Curious about using parallettes exercises in your routine? Discover why they’re not just for gymnasts!
Parallette bars might look like something a gymnast would use. But smart athletes know that bodyweight training is for everyone. The precise, controlled movements of calisthenics and gymnastics workouts are an amazing way to get more strength, flexibility, and core control into your home workouts.
And the best bit?
Parallette bars are small, portable, and cost-effective. Add a pair of parallettes to your fitness kit and discover a world of body weight workouts that will get you as fit, strong, and toned as a gymnast.
The Big Benefits Of Parallette Training
Parallettes are small, convenient, and can even be taken away with you when you travel. All you need it your own body weight, your bars, and enough room. Some people focus their entire training on bodyweight training and parallel work. Other people use them once or twice a week to complement weight training and gym work. Let your strength, physique, and competitive goals be the deciding factor. One thing’s for sure: adding some parallette work to your week will only ever be a positive thing!
It will increase your upper body strength, vertical pressing power, and will boost your co-ordination and proprioception across the shoulders, core, trunk, and arms. You’ll develop the kind of enviable balanced physique of a gymnast who has truly mastered his own strength to weight ratio.
Parallette Exercises For Beginners
Before you move on to any parallette exercise, get your hand position right. This will increase your power and protect you from hand, wrist, and shoulder injury. Have your wrists in a neutral position, and start with your thumbs on top of the bars (like a thumbless grip when weight training).
As you progress, try wrapping your thumbs around the bar in a regular grip. Keep your hands in the middle of the parallettes for balance and safety.
Targets: Your triceps
Sit between the parallette bars. Place your hands on the bars, and lift yourself off the ground so your elbows are locked out, and feet are still on the ground. Lower your hips toward the floor, sending your elbows behind you and keeping your upper arms close to your ribcage. Send your hips straight down, not back. Then press back up without resting.
Progress it: Elevate your feet on a low surface like a bench (or the coffee table!)
Targets: Your chest and shoulders
Hold the bars, and get into a plank position with your feet on the floor. Bend at the elbow and lower your chest, keeping your torso straight and sending your elbows back (not flared out). Stop when your chest is parallel with the top of the bars. Keep your hips stable throughout the move.
Progress it: Deepen the push-up by taking your chest below the top of the bars.
Targets: Your abs and core
Sit between the parallette bars. Place your hands on the bars, and lift yourself off the ground so your elbows are locked out, and your feet still on the ground. From here, lift your legs straight out in front of you, making a right-angle with your body. Press your hands hard into the parallettes to help the movement.
Progress it: By holding the L-Sit for a little longer each time.
Parallettes Exercises For Progression
Once you’ve mastered the beginner exercises, add some intermediate moves into your parallette routine.
Targets: Your abs, core, hips
This is a natural progression of the L-Sit you have mastered as a beginner. Sit between the parallette bars. Place your hands on the bars, and lift yourself off the ground so your elbows are locked out, and your feet still on the ground. From here, lift your legs (keeping them straight). Aim to get them level with your chest.
Progress it: Hold the V-Sit for 5-10 seconds longer each time.
Targets: Your shoulders, back, chest, core.
The planche is a key bodyweight and calisthenics exercise which will set you apart as a master of your new art. Face down, hold onto the parallette bars and shift your body weight forward onto your shoulders. Slowly lift your feet off the ground, spreading your legs to stabilize the movement. Slowly bring your legs together and extend. Aim to have your pelvis and shoulders both parallel with the ground (rather than shoulders or pelvis higher than the other). Keep practicing this movement to develop your shoulders, back and core muscles. Aim to hold the position for 5 seconds to begin with, increasing the duration as much as possible each session. But concentrate on form!
Modify it: If you struggle to get into the full planche, support your feet on yoga blocks or a similar elevated block whilst you get used to balancing and develop your core strength.
Parallette Wall Handstand
Targets: Your shoulders, back, arms
With your hands either inside, or in front of your parallette bars, jump your feet up and over so you are in a handstand position with your feet on a wall. From here, slowly move your hands to your parallette bars. Hold this wall handstand for as long as you can. Be careful when you come back down!
Alternatively, if you already have good core strength, you could begin with your hands holding the parallettes in front of a wall, and roll forwards, extending your legs as you go, until your heels touch the wall. Be aware of how close the wall is, and the speed at which you extend.
Progress it: By moving onto handstand push ups.
Advanced Parallettes Exercises
It’s time to add some challenging moves into your parallette routine, targeting your balance, shoulder strength, and agility.
Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
Targets: Your shoulders, chest, back, arms.
Get into a handstand position with your hands on the parallette bars, and feet against the wall, just like the Wall Handstand (above). Keeping your body straight and your feet tracking against the wall, bend your arms and lower your body down. A full parallette handstand push-up is very challenging, so start by just lowering yourself half way.
Modify it: By lowering yourself just as far as you can manage at first.
Progress it: By doing the handstand push-up without your feet against a wall. You need to be a balance guru!
Putting It All Together
Here’s a sample parallettes strength routine you could try at home.
- Plank (hold)
- 10 x Push-up
- Planche (hold)
- L-sit or V-sit (hold)
- Handstand (hold) or 5 x handstand press-up.
- Repeat for a total of 3-5 rounds.
Let us know how you get on in the comments below!
|A big thanks to the BarMob street workout team for helping us with the photos for this piece. Check out their website (here: www.barmob.co.uk) and keep an eye out for upcoming BarMob events around the U.K.
|…And if you haven’t yet picked up a pair of parallettes, we’ve just launched a new range for the massively affordable price of £29.95. Check them out here.