The appeal of calisthenics training is that body weight exercises can be done without equipment, which makes calisthenics great for those who want to train at home. Especially for beginners who are just beginning to decide on a new training system.
Investing in Calisthenics equipment can increase the variety of exercises you can do. This will help you progress much faster with your goals. You can combine your training sessions more easily and train different muscle groups with greater ease.
Essential Calisthenics Equipment
In this guide, I will go through the calisthenics equipment with you and recommend specific equipment to get the most out of your calisthenics workout.
The Pull-up Bar
The first device I recommend you buy should be a pull-up bar. When most people think of training at home, they would think of exercises such as push-ups and knee bends, as these are the kind of exercises that they can easily do with nothing but your body weight, but it is important to include pull-type exercises to prevent muscle imbalance, which can lead to poor posture if you only train on push.
Pull-type exercises are quite a challenge for beginners. And that too with your own body weight. But pull-ups are one of the best exercises ever and a pull-up bar is an absolute must-have. You can also use a pull-up bar to hang up other calisthenic equipment like resistance bands or rings. More on this below.
When it comes to buying a chin-up bar, there are several different types of bars, with freestanding, door frame, wall mounted and ceiling mounted chin-up bars, all of which are a good choice. Which bar you choose depends on many factors. Here you have to decide for yourself which one is the best solution for you. This depends on the conditions in your home.
When you hear resistance bands, you may think of the thin little bands used in Pilates and yoga that are designed to stretch and contract. But here I am referring to the wider flat loop type resistance bands that can be used to support you during your workout.
Think of this example for a moment; if you are doing bench presses with a barbell in the gym, you would add or remove weights on the bar until you found a resistance/weight that is optimal for you to press. Not too heavy – not too light. And as you get stronger, you would naturally add weight to the barbell to further increase the resistance.
With pure calisthenics you cannot simply adjust your body weight in the same way, but you can use resistance bands to support your body weight by using resistance bands of different sizes and strengths to vary the resistance strength and help you train.
Once you have learned how to do a pull-up, you can hang a resistance band on the pull-up bar and suspend it around your feet to take some of your weight and make the exercise easier. As you improve, replace the resistance band with a lighter resistance band and continue until you make enough progress to complete a pull-up without the need for help.
There are tons of different resistance bands in the market, so make sure you don’t buy the wrong resistance bands that cannot be used to support your body weight.
Parallels are ideal for training push exercises, dips and L-sitting, and if you are a little more advanced, they can also be used for training handstands and paddling.
One of the first and best machines I bought. And still one of the most used equipment when I train at home. The parallettes can be easily stowed away and quickly taken out; either for a quick workout in my living room or for a handstand training in the backyard. Or even in Calisthenics Park when there are more people and the equipment is occupied.
Chalk / magnesium / lime (dry or liquid)
Not a must, but recommended: chalk or magnesium is used to improve the grip, especially when the hands start to sweat. This way you slip less.
When I use chalk, I prefer the liquid chalk. This “dusts” less. It’s more of a sticky feeling. This one is easier to use.
Climbers prefer the powdered chalk ball. There is also the chalk block. But with both of them I always had the problem that they soiled the sports bag, even if I packed them well.
In the beginning I had gloves (which I still use from time to time) to protect the palm (callus) and to have a good grip. But I would recommend to do without gloves as far as possible, because it is important to condition the hands by training without gloves wherever possible. It will pay off in the long run!
Rings are the ultimate in calisthenics training. Essential to advance to the next level.
Gymnastic rings have become very popular in calisthenics and cross-fit scene over the last few years, and this is mainly because they target the muscles in a way that most other machines and exercises cannot compete with.
Ensure that the rings are large and have clear length markings on the straps. This makes adjustment quick and easy. Some also have a door anchor so you can train at home.
Weight vest (advanced users)
As your calisthenics ability improves, you will eventually reach a point where your body weight no longer offers you enough resistance to build up (optimal) strength.
Increased strength is best achieved by training with fewer repetitions, but with a higher weight. With the pull-up, for example, when you are in the phase where you can easily do a set of 10 repetitions, then you move towards volume training.
A weight vest can be used to give extra resistance to your sets and keep them in the optimal strength training zone.
As an alternative to the weight vest you can of course also use a weight belt. Here is the advantage that you can attach already existing weights such as a Kettlebell or weight plates and thus increase your weight. I started with a 16KG Kettlebell and have now increased to a 32KG Kettlebell. In the meantime, I use 2x 20KG weight plates in the gym. You are not that flexible with a weight vest.
Cardio / Warm up
I hate to say it, but cardio training should not be neglected in calisthenics. Here there are countless HIT / HIIT trainings, which can be used. The least equipment you can have is one skipping rope. Super to warm up. Just do 100-200 jumps before the actual training.