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Calisthenics workouts can offer many benefits without equipment. Even so, certain calisthenics bars can make your workouts even better.
Some of the benefits of calisthenics workouts include that they can be done anywhere, they only require a low or no budget, and often require no location.
At the same time, calisthenics still offers many of the regular resistance training benefits to some extent.
One downside is that even calisthenics workouts require some equipment to train certain body parts hard enough for significant muscle growth.
In other cases, a good calisthenics bar can allow you to build more muscle for longer with the same calisthenics exercises or simply make your workouts more comfortable.
There are different types of calisthenics bars. Each has its own exercises, advantages, and disadvantages. Which ones are a good investment depends on things like your personal situation, budget, workout room, and training goals.
Keep in mind that even though these calisthenics bars can offer benefits, like with any exercise there is always a certain injury risk. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.
1. Pull-up bars
One of the body parts where no-equipment calisthenics exercises are generally not enough to build muscle is your upper back. The muscles there are relatively strong and thus need a lot of resistance for muscle growth.
Luckily one simple calisthenics bar can allow you to make a lot of muscle growth and strength progress in your upper back. Any horizontal bar that can be used to do the pull-up exercise can be described as a pull-up bar.
Pull-ups are a popular compound calisthenics back exercise where you pull yourself up to a bar.
Besides that, there are other pull-up bar exercises for different body parts. This includes many calisthenics exercises for your core muscles.
Once you have decided you could use a pull-up bar, you have a few different types to choose from. The end goal of each one is the same but the best way to get there depends on a lot of factors.
Some of these calisthenics bars, like doorway pull-up bars, are inexpensive and easy to set up. In turn, they are not as sturdy as for example a wall-mounted pull-up bar. This last type in turn has stricter installment requirements.
If you plan to do calisthenics exercises with more swinging you will have to choose some of the sturdier models. These require a bit more effort to set up and room to use and store.
Once you have a pull-up bar, you can start doing the powerful pull-up exercise. If you are more experienced with resistance training you can consider investing in other pull-up equipment to make the exercise harder.
2. Parallette bars
Parallette bars are a typical calisthenics workout equipment option. Some people consider these to be the only type of calisthenics bar. Parallette bars are basically two, slightly longer, horizontal bars that are relatively close to the ground.
You can use these to do exercises like L-sits, leg raises, reverse shrugs, dips with a small range of motion, neutral grip pushups, etc. indoor and even outdoor when the weather allows it.
Parallette bars are similar to regular dip bars but closer to the ground. This makes them more stable and suited for some of the more complicated calisthenics exercises with a bit more swinging like a handstand.
This piece of calisthenics exercise equipment can be a bit pricey but in return, good parallette bars can benefit your workouts for many years to come.
3. Dip bars
Dip bars are essentially two horizontal bars with enough room below them to do the dip exercise. This is a tricep exercise where you start leaning on the dip bars with your hands, the rest of your body is hovering in the air.
The next step is folding your arms until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Lastly, you stretch your arms again. This may sound simple but it is an extremely challenging calisthenics exercise for your tricep muscles.
While there are a variety of other dip bar exercises for other body parts, this is not the most versatile calisthenics bar on the list. Since you are higher off the ground doing exercises like handstands where you need a lot of balance becomes risky.
The potential downside that comes with this is that dip bars can require a slightly bigger investment for a relatively specific training goal.
That being said, being able to do the dip exercise with a large range of motion can be a valuable addition to your calisthenics workout plan. This type of calisthenics bar can also last a very long time.
4. Pushup bars
Pushups are a typical calisthenics exercise for training your chest and tricep muscles and to some extent your core. Other variations can also help you train your shoulders, balance, and coordination more.
One potential downside of the exercise is that pushups put your wrists in a position that can be painful to certain people.
There are mini calisthenic bars called pushup bars to resolve this issue. These pushup bars are simply horizontal bars that are slightly elevated above the ground. This enables you to do pushups while keeping your wrists straight.
Some models even rotate during the movement to avoid putting your wrists in an uncomfortable position even more. An advantage of this type of calisthenics bar is that is relatively cheap and easy to use.
Additionally, you can use pushup bars for other exercises like handstands. Keep in mind that pushup bars have a lot less room for hand movements compared to parallette bars.
A potential upside or downside is that these pushup bars can also make it so you can lower your body more. If you keep your shoulders in a good position this can lead to a bigger range of motion. This is generally beneficial for muscle growth.
On the other hand, doing pushups with a larger range of motion with suboptimal shoulder positions can also increase your injury risk.
5. Power towers
A power tower is a combination of a pull-up bar, dip bar, and often captain’s chair. This piece of calisthenics workout equipment is basically a combination of two other calisthenics bars into one with a captain’s chair on top.
One of the benefits of power towers is that they stand quite sturdily on their own. You don’t need to drill any holes in a wall or risk damaging your door frames.
Besides that, power towers allow you to do a variety of calisthenics exercises. Some of these power tower exercises include pull-ups, dips, leg raises, feet to bars, sideways knee raises, etc.
Another advantage is that a power tower can last a long time without losing too much value.
A potential downside of power towers is that they come at a relatively steep price compared to some of the other calisthenics bars. On top of that, you need a decent amount of space to use and store one.
Power towers are also not perfect. If you plan to do calisthenics exercises with a lot of swinging around you may need to attach the power tower to the ground or anchor them down with heavy weights.
Do I need a pull-up bar for calisthenics?
A pull-up bar or something similar is generally needed to build upper back muscle mass with calisthenics exercises. You can do inverted rows with something like a table but this is generally less safe and a lot less effective than pull-ups.
What are calisthenics bars called?
There are different types of calisthenics bars. That being said, parallette bars, long horizontal bars close to the ground, are often called calisthenics bars.