The Ultimate Calisthenics Home Gym Setup For – Bodyweight, Weighted Calisthenics And Powersthenics
There are several ways to put together your calisthenics home gym, depending on your personal training style.
In this article I’m going to discuss the top 3 calisthenics home gym setups, their training styles and the type of equipment needed for each.
The 3 types of calisthenics home gym setups are as follows:
- Pure Bodyweight Calisthenics – This home gym setup requires the least amount of equipment and is the most economical.
- Weighted Calisthenics Setup – This home gym setup builds on the bodyweight setup, but with a few more pieces of equipment.
- Powersthenics Setup (Calisthenics and Powerlifting combined) – This setup requires heavy investment and involves the most amount of equipment. But it has the most versatility when it comes to building total body size and strength.
Regardless of what type of calisthenics athlete you are, every style of calisthencis requires equipment to train the entire body properly.
So without further adieu, let’s get started with breaking down each type of calisthenics home gym setup, but here is a summary for those of you who don’t want to read this entire article.
Pure Bodyweight Calisthenics Home Gym
If you’re a pure bodyweight calisthenics athlete then your home gym setup is most likely going to be very minimal.
The benefits of the bodyweight home gym are that its:
- Requires a minimum amount of space
- Highly Economical
Suggested equipment for the pure bodyweight calisthenics home gym:
Gymnastics Rings: Rings are the most versatile piece of training equipment around.
Even non-calisthenics athletes can benefit from carrying a pair of rings with them wherever they go.
Gymnastics rings are an ultra lightweight, portable gym in your bag!
You can practice all your skills, pulling, pushing and even single leg assisted movements with a simple pair of rings.
And no, gymnastics rings are not only for advanced calisthenics athletes.
Beginners can absolutely start off their calisthenics workouts on gymnastics rings. There are volumes of exercise that can be performed on a pair of gymnastics rings.
The only downside to having a pair of gymnastics rings is not having a place to hang them. But, if you have a park outside, or can even find a tree to hang them up from, the world of advanced bodyweight calisthenics just opened its doors to you.
Every calisthenics athlete, beginner or advanced, should have a good pair of gymnastics rings in their backpack.
Some things to consider when buying gymnastics rings; is the size and the material of the rings.
The two typical sizes are the 1.1 inch an the 1.25 inch version.
Sizes don’t matter too much.
The 1.1 inch is closer in diameter to a typical barbell than the 1.25 inch variant.
What matters is the type of material the rings are made out of.
Wooden rings are my favourite. If you’re going to be working out indoors, then buy a pair of wooden rings.
Wooden gymnastics rings look good, feel good and have better grip than their plastic counterparts.
But, plastic rings can be taken out into the wild, thrashed around a bit and still survive to tell the tale!
This is because the wooden rings don’t do very well when exposed to copious amounts of water.
Nonetheless, I suggest buying the X rings on Amazon, I own a pair of them and they have lasted a lifetime!
Pull Up Bars: If you are struggling to find yourself a place to hang your calisthenics rings from, then you might need to invest in a doorway pull up bar. But, this, in my opinion is a waste of time and money. Here are the reasons I would NOT recommend a doorway pull up bar:
- You cannot perform explosive calisthenics movements either. The reason why is because they tend to slip and fall off the door frame for several different reasons. This means that you will also probably fall down and hurt yourself in the process, the internet is rife with videos of people falling on their butts from broken/slipped pull up bars.
- They are good for only one type of movement, pull ups. In fact, without moving them around (which takes a lot of time and effort) doorway pull bars will only allow you to perform very few movements.
Regardless, I know what it is like not to have the money to spend on a good home gym setup so if push came to shove and this was the only piece of equipment you could get, then I’d suggest getting the X pull up bar.
So what’s the better alternative to a doorway pull up bar? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Enter the ceiling or wall mounted pull up bars, another versatile addition to any calisthenics gym setup.
In fact the ceiling/wall mounted pull up/dips bars can be the mainstay of a calisthenics gym setup.
The only problem with these are that setting them up can be quite a task, it does involve drilling into your walls or ceiling.
But if you are able to set one up in your home then you are good to go! They last a lifetime and all pulling movements can be performed on them.
Add a pair of gymnastics rings to them and that’s mostly all you will need for a very long time.
In my opinion, this is the optimum calisthenics beginners home gym setup.
I recommend the X ceiling and the Y wall mounted pull up/dip bar.
But what if you can’t or don’t want to drill holes in the walls of your home? Well then, the solution ISN’T a pull up and dips station either!
These stations only allow you to not perform pull ups and dips as the name suggests, perhaps push up and hanging leg raises as well.
But if you think about it, the power rack or the power cage will allow you to do just the same.
Now that we know that gymnastics rings are the quintessential piece of calisthenics equipment, adding them to your power rack opens up a whole world of possibilities.
What’s more is that the power rack/cage is much sturdier than a pull up and dip station. And they coat the same! Power cages come with attachments, getting a dipping attachment makes it a complete package. You can even expand your training to weighted training movements down the road.
I recommend the X power rack. That is pretty much all you need.
Specialized bodyweight home gym equipment:
Glute Ham Developer – The Glute ham raise or the Nordic curl are some of the hardest and most effective bodyweight movements for the legs.
The only problem is setting up this exercise. If you have a friend to hold your feet down or something else, you’re going to need the GHD.
The GHD can also be used for back extensions.
I’d go so far as to say that this is piece of equipment should be a staple in any bodyweight home gym setup.
The Nordic curl is hands down the best hamstring exercise out there for bodyweight and non-bodyweight athletes alike!
I recommend the X GHD.
Sissy squat – Now If you are going to be using just your bodyweight to build your quads, then good luck.
Let’s face it, bodyweight calisthenics isn’t the most efficient at building strong jacked legs.
But in case you are looking for something that will aid that progress, a sissy squat stand will help build decent looking quads.
This is especially true if you are able to progress all the way with this exercise.
The sissy squat stand works as a leg extension machine, but can be progressed to a whole new level with just your bodyweight.
Just like the Nordic Curl is not an easy exercise to perform.
Of course the sissy squat can be performed without the stand for support, but a good sissy squat stand can also double as a back extension machine or even for Nordic curls (if you are creative with it).
The lower back is another aspect of the body that does not get a lot of love when performing bodyweight calisthenics movements.
I recommend the X sissy squat machine because it doubles as a back extension platform as well.
Push up handles – If your setup includes just a place to hang from, then getting something to push up from might not seem important to you.
The ground is plenty sturdy to push yourself up from, but the ground can only go so far.
If you want to take your push up game to the next level, then having additional range of motion will not only make the exercise harder but will also work the muscle through a longer range of motion.
But, I would not recommend wasting your money on push up handles!
I am a fan of purchasing equipment that can be used for multiple exercises and push up handles only allow you to do push ups.
So what should you get instead of push up handles? Read on to find out.
Parallettes – Parallettes are plenty sturdy and can do the job of push up handles just as well.
But they can also be used for a variety of other exercises as well.
Parallette handles are higher off the ground than push up handles.
This means that they can be used for a variety of different exercises as well as the good old push up.
Parallettes are especially useful for shoulder development.
Pike push ups and handstand push up can be performed on parallettes for added range of motion.
I highly recommend getting the X parallettes. They have a sturdy base.
Weighted Calisthenics Home Gym Setup
The weighted calisthenics home gym setup is my favourite.
- It doesn’t require a lot of space,
- Nor does it require big heavy equipment that cannot be neatly put away.
- This setup is relatively economical and can be the direct progression from the bodyweight only home gym setup as there is a lot of overlap between the two.
The main addition to this setup are weight plates, a dipping belt and 2 plyo boxes (I’ll explain why in the coming paragraphs).
Dipping Belt – Weighted calisthenics obviously means that you will need weights to add to your exercises.
But a lot of calisthenics athletes do not want to deviate too much from their calisthenics movements.
This means attaching weight to the body via a dipping belt and going to work.
The dipping belt is the most important addition to your home gym setup, as most weighted movements depend on it.
With a dipping belt one can add weight to all traditional calisthenics exercises like pull ups, chin ups, and dips.
But I’m going to show you 4 more exercises that can be done with the dipping belt that are extremely effective at building size and strength.
- The Belt Squat – The belt squat is a long forgotten exercise that can build tremendous size and strength in the quads. The most interesting thing about the belt squat is that you will not be able to use the same weights that you use on a barbell back squat. In other words, the movement is a lot harder to perform, because we are taking the back out of the movement. This forces just the legs to work, and work hard they must. If you can rep out a particular weight on the belt squat, then you will be able to do much more on the barbell back squat. What’s more is that there is no spinal loading, thus allowing those with severe back injuries to use this movement to build massive quads. This will be the staple movement for your weighted calisthenics home gym (for those of you who do not want to purchase a squat rack and barbells). To properly perform the hip belt squat, you will need a set of 2 plyo boxes.
- Close Grip Ring Push Ups – This is a highly neglected exercise in the calisthenics community. If you want big pushing strength that will build your chest delts and bestow you with massive triceps, while working the lower back and core, then this is the exercise for you. Ring push ups stack extremely well with a dipping belt and weights. These are one of my go-to exercises for building massive triceps that aid my upper body pushing strength.
- Weighted Bodyweight Skull Crushers – While the name might seem silly at first, adding weight to your bodyweight skull crushers is another tricep staple of mine. This movement works the triceps in an extremely unique fashion by bringing in additional muscle mass to the movement. This version of the skull also works the core and lower back in isometric contraction and adding weight to this movement makes it that much more effective. This exercise is so effective for the triceps that it will make your arms look bigger from the sides and in the bicep pose. This will in turn also help with your pressing movements. If you want to learn how to perform this movement properly, check out my article on the same here.
- Belt Good Mornings – Now, while I’ve been harping about working the lower back in isometric contraction with the aforementioned movements, the dipping belt also allows us to work the glutes, hamstrings and lower back with this one movement. Another excellent addition to your weighted calisthenics arsenal. In fact, this movement will help build a bigger deadlift without actually performing the deadlift itself.
Plyo Boxes – The plyo boxes are also a versatile piece of equipment for this minimalist weighted calisthenics home gym. They make performing a lot of different lower body movements possible. They are absolutely necessary for the belt squat but they can also be used for weighted box step ups. These boxes will be your staple lower body building equipment. Now of course, it goes without saying, if you have a barbell and a power rack/cage, then the best exercise for building the muscles of the lower body is the barbell back squat!
Weight plates – Now what you get for weight plates is your decision. You can get yourself a bunch of kettlebells if you like. Kettlebells not only serve as weight for the dipping belt etc, but they can also be used for exercises unique to the kettlebell itself. Movements like the kettlebell swing, the kettlebell clean as well as overhead pressing movements can be performed with the kettlebells. They can easily be attached to the dipping belt to perform the aforementioned exercises. But, kettlebells can be expensive and once you outgrow a weight, it mostly becomes a waste. Plates are more versatile that way. They can be added to the dipping belt and can be added to a dumbbell attachment or even a barbell if you choose to go the powersthenics route. Either way, the most obvious piece of equipment for weighted calisthenics is some sort of external weight.
Powersthenics Home Gym
Powersthenics – The big daddy of calisthenics and weighted calisthenics combined!
As the name suggests, Powersthenics is the combination of powerlifting and calisthenics at the same time.
It also incorporates certain elements of bodybuilding, in order to build an athletic and aesthetic physique.
The powersthenics setup is the most expensive setup for a calisthenics home gym (although these setups are regular for powerlifters and general strength enthusiasts.
This is because the calisthenics community usually prides itself in not using any equipment to build some muscle and strength.
But as well all know, the only way to get as strong as possible is to lift heavy weights, no matter what the implement being used is.
Keeping that in mind, here are the suggested equipment for the powersthnecis home gym setup
Recommended equipment for powersthenics home gym:
The Barbell – If you’re a powersthenics athlete, then you aren’t getting away from the barbell.
The entire sport of powerlifting is predicated on the use of this piece of equipment.
When it comes to barbells, cheap ones bend.
So don’t waste your money on cheap stuff, buy the best barbell you can afford.
Although there is a minimum amount you must pay for a good barbell.
Several companies make terrific barbells at relatively affordable prices.
I recommend X, Y and Z barbells.
The barbells allow you to perform natural expressions of loaded human movement.
Movements like the squat, overhead press, power clean and deadlift are some examples of exercise that mimic these real life movements.
In fact, I have gone so far as to say that calisthenics is incomplete as it does not incorporate any lifts off the floor.
That is why I subscribe to the powersthnecis movement.
The Power Rack/Power Cage – Another area you should not skimp out on is the power rack.
The power rack can be used for a bunch of calisthenics movements such as pull ups and even dips.
Special attachments like dipping bars and multi grip pull up handles can be attached to a well built power rack.
Of course there are several different types of power racks that can be purchased and if you already have a place to perform your heavy weighted pull ups and dips from then you might not even need a heavy power rack.
A good pair of squat stands will do just fine. This will allow you to perform heavy barbell back and front squats along with some overhead pressing movements (something that calisthenics lacks severely).
I recommend the X squat rack
A calisthenics home gym setup depends on your calisthenics goals.
If you want to work with just your bodyweight, then you don’t really need a lot of equipment.
A pair of gymnastics rings can be your calisthenics gym in a bag. In fact whatever type of calisthenics athlete you are, having a pair of gymnastics rings is a must.
From there you can simply build your calisthenics home gym depending on which direction you want to take.
If you want to lift heavy weights then a barbell is a must.
If you want to stay closer to your roots and keep your home gym more economical, yet versatile, the weighted calisthenics setup mentioned above is a good starting point.
Regardless of what route you take, the rule to the best calisthenics home gym setup is “buy once cry once”.
Quality equipment not only lasts, but is safer and will save you money in the long run.