At its heart, the only tool or piece of equipment you need to do a calisthenic workout is your own body weight. But that is just the founding principle, not the rule. Adding equipment into your routine can give you the edge you’re looking for to make your workout more challenging.
You don’t need all of these tools to level up, but learning about them can help you pick out what’s right for your body.
If you’re looking for the ultimate test of your athletic ability, then pick up a pair of gymnastic rings:
They come with plastic, metal, or wood handles (wood being the most popular). Their benefits blow all other calisthenic exercises out of the water.
Having stable and reliable pull-up equipment can help make sure you are performing your exercises safely:
Pull up bars are specially designed to help you work the right muscle groups and get maximum results from your workouts.
Wall-Mounted Bars provide stability and security while you’re focusing on your form.
If you don’t have the space or ability to use a wall mounted bar, you can try a Doorway Pull-up Bar instead. These come in a few different styles and use either tension or hooks to provide that stability.
A Power Tower, or knee-raise station, is a larger piece of equipment that helps you work ab and upper body strength.
It’s a little pricier because of the size, so you’ll usually find these in a gym. But if you have the space in your home gym and you’re willing to shell out for the cost, these are definitely worth it for the results.
Dip Bars and Dip Racks come in different variations on size and shape, but are usually u-shaped bars.
Using some creativity, you can use these bars to work almost any muscle group. These are more affordable and can work great in a home gym area.
Parallettes (AKA P-Bars) are a small set of parallel bars that can help you build upper body strength as well. Because they are compact and portable, they would also make a great addition to a home gym or for traveling workouts.
If you are wanting to focus on vamping up your abs, check out the Ab Wheel. It not only builds core strength, but simultaneously works other muscle groups too, like your shoulders and hips.
You can also get a pair of Core Gliding Discs, which are easily transportable and can work on hard, wood, or carpeted floors. You can use them to give you an edge in a variety of exercises, including squats or lunges.
Technically, plyometrics is power training, not strength training. However, adding plyometric exercises strategically into your calisthenic workouts can stretch your muscles to help you build both power and force as you improve your strength. Buying a quality Jump Rope can help you condition your leg and knee muscles to prepare you for more strenuous exercises.
You should also consider getting a Plyometric Box, which is not only incredibly helpful in increasing that power, but is also just plain fun. There are many different styles like stackable steel, wood, or even foam. Whatever you choose, a plyo box can be a great addition to your home gym too. They could even fit in your trunk for workouts on-the-go.
Adding Additional Weight
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Calisthenics is supposed to use only body weight to strengthen muscles.” But hear me out.
We’re not talking about traditional weight lifting (you know, where you work only one muscle at a time). Since your body only weighs so much, adding additional weight to your body weight still counts. You can use these tools to help break a training plateau or give your muscles added tension while you train.
Wearing a Weighted Vest can spread out the added weight to your body without straining a specific muscle. Weighted Belts can provide a similar effect, but the weight would be more focused on your core since the belt just wraps around your waist.
If you are concerned about strapping the weights to your body, you can try using Barbell Weight Plates instead. You can simply hold on to these with both hands as you work out to add the weight without being tied to it. Another benefit to these is that you can change up the weight size. You can get plates in a few different weight amounts so that when your muscles have adjusted to one, you can size up.
Lighter Weights, Maximum Results
Over the past few years, Resistance Bands have increased in popularity. Basically, they look like giant rubber bands. They even come in lots of different sizes and colors – fun, right? But don’t let the simplicity fool you! When they are anchored in place, they provide an extra level of tension for your muscles as you are working out. You get the benefit of using weights without having to lug around the metal plates or heavy vests. They are small enough and light enough to carry around with you, making it easy to get in an effective workout outdoors or at a new location.
Hand and Wrist Support
Safety is an important aspect of all fitness routines. If you want to continue working out, then you need to do it the right way. Stocking up on equipment that provides hand and wrist support can help prevent injury. Fitness Gloves are a basic item to keep in your bag. They offer some protection and light padding to the hand with some wrist support.
If you need more, however, Wrist Support Straps can help provide compression. For those with weaker wrists, they are especially helpful when doing max reps or if you will be putting more strain on that area.
Additionally, purchasing a set of Barbell Grips is recommended if you will be working with barbells and heavier weights. They are thick tubes of rubber that force you to have a firmer grip as you hold the weights. All of these items are lightweight and can easily fit in your gym bag.
Mobility and Stability
If you are looking to increase your mobility or relieve muscle tension, foam rollers and massage balls are a great option. Foam Rollers are tubes of foam, sometimes textured, that come in varying degrees of thickness. These can help stretch soft tissue, relieve tension, and ease pain. Likewise, Massage Balls are rubber or foam balls that you lean on to get rid of muscle knots and relieve tension.
When it comes to stability, a basic Calisthenics Mat can provide a clean and slip free place for you to move around. Yoga Blocks can also be extremely helpful. They can give you a slight elevation, which changes the muscle group you are targeting. These blocks also provide support as if you are trying out a new position in your calisthenic routine.
Another fantastic tool to add to your stockpile is a Stability Ball. They typically come in 3 different sizes, which can make it easier to include one in your workout space at home. Stability balls help to improve your balance while working out muscles in your core and shoulders. Like the Yoga blocks, you can also use them to shift your position during an exercise. Just make sure you can still perform the exercise safely.
Planning and Preparation
Remember, if you fail to plan your workouts, you plan to fail them. Pick up a reliable Workout Notebook to use for your training diary. You will be able to record what you’ve tried, set goals for the future, and track your progress. You can use a Workout Log App on your phone for this if you’re okay having your phone near you while working out.
Finally, a reliable Backpack or Gym Bag is absolutely essential. Your bag should be big enough to hold your transportable equipment, but small enough to make it easy to carry around with you during your workout. Make sure the bag or backpack material is durable and built to last as you embark on your calisthenic journey.