The Best Equipment for Body Weight Exercises
One of the great things about resistance training is that the equipment is versatile. Dumbbells, barbells, bands, kettlebells, and even medicine balls allow you to perform several exercises with one piece of equipment.
This is great for variety but small, light equipment is especially good for training at home or on the road. As much as I love a fully equipped gym, sometimes doing more with less is the way to go.
Back when I was a full-time in home trainer, I had to get by with what I could carry in two hands. While I’m a big guy with big hands, I also had to choose what gave me the biggest “bang for my buck”, as most of my clients had little to no equipment.
My “in-home arsenal” consisted of several full-sized and mini resistance bands, a sandbag, two kettlebells, an exercise mat, and a set of gymnastics rings.
In the right hands, that small amount of equipment is as good as a full gym!
If you asked me to pick one, I’d say the gymnastics rings are my favorite. One lightweight piece of equipment that gives you challenging upper body workouts, abdominal exercises, shoulder stabilization, stretching, and more.
If you’re looking to add variety or a challenge to your workouts, consider adding gymnastics rings or a suspension trainer to your “arsenal”!
Suspension trainers have become very popular in recent years. Whether it is gymnastics rings or straps with padded handles, you can use them to get a full body workout.
Suspension trainers are especially great for upper body exercises. Gymnasts have trained with them for ages, and now it’s your turn!
Gymnastics Rings vs Suspension Trainers: Which is better?
These are similar in many ways and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Which works better for you depends on personal preference and what type of training you want to do.
Personally, I prefer the gymnastics rings. I use them a little in my own training, but I mostly use them with clients. I like the rings for 3 main reasons:
- They are not connected at the top
- The grip doesn’t move
- The straps are really long
Don’t take my opinion as the final word, though. Remember that I’m a nitpicky personal trainer working with people of all different levels of strength and fitness. What I look for in equipment is different than someone looking to get a full body workout.
I also tend to keep training simple and only use these for upper body exercises and stretches. Because of this, the foot straps and accessories that come with a suspension trainer are of no use to me.
Gymnastics rings are the way to go if you’re looking for focused upper body training. They aren’t connected to each other and the strap length allows for more height adjustment. Because of this, they are better suited for exercises like pull ups, dips, muscle ups, and different push up variations.
If you want something geared towards general fitness and full body workouts, a suspension trainer is a better choice. There are tons out there, with the TRX being the most popular. The foot straps allow you to perform lower body and abdominal exercises like split squats, hamstring curls, mountain climbers, and reverse crunches.
Parallettes and Parallel Bars
If you don’t have space for gymnastics rings or a suspension trainer, don’t worry. You can still get a good workout using your body weight for resistance. This is where parallel bars come in!
Parallel bars come in different sizes, from small handles for push ups to full size bars for dips, rows, abdominal, and balancing exercises.
I have a set that I use with clients mostly for push ups and as an obstacle for specific exercises. While you’re mostly limited to push ups with the smaller ones, the larger bars allow for a lot of creativity.
And if you’re thinking “I can do dips and push ups. What else is there to do with these bars?”, please take a moment to watch this…
After watching this video and a few street workouts, I’m pretty pumped to conquer that handstand push up I always wanted to learn!
When using a suspension trainer, rings, or parallel bars, make sure you warm up first and take the time to learn the exercises correctly.
Whether you keep it simple with push ups and pull ups or learn advanced exercises like the ones shown in the video, body weight training is a great way to build upper body strength and endurance.
Add some parallel bars or rings to your next workout for a break from your normal routine, or to give yourself an added challenge!