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Calisthenics is defined as “gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement.” If you’re an enthusiast, you might consider building your own gym space at home to perform these exercises. If you’ve already begun the process, you may find yourself stuck on what calisthenics equipment you need and what you could do without.
When it comes to this equipment, there are a few things to consider prior to purchase. First and foremost: is this piece of equipment essential to my calisthenics practice?
Next, there are the practical aspects to keep in mind. Does this equipment require installation? Will it take up too much space? How often will I use it?
It’s important to be informed before you make an investment. You don’t want to buy a piece of equipment and then watch it gather dust because it wasn’t right for you.
In this article, I’m going to review the different types of calisthenics equipment. You’ll learn about the uses of each, as well as the pros and cons of adding them to your home gym.
Quick Product Roundup
Considerations when choosing calisthenics equipment
Calisthenics can entail performing major athletic moves. The equipment you buy needs to be of good quality to support you and lower the risk of accidents.
Regardless of what you’re buying, don’t skimp on quality. Thoroughly research the products you’re thinking about purchasing. If the equipment has to be mounted on the walls or affixed to the ceiling, it can’t be wobbly or unstable.
Prioritize materials that are durable rather than looking for the least expensive products. You don’t want a bar to crack or bend at the wrong moment. Additionally, better quality materials are easier to maintain. Sterilizing cheap plastics or foam can be a tedious chore.
Watch this video, summarizing why calisthenics equipment can be a boon to your practice:
Common Types of Calisthenics Equipment
Best Calisthenics Equipment
Jump ropes are excellent for swift and intense cardio workouts. All you have to do is pick it up and get jumping. Working out with a jump rope has been shown to improve aerobic capacity, which in turn enhances your stamina.
Another benefit of using a jump rope is better balance and coordination. You need to synchronize your lower and upper body to avoid getting tangled in your rope. These are two skills that are crucial to developing your calisthenics practice.
A jump rope may seem like a basic piece of equipment, but it doesn’t have to be. You can look at weighted jump ropes to make it a little (or a lot) harder on yourself.
If you’re looking for a jump rope, I suggest the Elite Surge 2.0 Speed Rope
Or if you’d just like to read a little more, I’ve got a run down of some of your best choices for a jump rope here
- Low cost
- Can work up a sweat as well as improve coordination
- Doesn’t take up space
- Can become repetitive after a while
Resistance bands can be helpful as you progress with your calisthenics training. You will reach a stage when you master certain exercises, which is good. The bad news is, you won’t be challenging yourself anymore.
If upping your repetitions doesn’t sound appealing, resistance bands can help. You’ll be doing the same exercises but with more of a pull—literally. You can incorporate a resistance band into nearly any exercise if you get creative.
For instance, take bicycle crunches. Wrap a resistance band around your feet and extend your legs back and forth as you crunch from knee to knee. You’ll be putting in double or triple the effort you usually do, building strength in the process.
An additional perk is that there are resistance bands of all sizes and strengths. You can add as much resistance to your practice as you want.
Watch this video to see how it’s done:
- Space and cost-effective
- Adds a challenge to familiar exercises
- Getting placement down can be tricky at first
An abdominal wheel or abdominal roller can be beneficial if you want to focus on your abs from time to time.
There is some degree of balance and coordination involved in using an ab wheel. You will also be involving your lower back, chest, shoulders, and arms to some degree.
If you want to add some flair to your abdominal training, an ab wheel can’t hurt if you use it in moderation. Just like any other muscle, overtraining can result in injury.
Take note that this study showed ab wheels and similar devices were no more or less effective than standard crunches and could possibly produce some undesirable effects.
- Alternative to body weight exercises for focusing on the abdominals
- Can enhance balance and coordination
- Can cause injury if used to excess
- Crunches or other body-weight exercises will give the same result
For those of you who are calisthenics experts, fitness gloves are worthwhile to protect your hands. Particularly if you are practicing with lots of different equipment over long sessions, they can prevent some injuries.
If hurting your hands isn’t a concern to you (it should be!), think about your grip. The more sweaty you get, the harder it is to sustain a firm grip on the equipment you’re using.
Beginners may want to wait a while before getting a pair of fitness gloves. It’s a good idea to adapt to working with equipment bare-handed at first to strengthen your hands.
If you’ve advanced in your calisthenics practice, the same advice goes for you too. It’s taken you time to thicken the skin on your hands—save the gloves for strenuous practices.
My favorite is the Fit Active Sports weight lifting gloves
Or you can see a deeper dive into some of the choices here
- Protect your hands from injury
- Help you keep a firmer grip
- Using gloves all the time can soften your skin rather than build it up
If you’re serious about calisthenics, a pull-up bar is a necessity. Many fundamental calisthenics exercises involve this piece of equipment. Practicing with a pull-up bar will also allow you to get used to supporting your full body weight.
Pull-ups strengthen the muscles of your back and encourage muscle growth. This applies to any sort of pull-up: wide-grip, narrow-grip, etc.
The opportunities for total body workouts are almost limitless. If standard pull-ups are a breeze for you, you can try twists to involve your core. Beginners can practice hanging to work on developing hand and arm strength.
- Excellent for total-body strengthening
- Great way to practice supporting your full body weight
- Most need mounting on the door or wall as a permanent fixture
- No installation required
- Useful for body weight training
- Flexible: usable by people of all levels
- They mostly target the upper body only
If you consider yourself advanced, gymnastic rings might be right for you. This piece of equipment gives you the opportunity to try out some serious moves.
Be warned: if you don’t have significant strength built up already, gymnastic rings aren’t suitable. You can risk potential injury by attempting advanced postures and exercises if you can’t support your body weight.
- Can take advanced practices to the next level
- Great for extra strengthening and demanding poses
- Not suitable for beginners
- Must be installed in your walls or ceiling
A power tower is the equivalent of multiple pieces of equipment in one. They’re perfect if you’re limited on space or you don’t have any equipment at all but are serious about your new regimen.
With a power tower, you can perform a range of calisthenics exercises. This includes chin-ups, pull-ups, hanging leg exercises, and dips. It’s possible to perform a comprehensive calisthenics workout without ever leaving your power tower. Here’s a video example of an ab workout on a power tower:
Although power towers often have to be wall mounted, they come in various sizes and styles. You don’t need to choose one that overwhelms your home gym.
- All-in-one piece of equipment
- Lots of possibilities for exercise and practice
- Ideal for calisthenics enthusiasts of all levels
- Some elements may not be needed
There are a lot of advantages to creating a space in your home for your calisthenics practice. You won’t have an excuse to skip your scheduled workouts because you can’t drive to the gym or the weather is bad.
The biggest upside to creating your own calisthenics space is freedom of choice. You can add whatever equipment you feel is most beneficial to your practice.
Incorporating equipment of some sort in your calisthenics practice is recommended.
Practicing with equipment can help you
- Build muscle strength
- Practice new exercises
- Enhance familiar exercises
- Learn to support your body weight
Don’t feel obliged to rush out and buy everything on this list—every person is unique. If something isn’t appropriate for your current practice or ability, skip it.