Calisthenics Equipment: How To Build An Amazing Home Gym
If you've considered getting your own calisthenics equipment, this guide will give you all the information you seek.
In this guide you'll get to know which are the most fundamental items you need, and why...
As well as the items that you can get at a later time if you need an extra challenge, or some assistance.
The best part?
You will see that building a calisthenics home gym doesn't have to be expensive (nor take a lot of space!)
Calisthenics equipment for your home gym
Making your own calisthenics home gym is easier than you may think.
In fact, everyone can do it even if they don't have a lot of space available.
These are the three pieces of calisthenics equipment you should start with:
In the table below you will find the ones that we recommend the most.
However, if these don't fit you for any reason, you can find more options below.
These are the must-have items.
Items that, in our opinion, you can't do without; and we will explain why in their individual section.
As you keep on reading, we will also be discussing items that will present new challenges - such as gymnastics rings...
As well as assistance items that will speed up your progress - like resistance bands.
Fundamental calisthenics items
Considering that calisthenics is basically bodyweight fitness, you can imagine that you will be doing lots of pull-ups, dips, and push-ups.
Furthermore, aside from strength training, there is some emphasis on handstand training too.
Therefore, we find the following items to be crucial for your training progress:
Let's discuss each of them, and present some options for you.
Without a pull-up bar you can't start training calisthenics.
The pull-up is one of the most important exercises in this sport.
When we started training four years ago, we had a park with monkey bars nearby. It felt like our own personal calisthenics gym.
Especially since no one else was using the monkey bars.
But we lacked control over them. They were not ours...
At some point they were freshly painted, so we had to wait for that to dry out before we could train (we didn't wait lol).
Other times it would be heavily raining outside. Even though we were showing up, the bars were way too slippery.
So we had to wait for the rain to stop.
Until we could no longer take it...
And we purchased our own home pull-up bars.
They came with two unexpected advantages:
Greasing the groove (GTG) is a method that implies doing an exercise multiple times a day, throughout the entire week, avoiding muscular failure in all sets.
If you ask us, for these two reasons alone, the home pull-up bar is worthy of being part of your calisthenics equipment.
Choose the right pull-up bar
There are three types of pull-up bars you can get:
Doorway pull-up bar
If you don’t have too much room to spare, a doorway pull-up bar is surely the way to go.
You can either get a portable one, or one that you can screw in the doorway.
Here are the most important factors you should keep in mind, before you decide to purchase a door mounted pull-up bar:
Here are the doorway pull-up bars that we recommend:
Wall & ceiling mounted pull-up bar
If you have the option, we recommend you to get a ceiling or wall mounted pull-up bar.
Not only will it sustain more weight and allow more room for other exercises, but you will be able to use other calisthenics equipment with it - such as gymnastics rings.
Here are the things you should know:
Here are our recommendations:
Parallel bars are a must in your calisthenics equipment.
Whether we’re talking about a home gym, or simply going to a workout park, you will need a set of parallel bars.
Doing dips is not only necessary for strength building. They are vital for the health of your shoulders, as a vertical pushing movement.
Therefore, they are essential for longevity in training.
Depending on how much room you have at your disposal, here are two good options:
Parallettes are a great addition to your calisthenics home gym because they are convenient.
If we were to choose one or the other, we would choose the parallel bars, simply because you can't do dips on parallettes.
However, in terms of convenience, we find it easier to grab the parallettes.
It's easier to get them and do a few handstand push-ups, rather than grabbing the parallel bars which are heavier, bulkier, etc.
Should you get parallettes though?
If you are an experienced calisthenics athlete, you don’t need them.
They are a convenient addition but certainly not a must-have, as long as you have parallel bars.
However, if you are a beginner, it is highly recommended that you get a pair.
And here’s why:
Parallel bars help with a few things, as follows:
Imagine being a beginner and practicing your handstand on parallel bars that are 30 in (76 cm) high versus 9 in (22cm) high.
Even if you are not going to fall and injure yourself, you would be extra-cautious when training on the taller item.
That is mental energy and focus that could be better used during training.
Now onto our recommendations:
Premium parallettes have a wooden handle. It allows for a better grip than their metal counterpart does.
The extra challenge section will present calisthenics equipment necessary if you want to take your training to the next level.
These are items that, if mastered, will propel you to the status of advanced athlete:
Adding rings to your calisthenics equipment will add a new stimulus that you body has never experienced before.
Everything you do on the rings will require a great amount of stabilization from your body.
You will start being sore in places you didn’t even know had muscles!
There is a lot more freedom of movement in the rings because your body has to force them to stay still.
And thanks to that you get extra muscle growth.
Besides, they are super convenient.
Gymnastics rings are easy to carry around and surprisingly cheap for what they have to offer.
The only drawback is that they should not be used in the rain, because they are made of wood.
Changing your training every once in a while is a sure way to keep progressing.
Once you’ve mastered the core exercises on the bar, parallels and on the floor, it’s time to bring something new to the table.
An ab wheel will create a new challenge for your core, especially if you’re not used to this exercise.
You will feel as if your abs are going to rip apart, in a good way.
What we like most about this exercise is how much you can progress with it.
If the kneeling version becomes too easy, you can do the exercise from standing position.
It is not only impressive but will also challenge your core in ways never experienced before.
Here are our recommendations:
Dip belt & weight vest
There’s only so much you can progress with bodyweight pull-ups and dips alone.
Eventually, adding extra weight to your training becomes a necessity.
Having weights in your calisthenics equipment will tremendously increase your work capacity.
Not only that, but you will gain strength and hypertrophy (muscle mass) easier and faster.
The first time I grabbed a weighted belt I could do 12-15 bodyweight pull-ups.
With the weight on - 22 lbs (10 kg) - I could only do six.
That was a nice reality check and my horizons broadened.
In the most ideal scenario, you would have both a few weight plates with weight belt, as well as a weighted vest.
And even though they come in handy for different things at different times...
If you want to stick to only one of them for now, let's break down their pros and cons:
The weight vest is a great addition to your calisthenics equipment, especially if you plan on doing lots of push-ups.
Furthermore, a weight vest is ideal for cardio exercises.
Here are our two recommendations:
Dip belt & plates
Our preferred option is to use a weight belt and plates.
However, this option is ideal if you train in your own calisthenics home gym or, at least, a basic gym.
If you are training in a park and have to carry the weights around, it quickly gets annoying (been there).
Here are our recommendations:
For a well rounded development, you would want to consider having both the dipping belt and the weight vest eventually.
In this part of the article we’ll be presenting items you can certainly do without.
These items can help you throughout your journey; however, they are totally not a necessity.
Some people like using gloves, others prefer calluses.
We are part of the latter group of people.
From our own experience, we get a better grip barehanded than we do with any type of glove.
That being said, there is a one instance when we use gloves.
When we go through a difficult calisthenics workout and our palms can no longer take it, we put gloves on and squeeze a few extra reps.
If you are like us and don’t mind calluses, you may want a pair for when you do harder workouts.
However, if you want your palms to stay as smooth as possible, then having a pair of fitness gloves is highly recommended.
Your hands will still get beaten up. However, it will be to way lesser extend.
Here is what we recommend:
A few rubber bands in your calisthenics home gym will tremendously help you break through plateaus.
The rubber band can take away some of your weight, allowing you to train harder progressions.
Conversely, rubber bands can be used to add extra tension.
You can make push-ups harder by looping the band behind your back and hooking your thumbs through it.
The amount of resistance added will depend on the band on the band.
Another way we like to use resistance bands is for flexibility.
Our most common stretch is lying on our backs, keeping one leg on the ground and the other raised.
We grab the band, place it around the foot of the raised leg, then pull towards our face.
Bands are a great addition to your calisthenics equipment.
If you only want the bare minimum, you can skip them.
However, if you plan on making your own calisthenics home gym or want to progress as fast as possible, then you should grab a pair.
Jumping rope is one of the best cardio exercises.
Not only does it burn fat, but it also improves coordination, speed, and strength.
If you are into CrossFit, then the jump rope is not an assistance item for you.
It is a necessity.
However, even if you don’t do CrossFit, you can still benefit from owning one of these.
They are great for warm-up and cardio.
Besides, they are fun.
A good rope should have non-slip handles for a good grip, a fast rotating ball joint for speed, and adjustable cable length.
Here are our recommendations:
Now that we've presented the most fundamental calisthenics equipment, as well as items that can come in handy...
It's time to present two more items that, frankly, don't fall under any of the aforementioned categories.
You can make your own calisthenics home gym with just one piece of equipment.
The power tower (a.k.a. The pull-up dip stand) incorporates stands for the most fundamental calisthenics exercises.
You don’t need to fill your room with equipment.
You don’t need to drill holes into the doorway for a pull-up bar.
All you need is a bit of room to accommodate the tower.
Depending on your preference, it can come with the following:
These are our recommendations for power towers; one for each point presented above:
Iron cross trainer
These items are very specific and fairly expensive.
They are totally not needed.
If you plan on getting one I can tell you are a very motivated person.
Not just because the price point is fairly high but because it takes A LOT of time and effort to attain the iron cross.
This is the kind of item we would expect to find in a gymnastics gym.
It can be part of your own calisthenics gym and you can have a lot of fun with it.
However, it is only a necessity if you are serious about training for the iron cross.
There you have it.
The most essential calisthenics equipment, and more!
If you plan on making your own calisthenics home gym, you can get away with only grabbing a power tower or all the items in the fundamentals section.
Any assistance items are at your discretion.
Before ending, we wanted to remind you of something.
The equipment is less important than your drive and consistency.
You don’t need fancy equipment to achieve your goals. All you need is consistency and dedication.
Good equipment is just a nice bonus.
Over to you.