The Body Dojo Calisthenics Equipment Guide!
The beauty about bodyweight fitness is that you do not need much equipment to do the workouts. All of the resistance can be provided with your own bodyweight. Instead of taking weights on and off a machine or apparatus, the level of difficulty is changed by adjusting your leverage or body position. To get started with The Body Dojo, we recommend getting access to at least the items in the Recommended Equipment section below. Best of all, most of the equipment mentioned can be found at your local park! *
Recommended Calisthenics Equipment
Many of the workouts can be done with no additional equipment, requiring only some space to move around in. Depending on the type of workout, you can get away with as little as a few square feet of open space. Just watch out for any sharp table corners or anything dangerous in case you slip and fall!
Or any other sturdy vertical surface. You will need a wall to work on handstand progressions. A high fence also does nicely. We routinely workout in a basketball court, which has nice high fences for us to practice our handstands.
Pullup Bar or Similar
You will need a sturdy horizontal apparatus to hang from. A pullup bar is preferred, but you can also use a sturdy tree branch, scaffolding, etc. You can get creative here but make sure whatever you hang on can support your weight plus some extra. There are many types of pullup bars on the market. Some of the most popular variants hang in a doorway. These types are fine if you are just getting started, but we do not recommend these for higher belt level users because they are fairly limited in range of motion. If you do install a pullup bar at home, we recommend pullup bars that are offset from a wall or hung from a ceiling like the one pictured. Freestanding pullup bars are also an option but you do have to watch out for the stability of these types of bars when performing movements that require some swinging or weight distribution off center.
Bench or Chair
You will eventually need a surface at a different height to do various leg exercises and tricep dips on. Also some of the core exercises can benefit from a sturdy bench to lay on.
Parallettes are great for working on many of the exercise progressions. They are also useful if you have limited wrist mobility or wrist strength. You can get away without using parallettes but it will be difficult to get safe and quality workouts without them. You may be able to use the arms of a chair, or two stable surfaces close enough to each other to support yourself on (like to chairs next to each other). If you do use chairs or similar, watch out that the chairs do not tip over. We highly recommend getting a pair of parallettes. You can make your own or buy some online. Parallettes are a fairly simple DIY with the right tools. Many people make them out of PVC but we do not recommend those due to the way they feel. We recommend any parallettes with wooden handles like the pair pictured.
We highly recommend getting a pair of gymnastics rings. Rings are not just for doing insane gymnastics moves, you can do literally hundreds of different exercises on them! Just check out this post for some examples. We recommend wooden rings due to the feel and anti-slip nature of wood. We have used these Wood Gymnastic Rings (also shown in the picture) for a couple of years already and they have held up pretty well. Also wood is anti-microbial so that is a plus! Rings are the most versatile pieces of equipment that you will use in The Body Dojo program.
Parallel bars at the park or at a gym are perfect. Many places also have dip bars around pullup stations. You can also perform dips on a low wall or low pullup bar at a park.
Whenever you are performing bodyweight exercises, you can increase both the safety and volume of activity by using grip chalk. We use the powder type grip chalk like these. Next to gymnastics rings, chalk is probably the one piece of equipment we use the most. It is especially useful on metal bars where your hands can easily slip. Be sure to apply it liberally and often when you work out!
There may be a time when your own bodyweight does not provide enough resistance and you would like to increase your intensity. You can use a weight vest to help, or eat 10 cheeseburgers, then work out (not recommended!). Yes, you are using a type of weight, but you are still performing bodyweight based exercises so the results and benefits are the same vice traditional weight lifting. We have used a weight vest similar to the one pictured here. Although we do not use it often, it does come in handy for training specific skills, such as one arm pull-ups or pistol squats.
Stall Bars / Swiss Bars
These are awesome for training human flags, as well as increasing your flexibility. You can also do a number of core exercises on stall bars.
Rubber Assist Bands
These are great to take off a little weight for some exercises. We do not use bands often, if at all. But if you do choose to use them, make sure most of your workout is using your own bodyweight with low rep sets, and then use the bands to throw a few sets of higher repetition. We do not recommend you perform most of your exercises with rubber assist bands due to the uneven resistance they provide. In addition, heavy use of bands typically means you are trying a progression that is too hard for your skill level. However, they can be handy in learning some of the more advanced techniques like felges and planche.
It is fine to wear gloves if you do not want to get calluses. We do not recommend wearing gloves to start because we do like toughening up the hands and also improving the “feel” of exercise movements. We have used gloves typically to increase the total volume of our workouts but more frequently workout with them.
Speed Rope/Jump Rope
Speed ropes are great for coordination, cardio, and conditioning. These are a great tool for beginner Body Dojo athletes because they also help improve the mobility and strength in your wrists and ankles. We occasionally use speed ropes as part of our warm up routines, but you can also develop entire workouts using speed ropes.
Some of the workouts require jumping onto a higher surface. You will also need a higher surface for the entry-level progressions. A good plyometric box is not only sturdy enough to handle your weight, but can be rotated on it’s different sides to provide different height options. We built our own plyometric box (pictured) which provides multiple uses. This DIY is a little more involved but you can make them at home with the right tools. There are also other types of plyometric platforms made of metal or with padding. Try different ones out and see what you like.
Those muscles will get sore, really sore! Foam rollers are great for loosening those tight muscles and working out any knots. Foam rollers come in all kinds of different sizes and hardness. We use the black foam roller pictured for working on our back muscles and legs.
If you would like to have some additional comfort for performing your stretches and calisthenics exercises on the ground, a gymnastics mat would be a good choice (like the one pictured. Look for mats that have sturdy foam padding and are at least 4’x10′ in size to give you ample room to move around. We have one of these mats and keep it folded underneath our stall bars at home to also provide additional safety cushion for when the kids are playing on the stall bars.
Stall Bars / Swiss Bars
Swiss Bars, or in the US, Stall Bars, are a great piece of calisthenics equipment if you have the space or budget. We build a set from scratch but it is still quite an investment in both time and money. You can find stall bars in a variety of materials, as usual, we recommend wood for feel. You also want to make sure the stall bars are made of quality hardwood. Oak and maple are great choices for the dowels, and birch plywood can be used for the sides.
The great thing about calisthenics is low risk of dropping some iron on your feet! Also many of the exercises are more effective when barefoot. Shoes and sneakers are optional, but do be respectful of where you are working out and local guidelines for clothing 🙂
Yes, even clothing is optional, especially shirts. We do recommend you keep your bottoms on for obvious sanitary reasons! Since many of the exercises are upper body focused and require a large range of motion, not wearing a shirt or wearing sleeveless tops are much more comfortable when performing calisthenics workouts.
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