Parallettes, also commonly referred to as parallel bars, are a great piece of workout equipment, whether you’re a seasoned callisthenic professional or just a beginner.
Before we breakdown the best parallettes exercises for building strength let’s explain why you should include them in your next workout.
Why Workout with Parallettes?
Parallettes usually come in 3 heights; high, medium, and low. The high bars are ideal for doing dips and rows, the medium ones are good for L-sits and the low ones should be used for press-up exercises.
The lower the height of the bars, the more difficult it is to do dynamic movements, like swinging the legs between the arms, because it needs increased flexibility and there’s not enough space.
Low bars are typically used by the more advanced bodyweight athlete because they’ve got superior strength, technique, and flexibility.
High bars provide more exercise options because you can go below the bars and perform hangs and rows. However, they often take up a lot more space and are normally more costly.
Performing handstand exercises on high bars is way scarier than doing them just a couple of inches from the ground. Ensure you get quality parallettes because the more you trust the bars you’re using, the less you’ll need to worry about them breaking.
This, in turn, means that you can concentrate more on exercise execution and technique.
Beginners normally struggle with how to use them, what to do and how they can improve when they’re on them.
Let’s take a look at a list of some of the best parallettes exercises.
Best Parallettes Exercises
1. Parallettes Push-ups
The execution of parallel bar push-up exercises is more or less the same as what’s involved with conventional push-ups. This exercise is ideal for building a wide chest. You can also do these exercises using normal push-up bars.
Target and Supporting Muscles: Large chest muscles, front saw muscle, the delta muscle’s front part, and triceps.
Positioning: Grab each parallel bar with a shoulder-width grasp and at chest high level. Stretch out both your arms completely and your legs should be stretched through as well. Use your toe tips to help support yourself.
Your body should start to feel a little tense. Your body should also form a straight line.
Movements: Bend your arms to lower your upper body. Keep your elbows as tight to the torso as possible. The downward movement is done as soon as the chest and bars are at the same height level.
For upward movement, push your body back up to the original starting position, keeping your elbows tight to the body. At the peak of the upward motion, don’t completely stretch your arms.
2. Static Knee Raises
This workout burns the abdominal muscles, specifically the pyramidal muscle and the straight abdominal.
Target and Supporting Muscles: Pyramidalis muscle, straight abdominal muscle, and oblique abdominal muscle
Positioning: Grab the parallel bars and place your body in a “seat position”, meaning the angle between your lower and upper should be at 90 degrees. Pull your toes towards your upper body.
All the weight should be supported by your arms, which should be stretched out at this point. Keep your upper body upright. Your shoulders should remain in their natural position. Don’t tense or sink your shoulder belt.
The body should feel tense once you’re in the right position.
Execution: Pull your thighs/knees as close to your chest as you possibly can. Your gaze should remain facing forward and ensure your head doesn’t move towards your knees.
Once you’ve got to the top, maintain that tension as long as you can and support yourself with your stretched out arms.
Slowly lower your knees again, until you get to your starting 90-degree angle. Keep all the tension in your abdominal muscles and start on the next rep.
3. Pike Push-Ups
Parallel bar workouts will help you get those “Arnold Schwarzenegger arms” faster. They concentrate a lot on the triceps muscles and around the deltoid.
Target and Supporting Muscles: Triceps, the delta muscle’s front, posterior and lateral parts. The supporting muscles are the hooded muscle and the large chest muscle.
Positioning: Your arms should be completely stretched out, just like they would during push-ups.
Now lift your hips upwards and form an upside-down ‘V’ shape. Both your legs and arms should be stretched out as much as possible. Your head should be in between your arms.
Execution: Lower your upper body and bend your elbows to the extent you’re almost touching the ground with your head. Push back to your original starting point. When you’re done with the motion, don’t stretch out your arms completely.
4. Single-Leg Core Compressions
With this parallel bar workout, you’ll be training your abdominal muscles’ lower fibers. So you’re basically chiseling your six-pack here.
Target and Supporting Muscles: Straight abdominal muscle, specifically the lower fibers and inner hip muscles.
The supporting muscles it targets are the delta muscles, chest muscles, and triceps. Though, they also work out the thigh muscles to some degree.
Positioning: Outstretch your arms and use them to support yourself on the parallel bars. Your feet should be stretched forward and the bars just below your hips.
Execution: Lift one of your legs right to the top as much as you can, hold that position for a couple of seconds before bringing your leg down to change legs. It sounds simple but it’s far from it.
5. Planche Lean
This parallel bar exercise is perfect for the beginner. As much as it’s challenging in its own right, it’s something that many people can start with.
Target Muscles: Shoulder muscles, arm muscles, and wrists
This workout prepares you for the Planche and further movements such as handstand push-ups.
Positioning: Get to the start position by holding the parallel bars, with your hands being beneath your shoulders, and stretching through your legs as well as arms. Your body should form a line.
Actively spread the thighs. On your toe tips, stretch out as much as you can. Your pelvis should be fixed and your back slightly curved. Your shoulders should start feeling tense at this point.
You should be gazing at the floor at all times during this workout. You shouldn’t be having any neck movements.
Execution: Lean forward over the shoulders without losing tension. Here’s a tip; try pushing the ground beneath you backward. Only go forward as much as it’s comfortable and pleasant for you.
Most of all your body weight will be focused on your hands. Keep your end position long.
This is another parallel bar workout that’s good for beginners. Dips focus a lot on the triceps. Although they also work out the chest muscles as well.
Target and Supporting Muscles: The delta muscle’s front part, large chest muscles and, of course, triceps. The supporting muscles being worked out by dips include; the common finger stretcher, short radial hand stretcher, and long radial hand stretcher.
Positioning: Use one bar for the support of your arms and the other should support your legs. Have a neutral grip on the bar supporting your arms. Your arms should almost completely be stretched out.
Your legs should be stretched forward on the other parallel bar. Your upper body should be upright and your gaze straight ahead. You’ll form a light hollow cross position. Keep your elbows as tight to the torso as possible.
Execution: When lowering your body beneath the bar, control how your elbows bend. As soon as you’ve gotten to a 90-Degree angle between your lower and upper arms, the downward motion is done.
When it comes to upward motion, press all the way back to your original starting position. At the end of this motion, don’t stretch your elbows out completely.
7. Push Tuck Dip
This parallel bar workout essentially combines dips and push-ups. This means that you’ll be training both your triceps and chest muscles intensively.
Target and supporting muscles: Triceps and large chest muscles for the target muscles. The supporting muscles are the front saw muscle and the delta muscle’s front part.
Positioning: Grab the parallel bars shoulder width and at a chest-high level. Your arms should almost be completely stretched upward forming a 90-Degree angle from them to the ground.
Both legs should be stretched out. Lean on your toe tips. By now your body should be feeling really tense. Your whole body should have formed a straight line.
Execution: For the push-ups, bend your arms to lower your upper body. Elbows should always remain as tight to the torso as possible.
Your downward movement is done once the handles and your chest are at the same height. When you’re finished with that motion, push back again. When it comes to the dips, put your legs forward in between the parallel bars and stretch them out on the floor.
Rest your body on both arms and then dip your upper body below the bars. When your upper arms reach ground level, push back upwards until they’re almost completely stretched out again and then proceed to your original push-up position.
8. Mountain Climbers
Mountaineering isn’t that interesting. In fact, a lot of people will say it’s outright boring. That being said, it’s still a great way to work out the body. This parallel bar exercise will help you strengthen those “sexy muscles” as well as help washboard that belly of yours.
Target and Supporting Muscles: Gluteus, hamstrings, quadriceps and the straight abdominal muscle for the main muscles it targets. The supporting muscles being hit by this workout is the two-headed calf muscle.
Positioning: Unlike push-ups, your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width length. You should be building up tension in your lower back and abdomen. Your body should form a line throughout the entire exercise.
Execution: Explosively pull your right knee to the right elbow. Your hands should never leave the parallel bars.
There’s no need for full contact, however, the knee should move as close to your elbow as possible. Take your right leg back to its original start position and do the same movements with your left leg.
Keep on doing this interchanging on both feet. Do it at the pace you’re most comfortable with. Both legs should always be on the move constantly. Your gaze should be directed to the floor and your toe tips should only both touch the ground during the starting position.
9. Side Leg Raises
Like a few other parallel bar workouts highlighted in this article, this parallettes exercise will also help you get that six-pack of your dreams. It’s kind of like the mountain climber, however, it focuses more on your oblique abdominal muscles.
Target and Supporting Muscles: The target muscles are the gluteus, hamstrings, quadriceps, straight abdominal muscle and oblique abdominal muscles. The supporting muscle being hit at is the two-headed calf muscle.
Positioning: Unlike push-ups, your hands should be a little wider than shoulder-width level. Tension should be built up in the lower back and abdomen. During the whole work, your body should be forming a line.
Execution: Pull your right knee to your left hand. Your hands should never leave the bar handles at any point during the whole exercise.
There doesn’t necessarily need to be contact, however, the knee should reach as close to the hand as it possibly can. Once you’re done with this movement, reverse it with the left knee and right hand, with the right knee going back to its original start position.
Parallettes are ideal for Calisthenics exercises and gymnastics. They’re very versatile workout tools.
Oh, and the name parallalettes comes from the fact that it’s two bars parallel to each other. The parallettes exercises we’ve highlighted in this article are some of the best there are out there and you should strongly consider trying a few of them out.
The exercises are perfect if you’re looking to flexibly train at home or outdoors. Any space you’ve got available for training can be transformed into your personal gym with parallel bars.
Hopefully, this article will prove to be all you need to get things started. Start your parallettes exercises today! You won’t regret that decision.