Nobody likes a sellout. They go against everything we value about integrity and loyalty. So when we catch someone in the act of selling out, we tend to pounce.
Just remember how America took NBA icon Lebron James to task when he left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the sunny beaches of Miami. Or consider the heavy metal band Metallica, who have been so widely accused of the deed, they’re listed as an example on Wikipedia’s “Selling Out” page. And let’s not forget how we all winced for the better part of the new millennium while George Lucas trudged out three underwhelming Star Wars prequels in exchange for all the money ever.
So that being said, we’re guessing there are at least a few people who read the headline to this article and thought, “Wait, what?! I thought you guys were all about exercising without equipment! You SOLD OUT!”
Alright, alright, just hear us out here before you put us on the same level as “Attack of the Clones”. We deserve that much.
Yes, we adamantly believe you can get a great workout using just your body. We always have; we always will. That’s the foundation of our company. So when we say “equipment”, we’re not talking about your typical dumbbells, or bench presses, or gym machines. We’ve made our opinion pretty clear about that stuff (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s not favorable).
So what do we mean when we say “equipment”? Well, we’re talking about tools you can use that will not add any strenuous extra weight, but will supplement many bodyweight exercises. It’s the same principle as a pull-up bar. In the end, it’s still just you and your body.
With that in mind, we’ve got five pieces of calisthenics equipment that can take your calisthenics training to the next level — by adding a higher element of balance, stability, or just giving you more options for bodyweight exercises. Take a look at our list and let us know what you think of these. Do they already help you with your training? Is there another piece of equipment your fellow athletes should know about? Still think we’ve sold out? Tell us in the comments!
5) Neuro Grip
Our good friends, the Kavadlo brothers, are no strangers to thinking outside the box when it comes to training. So it’s no wonder their venture, Dragon Door, would come up with a new piece of equipment that would make classic push-ups even more intense.
These devices, which look kind of like little mallets, intensify the classic calisthenics exercise by serisously challenging the user’s stability. The handle sits atop a very thin base that will make holding steady while you execute your push-up very difficult. Plus, with the elevated surface you’re going to get a greater range of motion than standard push-ups. Just make sure you don’t use these on a slippery surface.
A set of Neuro Grips will run you $39.99 on Dragon Door’s website.
4) Ab Wheel
There are a million products out that claiming to be able to give you shredded abs in only minutes a day. The reality, of course, is that it’s going to take a little more discipline than that. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t equipment out there that can elevate your core training. And the best piece of equipment designed specifically for the abdominal area is the ab wheel.
The design, like everything on this list, is fairly simple: It’s a steel rod to gram with both hands with a sturdy wheel in between. The user sits on his/her knees and, with the ab-wheel on the floor, grips the rod on each side of the wheel.
In a controlled motion, extend the arms out forward so that your upper body becomes parallel to the ground. Keeping your arms straight, extend the wheel out as far as you can without hitting the ground and return to starting position. It won’t take long for you to realize, this is one heck of a piece of abdominal equipment.
Here’s a great video on the basics of using the ab wheel:
Now, there’s nothing proprietary about the ab wheel, so there are a lot of different options out there. Really, you shouldn’t spend more than about $15-20
3) Battle Rope
A recent snack food commercial poked a little fun at the use of battle ropes, implying that they look cool but don’t really do anything. Hey, whether or not you think they look cool is up to you. But we’re here to tell you they do do something. A whole lot of something, in fact.
Battle ropes can be used in a number of different ways to target a number of different muscles. They can increase muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance, stability, and more. All you need is to wrap the rope around a pole, a tree, or anything sturdy.
Now, technically there is some added weight here, in the form of the ropes. But the weight of the ropes is pretty negligible, with all of the force of the ropes applied to the muscular system.
And what can you do with these ropes? To give you a start, here’s a video showing 23 different exercises you can implement:
There are plenty of different manufacturers for these ropes, so you can find a good one for about $40.
2) BOSU Ball
This is that piece of equipment that many people at the gym walk by and wonder “What the heck is that thing?” Well, it’s actually one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in fitness, and if you can get your hands on one, you can open up a whole world of opportunities to your training.
Developed in 1999, BOSU actually stands for “both sides up”. This means you can get use out of the the BOSU ball, no matter which side is up, whether the rubber domed side or the platform side. As described by the Health & Fitness Advisory, “The domed side is used for aerobic exercises and athletic drills, and when the BOSU ball is inverted, it becomes a tool for balance training that can be used by almost everybody.”
These babies can be used for just about every facet of your training: cardio, arms, back, chest, legs, core, stability and more. To scratch the surface, here’s a video showing ten exercises to utilize with the BOSU ball:
Prices vary depending on what size you want and any extras, but you can get that ball itslef for about $80.
1) TRX Suspension Trainer
And now we come what may be the best piece of equipment to be brought into the world of calisthenics in the last twenty years, the Total Resistance eXercise System, better known as TRX.
Invented by Randy Hetrick, TRX was originally created to further his training beyond generic push-ups while deployed in Southeast Asia. His finished product is a suspension training system that develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability — simultaneously. And all it utilizes is gravity and the user’s bodyweight.
Just about every gym or fitness center these days has a TRX station, which speaks to the popularity of the equipment as well as calisthenics itself. LIke a lot of great ideas, TRX is fairly simple: Nylon straps with rubber handles on each end that can affix to just about anything. That’s right, you don’t need to be beholden to a gym; you can use TRX right in your own home.
You can get a great workout on every muscle group — arms, chest, back, shoulders, legs, core … get the picture? And there are more possibilities for exercises with TRX than we (or anyone, probably) can count. But here are 60 to get you started:
On the TRX website, you can pick up the home gym system for $179.95, which includes handy extras like a door anchor and a starter guide.