One of the biggest reasons why people start training with calisthenics is because you don’t need a lot of calisthenics gear or to pay for a gym membership. After all your gym is your body!
Most people fall in love with this idea but it can hinder your muscle gains over time.
Instead, start introducing equipment into your workout routine as it allows you to work on muscle imbalances and focus on specific muscle groups that you love training. For example, everyone loves training biceps, but without the right equipment, your guns will fall behind.
So, what is the best calisthenics gear that’ll not only save your money but build those calisthenic gains? Let’s find out!
1. Pull Up Bar
The pull-up bar is an essential piece of equipment that every calisthenic home gym must have.
If you’re training with only your body weight and you don’t have a pull-up bar, you’ll be neglecting your pulling muscles which is essential to healthy joints, strong posture, and developing that famous v-taper. And by far the best bodyweight pulling exercise is the pull-up.
The pull-up works all your pulling muscles like your lats, traps, and biceps. It even works your triceps, upper chest, and spinal erectors. So it’s easy to see why the pull-up is considered the squat of the upper body.
But let’s say you started training at home to look good. Well, the pull-up bar is your best friend because doing pull-ups regularly works your lat muscles more than any other exercise. And as we all know, your lats are responsible for giving you that athletic v-shaped body.
There are tons of good pull-up bars on the market to choose from. But if you can afford it, opt for a more pricey one since you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it can support your weight. A good ballpark to aim for is around $30 to $50. Anything cheaper will probably give out as soon as you hang from it.
Now that we’ve covered the main piece of calisthenics gear that everyone must have, let’s look at the pull-up bar’s younger sibling, the dip bar.
2. Dip Bar
Doing pull-ups regularly on a pull bar targets every upper body muscle but you’ll want to start specifically training your pressing muscles like shoulders, chest, and triceps since they fill out your physique.
Beginners normally start using the push-up as their primary pressing movement and they’re amazing. But after a few months, you’ll be able to bang out 30+ push-ups without breaking a sweat. At this point, you aren’t training for hypertrophy, rather muscular endurance. And this is when most people’s progress starts slowing down.
You could always add weight on your back when doing push-ups, but you’ll need a partner to help you. This is inconvenient and can get dangerous real fast. Instead, consider investing in a dip bar.
Dips stimulate your muscles to the right degree so you’re not training for muscular endurance anymore, but hypertrophy. And when starting out, you’ll only be able to do 5 to 8 dips with proper form. This shocks your muscles since you’re pressing your whole body weight, compared to push-ups where you only press 64% of your body weight.
And once you can bang out 15+ dips without any form issues, you essentially become too strong for your own body. This is where weighted dips can help.
3. Weight Belt
The biggest reason why a weight belt works is that it allows you to add small amounts of weight to your lifts, slowly and comfortably.
If you can comfortably do over 15 bodyweight pull-ups and dips, your muscles will need more stimulation to grow and it’s time to start adding weight to your lifts.
One could argue that weighted pull-ups are the best back-building exercise ever. And that includes barbell exercises like deadlifts. Why? Because deadlifts tax your central nervous system more than any other exercise. Try and do a few sets of deadlifts till failure every second day and see how long you’ll last. This makes it a chore to get lots of volume in, which is crucial for back width and thickness.
But with weighted pull-ups, you can easily do a few sets till failure every day for weeks or even months. And this volume is what gives you that wide look that every bodybuilder wants.
But don’t think that pull-ups are the only exercise you can use a weighted belt with. Dips and squats are also easily overloaded with weight. Simply tie this bad boy around your waist and you’re good to go.
4. Suspension Straps
Suspension straps are a quick and affordable way to get a full-body workout. And my favorite exercise to do with them is inverted rows. The inverted row is a bodyweight version of the classic bent-over barbell row since it works the same muscles.
- Rear delts
This is a great secondary pulling exercise to compliment your pull-ups. Most people don’t feel a lot of activation in their traps when performing a pull-up, but with inverted rows, it evens out your back development making your traps look like boulders.
But suspension straps are also a convenient way of working your chest with suspension strap presses and flys.
Lastly, suspension straps are an amazing piece of equipment if you’re struggling with and recovering from injuries. It doesn’t put a lot of strain on your muscles and joints, and you can easily lower the weight by adjusting your standing position.
Next, let’s talk about a piece of equipment that isn’t only effective at building muscle, it strengthens your stabilizing muscles and works your core more than sit-ups. The famous gymnastic rings!
5. Gymnastic Rings
Gymnastic rings is a piece of equipment that dates all the way back to the Roman Empire over 2000 years ago.
And the first thing you’ll notice when you use them is that it’s an extremely unstable base of support. Your stabilizer muscles will work harder than they ever have and you’ll start trembling after a few seconds.
Gymnastic rings are a cheap, reliable, and easy-to-use piece of calisthenics gear that allows you to build every muscle in your upper body while giving you insane amounts of stabilizing strength.
A set of quality plastic rings can set you back $25 while wooden rings cost around $50 and they’ll last you a lifetime. So you’re spending a few dollars on something that’ll help you build muscle over your entire life. Sounds like an amazing deal.
For me, the biggest benefit is that if you know how to set them up properly, anyone can use them to build muscle and strength. It’s useful for beginners since you can adjust them to make any exercise easier, but it also doesn’t matter how strong and advanced you are, you can make gains with gymnastic rings.
It strengthens your stabilizing muscles more than any other exercise since both rings are independent of each other. If you do pull-ups or dips from a bar, your hands are attached to the same bar which gives you some stability to work with. But when using gymnastic rings, your core must do all the work.
It’s also effective at increasing shoulder mobility, core strength, and your ability to isometrically hold your bodyweight.
My favorite exercises to do with gymnastic rings are;
- Front levels
- Inverted rows
- Ring flys.
But if you’re just starting out with bodyweight training and you didn’t do your first pull-up or dip yet, there are still gymnastic ring exercises you can use to reach your goal.
- Inverted rows with your knees bent
- Negative pull-ups
- Negative dips
- Push-ups with your body at a 45-degree angle.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of using rings, let’s cover another calisthenic must-have. Parallettes.
Parallettes are two bars made of either wood, plastic, or metal that run parallel to each other. They allow you to do functional bodyweight exercises like handstand push-ups, tuck-sits, and regular push-ups.
Personally, the biggest benefit of parallettes is they allow you to do exercises without straining your wrists. When you’re learning to do handstand push-ups or even regular push-ups on the floor, it puts a lot of strain on your wrists and this can stop someone from progressing in these movements.
But by using parallettes, you’re taking a lot of pressure off your wrists which makes it easier to progress with handstand push-ups.
My favorite exercises to do on parallettes are;
- Handstand pushups
- Tuck planche
Also, when shopping for a set of parallettes, opt for the metal ones that are welded together since wooden parallettes with small screws shift around while under load and can wear out over time. Parallettes are truly a gift to your calisthenics gear workout treasure box!
7. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands and bodyweight training are like peanut butter and jelly. They complement each other perfectly. If you’re a beginner, resistance bands can make most of your exercises easier and even if you’re an advanced athlete, you can use resistance bands towards the end of your workout to get in a few extra reps.
Exercises that are made easier with resistance bands include;
- Front lever
- Face pulls
- One-arm pull-ups.
Let’s say you just starting training with calisthenics and you can’t do your first pull-up or dip. Well, resistance bands are your best friend. To use this calisthenics gear simply attach it around the bar and put it under your feet. You’ll instantly feel that your pull-up or dip became a lot easier.
But if you’re experienced with bodyweight calisthenics, you can still use resistance bands as a finisher to completely exhaust and break down your muscles.
However, my favorite exercise to do with resistance bands is face pulls. Face pulls are great at working your rear-delts which are often underdeveloped. It also emphasizes external rotation of your shoulder which improves posture and shoulder health.
8. Jump Rope
Sometimes you don’t feel like leaving the house to jog around the neighborhood. Well, jumping rope is a convenient way of getting a cardio workout in without having to leave the house or buy a treadmill.
But the biggest reason why I jump rope almost every day is that it strengthens the bones in your ankles and feet which are small and easily fractured, especially if you play sports. But by jumping on your feet hundreds of times a day, you create microtears in these bones which allows them to grow back bigger and stronger.
It’s also a great calf workout. I remember the first time I jumped rope. My calves were so sore the next day that I couldn’t walk properly. I spent the whole day sitting in bed, massaging my poor calves.
And if you train with only your bodyweight, you can bet that your calves are weak. But by jumping rope a few times a week, you’ll strengthen your calf muscles which translates well into sports and everyday life.
9. Liquid Chalk
If you’re working out as hard as you’re supposed to, you’re bound to start sweating and this affects your grip on the pull-up bar, gymnastic rings, and dip bar. But luckily there’s a simple solution.
It’s less messy than regular chalk and easier to use. It’s also super cool to watch how the liquid formula turns into chalk after you’ve applied it.
All you need is to pour a handful of drops of liquid chalk onto your hands, rub them together for five seconds, and watch how the liquid turns into chalk.
What more can you ask for? It’s convenient, not messy, and your hands don’t get sweaty during lifts anymore.
Getting a few pieces of the best calisthenics gear during your bodyweight training journey allows you to target specific muscles, fix imbalances, and have more fun during your workouts. And the equipment mentioned in this article is reliable, easy to use, and doesn’t break the bank.
What Are The Most Important Pieces Of Calisthenics Gear For Beginners?
All you need to start off with is a pull-up bar and you’re good to go. But once push-ups become easy, I suggest buying a dip bar and doing dips as it’ll put extra load on your pressing muscles.
Which Training Split Is Best For Beginners?
You should find the training split that works for you but I’d start with a simple full-body training split. Maybe you’ll do a few sets of push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, and bridges. Once you get more experienced, feel free to experiment with a push, pull, legs program or an upper, lower body split.