Just as there are many different types of workouts and various types of gym equipment, there are also different types of home gyms. For those focused on mass and muscle gains, you will need different equipment compared to those focused on strength and weight loss.
Calisthenics home gym equipment is ideal for many groups, including beginner home gyms, those tight on space, or with a smaller starting budget. But because calisthenics uses your body weight as resistance, you don’t need bulky weight stacks and large equipment.
This article will look at the calisthenics home gym and help you decide what equipment you need, why it is important, and if this type of gym is right for you and your home.
Table of Contents
- Considerations When Building A Calisthenics Gym At Home
- Best Equipment For Calisthenic Gyms (What Should You Buy?)
- How To Build Your Own Calisthenics Home Gym (DIY Design & Setup)
- Why Build A Calisthenics Gym? (Benefits Explained)
- Calisthenics Body Vs Gym Body? (How The Workouts Differ)
- Frequently Asked Calisthenics Home Gym Questions
Considerations When Building A Calisthenics Gym At Home
When planning a home gym based on calisthenics, there are several consideration factors to think about. But what makes a home gym special is that you can get what you need to work out how you want.
If you are limited on space, for example, a calisthenics gym can save a lot of space. Because you are using bodyweight, you only need a few items to get started. It is important, though, to understand your workout area. How much space do you have? You need to account for storage, usage, and clearance while working out.
What are your training goals? If you want to increase your endurance, reduce joint pain and increase your metabolic rate, calisthenics are ideal. Whatever your specific goals are, there is a workout for you. Those workouts will determine which gym equipment is best for your results.
Another major factor is your budget. While most calisthenic gyms setups are not that expensive, some specialized equipment (see below) can get pricey. If you are on a tight budget, though, it is much more affordable to start with calisthenics over weight-based home gyms.
Not only are they easier to build, but you can get a full-body workout with minimal equipment, limited space, and short time frames. As you grow, build endurance and get a feel for where you want to progress to, expansion later is much easier.
Best Equipment For Calisthenic Gyms (What Should You Buy?)
When it comes to home gyms, it can be easy to get carried away with the equipment lists. With technological advances, new workout trends and specialty pieces, it can be overwhelming to find exactly what you need.
Let’s take a look at the most useful equipment for a calisthenics home gym to find out where you should start.
Parallettes are basically larger versions of push up bars. They are handles you can place on the ground to use for bodyweight exercises that include push ups, planks, handstands, seated leg lifts, and much more. If it works the core or upper body, parallettes will increase the resistance and technique of your workout.
With these in your arsenal, you can get a full upper body workout using only your body weight and the elevation they provide. The best part is that they are highly affordable, easy to store, and don't take up much space.
If you have the space to install and use them, gymnastics rings are one of the most versatile and useful pieces for a calisthenics workout. Adjustable height, freedom of movement, forced control and simple design make the rings one of the most well-rounded calisthenic workout pieces on the market.
Rings can even replace parallettes if you have the adjustment low enough. The only downside is that they must mount from the ceiling, and your installation needs to be secure, sturdy, and able to bear your weight and movement.
One of the biggest movements in terms of functionality and results is moving across different planes. Vertical and horizontal movements or even diagonal movements are all required, but if you can adjust the angle and resistance across those planes, your results will show much faster.
Resistance bands allow you to do just that. You can attach the bands to a rack, a mount, or even stand on them and increase resistance, use virtually any angle safely and perform more exercises.
For one of the most readily available and affordable pieces of gym equipment, resistance bands are also one of the best.
If you're in the market for a new resistance band, check out our guide to the best resistance bands for calisthenics and home gyms.
While plyometrics is typically reserved for aerobic workouts, they do have a place in calisthenics. The ability to increase your power, stamina, and endurance for jumping, squatting, and pushing can all be increased through plyo workouts. Using plyo boxes will help you become more sure-footed, stable, and powerful for long jumps, higher jumps, and squats or lunges.
Personally, I think every home, garage, or calisthenics gym should have a plyo box. They are just that versatile and easy to use. If you want to get your hands on a good plyometric box for your calisthenics gym, read our comprehensive guide.
Just because you aren't lifting Olympic plates and squat bars doesn't mean you can't make use of a gym rack. A power tower is a multi-functional rack that is designed to help body-weight exercises.
Not only can you get arm, leg, and core exercises from the towers, but you can also attach resistance bands, perform pull-ups, elevated push ups, L-sits, and much more. These racks don't take up a lot of space, either, so storage and limited workout room aren’t an issue.
Rollers have been used in yoga and pilates for years, and their benefits are numerous. Not only will they stretch out muscles, help you relax, and provide a bit of a massage, but they can also help with mobility, flexibility, and stretching.
Foam rollers are inexpensive, don't require any extra room, and can be stored away easily. They are also quite durable, lasting you years without worry. Pre- and post-workout cool downs and warm-ups with a foam roller will help you stay strong and healthy and keep your body ready for more.
If you want to take your recovery to the next level, jump over to our guide on the best foam rollers on the market!
We typically don’t talk much about weights when dealing with a calisthenics home gym. However, some weight resistance can help push you to the next level without requiring a lot of extra effort. Instead of plates and bars, calisthenics gyms use wearable weights.
Weight vests and ankle and wrist weights are a great way to add a few extra pounds of resistance to muscle group exercises without the need for a lot of equipment. They are also comfortable, easy to clean, and can be stored in your closet when not in use.
Pull Up/Monkey Bars
Pull ups are one of the most used exercises when dealing with calisthenics. They increase strength, endurance, flexibility, and even grip strength.
Of course, you will need a pull up bar or monkey bar with adjustable or variable heights. You also want one that has various grips.
You can get monkey bars that are multi-functional as well, allowing you to attach weights, racks, resistance bands, and more. Without a doubt, monkey bars are an essential addition to your home gym.
The best way I found to save space in your home gym is to invest in a wall-mounted pull up bar. It stays out of the way and functions exactly the same.
Anything you can think of to help with stretching, resistance, or endurance can also be used in your home gym. Some you may already own, too. Jump ropes, for example, will help with the cardio and mobility aspect of your workouts and are relatively cheap.
Medicine balls and kettlebells can also add resistance and form to your workouts. Of course, calisthenics requires a lot of handholds and grip strength, which can wane as you get sweaty. Having a good chalk ball on hand will help you maintain your grip at all times.
How To Build Your Own Calisthenics Home Gym (DIY Design & Setup)
Building your own home calisthenics gym can seem like a daunting task, but when you realize you only need to do what is minimally required to get results, it gets a bit easier.
There are three main types of home gym setups for you to consider: indoor, outdoor, and jungle gym. Let's take a look at each to see what they entail.
Indoor Calisthenics Gym
As you can see here, indoor home gyms can be versatile. They don’t require a lot of space since you won't have a ton of equipment to use. However, with bodyweight-focused exercises, you need a good mat to sit, stand and walk on. Since most gyms will be built in a garage or basement, concrete flooring is probably what you will be dealing with.
You also need a good rack to mount your resistance bands or gymnastics rings, as seen here. This will not only add versatility to your workouts but minimize the space needed for your equipment.
Plus, with a rack system or even a power tower, you can store your rings, bands, and weighted vests right on the rack for the next use. This makes storage easier, clean up time shorter, and gives you ample space to perform all of your movements.
Another thing you will notice is that this setup includes weights, bars, and more home gym equipment. As your needs grow, a basic calisthenics gym can easily expand into a full home gym. You can even add cardio equipment into the mix later on.
Since you are indoors, you don’t have to worry about weather and environmental conditions breaking down treadmill motors or elliptical belts. When you first start out, though, these plans may not be on your list yet.
For an indoor calisthenics gym, you are only limited by your space and budget. But that space is a huge issue for some. Because a lot of the workout routines include floor work (sitting, crouching, push ups, etc.), you need the room for a full range of motion, movement, and your body length.
Likewise, you also need the headroom for pull ups, jumping, using plyo boxes, and the like. Again, taking your measurements will ensure you know how much space you have to work with. As you add equipment and pieces, you will need to adjust your space requirements so that you always have enough room to actually use the equipment you have.
Like you see in this picture, the indoor space isn’t overly large, but there is plenty of room to use all of the equipment, reach overhead and even perform the floor work routines as needed, both for form and comfort.
Outdoor/Backyard Calisthenics Gym
If you find that you don’t have the space or spare room inside your home for a calisthenics home gym, you can move outdoors. Outdoor gyms have extra concerns, such as weather and environmental variables, but they aren't as important as they would be with a standard gym setup.
Since most of the equipment you use is rubber, nylon, or canvas, you won't worry about rust or corrosion. However, you still need to think about the flooring situation as rain and snow can affect your footing or where you do your workouts.
As you can see here, though, using the back patio or porch for the workout space under a covered eave makes this a non-issue. If your back patio or porch is large enough for you to move around and workout in, you can easily build a calisthenic gym.
You will need a monkey bar setup or a pull up bar to attach ropes, rings, and resistance bands to, but not much else. You can also install a power tower if your area is protected from the elements.
One of the biggest points of concern, though, is lighting. Not every day will be full sun, and you may find that working out at night or early morning is best for you. In these situations, you will need additional lighting to see what you are doing. Take a look at our ultimate guide to home gym lighting here.
String lights, as seen here, are a good solution, but so are overhead lights, ceiling fans with lights, and even floor lamps rated for outdoor use.
The other big concern, as you can imagine, is the weather. Cold days, winter nights, and summer days will have a drastic impact on your performance and output. You need to ensure that your body temperature is regulated, and this can be accomplished in a few ways.
Gas or electric space heaters can help in the colder parts of the year, and portable air conditioners, swamp coolers, or even fans will help in the hot summer months. Like most home gym components, I've compiled a guide to gym heating solutions and gym cooling options here!
It is best to know the layout, size, and space requirements of your workout area, equipment and lighting, as well as heaters and ACs. Some find it best to draw out a plan or design, even using computer-aided design programs to get the most out of their square feet.
Once you have a workable design, you can move things around and see what works best. You want easy access, plenty of workout space, and enough room for you, your equipment, and even storage.
Calisthenics Jungle Gym
One of the most intensive setups is a jungle gym. These require more space and construction than the indoor or outdoor gym styles but can provide you with more options and opportunities down the road.
They do require a lot of planning and budgeting, though. Even a simple setup, as you see here, can take days to properly plan and implement. And it all starts with your soil type.
Your base soil will determine how far down your posts need to be, what type of secure measures you use, and if you need support beams, framing, or simple concrete posts. In the example here, the posts are in a clay-based soil, which means it is denser and higher in moisture retention.
The lumber used must be pressure-treated lumber rated for ground contact so that it doesn't rot and break away over time. The posts also need to be buried deep enough to offer stability when weight and movement are applied. There is nothing worse than grabbing a pull up bar and having the entire frame wobble under you.
With a jungle gym set up, though, you are worried so much about straps, rings, or resistance bands. There isn’t a need for a power tower because you are essentially building your own from scratch.
The largest components needed are pull up bars of various heights, ladders, and parallel bars. You see all of these here. The pull up bars allow for different grips and the use of bands and rings as needed.
With the ladders, you get a whole new set of workout routines, including elevated curls, angled push-ups, and more. The parallel bars give you the ability to perform upper body workouts that include lifts, L-sits, core crunches, abdominal routines, and more.
As your needs grow and your experience and abilities along with it, you can expand your jungle gym to include more components. Many beginners start with a simple jungle gym of two posts and a pull up bar.
This gives you room and space to use resistance bands, gymnastics rings, and perform pulls ups. The groundwork can still be done with a mat to protect you from the dirt or mud, and you can get a full workout with just that.
However, once you get more into the workouts and learn about different features and movements, you can add parallel bars, ladders, racks, and more. Your only limit is your imagination, needs, and space.
Why Build A Calisthenics Gym? (Benefits Explained)
Calisthenics gyms are growing in popularity, but they are not a new thing. Made popular by parkour and popular television shows, though, calisthenic gyms have a whole new generation of users.
Strength training allows you to gain complete control over your body. By utilizing your body's weight, the angles of movement, and the type of movement you perform, you can gain flexibility, strength, movement, and balance all at the same time.
While you won’t bulk up and grow massive amounts of muscle mass, you will increase your lean muscle density, grow stronger and be more fit. Not only does society say this looks good, but you will feel good, too. Along with a healthy diet to care for the inside, your outside will be in peak physical form.
From here, you can add weights, cardio exercises, and weighted strength training to gain size or mass, as well as cardiovascular health. Most consider calisthenics to be the basis for all future workout types and is a great foundation to start your journey, regardless of age or abilities.
Calisthenics Body Vs Gym Body? (How The Workouts Differ)
As you are no doubt aware, there are several types of workouts you can go through. Not only are there calisthenics workouts but cardio, aerobic, anaerobic, strength, and weight training workouts. What is the difference, though?
Essentially the workout types are all different. For example, with a gym body, you work on size, mass, and strength to build muscle and physique. Then, using increasing amounts of weights for resistance, you will eventually grow strong enough to lift more than your own body weight.
Calisthenics, on the other hand, adds endurance, increases metabolic rate, and helps your body naturally burn calories. Calisthenic bodies are typically leaner, smaller, but denser. While a full calisthenic workout person may not be able to bench press a truck, they are pound for pound, more balanced.
Before you can do perfect squats, for example, your legs need to be conditioned and strong enough to support your body weight. This is what makes calisthenics one of the most versatile workout types. Instead of focusing on a single area of improvement (mass, for example), calisthenics gives you the base to grow from.
You get a solid foundation, flexibility, movement, control, balance, and strength, all from bodyweight exercises that allow you to expand further based on your individual desires. While gym workouts, cardio workouts, and HIIT training may not be for everyone, all of us will benefit from a solid calisthenics workout.
Frequently Asked Calisthenics Home Gym Questions
How much does it cost to build a calisthenic gym?
You can build a gym for almost no money at all if you need to. All that is required is your body weight and room to move. However, there are features and options for having some equipment to use that will increase the output and allow you to perform more exercise.
On average, a calisthenics gym is much cheaper than a full-weighted home gym. You can expect to pay between $200 and $1,000 for a full setup, depending on the components you wish to include.
Can you build muscle with just calisthenics?
You will get stronger when performing only calisthenics workouts, but you may not (and probably won’t) grow muscle mass. Instead, your muscles will gain mobility and flexibility while growing denser and stronger, but not bigger. So, you will build muscle strength, but not muscle mass.
What's the hardest calisthenics move?
The most complicated move is subjective to the individual performing the action. There are some moves, though, that are obviously tougher than others. For example, the "2-finger push up" is arguably one of the most intensive and impossible moves out there.
"One-finger pull-ups" and the "90-degree push up" are also at the top of most lists. You can perform these moves with time and training, though, making them easier as you grow stronger and better.
Do I actually need equipment for calisthenics?
Luckily, you don’t need anything more than a place to work out. A solid floor, preferably padded, is all you need to do bodyweight workouts. Of course, you will be limited in exercises, angles, and intensity that will eventually plateau your growth. Still, for starting out and reaching better form and balance, you don’t need anything at all.
Calisthenics is one of the most underrated and often overlooked workout styles. As a base workout, calisthenics adds strength, endurance, balance, and mobility to your body as a whole. It also provides a push off point for other workout styles.
However, finding the space, time and equipment to perform the various moves needed for a full calisthenic workout can be difficult. The answer for many is to build a calisthenic gym in their own home.
For an affordable solution that requires less space, maintenance, and cost than a typical home gym, you can start working out today and grow as needed over time.
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