What Calisthenics Equipment Do You Really Need? 

Don’t waste money on calisthenics equipment you won’t use. Here’s the essential gear I used to go from a calisthenics beginner to an advanced female calisthenics athlete – and what equipment I wasted my money on…

girl posing with all of her at home calisthenics gym equipment

I’m Summerfunfitness, a self-taught calisthenics athlete. I’ve progressed from being a complete calisthenics beginner to achieving muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, and even working on planche, all while working full time at a desk job.

Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself.  This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission which allows me to continue to produce free calisthenics workouts and education for you. 

Non-Essential Calisthenics Equipment

1. Calisthenics Rings. I DON’T recommend these for beginners
2. Weight Vest
3. Wrist Wraps
4. Handstand Blocks
5. Kettlebells
6. Yoga Blocks
7. A High-Quality Gym Bag
8. The Fit!Home Gym if you solely workout at home

#1 Tip When Buying Calisthenics Equipment

Don’t cheap out, but don’t waste money on a whole calisthenics home gym before you know if you even like the sport. 

Cheap equipment can be unsafe, wasteful, and damaging to your home (e.g., cheap pull-up bars that fall down or ruin your door frame or p-bars that tip over or scratch your flooring).  Plus, continuously replacing cheap items adds up, making investing in higher-quality, long-lasting equipment more cost-effective.

Does that mean you should buy the most expensive equipment out there? No. Start by investing in versatile, high-quality equipment that will continue to support you as you get stronger. As your passion and commitment to calisthenics grows, so will your calisthenics equipment collection. There’s no need to drop hundreds of dollars before you’ve even mastered the calisthenics basics. 

I hope this list will help you learn from my mistakes and buy the essential equipment sooner so you can progress faster than I did. When I started, I was broke, so I was very slow and weary about what equipment was worth investing in and there weren’t any honest resources out there to help guide me in the right direction. 

girl doing a piked straddle planche on push up bars outdoors

Do You Need Equipment for Calisthenics?

Yes, you do need equipment to become an all-around calisthenics athlete. However, setting up a decent minimal at-home calisthenics gym doesn’t take much. While there are many equipment-free calisthenics exercises, you still need some equipment if:

  1. You’re a beginner
  2. You have limited wrist mobility or hamstring flexibility
  3. Your wrists tire easily, or your shoulder mobility is lacking
  4. You want to train pulling movements

Having calisthenics equipment will significantly accelerate your progress as an athlete compared to training without it.

The Calisthenics Equipment I Actually Use

#1 Dip Bars

The Lebert EQualizer dip bars were the very first piece of calisthenics equipment I ever bought, and I still use them today! Although, not quite as much now that I train at a gym more than at home.

Originally, I got these bars because I worked from home and wanted to take mini calisthenics movement breaks throughout the day (I got my first pair in 2018). Back then, I used them for negative dips, shoulder stands, australian rows, l-sits, and leg raises.

If you plan to work out at home, these bars are an excellent initial investment and my top choice for their versatility, durability, price, and storage convenience.

Plus, they are suitable for all ages. Kids love to play on them, while older adults benefit from having support in their lunges, squats, one-legged exercises or simply assistance getting up off the ground.

Advanced athletes to complete beginners benefit from having a pair of at home dip bars.

Discount Code: SUMMER

Benefits of Dip Bars

  • Extremely Versatile: Work push, pull, core, legs and advanced calisthenics skills like front levers, planche..etc all from home
  • Friendly for all skill levels and ages
  • Available in extra-large versions for tall people
  • The bars are independent, allowing for more exercise variety and easier storage

Dip Bar Cons

  • If you aren’t willing to look up dip bar exercises online, you may run out of ideas
  • Need tools to disassemble the bars for storage

Calisthenics Exercises Using Dip Bars

  • Supported Pistol Squats
  • Negative dips
  • Support hold
  • Elevated push-ups
  • Beginner rows
  • Shoulder stands
  • Elbow stands
  • Planche
  • V-sit to handstand
  • Dip to planche
  • Straight bar dips
  • Handstands
  • Front Levers
  • False grip muscle-ups

Need help? Here are my top dip bar exercises for beginners and a dip bar beginner workout >

Discount Code: SUMMER

#2 Mini
P-Bars

My mini push-up bars, or mini parallettes, are the calisthenics equipment I use the most. They’re easy to transport, allowing me to turn any space into my own gym. I take them camping, on vacation, road trips, to the gym, and of course, use them at home.

When I started calisthenics, my wrists could only withstand about 15 minutes of bodyweight training before becoming too exhausted to continue. Because of this, it took me a few years to build up my capacity to solely train calisthenics.

P-bars put your wrists into a neutral position, which would have allowed me to train for MUCH longer once I couldn’t handle any more floor work. Had I not been so reluctant to invest, I would have bought the mini bars sooner and undoubtedly made significant progress much faster. 

If your budget allows, a pair of calisthenics p-bars is a must.

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

Benefits of P-Bars

  • Beginner Friendly: Makes floor drills like L-Sits and tucked planche more accessible
  • Train for Longer: Easier on wrists, allowing longer calisthenics workouts with less wrist strain
  • Lifelong Use: Endless exercises and increased range of motion to challenge and improve mobility
  • Portable: Parallettes are lightweight  making them easy to turn any space into your own personal gym 
  • Improved Focus: Narrow your focus when training in an open space
  • Define Your Space: I’ve had people take my spot at the gym too many times. I now always leave my p-bars out if I’m stepping away for a drink or to use the washroom

P-Bar Cons

  • Overreliance: Relying solely on p-bars may limit your training freedom. Make sure to also work on your wrist mobility to improve your on the ground exercises as well
  • Stability Risk: Homemade or inexpensive P-Bars might tip over or break

Calisthenics Exercises Using P-Bars:

  • EROM (extended range of motion) push-ups
  • V-sits
  • L-sits
  • Planche
  • Handstands
  • Handstand presses
  • Handstand push-ups

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

#3 Door Frame Pull-Up Bar

Are you struggling to learn how to do pull-ups? If so, an at home pull-up bar is crucial to your success. It allows you to attempt pull-ups frequently throughout your day, helping you to achieve them faster (grease the groove method). This method, combined with beginner calisthenics pull workouts, allowed me to achieve my pull-up goals.

Whether you’re an experienced calisthenics athlete or a beginner, an at-home pull-up bar is a vital addition to your calisthenics gym setup.

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

At-Home Pull-Up Bar Benefits

  • Improve your Pull-Ups: Daily practice helps to master the technique
  • Avoid Injuries: To maintain a structurally balanced body you must train both pushing AND pulling. If you solely train at home, you need some piece of equipment to perform pulling exercises
  • Small Space Friendly: If you live in a small condo making room to workout can be difficult. The door frame pull-up bar utilizes space that is already empty
  • Suitable for all Calisthenics Levels: From banded pull-ups to one arm pull-ups
  • Renter Friendly: If you get a good pull-up bar it won’t damage your walls, and you can easily take it down when needed

Door Frame Pull-Up Bar Cons

  • Doesn’t always fit in every door…
  • Can be a hassle if the door needs frequent opening/closing
  • Storage Challenges: Awkward shape makes storage harder when not in use
  • Quality Concerns: Inferior bars could lead to falls and injuries.
  • Limited to Upper Body exercises (doesn’t help with legs)

Calisthenics Exercises Using a Door Frame Pull-Up Bar

  • Pull-ups
  • Commando pull-ups
  • Chin ups
  • Toes to bar
  • Scap pulls
  • Archer pull-ups
  • Wide pull-ups
  • Hanging L-sit
  • Windshield wipers

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

#4 Liquid Chalk

Liquid chalk is essential in every calisthenics athlete’s gym bag. I don’t go anywhere without it.

Why I Use Liquid Chalk over Powdered Chalk for Calisthenics

As someone who used to rock climb, I started with using powdered chalk, I love that you can buy pure chalk with NO added chemicals making it safer for your skin and the environment BUT I disliked the mess it created. It would spill in my bag or car and leave puffs of chalk dust everywhere I went.

Why I Use Liquid Chalk for Handstands

When I started using chalk for handstands and calisthenics, I noticed a significant change. Applying the chalk creates a routine that signals my body to prepare for the exercise ahead. The added grip is especially helpful when my hands get sweaty. Above all, I use it as a tool to mentally prepare for my workouts.

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

girl showing liquid chalk on her palms

Why Use Liquid Chalk?

  • Improved Grip: Liquid chalk enhances grip strength, especially if you struggle with sweaty hands
  • Reduced Mess: Unlike traditional chalk, liquid chalk won’t leave residue all over your gym bag
  • Long-lasting Effect: It stays on hands longer, requiring fewer reapplications during intense workouts.
  • Improved Focus: The routine of putting on chalk before an exercise helps you focus on what you’re about to accomplish

Liquid Chalk Cons

  • Dry Hands: It can dry out your skin depending on the formula
  • Wasted Product: Will dry up if you don’t seal it between uses

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

#5 Resistance Bands

All calisthenics athletes need a pack of resistance bands. My collection ranges from super light bands for handstand warm-ups to heavy bands that can assist with pull-ups, muscle-ups, front lever rows, and more.

I personally use bands in every workout session to learn new skills, strengthen my body, deepen my stretches, activate and mobilize joints and more.

*I recommend having 4 sizes of bands.

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

Why You Need Resistance Bands for Calisthenics

  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of exercises from warm-ups to assisted straddle planches to banded pull-ups
  • Portability: Lightweight and compact, easy to carry and use anywhere.
  • Adjustable Resistance: Bands come in different strengths, allowing for gradual progress. As you get stronger, swap to a thinner band.
  • Muscle Activation: Light bands are great to help warm up your body for heavier movements or to improve your mobility
  • Ideal for All Fitness Levels: Suitable for beginners to advanced users
  • Rehab and Physical Therapy: Can aid in recovery and rehabilitation exercises
  • Space-Efficient: Great for small spaces and home gyms

Resistance Bands Cons

  • You need 3-4 bands for a complete setup
  • Lower-quality bands may wear out or break over time, be made from toxic materials
  • Slippage: Bands may slip or roll during intense exercises, affecting performance

Calisthenics Exercises Using Resistance Bands

  • Prehab shoulder warm-up
  • Handstand prep
  • Assisted dips, pull-ups, straddle planches, muscle-ups..etc
  • Use for rows, lat pull downs, or bicep curls, deadlifts..etc
  • Use a thinner band to help deepen your stretches

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

#6 Yoga Mat

A yoga mat can be used during any calisthenics exercise. It provides better grip for handstands and pistol squats, holds p-bars in place, cushions your joints during stretching, defines your workout space, and offers stability on slippery or loose flooring (like dirt).

I use my yoga mat daily, and I highly recommend investing in one. Having a mat I love encourages me to get up and move my body, whether I’m pushing myself in a planche workout or enjoying a morning stretch

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Why You Need a Yoga Mat

  • Focus: Defines personal space aiding concentration
  • Comfort & Stability: Yoga mats provide cushioning for joints and a stable surface for poses
  • Hygiene: Barrier between you & floor
  • Portability: Easy to carry wherever you like to train
  • Versatility: Supports various exercises & stretching
  • Safety: Reduces slip risk

Yoga Mat Cons

  • Takes up space in your home
  • If you buy a cheap one, it can break apart and leave a mess
  • Cheaper ones can be toxic and negatively affect your body and the environment

Discount Code: Summerfunfitness

#7 Weight Belt/Dip Belt

into your training; unlike skill training where you work towards different progressions of the same movement – which is much harder to track. For example, you may spend a year between a tucked planche and an advanced tuck with minor improvement.

Weighted calisthenics offers a straightforward solution. By adding weight, you can easily monitor progress.

I used not to be a fan of weighted calisthenics as I thought choosing more challenging progressions of bodyweight exercises was better (aka, going from a pull-up to an archer pull-up or to a high pull-up or muscle-up). However, I’ve come to learn that I was wrong. Weighted calisthenics is an excellent tool for building strength and should be utilized in your training.

Ideally, you would map out your year of calisthenics training to include training phases where you focus on different elements; maybe in one cycle, you focus on power using weighted calisthenics, the next, you could focus on skill acquisition and explosiveness, or calisthenics bodybuilding. Cycling your training prevents plateaus and allows you to progress in many calisthenic skills over a year.

Weight Belt Benefits

  • Progressive Overload: Adding weight to the basic calisthenics exercises will decrease the likelihood of plateauing.
  • Easy to Implement: No specialized skills required like those needed for handstand push-ups, planche..etc
  • Bodyweight BodyBuilding: Can be programmed to help with bodybuilding (hypertrophy training), strength or power training

Weight Belt Cons

  • Takes longer to set up between sets
  • Harder to find belts that work for xsmall – xxl bodies
  • Can be awkward if you’re shorter and using Olympic plates

Calisthenics Exercises Using a Weight Belt/Dip Belt

  • Weighted pull-ups
  • Weighted dips
  • Weighted australian rows
  • Weighted front lever rows

Check out my advanced calisthenics workout routine >

#8 Yoga Wheel

The yoga wheel may not be on most calisthenics athletes’ essential equipment list, but it certainly tops mine. With the extensive upper body work I do, I often become tense and immobile, making relaxation and upper body stretching essential for me (though not as easy or enjoyable as lower body stretches).

I find the wheel fun and user-friendly. The instant release it provides for my spine makes the investment worthwhile.  I love that I can just lay over it and passively stretch or use it to deepen my splits, activate my shoulders or strengthen my lower back. To me, a yoga wheel is a must in your home gym setup.

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Yoga Wheel Benefits

  • Spinal Opening: Helps to open up the thoracic spine, pecs, traps and neck, which can often become stiff as a result of calisthenics training
  • Deepening Poses: By using the wheel as a support, you can deepen backbends, hip openers, shoulder stretches, splits and more
  • Extremely Versatile: They can assist with backbends, inversions, hip openers, arm balances, and more, providing versatility and creativity to your flexibility routine.
  • Self-Massage & Release: Rolling the wheel along different areas of the body can help alleviate tension, knots, and muscle tightness.

Yoga Wheel Cons

  • Different size bodies may want a different-sized wheel
  • Uses are limited to your imagination or ability to google
  • Not budget friendly
  • It’s not compact, making it harder to store

Calisthenics Exercises Using a Yoga Wheel

Discount Code: Summerfunfitness

#9 Calisthenics Rings

It might sound surprising, but I really don’t recommend buying rings if you’re new to working out or calisthenics.

Now, if you’ve got a training background and are super disciplined, then sure, go for it! But for us regular folks, it’s better to wait until we’ve built that workout habit. Rings are no joke – they’re tricky to set up and use compared to regular equipment, which can easily become a big deterrent (or excuse!) to skip workouts.

Don’t get me wrong, with a coach and a proper ring calisthenics plan, you can rock those rings as a beginner. But trust me, you need that structure because the setup time and learning curve can be overwhelming for most people.

Personally, I do like my rings, but I don’t use them much unless I have a permanent structure to hang them on.

On rings, you can play and flow more compared to a boring old stationary pull-up bar. But honestly, those extra benefits don’t always outweigh the drawbacks.

But hey, if you don’t mind setting up the rings and you have a training program, go for it! The stabilizer work and proprioception improvements you get from training on rings will make you incredibly strong.

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

Calisthenics Ring Benefits

  • Core Stability: Ring movements require constant core activation to maintain balance and control, leading to a stronger and more stable core
  • Incredible Strength & Coordination: The rings require greater activation of stabilizer muscles throughout the body, improving functional strength, balance, and coordination
  • Improved Grip Strength: The instability of rings challenges grip strength, enhancing forearm and grip endurance
  • Versatility: the rings can be quite fun to play with. You can learn many incredible skills on the rings treating the more like a circus apparatus than strictly a muscle-building tool. Check out this flow >

Calisthenics Rings Cons

  • Inconvenient and timely to set up
  • Risk of Injury: The instability of rings can lead to accidents and falls if not used correctly or with inadequate strength
  • Steeper Learning Curve: Building proficiency with ring movements takes more time and patience than learning the skills on a stationary piece of equipment, deterring some from using them consistently. However, if you choose only to use rings, you are more likely to end up with greater strength and athleticism

Calisthenics Exercises Using Rings

  • Ring Dips
  • Ring Muscle-Ups
  • Pelican Push-Ups
  • Forwards Roll
  • Backwards Roll
  • Ring L-sits
  • Iron Cross
  • Ring Planche..etc

Discount Code: Summerfitness10

If you’re committed to training calisthenics at home and have the budget for it, I absolutely love my Fit!Home Gym.

This gym is fantastic for people like me who move often and live in condos. If I had my own home, with room to build a gym, I would go for a more permanent setup like a full squat rack and wall-mounted pull-up bar, but even then, I’d still like to have the Fit! Home Gym to train outdoors whenever I like.

This is a product that I debated on getting for many years as I have had so many questions about it and was a bit skeptical due to their website’s functionality.

Once I received it, though, I fell in love, and now I solely do home workouts with it (I no longer go to the gym). 

Check out my full-length review on the Fit! Home Gym below:

Why I Wanted the Fit! Home Gym

  • One unit covers everything you need for calisthenics (aside from accessory items like a dip belt and weight)
  • Be able to train pulling wherever I want
  • Be able to train human flags at home on my patio
  • Also works to train legs
  • Easy enough to slip under your bed if you have a small space
  • Quick to set up
  • Train outdoors
  • Portable enough to bring on road trips (I brought mine from Canada all the way to Mexico)

Potential Cons:

  • Not great for muscle-ups
  • Expensive. But seems like it’s cheaper than buying all the equipment individually
  • The pull-up bar is quite thick, making it a bit more challenging for small hands
  • Can’t use the features independently. You always need to bring the board with you even if you don’t need all the options. For example, if you just want to train planche at the park, instead of just throwing mini bars in your bag, you have to bring the wooden platform just to attach the push bars too

Discount Code: Summerfitness

 Calisthenics Equipment

Mastering calisthenics does require some equipment, but it only takes a few items to complete your at-home gym. While equipment-free calisthenics exercises exist, you need some equipment to work your pulling muscles effectively. If you’re a beginner, I recommend investing in dip barsp-bars and a door frame bar. If you’re short on money, dip bars and a few resistance bands are a great place to start building your calisthenics equipment collection. 

girl doing a piked straddle planche on push up bars outdoors

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