The Only Calisthenics Equipment You Need (Top 9 Essentials)

Here is a complete list of the best calisthenics equipment you can get for your home gym.

I have personally spent over $5000 on gym equipment over the last 10+ years- so I can tell you what is and isn’t worth it.

In sum, you’ll need 9 things to maximize your home gym for calisthenics workouts.

Let’s get started.

the only calisthenics equipment you need for building muscle and strength cover image

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Do You Need Equipment For Calisthenics?

In general, you do not need any equipment to do many of the core calisthenics exercises. However, acquiring a few pieces of equipment will allow you to:

  • perform a wide variety of pulling exercises,
  • increase the difficulty and comfort of certain pushing exercises,
  • scale movements to match your fitness level,
  • and add different forms of external resistance.

Without some form of equipment, you won’t be able to maximize your bodyweight workouts.

The key is to get equipment that has a variety of uses.

The Top 9 Essential Calisthenics Equipment You Need To Get Started

Below you will see the best pieces of calisthenics equipment you can get for a great at-home workout.

I have listed them in order of importance and the first 5 items are must-haves.

Let’s get started.

#1 Pull-Up Bar

The number one essential piece of calisthenics equipment you need to get is a pull-up bar. There are so many different options you can choose from, and some options are extremely affordable.

The easiest thing you can get is a doorway pull-up bar. It’s the cheapest version, and the easiest to install.

This doorway pull-up bar is the most basic and is a good option for beginners.

Our Pick
Iron Gym Pull Up Bars Iron Gym Pull Up Bars

Simple to set-up doorway pull-up bar that sits atop of your doorframe. No installation necessary.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Another option is a pull-up tower/squat rack, which is what I have.

Our Pick
CAP Barbell Power Rack Exercise Stand With Pull-Up Bar CAP Barbell Power Rack Exercise Stand With Pull-Up Bar

Low profile squat rack with storage for barbell and weight plates. Includes an 85 inch pull-up bar!

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While it takes up more space, the fact that you are not limited to using it inside your door frame is a big plus for me.

You can also get a power tower as well.

Why You Need A Pull-Up Bar

Pull-up bars are essential to training your upper body. In fact, most people agree that the pull-up is the best upper body exercise of all time.

With this piece of equipment, you will be able to perform all of the vertical pulling exercises possible.

Here’s a list of some of the exercises you can do:

Pros of a Pull-up Bar:

  • Allows you to strengthen all of the vertical pulling exercises
  • Allows you to train hanging ab exercises
  • Allows you to attach other pieces of calisthenics equipment such as gymnastic rings, resistance bands, and suspension trainers.


  • With the doorway pull-up bar and the pull-up tower, you won’t be able to extend your legs completely as both options aren’t tall enough.
  • As far as the pull-up tower:
    • it feels un-sturdy, however, rest assured that you can do just about any of the above exercises safely
    • it takes up a decent amount of space, but it fits in my tiny NYC apartment

If you’re serious about home workouts, I recommend the pull-up tower.

The pull-up tower is also advantageous because it doesn’t have to be indoors. It can serve as a perfect outdoor calisthenic piece of equipment.

#2 Resistance Bands

The second piece of equipment you should get is a set of resistance bands.

I have written extensively on why everyone should own a set of bands in their workout tool kit. Bands are by far the easiest and most versatile way to do dozens upon dozens of different exercises.

It is important that you get a closed-loop resistance band.

Our Pick
Resistance Band Set Resistance Band Set

Long closed-loop resistance band set (4-pack). These bands are lightweight, portable, and highly versatile.

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Here’s a list of some of the exercises you can do with bands:

  • Band Squats
  • Floor Press
  • Goodmornings
  • Overhead Press
  • Band Deadlifts
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Face Pulls
  • Tricep Extension

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a quick video of some of the best upper body exercises you can do with bands.

We have an entire post on the 24 Best Resistance Band exercises you can do.

Pros of Resistance Bands:

  • They are extremely versatile, allowing you to do dozens of exercises
  • Bands provide an easy way to add resistance to lower body exercises
  • Bands can provide resistance without loading your spine
  • They are lightweight and portable


  • The smallest band may be too easy for some exercises, while the stronger band may be too difficult.
  • Hard to quantify “how much weight” you are actually lifting.

These are the bands I recommend from Amazon.

#3 Gymnastic Rings

If you really want to take your home gym to the next level, you need to invest in a pair of gymnastic rings.

Rings will allow you to perform a whole bunch of exercises while improving your stability and muscle coordination.

You have never truly seen how difficult an exercise can be until you have done them with rings.

The level of proprioception needed just to do even the most basic exercises is really high.

Also, with rings, you don’t need access to dip bars.

Our Pick
Gymnastics Rings Gymnastics Rings

Highly-durable wooden gymnastic rings, perfect for an at-home total body workout.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Here are some of the exercises you can do with rings to make them more challenging:

  • You can do pull-ups while rotating your hands into supination
  • You can perform ring dips, which is probably the best dip variation possible
  • You can perform ring push-ups, which adds a layer of stability
  • You can do ab exercises such as L-sits and hanging leg raises
  • You can do back levers and front levers
  • The list goes on.
alex doing the l-sit-exercise while suspended in gymnastic rings

The best part? You can even hang rings on your pull-up bar or pull-up tower.

Pros of a Gymnastic Rings:

  • Allows for a variety of exercises that couldn’t be done otherwise
  • Improves stability and coordination for all exercises
  • Increases proprioception
  • Instantly makes any exercise more challenging
  • Eliminates the need for a dip bar


  • They can be annoying to set-up and takedown, but if you leave them in one place like I do- this isn’t an issue.

These are the Rings I have and recommend from Amazon.

#4 Adjustable Dumbbells

This is where your calisthenics equipment can get a little pricey.

But, I must say- this investment has been well worth it. Having a solid pair of adjustable dumbbells makes training at home really worthwhile.

In actuality, dumbbells aren’t necessarily for calisthenics per se. But that’s the beauty of them.

With these, you will no longer be limited to strict calisthenic movements.

With adjustable dumbbells you can do:

  • Dumbbell Floor Press
  • Dumbbell Squats
  • Dumbbell Overhead Press
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows
  • Dumbbell Lunges
  • and Isolation Exercises (Bicep Curls, Tricep Extension, Lateral Raises, etc)

The best part is, you only need 2 dumbells, not 20 pairs.

With adjustable dumbbells, one pair can go from 5 lbs each, all the way to 50-100lbs each depending on the one you buy.

There are two types of dumbbells you can buy.

  • Ones where you load the plates and secure them with a connector.
image of two dumbbells loaded with small black platesno image

I DO NOT recommend these for one reason. It is extremely inconvenient and time-consuming to change the weights.

  • On the other hand, you can get dumbbells that have built-in adjustable mechanisms.

I have owned both, and the latter is so much better.

I personally went with the Bowflex 552. You can read my reviews of adjustable dumbbells here.

Our Pick
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Pair of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells - from 5 lbs to 52.5 lbs. Replaces dozens of dumbbells.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

I love these things.

They have provided so much variety to my training that would have otherwise been impossible to do.

They are also super slick.

Pros of Adjustable Dumbbells:

  • Allows you to overload almost every single calisthenic exercise in a progressive manner
  • Opens up the door to hundreds of exercises that can only be done with dumbbells.
  • They save space – 1 pair can take the place of 15+ dumbbells.
  • You can hold the dumbbell between your legs eliminating the need for a dip belt


  • They are expensive
  • If you don’t get the Bowflex (or other higher-tech versions) changing the weights can be annoying.

These are the dumbbells I have and recommend

#5 Weight Vest:

To round out the top 5 pieces of calisthenic equipment you need to maximize your workout, you should get a weight vest.

A weight vest is different from dumbbells for one major reason.

  • The dumbbells allow you to move external weight that is separate from your body.

The weight vest, on the other hand, becomes part of your body.

This allows you to perform weighted calisthenics and make key exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and squats more challenging.

  • You can add 5, 10, 15, 20, or more lbs to each exercise, providing just the right amount of challenge necessary for your skill level.

I have even used the weight vest to do 20 minute walks on the treadmill.

Here is Brittany wearing the weighted vest we have – it is a plate loaded weight vest (learn more about it here).

Brittany wearing the Kensui EZ Vest

Pros of a Weight Vest:


  • If you have a smaller frame, it may be uncomfortable
  • They tend to be costly
  • If you do any dynamic exercise (such as burpees or box jumps) it might not be super comfortable

This is my absolute favorite weight vest of all-time

Other Great Pieces of Equipment For Your Home Gym

Okay, so that’s part one of the essential calisthenic equipment.

I think that these 5 items are necessary if you plan on taking your calisthenics training seriously.

The next items on the list aren’t as important as the first 5 but are still helpful to have nonetheless.

Here they are.

#6 A Flat Bench

Once you have a pair of dumbbells, it only makes sense to get a bench.

While you can get away with using chairs, a bench is just so much more comfortable to use.

Our Pick
Weider Flat Bench Weider Flat Bench

Lightweight flat bench with up to 460 pounds of weight capacity. Simple to set-up.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Plus, who doesn’t want to do a dumbbell bench press at home?

Just kidding.

We have a flat bench and we use it every single day.

It’s great for the following exercises:

Here’s Brittany on the DB Bench press at home.

I don’t think you need an adjustable bench where you can change the incline.

It just takes up more space and is more expensive.

Pros of a Flat Bench:

  • Makes a lot of exercises more comfortable.
  • It opens the possibility to do a lot of supine dumbbell exercises.


  • It takes up a decent amount of space

This is the same bench on Walmart

#7 Parallette Bars:

The next item on the list is parallettes. These are a set of portable bars that simulate the gymnastic parallel bars.

This is what they look like.

picture of parellettes

These bars are great to practice a lot of gymnastic movements such as

  • Handstand Exercises
  • L-Sits
  • Deep Push-Ups
  • Planche

Parallettes also allow you to keep your wrists in a neutral position when doing floor-based exercises. This is great for those who have poor wrist mobility, or issues with push-ups or handstands.

There are so many versions of them.

I also have shorter wooden parallettes as well – which are small and very portable.

These are the ones we have and recommend.

Our Pick
Parallettes Parallettes

Light-weight, portable, parallettes, great for gymnastics training.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Pros of Parallettes:

  • Allows you to practice cool advanced gymnastic exercises
  • Allow you to keep your wrist neutral for several exercises
  • Eliminates the need for wrist wraps
  • They are lightweight and portable


  • None – Of the two I like the taller ones better.

These are the parallettes I have and recommend from Amazon.

#8 Suspension Trainer:

I’m sure you have seen suspension trainers before.

The most popular one is the TRX. They have yellow straps and are frequently seen in commercial gyms.

This is the TRX:

suspension trainer TRXno image

Suspension trainers are another good addition to your home gym equipment because they definitely provide you with the ability to do a lot of unique exercises.

To be honest, the gymnastics rings will serve a lot of the same purposes as the suspension trainer – which is why this is lower on the list.

But this will allow you to train your core in ways that rings cant.

Suspension trainers are a good addition to your home gym because of their versatility.

To be honest, the gymnastic rings will serve a lot of the same purposes as the suspension trainer – which is why this is lower on the list.

Here are a few examples.

If you choose to get the TRX, you are paying for the brand.

I find the generic suspension trainers to be just as good.

This is the one we have from Amazon:

Our Pick
Suspension Trainer System Suspension Trainer System

A lightweight suspension trainer which serves as a great alternative to weights and bands.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Here’s Brittany using the one we have in our tiny apartment.

Pros of a Suspension Trainers:

  • Opens up the possibility of doing a lot of stability exercises
  • Increases the variety of abdominal and calisthenic leg exercises you can do
  • Can be attached to a door frame or a horizontal bar, making them more versatile than rings
  • They are lightweight and portable


  • They are expensive.

Check out this cheaper alternative to TRX on Amazon

#9 Rumble Roller:

The last item you need in your home gym is a foam roller.

A foam roller is a device often used in a physical therapy setting to help improve tissue function.

In other words, you can use one to perform a deep massage of tight muscle tissue.

This becomes very important as the more you exercise – the more likely you will develop muscle knots.

There are so many different foam rollers on the market with varying degrees of firmness.

In all honesty, the soft foam rollers are a waste. I had to go through three rollers until I found one that really hit the spot (pun intended).

The one that I found to be the best is the rumble roller.

This is what it looks like.

picture of rumble-foam-roller

It’s more expensive than the regular softer rollers, but it is well worth the price.

There are two sizes. I find that the smaller one is well worth the price.

Just place the roller on the floor, and lie on top of it on the area you want to work on.

Common areas that need work include

  • Upper back
  • Lats
  • Quadriceps
  • IT Band
  • Calves

This is the one we have:

Our Pick
High Density Foam Roller High Density Foam Roller

Short and portable foam roller. Designed to target and massage hard-to-reach muscles in your body.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Roll around until you find a hot spot and maintain pressure in that area. With practice, you will be able to tell which areas need the most work.

Pros of The Rumble Roller:

  • Very good quality- I’ve had mine for over 5 years and it’s in great shape.
  • The design allows you to identify painful points easily


  • The rumble roller is pricier than the traditional roller

This is the roller I have and recommend.

Honorable Mentions

There are a few other things you can get to improve your calisthenics gym. They include:

Ab Wheel

The ab wheel or ab roller is a great tool for building core strength.

Jump Rope

Probably the best way to improve your cardiovascular health with limited space

Benefits of Calisthenics Equipment

Calisthenics equipment is essential for developing a complete bodyweight workout.

The items are simple, light-weight, and open up the possibility of hundreds of different exercises from the comfort of your own home.

The best part is, a lot of these items are affordable and don’t take up much space. I have all of this in my NYC apartment.

With the right fitness equipment, you get:

  • Superior back training (pull up bar)
  • A wide array of resistance exercises (bands)
  • Strength training with stability (rings), and
  • Extra weight (dumbbells and vest) to perform weighted calisthenics

Where To Buy Calisthenics Equipment

I recommend that you get your calisthenics workout equipment from Amazon, as they have the largest selection of all the products mentioned above.

Plus, shipping is generally super fast and returns are really easy as well.

Here are the Amazon links to the top 5 calisthenics products mentioned above:

Pull-up tower

Resistance Bands

Gymnastic Rings

Adjustable Bowflex Dumbbells

Adjustable Weight Vest

How To Set-Up Your Calisthenics Home Gym

So how should you set your gym up?

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter too much. All you have to do is find a set-up that’s convenient for you.

The way I have it is:

  • my pull-up tower is set up by a corner,
  • with the rings attached to the pull-up bar,
  • the bench is between the tower, and
  • my dumbbells and everything else are to the side.

Here is a picture of my first calisthenics home gym set-up. Don’t mind the mess in the corner hahaha.

We have since upgraded to bigger and better stuff!


Other Related Questions

How Can I Start Calisthenics Without Equipment?

You can start calisthenics without any equipment by learning how to do the core movement patterns. These include:

  • The horizontal push
  • The vertical push
  • The horizontal pull
  • Squats
  • Hip hinges

I cover all of these exercises in more detail in my post on calisthenics for beginners: how to get started.

What’s Better? Calisthenics Vs Weights

It depends on what your goals are. If you want to train at home with minimal equipment, then calisthenics is better.

If you have access to a fully stocked gym, prefer to use external weights, and desire to build a lot of muscle mass, weight training is better.

In general, I don’t think you have to choose either or. Both have their pros and cons.

Why not take advantage of both? I show you how in my article:

Can You Really Build Muscle With Calisthenics?

Yes, you can build muscle with calisthenics because it is a form of resistance training. In order to build muscle, you need to have resistance, recovery, and repeated exposure to the resistance in increasing amounts.

Bodyweight training can help you do exactly that.

I go over more details in How to Build Muscle Naturally Using Scientifically Proven Principles.

What Are The Best Calisthenics Exercises?

I have a complete list of the best calisthenics exercises right here.

They are broken down by body parts and organized from beginner to advanced.

What Is A Good Calisthenics Workout?

I also have a complete full body calisthenics workout you can do to build strength right from home.

The best part is, the workout is designed to only last 30 minutes!

Final Thoughts On Calisthenics Equipment For Beginners

If you invest a couple of hundred bucks on essential calisthenic equipment, you can get an amazing workout every day.

If you can only get 1 or 2 things, get yourself a pull-up bar and some rings.

What did you think of my calisthenics equipment list?

Any items you want to add to the list?

Comment below and let us know!

Related Calisthenics Posts


Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader’s Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

2 thoughts on “The Only Calisthenics Equipment You Need (Top 9 Essentials)”

  1. How about a plyo box? Doesn’t have to be a 3′ monster, but a good rectangle box that can give you a 16″, 20″, and 24″? Best part is that with a sheet of 1″ or 5/4″ plywood, a saw, $2 worth of screws, and a screwdriver, you can make your own. Dips, incline/decline push-ups, one-leg squats, step-ups, and jump ups. And then you can get creative….

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