Parallel bars are an amazing bit of home fitness kit. With just bars plus your body weight, you can do a massive variety of exercises that will build all-round body strength.
Get started with this 5-exercise, 10-minute parallel bar workout that hits your upper body, lower body, abs, and core!

Beginner to Pro Parallel Bars Exercises

Quick Navigation:

Section 1:  Upper Body: Chest, Front Delts

Section 2:  Upper Body: Triceps

Section 3:  Lower Body: Hips, Quads

Section 4:  Trunk: Abs & Core

Section 5:  Full Body: Strength & Endurance

Putting It All Together – Example Workout

 Upper Body: Chest, Front Delts

Parallel bars are often used as a “dipping station” in commercial gyms. So by having parallel bars at home, you can get started with this big, effective move for your upper body. Dips work the chest and front of your shoulder (anterior delts). But like any body weight movement, you will feel the work in other parts of your body too. Prepare for your arms, back, and core to benefit as well.

 Parallel Bar Dips

  1. Support yourself on the parallel bars with one hand on each bar
  2. Raise yourself up so your arms are locked out
  3. Cross your feet at the ankles and bend your legs slightly at the knees
  4. Lean forward slightly as you lower your body, bending your arms and sending your elbows back
  5. Lower slowly and with control
  6. Press up from the bottom position
  7. Alter the angle of your body to target slightly different areas of the pectorals and deltoids

Chest Dips

Want more?

Once you’ve mastered this move and can perform 10+ reps with slow tempo and good form, add weight using a dipping belt.

 Upper Body: Triceps

Modify your parallel bar dips slightly and you’ll feel the work in your triceps. This is one of the toughest – and most effective – triceps exercises you can do. Stick with it and you’ll see visible changes in the mass and shape of your arms.

 Triceps Dips

  1. Set up for a dip (as above)
  2. As you lower your body down, keep your torso more upright and keep your elbows tucked close to your body
  3. Focus the tension in your triceps as you push back up, maintaining an upright torso

Tricep Dips

 Technique notes:

 Keep your wrists, elbows, and shoulders “stacked” in a straight line throughout the movement (grip the parallel bars directly under your shoulders)

 Lock your elbows out at the top of the movement, and think about rotating your arms so the inside of your elbows face forward.

 Keep your shoulders packed firmly onto your torso to prevent them from shrugging upwards.

 Lower Body: Hips, Quads

You can’t put any weighted resistance through your legs and glutes using parallel bars, but you can use gravity to build muscular endurance in your hips, pelvis, and quads.

 Leg Raises

  1. Hold the parallel bars with one hand on each side and your legs hanging down.
  2. As you breathe out, focus on strengthening your core muscles.
  3. Raise your legs out in front of you, with knees, ankles, and feet together.
  4. Control the movement by focusing on your core.
  5. Hold your legs straight out in front for a few seconds and then lower slowly as you breathe out.

Leg Raises

 Want more?

You can add resistance to this by strapping ankle weights to your ankles, or by holding a small dumbbell between your ankles.

 Trunk: Abs & Core

Performing a full L-Sit on your parallel bars would be one of the strongest exercises for your core. But it’s pretty advanced! So get started with tucks instead. They are a great exercise for the entire core. And they help you build a great foundation for moving onto L-Sits if you want.

  1. Hold the parallel bars with one hand on each side and your legs hanging down.
  2. As you breathe out, start to bring your knees in towards your chest.
  3. Think about curling your pelvis and lower spine slowly to control the movement.
  4. Hold your legs in the tuck position for a few seconds and then lower slowly as you breathe out.

L-Sit Tucks

 Want more?

Move on to a full L-Sit by extending your legs out at right angles and holding this “L”-shaped position.

   Take a look at how to perform an L-Sit on parallettes here.

 Full Body: Strength & Endurance

Ladies and gentlemen: The Straddle Planche:
Straddle Planche

The planche doesn’t just look impressive, it’s a masterful display of balance and control which will strengthen your entire body. Here’s how to work up to this advanced bodyweight hold.

3 Planche Progressions

1.Tuck planche

Place one hand on each side of your parallel bars, with your arms straight
Bend your knees and bring them into your chest, so your arms are supporting your full body weight.
Lift your hips behind you to shoulder height and hold this position. Once you can hold this for 60 seconds, move on to the advanced version.

2.Advanced tuck planche

Get into your tuck planche position, with knees at your chest and arms straight.
Work on straightening your back. Extend your hips up behind you until your back straightens out.

3.Straddle planche

Get into your advanced tuck planche position, with knees tucked in, arms straight, and hips high (so your back is parallel to the ground). There’s just one more move to master….

Move your legs out from under your chest, so they are pointing away behind you. Do this slowly and with control, using your breath to help you.
Lean your body forward over your wrists to counterbalance your legs moving.
Widen your legs to make this easier, but aim to bring them together as you master the move. Hold a straddle planche for 10-15 seconds.

 Putting It All Together (Advanced)

You don’t need to spend hours on these parallel bars exercises. They’re challenging enough that even 10 minutes will help you get stronger, burn calories, and build muscle!

Try this home parallel bar workout. Warning – It’s tough!:

(Warm up with 4 sets of 12-15 press ups)

  1.  Planche work – basic progressions to warm up
  2.  Parallel bar dips – 3 sets
  3.  Triceps dips – 2 sets
  4.  Legs raises – 4 sets
  5.  Tucks – 3 sets with holds
  6.  Planche work – work on your progressions but stop when you are unable to maintain good form

Finish with plank holds on the floor.

Let us know how you find our guide and how you are getting on in the comments, below!

Parallel Bars from only £119.95

This article could not have been done without the help of the awesome BarMob team.

The two team members you can see in the photo are Paula Lee Bines (  ) and Chris Scarborow (  ).

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