We all know that you technically don't need any piece of equipment to get started with Calisthenics or bodyweight exercises. In fact, all it takes is a floor (which isn't hard to find nowadays!) to do basic calisthenic exercises like push ups, diamond push ups, bodyweight squats, leg raises, and other popular calisthenic movements.
However, if you truly want to go from beginner to elite in this field, you will need to level up your game by using some basic pieces of calisthenics equipment that will allow you to hit your muscles differently and increase the level of difficulty while helping you implement muscle confusion within your workouts. Here are, in our opinion, the 10 pieces of calisthenics equipment you need to purchase and start using as part of your routines:
Now this piece of equipment is a must for anyone that wants to get into calisthenics. If you're working out at home or at the office, you'll definitely need a pull-up bar. Pull-ups are the best way to sculpt your back while at the same time working on your core, biceps and various other muscle groups. It's an upper-body compound movement that is irreplaceable, and you cannot execute it without a pullup bar.
If you don't have the space for a free-standing pull up bar, you can use a doorway pull-up bar (as seen in the photo above) which is very easy to set up and works with any door as long as it has a solid frame around it. No screws are required for this one and it supports up to 300 pounds of weight! If you want fancier pull-up bars for your home gym, we recommend the Marcy Multifunction Home gym or any similar home gym that includes pull-up and dip bars at the same time. It's definitely worth the investment as these will allow you to do all types of pull-up variations, chin-ups, and even muscle-ups.
Dips hit your triceps like no other exercise. Dips also work your chest and core and are another highly effective compound movement that is considered a MUST in the world of calisthenics. Dip bars can be used at home, at the office and literally anywhere. Sure, they take up some space, but you will love the workouts you can achieve with this fantastic piece of calisthenics equipment. Incline pushups and Australian pullups are two other amazing exercises you can achieve using dip bars.
Parallettes are the Dip Bar's little cousin. They are two pieces of small parallel bars that are lower to the ground. Calisthenics athletes use parallettes to be able to achieve more complex variations of push ups and also to practice basic L sites and L sites to handstand. Parallettes will also help you develop your grip strength and forearms tremendously. NOTE: we recommend using wooden parallettes as they are are more comfortable and less aggressive on your skin. Plastic parallettes will cause more cuts and bruises on your skin in the long run, especially if you're using them daily.
These bands will allow you to achieve challenging exercises that you cannot achieve otherwise. An example of such exercises is the famous muscle up which requires tremendous upper body strength and balance. Many beginner and intermediate calisthenics athletes initially learned the muscle up using resistance bands wrapped around the bar and their feet. That way, the bands help offset some of their own body weight and make the exercise a bit easier to achieve. Once you practice the exercise with bands a few times, your body will get used to the movement and you'll eventually be able to achieve it without the bands!
Resistance bands can also make regular exercises more challenging, such as push-ups or squats. If you wrap the band around your back or shoulders while performing these exercises, you'll make both the concentric and eccentric motion much more difficult, which will in turn increase your strength gains.
You ever wonder why gymnasts in the olympics are so muscular and strong? Rings is your answer. They make every single exercise more challenging! Try push ups, pull ups and dips with rings and you'll probably be able to do only 30 to 50% of your usual reps and sets. Rings create instability and will make you feel shaky while doing any exercise. Once again, we recommend you go for wooden rings instead of plastic rings. Your skin will thank you! Plastic causes unnecessary friction on your skin and will cause more cuts and bruises over time.
If you hit a plateau with regular calisthenics exercises, adding weight is one way to break through that plateau and skyrocket your results. We tried several weight vests here at Gymless, and our favorite remains this X-shaped weight vest from Amazon which ranges from 12 to 30 pounds in total weight. It's very comfortable to wear and doesn't crush your spine or constrict your blood flow like other heavier vests. If you need to lift heavier, consider buying a belt that you can use to hang larger plates with a chain. Heavier vests are likely to cause injury since they prevent free movement and press against your bones and veins.
These mats aren't just for yoga! You can use them for all types of ab and core workouts: crunches, sit-ups, russian twists, planks, mountain climbers, and many more. Doing these on hard surfaces will cause a lot of discomfort, unless you're at the beach or a park. And even then, you'll feel more comfortable using a mat. We tried a bunch of mats, and this foldable workout mat you see in the picture is our personal favorite. Unlike many mats that are too thin, this one is thick enough for comfort during all types of exercises, and it's easy to put away when you're done.
Now, this is a weird one and you probably never heard of it before, but trust us when we say that the Iron Neck is the best way to work your neck muscles (read our full review of this product here). Mike Tyson once said that having a strong neck is the most important aspect of fighting, and that without a strong neck, receiving a punch in the head will likely rock your brain much harder and increase the chances of a knockout! Who wants to take that risk, huh? Beware folks, the neck isn't to be neglected.
The Iron Neck has been recommended even by Joe Rogan on his podcast. I mean, what else can you do to work your neck? Not much right, it's one of those muscles that is hard to hit in your workouts. Many athletes are guilty of skipping leg day, but we suspect an even higher number of them is skipping neck day! Not necessarily because they don't want to, but because there isn't any bodyweight workout that can effectively target the neck and help you develop a thick strong neck.
Having proper massage gun will slash your recovery time significantly, and allow you to perform at a high level at every training session. All pro athletes use massage guns. Some have even created their own brands. At Gymless, we tried several massage guns and our favorite is definitely the XXX. Use it either at the end of your workout, or when you wake up with sore muscles the day after a heavy workout session. You'll become addicted to using your massage gun as you'll see the benefits right away! Make sure you play around with the power and speed to find the setting you are mo st comfortable with. There's no one setting that works for everybody.
Another popular piece of equipment when it comes to working your abs and core! Now, I don't personally like the ab roller as it feels weird on my lower spine when I'm at full extension, but I know that most calisthenics athletes love using it, so I thought it'd deserve a spot in this list. The Ab roller definitely hits your entire core and lower back muscles in a way that no other core exercise does, so it's a highly effective exercise, but I suggest you try it and see how you feel after a few reps. You may or may not like that feeling on your lower back.
Are there any other calisthenics equipment machines or devices you think we should have covered in this article? Let us know in the comments below...