and construction to gauge longevity.
- Comfort & Safety: Our reviewers paid close attention to the comfort level during workouts and assessed the safety features to minimize the risk of injuries.
- Value for Money: We weighed the performance and quality of the gear against its price to determine whether it offers value for money.
In addition to our expert reviews, we sought feedback from everyday users. We reached out to individuals who have used these products over extended periods to gather insights on long-term performance and durability.
What to Consider When Buying Calisthenics Equipment?
When buying calisthenics equipment, consider factors like your fitness level, the available space, the equipment size, and the price.
Your Training Goals and Level
Newbies and pro athletes don’t need the same gear because their fitness levels and training goals greatly differ.
When it comes to building a home gym, the most important thing you need to do is be honest with yourself. Do a 'needs analysis' for yourself. Be realistic about your goals and what's necessary. This will help get you started on what steps need to be taken first.
- Thomas Boatswain, Personal Trainer
So, what are YOU trying to achieve?
The calisthenics equipment and items you choose should align with your goals and enable you to make progress in your focus areas.
To help make sure you're actually meeting your goals, it's important that you track them properly and accurately. You can check out our review of the best weightlifting trackers.
Available Space and Equipment Size
It would be wise to think about the equipment size and whether you have enough space to move around it, exercise, and store it when you’re not using it.
Don’t forget to measure everything precisely and plan the layout before you head towards the stores. That’s how you can prevent your limited space from limiting your workout.
Someone who can dedicate only a small part of a room to a workout corner won’t be able to do the same type of training and buy the same gear as someone who can use a spare room, garage, or backyard as a calisthenics gym.
Another key factor that’s likely to determine the pieces you’ll buy is their price.
If you’re on a tight budget, you’d probably consider cheaper or secondhand options.
But make sure they meet your specific goals, skills, and needs. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money.
You don’t have to buy it all at once. Think carefully and start slowly.
Plan how to get more bang for your bucks without compromising quality.
How Difficult It Is to Put Together and Install
I believe the pieces that may be best for your home workout are the portable ones that are quick and easy to put together and install.
Especially when you’re short of space and time, getting something simple to assemble and disassemble is critical. Also, make sure all the gear’s sturdy and safe.
Can You Do Calisthenics Without Equipment?
Yes, you can do calisthenics without equipment. That’s the beauty and simplicity of it. You can do it anywhere, anytime.
Calisthenics exercises are basically all about lifting your own body weight and progressive resistance.
If you seriously decide to move from the foundational to the advanced level of calisthenics, it would be helpful to get at least essential gear to maximize your home setup.
It’s usually inexpensive and doesn’t take up too much space, whereas it can help you get the most out of your workouts.
What Are The Benefits of Your Own Home Gym?
Building your workout zone at home makes perfect sense if you’re focusing on doing calisthenics workouts.
You probably don’t want to waste money on gym fees to get access to the gear designed for other types of training. A treadmill won’t help you improve your diamond push-ups, right?
Although going to a gym helps some people stay motivated, working out in the comfort of your home has various benefits.
It’s Tailor-Made For Crushing Your Goals
A customized home gym based on your workout needs and preferences can boost your performance and progression faster and easier than any other because you’ll have exactly what you need to meet your goals.
It Saves You Lots of Time
If your lifestyle is hectic, a home gym is a perfect choice because you don’t have to worry about commuting. You can work out when it suits you best without waiting for a machine to free up or glancing at a watch, worrying how to pick up your kids from school or make it to work on time.
It’s More Affordable In the Long Run
The average gym membership cost in the USA is $58 per month. But, the real costs greatly vary and range from $49 to $135. Plus, common additional costs aren’t included in these estimated prices, e.g. initiation, freeze, suspension fees, travel costs, gym wear, and other surplus charges (personal trainers, locker rental, sauna).
Maybe your at-home gym costs will seem higher at first, but it’s worth considering as it may save you a lot in the long haul.
Full Freedom In the Privacy of Your Home
Your personal gym is your private nook with your own rules. No more dull tunes, distractions by other people’s workouts or crowd unless you invite some friends to join you.
It’s Safer and Better Maintained
You’ll maintain your home gym better than any other employees would do in professional gyms. There’ll be no more neglected bars and handles covered in other people’s sweat or using public gym showers. Logically, your gear will be more durable and safer for your health.
Psychological Benefits of Using Calisthenics Gear
Specialized calisthenics gear, such as pull-up bars, parallel bars, and gymnastic rings, offers a range of psychological benefits.
These tools allow individuals to perform bodyweight exercises with more variety and challenge.
As users gain proficiency and strength, they experience increased motivation and confidence in their abilities, fostering a sense of accomplishment.
The mastery of new skills and overcoming physical barriers enhances mental well-being, contributing to a positive self-image and self-esteem.
Moreover, calisthenics gear provides a unique and engaging workout experience, which can boost motivation and maintain enthusiasm, making exercise a more enjoyable and sustainable part of one's lifestyle.
Customization and Personalization Options
Calisthenics gear customization allows individuals to make their equipment uniquely theirs. Custom grips, available in various textures and sizes, offer a tailored feel for comfort and performance.
Many manufacturers also offer a range of color options to match personal preferences or aesthetics. Some enthusiasts opt for custom engravings, adding names or motivational quotes, further personalizing their equipment.
These options not only enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the gear but also create a sense of ownership and pride, motivating individuals to engage more with their calisthenics routines while fostering a sense of identity and belonging within the fitness community.
Are Squats Calisthenics?
Yes, squats are calisthenics, just like many other widely known bodyweight exercises: crunches, lunges, dips, handstands, burpees, jumping jacks, etc.
Can Calisthenics Build Muscle Mass?
Yes, calisthenics can build muscle mass without weights, but a weighted calisthenics workouts does the job better. However, expect it to be trickier. For instance, instead of doing standard push-ups, you could get your feet elevated to build mechanical tension or do handstand push-ups to increase metabolic stress and muscular hypertrophy. Add some muscle-building foods, and you can make it. You can also check out our article on calisthenics vs weights.
How Many Times a Week Should You Do Calisthenics?
You should do calisthenics workouts at least two times a week. However, the appropriate frequency of your training sessions will depend on your age, strength, exercise intensity, fitness level, and goals. You can check out our beginners guide to calisthenics.
Can I Do Calisthenics at Home?
Yes, you can do calisthenics at home. You can build your own home gym and include essential equipment that suits your budget and workout routine for the best results.
What Is the Best Calisthenics Equipment?
The best calisthenics equipment is the one you regularly use. Seriously!
To level up your game, you may want to get the essentials, such as pull-up bars, calisthenics bars, resistance bands, jump rope, gymnastic rings, weighted vests, and an ab wheel for more serious engagement.
When it comes to pull-up bars, I always recommend The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Door Pull-Up Bar—an ultimate portable gym solution. This versatile equipment isn't just limited to pull-ups and chin-ups; when flipped over, it transforms into a hub for sit-ups, press-ups, and dips too.
But any piece of equipment that suits your fitness level and preferences is great.
Ready to start building your home gym? Do you already have any gear? Is it useful?
Share your thoughts with us.
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