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    Home Gym Workouts and Equipment

    By David (Jacko) Jackson

    These days so many of us lead such busy lives that time is now our most important asset and so lots more of us are starting to train more and more at home, not just saving on money from gym memberships but that all important asset –  time!

    Tim and I are no different. Being able to fit training into a busy schedule is so important these days. If you’re able to train at home it can make a massive difference and save a huge amount of time.

    Calisthenics in its nature allows us the opportunity to do workouts at home as many of the handstand and balance variations or push training exercises require no equipment or home gym at all. It’s one of the things I love most about calisthenics. You can literally do it anywhere! Although with that said, I’m even more passionate about the fact that we need to make our training fit into our life rather than become our life. Yes, we love training, but it should be only one part of your life and one of many parts that make you happy and enjoy it!

    That’s the fluffy bit over with… but seriously, I’m deadly serious about training fitting into life NOT the other way around!

    Home gym equipment

    Right. lets get into the idea of training at home, what a home gym might look like and some home workouts you can crack on with.

    Despite the benefits of not needing any equipment to train handstands at home, if you’re wanting a well rounded training programme (which you all should), we need to be able to balance out all the no-equipment pushing we do with some pulling and rowing variations.

    A training week that only incorporates handstands and pushing exercises, even if all you want to learn is a handstand, is still not a well rounded training week or programme compared to a variety of pushing and pulling movements you can still do. It’s important for shoulder posture and balance to your body that you incorporate both into your home gym workouts just as you should training at the gym.

    So if we’re going to have a home gym that can give us a well rounded training programme, we’re going to need something to pull ourselves up on at home. That’s where gymnastic rings become your new best friend! They’re so versatile for a huge variety of pulling exercises in different planes, grip positions, fun things like skin the cat or even a counter balance assistance if you’re working on pistol squats as part of a lower body session.

    The ultimate in the home gym though is the School of Calisthenics Rig which we designed with our equipment partners Bulldog Gear. We have a standard size which is 2.25m and an XL version which is 2.5m in height for the taller ‘calisthenics athlete’, but also a special request from all you ‘big guys’ out there! The beauty of the rig as a home gym is that with the various attachments it can quickly go from providing your pulling and human flag movements to be a dip station or even a full squat rack. It really is a complete home gym solution… at least we think so!

    If you’re just starting out in calisthenics, then our beginners portable pull up, push up and dip rack is perfect for you to help you build the basic capacity strength of pull ups, push ups, dips and rows using only your bodyweight.

    If you’re interested in seeing the rig in action, the video below lets you see them in action as part of our weighted calisthenics tutorial.


    Home gym workouts

    So whether you’ve got no equipment at all, just a set of rings or a full rig, we’ve got a few examples of home gym workouts for you to work through. The more well-equipped your home gym, the more you’ll be able to try, but there’s something here for everyone.

    We’ll break the sessions down for you into three parts; pull and push and combined. This will give us a well-rounded session with a variety of exercises that hit all the major players in the upper body, but in a rounded fashion with vertical and horizontal components for both the pushing and pulling.

    Push Session

    Horizontal Pushing

    Standard push ups or pike push ups are the no equipment options. If you have a set of rings, try hanging them from a tree or pull up bar and you’re going to hit those shoulder stabilisers in a ring push up. Stability is the foundation for strength and without it you cannot produce effective maximal forces. So if you have any handstand press ups or planche goals in mind, these will be great for laying those good shoulder stability foundations. If you want to challenge yourself with intensity and difficulty: try raising your feet off the ground onto a box and drop deeper in between the rings, or take one arm out to the side in an archer ring push up.

    • 8 to 12 reps x 2 to 4 sets
    • Controlled tempo (3 – 2 – 1)
    • 60 secs rest between sets

    Vertical Pushing

    Using a set of rings or the dip attachment on the School of Calisthenics rig allows you to perform bodyweight dips. These are some of the best shoulder and tricep exercises for building pushing strength. Even though you’re pushing downwards, the strength development for the shoulders and triceps will help with any handstand and handstand push up goals you may have. Triceps respond well to volume so try more of a hypertrophy acute variable to start with.

    • 6 to 12 reps x 4 to 6 rets
    • Slow eccentric for the tempo (3 to 5 secs)
    • 90 secs rest between sets

    Pull Session

    Vertical Pulling

    Pull ups using the horizontal pull up bar or rings, using resistance bands if needed or the additional load of a weighted vest to increase max strength. If you’re trying to build up some max strength to be more explosive for things like muscle ups, use the following acute variables;

    • 3 to 5 reps x 3 to 5 sets
    • 2 – 0 – X tempo
    • 2 to 3 mins rest between sets

    Horizontal Pulling

    Bodyweight ring rows superset with ring reverse fly using gymnastics rings hanging from a tree or bar. Adjust the length or the rings and your foot position to change the intensity and strength demand of the exercise.

    • 12 reps x 3 sets
    • 3 – 2 – 1 tempo
    • 60 secs rest between supersets

    Combined Session

    Combined sessions are where the ‘magic’ will happen for things like your muscle up and human flags, which comprise of both a pull and pushing component.

    Muscle Ups

    • Using a resistance band to allow you to create enough speed, take advantage of the rig’s stability and go fast! You need a strong band initially to create enough speed to get you high enough over the bar for the muscle up. Over time you’ll generate that speed yourself and if you’re working on your strength also for your pull ups, you’ll start to be able to use a thinner and thinner band until one day you redefine your impossible.
    • You can also practise the dip element of the muscle up with some straight bar dips and also combine that with some controlled eccentric muscle ups or downs, as you lower yourself down from the pull up bar after your dips.

    Human Flags

    • The Human Flag requires the top hand to be pulling and the bottom hand to be pushing in order to create torque to leverage your body up into the gravity defying horizontal position.
    • You can work both of these elements separate as we like to with single arm active hangs (use a resistance band if needed) and T-push up holds.
    • Once you’ve mastered these components of the human flag separately, you then need to teach the brain the combined movement pattern of them both working maximally simultaneously. This is where we ‘jump’ onto the human flag handles for what we call the vertical flag. Can you push with your bottom arm and pull with your top arm enough to be able to touch your toes off the ground and dangle in mid-air? Aim for a minimum of 4 to 6 sets of 5 second holds before moving onto more advanced progressions like tucked and single leg flags.

    I Hope that’s given you some ideas of what awesome training you can actually get done at home and what a home gym solution could look like, whether it’s just you using a wall for your handstands, gymnastics rings to help with pulling strength or a full home gym solution like the School of Calisthenics Rig!

    Class dismissed


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