Parallettes bars guide for bodyweight and calisthenics workouts

Parallettes Bars Guide and Workout

Why might parallettes be the best tool in your bodyweight workout and calisthenics arsenal? For these reasons.

Leverage: Did you know that just giving your workout a little space between yourself and the ground can create a level of skills in your calisthenic workouts that you have never had before? While working off the floor is very useful, and can’t be replaced. Having the leverage that you get by being elevated above the ground will take your calisthenics workouts to a new level.

Variations: Parallettes gives you the ability to offer your bodyweight workout a facelift. You can now do different kinds of rows, pushes, pulls and planks you couldn’t do with just the floor.

Strength and Balance Building: Primarily the area of strength in combination with mobility is the skillset that you will achieve. This means that you will be able workout in a more flexible fashion, get stronger and gain balance, all from this simple set of p-barz!

Benefits Of Parallettes

Pressing Strength

This can be broken down really into two areas, straight arm strength and bent arm strength. Straight arm techniques generally involve some version of handstand over the bars. The ability and variation of your “straight arm” will depend on your desired muscles to be worked and your ability.

Of course, the last statement is true of bent arm strength as well, but here you are working on push up variations, oftentimes utilizing your body weight in some fashion to either increase or decrease the difficulty of the push.

On full-body strength

It can be surprising how much of your full body can be used in a parallettes workout. This includes your core, glutes and back muscles. You have to ease into many of these positions as you will be supporting your body weight, working your large muscles while on your wrists and hands.

On Balance

Balancing positions really are the secret weapon of the bars. The stability that can be built from parallette balance positions is immense.

Again, this is something to ease into, but luckily, these handy bars are made to help you ease into this by offering you the ability to vary your, hand positions, torso positions and body weight offsets in such a way that you can start right away and yet progress quickly.


If there is one major area of downsides to p-bars it is most the exertion on your joints around your wrist, elbows, and shoulders.

You have to take care to warm up and cool down your wrists, especially when starting out. Parallettes require grip and wrist strength, so keep that in mind when you are just starting out.

Perhaps the most common downside mentioned by regular bodyweight fitness practitioners is the poor carryover to floor exercises. It would seem that working the bars would give you an immediate gain in your handstand and bent arm workouts, but unfortunately, that is not always the case.

It doesn’t transfer directly to the floor routines.

Exercises and routines

These bar workouts are things you can do right now with the bars, no excuses.

So, clears some space and let’s get straight to work.

Remember, it’s all about using your own bodyweight.

Straight Arms


Perhaps the easiest position yet the best to practice proper mechanics and get a good abdominal workout.

Ensure you engage your entire body, starting from the hands, shoulders, torso and don’t forget about the legs.


Probably the most sought after exercise on the p-bars, it is visually stunning yet tough to do.

Set up with your body between the bars and hand gripping with palms facing inward. The trick will be to get your hips under you.

Keep practicing if you don’t get it at first!


This, similar to the L-Sit, may not be the easiest position to achieve if you are just starting out but it is an excellent tool for shoulder strength.

Bent Arms

Tricep dips

This really is the classic tricep dip with one difference, you place your body between the Parallettes and grip the handles versus using a table or chair.

You perform the dip by flexing at the elbow and lowering yourself between the Parallettes.

Inverted press

Start like you are going to do a handstand with your palms facing inward, gripping the bars. Raise your hips to an inverted V-position and then perform the “push-up” aiming your head towards the top of the floor.

Parallette push up

Much like the inverted press above, the push up is much like a standard push up using the bars.

With the bars, focus on moving your body as one and don’t overextend the descent.

Jump Throughs

Tricep Shoot Through

The tricep shoot through combines the tricep dip with the plank. You start in the tricep dip, and shoot your body behind you to get into plank position.

Push Up Shoot Through Tricep Dip

The push up shoot through three exercises into one, the tricep dip, the plank and the push up. Doing this with reps or as speed can add a HIIT like workout to your routine.

Considerations when purchasing a pair of parallette bars

The best Parallette bars have a few attributes that you need to take into consideration before you make a purchase.

User our guide to the top parallettes here and read more below as we outline the primary things to help you make your decision.

types of parallette bars

There are several types of parallette bars that you will see, we will classify them as three types, Low or Mini, Standard and High or sometimes called dip bars.


Low or mini parallete bars are considerably smaller, and probably not your first choice for regular use. That said they work great to travel with and you can get many of the same benefits of the standard size bars.


These are the classic Parallette bars. They are very mobile, but probably not suitable for travel, easy to store and can serve 95% of your Parallette workout needs. You will notice a bid difference between the minis, the standards and the true high dip bars. The high bars you will actually feel scared when high above the bars, and rightfully so.

High/Dip Bars

Generally, you hear these referred to as “dip bars” and you can even find many versions of these on playgrounds, anchored to the ground. If you are looking for a bit more permanent piece of equipment then these may be the right choice for your calisthenics needs.


Often, if you are focused on bodyweight calisthenics, you don’t spend a lot of time in the gym (or at all) and you may be operating with a relatively small area to work out in. Having Parallettes give you an advantage in this case, giving you the ability for maximum variation and flexibility but still being able to maximize your space. As mentioned, you can pick sizes that are right for you.

A final note, ensure you take weight into account. A smaller stable set may be nice, but perhaps not if they weigh fifty pounds each!


Stability is critical for a pair of Parallettes. This is for a number of reasons which are easily discernable. First is for safety, you will be suspending and moving your entire body upon them, thus you need to be sure they will not move and they will support your weight. Second, if they do move, this can cause you to alter your exercise mechanics, even if the movement is slight or suttle. Finally, it is good to ensure you are comfortable with the height to base length. If they are taller or a dip bar, they need to have a sufficiently wide and long base.


Finally, ensure that the construction of the bars is of the highest quality. Parallette bars come built in every fashion and material you can think of and there isn’t a “right” choice for the material. In our experience, wood or metal are probably the best choices, and we prefer the hardwood choices like maple or oak. But some PVC and poly materials are very lightweight if portability is of top concern.

You will most likely pay decent money for this item and you should ensure you get your moneys worth.

Making Your Own

Should you choose to go this route, and many do, there are some really good references online. Below is a couple:

GMB’s reference is a classic and their build blueprints are second to none:

Crossfit journal is a familiar name and they have an old but very good construction primer here:

One Step Closer to Bodyweight Heaven

Pairing your training program with a good set of Parllettes is one of the most efficient methods to quickly see maximal gains in your calisthenic workouts.

They give you the ability to build serious body to weight strength and balance that can transfer to nearly all aspects of your life pursuits.

You don’t need a vegan bikini diet program; Parallettes will help you stay fit and strong for life.

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