Did you read that and think “What the heck’s a parallette?”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This portable tool has been kicking around the fitness world for a few years now. But it isn’t as widely used as it should be.

Parallettes are basically bars raised up on supports. Like those push up grips you see at Wall-Mart, but longer. Gymnasts use them to train for parallel bars. And fitness enthusiasts use them to build pressing power and rock hard core strength.

I made my own several years ago for about $15 using PVC pipe. And then last summer I treated myself to a nice wooden set. They’re simple, sturdy, and you can take them apart and throw them in a bag to train on the road.

Ready to get started? Try my 3 favourite parallette moves…

1) Tuck Hold

This deceptively easy looking isometric hold is a killer core strengthener.

  • Squat between the parallettes and grasp the handles. This is the starting position.

  • Pull your knees to your chest while supporting your weight on your hands. Keep your chest up, elbow pits forward, and butt between your hands.
  • Try for 5 second holds. Repeat 10x.

I like this exercise because it’s much harder than it looks, and it forms the foundation for more advanced skills.

2) Tuck Swing to L-Sit

This one’s another core strengthener, but it also builds the strength of your legs and teaches you how to extend core strength to your extremities.

  • Squat with your feet just ahead of the parallettes and lean back to grasp the handles. This is the starting position.

  • Pull your knees to your chest in a tight tuck, and allow yourself to swing back while supporting your weight on your arms. Keep your elbows in, chest high, and hips high.

  • Exhale hard as you swing back to the front, and extend your legs out in an L-sit.
  • Hold the L-sit for 5 seconds, lower your legs to the starting position and repeat 10x.

I like this one because the swing makes it so much fun to do. And yeah, because it’s difficult.

3) Rocca Press

The Rocca is a staple of upper body development. Next to handstand pushups, it’s the best way to build vertical pressing strength with bodyweight exercise.

  • Stand just behind your parallettes and bend down to grasp the handles.
  • Shift to your toes in order to maximize the amount of weight that is over your hands—you’ll stay on your toes for the entire set.

  • Lower your head between the parallettes, exhale and press back up, recruiting your core to tighten and drive.
  • Shoulders remain in line with butt throughout, and your hips are as high above your head as possible.
  • Repeat 10-15x.

I like doing Rocca’s with the parallettes because that slight elevation makes it easier on the shoulders. And gripping the bar hard helps you recruit more muscle to crank out a few extra reps.

Pretty cool, eh?

I learned the first two exercises from my friend Ryan Hurst’s P1 program. I had a blast with his parallette course last summer, and I made serious improvements in my core strength.

Are you looking to add some variety to your bodyweight training?

Want to add a fun portable tool to your sessions?

Need new ideas for building core strength or pushing power?

Pick up a set of parallettes or make your own, and give these three exercises a try. I know you’re gonna love ‘em.

Want more ‘odd exercises’? Check out my Forbidden Fitness program, it’s filled with functional exercises drawn from more than two decades of real ninja training.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *