Are you trying to take your home workouts up a notch? Calisthenics is an incredible tool for getting in shape and taking your fitness to the next level. If you’re ready to amp up your routine without breaking the bank – or relying on bulky gym equipment – then calisthenics might be right for you! But where do you start?
We have put together a comprehensive list of 21 of the best pieces of calisthenics equipment to help get your home gym started, no matter what kind of budget you’re working with. So read on and take charge of your fitness journey today!
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What are Calisthenics?
Calisthenics is an excellent form of exercise that uses body weight and calisthenics equipment to build strength and complete calisthenics movements. This popular form of fitness is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to be performed just about anywhere – all you need really for calisthenics workouts is your body, but with the help of some calisthenics equipment, you can take your workout routine to the next level.
Calisthenics can help build muscles, increase flexibility and coordination, and also improve overall physical conditioning. Whether you’re just starting out on your calisthenic journey curating calisthenics exercises to fit your skill level, or if you’re an advanced user looking for a challenge, there’s something in calisthenics for everyone!
What are some calisthenics exercises?
As mentioned, calisthenics is bodyweight movement that is commonly compound exercise. The most popular and core calisthenics exercises would be:
Body weight squats
There are plenty of other exercises and variations of these movements, but to keep it simple, these are the essential movements to focus on.
Essential Calisthenic Equipment (1-3)
These pieces of calisthenics equipment will be the most important to have in your home gym as they are essential to doing the basic core calisthenics exercises. (Pull up, push up, dips).
1. Pull up bar
Without a doubt, the most important piece of calisthenics equipment to have at home would be a pull-up bar. Pull-ups are great for building overall upper body strength. They allow you to exercise the arms, chest, shoulders, and back muscles all at once. Some exercises you can do with a pull-up bar include:
These are just some exercises, but you get the idea.
Unfortunately, not all pull-up bars are built the same. Some have multiple grip variations while others can be a simple horizontal bar.
They can be mounted to your wall or ceiling and some can be hooked onto your door frame. While door frame pull-up bars can be convenient, they can be damaging to your door frame depending on the one you get so do be aware. Overall a vital piece of fitness equipment to include in your home gym for pulling exercises even if you just have a basic pull-up bar.
2. Dip Bars
Dips are a great exercise for building your upper body. The main muscles worked during a dip would be your chest, triceps, and front shoulders. It’s one of the main exercises for calisthenics workouts and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The dip bar is great because they’re versatile and easy to move around to save space. Exercises and progressions you could do with a dip bar would include:
These are just to name a few, but they are as mentioned versatile and can be used in creative ways to elevate your calisthenics workout. Also, most dip bars are adjustable so you can raise and lower the height according to the exercise you want to do. Overall a great piece of equipment to have to elevate your pushing exercises.
3. Power Tower
Also sometimes referred to as a pull-up bar station or dip station, the power tower is a great way to combine the previous 2 pieces of calisthenics equipment in one. The power towers include a pull-up bar with various grips, a set of dip handles, and a back pad for ab exercises.
The main drawback of a power tower would be the amount of space it can take up. If you’re looking for a portable and sort of “hideaway” type home gym, then you may run into some issues with this piece of equipment. Some exercises you could do with this include:
Push-ups (some will have to push up handles to do incline push-ups)
These are a bit more of a pricey piece of calisthenics equipment, but with the number of exercises you could perform, it’s a great piece of equipment to include. Overall, something not to be overlooked and could be thought of as an “all-in-one.”
Accessories Calisthenics Equipment (4-9)
These calisthenics equipment will include attachments to add variety to your workout, assist you in your workout, or increase resistance/intensity.
4. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an incredibly effective and versatile exercise tool used to boost muscle strength, power, and flexibility. They are long strips of durable materials such as latex or other flexible materials.
Not only are resistance bands affordable and portable for any fitness level, but they can also be easily adjusted to increase tension in your muscles or alleviate your body weight when performing exercises like the pull-up or dip. With resistance bands, you get the benefits of weight training without unnecessary strain on your joints or putting too much burden on your body.
In addition to these advantages, resistance bands are great for a wide variety of uses including:
Assistance to perform difficult exercises
With proper usage of resistance bands, you can target almost any muscle group in your body, making them one of the most effective gym accessories that you could invest in. Overall, having a resistance band or set of resistance bands will be extremely beneficial for everything you do in the gym.
Parralettes are very similar to dip bars except they are much smaller and shorter. They typically consist of two paralleled bars with handles at each end and can be adjusted for different fitness levels, intensities, and types of exercises.
Parralettes are great for working on bodyweight exercises like:
Parralettes offer a slight raise from the floor, giving you the ability to have a longer and deeper range of motion when performing an exercise like the push-up. This result can increase muscle growth, increase mobility, and increase intensity. Overall not a bad piece of equipment to have because they are portable and can add variety to your workout.
6. Gymnastic Rings
Gymnastics rings are a type of training equipment used to help improve strength, coordination, and stability. They are usually made of durable materials such as wood and metal, and consists of two rings suspended from a single point.
Rings can be adjusted to different heights, allowing you to use them in a variety of ways:
Rings are much harder to use compared to your normal pull-up bar since they are unstable, which can increase your balance and control of your body weight as well as increase the intensity of your workout. Overall a unique piece to have when you begin to advance in your calisthenics training.
7. TRX Bands/Suspension Trainers
Suspension trainers are great for the earlier progressions of many calisthenics exercises. These trainers utilize straps or handles to suspend the user in the air, allowing them to perform a full-body workout using their own body weight. Not only do they provide a great way to work out your upper body, but they can also help you build strength and stability in your lower body.
Suspension trainers are portable and adjustable, making them the perfect tool for those who need a good workout but don’t have access to a gym. With the right suspension trainer, you can do exercises such as
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, suspension trainers are a great piece of equipment that can help you reach your fitness goals. For beginners, you can use them to achieve your first pull-up or even build your overall strength and muscle. For advanced athletes, you can work on improving certain areas of your fitness you may be lacking. Overall not a bad piece of equipment to include in your collection.
8. Weight Vests or Dip Belts
Weighted vests and dip belts are great for anyone looking to increase resistance and increase strength. At some point, our body weight becomes too easy to carry so you can use something like the weighted vest or dip belt to add additional weight. Although they carry the same purpose, these 2 pieces do have pros and cons.
A wearable vest that carries sand, weight plates, or weight casts (blocks). These can be used to run, do weighted dips, weighted pull-ups, weighted push-ups, and more.
The pros of weight vests:
More Even Weight Distribution
More Comfortable to carry
More Versatile (you can run with these)
Cons of weight vests compared to dip belts:
Not as portable (heavy to carry unless you wear it)
A large belt with a chain attached to carry plates of weight. These can be used to perform weighted pull-ups and dips.
The pros of dip belts:
Portable (can easily be put in the gym bag)
Can load more weight
Cons of dip belts compared to weight vests:
Limited on a variety of exercises (just pull-ups and dips)
Less even weight distribution
Overall a great tool to use to increase strength and build muscle during your fitness journey.
9. Ab Roller/Ab Wheel
An ab roller is a popular exercise tool used to target the abdominal muscles. It consists of two handles attached to a plastic or metal wheel. There isn’t much to say about the ab roller since you’re limited to just doing the ab exercise that it’s intended for, but a helpful piece of equipment to get a simple and intense ab workout.
Liquid chalk is used to give your hand more grip when performing pull-ups or static holds that require grip. There isn’t much to say about chalk and it isn’t needed when doing most calisthenics workouts but is very helpful when it can be utilized.
Wrist wraps are a type of training accessory used by people doing calisthenics exercises, bodybuilding, and power lighting. They provide support and stability to the wrist during exercises such as pushups, pull-ups, planks, bench presses, deadlifts, etc. Wrist wraps are usually made of elastic material and can be adjusted for desired tightness.
If I’m on a budget, what’s the ideal setup?
If you’re on a budget and looking to get started with calisthenics, the only piece you truly needed, would be a pull-up bar. While it’s extremely convenient to have dip bars, you can get creative by using 2 chairs or close enough countertops to perform dips.
If you don’t like to use countertops or chairs, then the power tower setup is the second best option since it’s an all-in-one type of equipment.
What are the pros and cons of calisthenics?
Exercise anytime anywhere
Little to no equipment is needed
Can build Muscle
Can build Strength
Can build Balance
Less impactful on joints (with correct form)
Not “optimal” for building muscle
Can get boring
Calisthenics is a great way to get started on your fitness journey without having to step foot into a gym. It offers tons of benefits and will help you control your body weight over time. When it comes to getting started, all you could really need is a pull-up bar since you can’t perform pull-ups with just your body.
As you progress throughout your fitness journey, incorporating other pieces of equipment on the list can be beneficial to increase resistance, and strength, add some variety, and help you improve on some muscle groups you may be lacking.
At the end of the day, calisthenics is one of the most affordable and efficient ways to get some exercise and should be incorporated however you choose to work out. So regardless of budget, you too can get fit!