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Bodyweight-only workouts can offer many benefits but certain pieces of exercise equipment can make your workouts even better.
Some of the benefits of bodyweight workouts include that they can be done anywhere, do not require any budget, and often require no location while at the same time still offering some of the regular resistance training benefits.
One downside is that for certain body parts like your back and triceps, even bodyweight workouts can benefit from some equipment.
In other cases, one piece of equipment can allow you to build more muscle for longer with the same bodyweight exercises.
Keep in mind that even though these equipment options 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. Dip bar
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 bodyweight exercise for your tricep muscles.
A benefit of dip bars is that there are also other dip bar exercises for other body parts. This piece of bodyweight workout equipment can also last a very long time.
One potential downside is that dip bars can require a slightly bigger investment for a relatively specific training goal.
2. Power tower
A power tower is a combination of a pull-up bar, dip bar, and often captain’s chair. This piece of bodyweight workout equipment is basically a combination of multiple other options into one.
A benefit of this option is that there are a variety of power tower exercises like pull-ups, dips, leg raises, etc. which can be done with just your body weight. 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 many power tower alternatives. You also need a decent amount of space to use and store one.
3. Gymnastic rings
Gymnastic rings are round rings attached to straps that are hung in the air. This sounds and is simple but this piece of equipment opens the door to a variety of powerful bodyweight exercises.
An upside of gymnastic rings is that they are extremely versatile. You can use this piece of equipment to train a variety of body parts. Something else is that they can last a very long time.
The main downside is that it can be a challenge to set up these rings. You need a suited object to attach them to and to use them optimally you want enough space around you.
Gymnastic rings on their own are relatively inexpensive but you may also need to invest in other, more pricey, workout equipment to complete the setup.
4. Pull-up bar
Pull-ups are a popular back compound exercise that is generally considered to be a bodyweight exercise. Even so, you do still need a piece of equipment to do it, a pull-up bar. This is simply a sturdy horizontal bar.
Pull-up bars are generally inexpensive and allow you to train your back which is usually hard to train with bodyweight exercises. They can also be used to do other exercises for other body parts.
One potential downside is setting up the pull-up bar. There are doorway pull-up bars that can be used for very controlled pull-ups with the right doorframe.
However, if you plan to do bodyweight 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 this powerful back exercise. If you are more experienced with resistance training you can consider investing in other pull-up equipment to make the exercise harder.
5. Parallette bars
Parallette bars are a typical bodyweight workout equipment option. These 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 these calisthenics bars more stable and suited for some of the more complicated bodyweight exercises like a handstand.
This piece of bodyweight exercise equipment can be a bit pricey but in return, parallette bars can benefit your workouts for many years to come.
6. Ab wheel
An ab wheel is a piece of gym equipment that looks either like 1 wheel with handles on each side or 2 wheels with a handle in between. As the name implies, this bodyweight workout equipment option is generally used for ab workouts.
The way you use an ab wheel is by sitting on your knees (preferably on a soft surface), keeping your body straight from your knees to the top of your head, and putting your hands on the ab wheel handles.
To do the actual exercise you then roll the wheel forward and back in a controlled motion. Your core muscles will have to work relatively hard. You can even do different ab wheel exercises to target different parts of your core.
A benefit of ab wheels is that they are a relatively inexpensive piece of exercise equipment to improve your bodyweight ab workouts.
One downside is that ab wheels engage your core muscles in a more isometric, static, way. This generally leads to less muscle gain than more dynamic core exercises.
7. Pushup handles
Pushups are a typical bodyweight exercise for training your chest and tricep muscles and to some extent your core. 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 hand grip bars called pushup handles to resolve this issue. These pushup handles 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 bodyweight workout equipment is that is relatively cheap and easy to use.
A downside is that these pushup bars can also make it so you can lower your body too much. This can put your shoulders in a position with extra injury risk. Many people also simply don’t need pushup handles to get in a good pushup session.
8. Weighted vest
Bodyweight workouts can be a great way to get started with strength training. However, as you progress in muscle strength, the same exercises that used to be challenging will become easier and easier.
To build muscle you have to do exercises that challenge your muscles enough. At some point you may need extra resistance to be able to do this.
This is where a good weighted vest, a vest with extra weight, can be a great equipment option to make your bodyweight exercises more challenging again.
Especially for strong muscles like your legs, you may need the extra resistance from a weighted vest or other types of resistance for a lot of muscle strength and growth progress.
Another benefit of a weighted vest is that it is extremely versatile. You can use it in many exercises for many body parts and different exercise categories.
9. Jump rope
A jump rope is simply a rope that can be used to jump over at a fast pace. This piece of equipment can be used both as a warmup for your bodyweight workouts or as a tool to strengthen your heart muscle and the rest of your cardiovascular system.
Jumping rope can offer a variety of other benefits that include burning calories, improving coordination, improving sleep, engaging leg muscles, etc.
On top of that, a jump rope is very inexpensive, compact to store, easy to bring with you, and can be used in a variety of places.
One thing to keep in mind is that jumping rope can be relatively rough on body parts like knees and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. As long as you don’t overdo it this can lead to stronger bones but there is some injury risk.
Something else to remember is that to use a jump rope to its full extent your ceiling needs to be high enough and you also need a good amount of space around you.