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The Ultimate Calisthenics Equipment Guide
Although many people preach the advantages of bodyweight training and calisthenics as being non-demanding of any great amount of equipment which costs lots of money and takes up a great amount of space, there is the inevitable need for some calisthenics equipment to do some of the exercises.
The features of calisthenics are still preserved, as the equipment is light, durable, small and mostly inexpensive.
The truth is that you will have to get, build or organise something to perform your pulling exercises. So below is a simple guide to the types of equipment available for calisthenics with information on price, utility and reviews and a bunch of reccomended stuff.
Saying that do not let it be an excuse in any way. You can easily build your own equipment for pennies.
So here is the run down:
Pull Up Bar
A pull-up is an upper body calisthenics exercise which many people see as a key feature of their strength routine.
For that reason a pull up bar is a well-used and essential piece of calisthenics equipment. It can be used for our Pull Ups Progression, as well as many other bodyweight workouts.
Why? Your pull up bar should enable you to do variety of things as you progress. Starting from hangs, pull-ups, wide grip pullups, diamond pullups but should also help you with with sit, ups, push-ups, dips etc. That’s worth an investment.
I just recently upgraded from a normal iron gym pull up bar to Onnit one.
What I love about it? Great quality, will fit any door frame, foam handles offer non-slip comfort and three grip options allow you to choose from wide grip, close grip, or parallel grip.What is cool is that they also included in the kit is the hardware necessary for the simple 3-5 minute assembly.
This product, along with most pull up bars are relatively cheap and easy to set up in any doorway or wall. We greatly encourage that you invest in this piece of calisthenics equipment for bodyweight excellence.
Gymnastic rings are a king. These can be suspended from any ceiling, tree, cross bar or other higher object, and will give you great bodyweight workouts beyond what is required when using bars to secure your weight. I take them travelling and they are light and handy. Whether or not you are a gymnast, the use of this equipment will greatly increase your strength and bodily control.
Gymnastics rings as calisthenics equipment goes, are not the most inexpensive purchase. For a good quality you will pay anything from 50$ up. To be honest you will do at the beginning with just cheap rings. But as you progress you might want to a little bit more.
There rings are from Ringtraining.com and I use them personally. They are awesome, especially because of the superior grip. Check them out here.
We did an infographic for Ab wheel progression The progression is taken from Steven Low’s book, Overcoming Gravity which is an excellent book written on bodyweight gymnastics progressions and workouts. The ab wheel calisthenics equipment is basically added resistance to a crunch where your bodyweight works against your core. There are many variations of exercises which can be used.
Pictured above is an ab wheel by Onnit which is retailed around £10. I found that this is best quality for the price you can find on the market.
This makes it a very valuable piece of equipment which can be used with many variations of exercises. A guide to some variations are given in our ab wheel progression. With the variety of use and great core strength this provides, an ab wheel really is another essential piece of calisthenics equipment.
There was a time when I moved to a new place and there was no exercise park within 20 km from my house. I needed a dip station and I wasnt keen to get a gym membership. So I got myself this little baby. Note that you can easily use things you have at home or build your own dip station. Anyway, if you have to buy one, this is what I would recommend.
A dips station is a set of parallel bars which can be used especially for our Dips Progression and other exercises. It will allow you to comfortably perform exercises which will give you excellent upper body strength and mass.
Dips stations can get really big. I didn’t have too much space and didn’t need anything fancy so I picked this Black Mountain one. Its excellent in every aspect. But they are all very pricey. Be prepared to spend around $100.
Push Up Elite
Why to get pushup bars? There are a few benefits. First its easier on your wrists, secondly you can lower yourself way more which gives your chest additional boost. So if you are after big pecks you should get on it. They can certainly feature in some of our progressions (see planche and manna). They are usually very inexpensive and perhaps an essential purchase considering what more can be done with them. Push up bars generally cost between £5 and £15 What is there to lose?
I personally use a bit more advanced pushup bars and they are awesome. Perfect Pushup Elite has rotating handles which allow your arms to move naturally, the same way they do when you throw a punch or press up a dumbbell. This helps engage more muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, back and abs. What is good about it is that it maximizes strength building but also reduce joint strain. Its a good grip too. I felt it a lot in my shoulders even after doing years of calisthenics already. Its a great buy.
Resistance and exercise bands are a great piece of calisthenics equipment which are perfect for home workouts. You can buy sets with many different bands for different resistance as you build strength throughout your progression. Routines with exercise bands are also written into many bodyweight training books. There are also other bodyweight training disciplines which use bands such as yoga and pilates. This equipment can also be used for injury rehabilitation and muscular recovery.
A good set of resistance bands can be purchased for around £20.
Check out these WODFitters Assisted Pull-up Resistance Band. I use different levels to progress my athletes.
Grip is important and make a huge difference if you are training calisthenics. Yet not many people actually know how to improve it. If you’re a dedicated to calisthenics this is a must have. It will serve you best for making gains from pull-ups and chin-ups, and increasing your grip strength. You can read a full review of Fat Gripz here. Its also great to vary the routine and to be used when you are hitting a plateau.
And the Fat Gripz is an effective way to build grip strength doing bodyweight exercises that require a pull-up bar, or using barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines. If you want to take your push-up and pull-up workouts to another level, the Fat Gripz will help you change up your exercise routine and force your muscles to work in a different way than they’re probably used to.
You know the principles of calisthenics: progressive resistance. There are lots of ways to add resistance to your training and this is one of the ways. Alex from RoughStrenght talks extensively about it. For advanced athletes looking to make basic exercises harder this is a killer. I used it myself for years and one of the things I like the most about it is that it doesn’t constraint your movement as any other added weight. Its quite pricy so again do not feel like you must have it, but as you go along that might be something you would consider.