33 Parallette Exercises to Get Ripped, Get Strong, and Build Muscle + Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Parallette Workouts

When training for strength, muscle, and mobility, parallette calisthenics are a perfect way to maximize your bodyweight training to build an insanely stronger body and getting ripped. Including these 32 essential parallette exercises in your workout routine will lead to amazing gains in strength and performance much more quickly than you think.

33 Parallette Exercises and Parallette Calisthenics | ABrotherAbroad.com

As an adventurer and constant traveler staying fit, strong, and mobile makes my adventures more enjoyable and allows me to adventure solo more safely, and feel better in daily life.  Unfortunately, as a traveler and a minimalist – gyms aren’t always my ideal choice, sometimes travel gear, a pair of parallettes at home, or a couple of chairs (for improvised parallettes) are exactly what I want to use, while still getting in an intense, muscle building, toning workout.

With these 32 parallettes exercises, I can always get a great chest, shoulders, abs, biceps, and triceps workout at home or on the road.  Keep reading to learn 32 parallettes exercises for building rock solid shoulders, chest, and arms at home without weights, step by step progressions to achieve these exercises, and 3 parallette workouts for beginners, intermediates, and advanced training to get you started.


In this article, we’ll review the 4 core parallettes exercises and the 32 exercises to scale them to beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes.  We’ll end with 3 sample workouts perfect for all ability levels.

CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE TO CALISTHENICS ON PARALLETTES

For beginners, we’ll run through everything you need to know about the best parallettes exercises, how to workout, and why parallettes workouts are essential in your fitness routine.

Or, click here to jump straight to the parallette calisthenics lists for beginner parallettes exercises, intermediate parallettes exercises and advanced parallette exercise athletes

THE 32 ESSENTIAL PARALLETTE EXERCISES


BEGINNER PARALLETTE CALISTHENICS


INTERMEDIATE PARALLETTE EXERCISES


ADVANCED PARALLETTE EXERCISES

BEGINNER PARALLETTE CALISTHENICS

BEGINNER DIPPING EXERCISES

1.PARALLETTE DIPS (FEET SUPPORTED)

  • Start Position: Place the hands on the dip bars with arm straight, shoulders pulled down, and torso straight (natural curvature in the spine) while bending at the hips and maintaining straight, extended legs. Place the feet on the ground (easier) or on a box or elevated position (more difficulty) for support and to reduce difficulty
  • Execution: lower your body until the elbows break 90 degrees at least.  Keep the chest up, torso vertical, legs straight and extended, and elbows in.
  • Targeted Muscles: Triceps, chest (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Negative Parallette dips, with 5 seconds down per rep
    • 10 x Parallette dips
    • 10 x Parallette dips with 5 seconds down and 5 seconds up per rep
    • Progress to L-sit dips

BEGINNER PUSHING EXERCISES

2.PARALLETTE PUSH UPS

  • Start Position: Start at the top of a push up, hands on parallettes at shoulder width apart
  • Execution:
    • Lower until the elbows break the 90 degree angle
    • Push up to recover
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest and triceps (Primary), core (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 reps of the basic parallette push-up
    • 10 reps x 5 second negative + 5 seconds up for 10 reps
    • Progress to Planche Lean + Push. 


3.TYPEWRITER PARALLETTES PUSH-UP

  • Start Position: Start at the top of a push up, hands on parallettes approximately one forearm’s length wider than shoulder
  • Execution:
    • Lower until the elbows break the 90 degree angle
    • Keeping the back straight, extend your right arm and bend your left arm to shift your left shoulder over your hand
    • Maintaining a straight back, extend your left are and bend your right arm to shift your right shoulder over your right hand
    • Return to center
    • Push up to recover to the top of a push-up
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps (Primary), core (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
  • Perform a 5 second negative going down, 5 seconds left, 5 seconds right, 5 seconds center + 5 seconds up for 10 reps
  • Planche Lean + Push-Up. 

4. PLANCHE LEAN

  • Start Position: Start at the top of a push-up, arms fully extended with creases of the elbows faced forward
  • Execution:
    • Slide the feet forward or walk the feet forward with the toes while keeping the body straight, with hips and legs fully straight and extended and ending in the planche lean with shoulders past the hands.
    • Aim to position the shoulders as far past the hands as possible fully in the planche lean position as long as possible
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, chest (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x repetitions of Push-up position to planche lean + recover: Top of push-up, slide into planche lean, slide back to top of push-up
    • 20 Second Planche lean hold
    • Progress to planche lean push-up (10 repetitions)

5. PLANCHE LEAN PUSH-UPS

  • Start Position: Start in the top of the push-up position with legs and hips fully extended and body straight.
  • Execution:
    • Keeping the body straight and arms extended, slide the feet forward or walk forward with the toes, until the shoulders are as far past the hands as you can support. 
    • Perform a push-up from this position going as low as possible and at least to the point where the elbow breaks a 90 degree angle pausing briefly at the bottom
    • Push-up.
    • Slide the feet (and shoulders) back to the top of a push-up position.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Planche Lean Push-Ups
    • 10 x Slow planche Lean Push-ups with 5 to seconds for the down and up sequence of the movement
    • 5 x Planche lean push ups with a 10 second hold in the planche
    • Progress to the frog stand and tuck planche or bent arm tuck planche
  • Why (movement supported, muscles targeted): The Planche push-up is a progression to the full planche and targets the front of the shoulders, upper chest, and biceps, while secondarily working core stability.

6. FROG STAND

  • Start Position: From the top of the push-up position, slide your feet forward while simultaneously bending at the knee and tucking the knees toward the chest, and leaning + tilting the upper body forward to shift your center of gravity over your hands.  Rest the knees
  • Execution:
    • Hold the frog stand position in a static hold for 20 seconds, aiming for 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, chest (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 20 Second Frogstand hold
    • Progress to tucked bent arm planche or tucked planche

BEGINNER (OVERHEAD) PRESSING EXERCISES

7.PIKED PARALLETTE PUSH UPS

  • Start Position: Bend the body at the hips with the upper body (core, shoulders, and arms) aligned, extended, and supported by the parallettes, while the legs remain straight. 
  • Execution:
    • From the start position, bend at the elbows to lower the body until the shoulders touch the paralletes (or as close as possible). 
    • Recover by pushing until the upper body is fully extended and aligned.
    • If you cannot go to this depth, make achieving the “shoulders to bars” target part of your progression from piked parallettes push-ups to the next exercise by aiming for a lower depth each time.
    • Note: Keep the elbows in and elbow creases facing forward through the entire movement
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, traps (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Negatives, 5 seconds per rep
    • 10 x Reps
    • 10 x Reps at 5 seconds down and 5 seconds up per rep
    • Progress to piked parallette push ups with feet elevated (on a chair or box)
    • Progress to Handstand Push-Ups
    • Progress to Deficit Handstand Push-Up progressions

8. DEFICIT PIKED PARALLETE PUSH-UPS

  • Start Position: Start in the top of a piked push-up position (similar to the yoga position “downward facing dog”) with the arms fully extended and aligned with the core which is fully engaged and straight, while “piking” or bending at the hips into fully straightened and extended legs.
  • Execution:
    • Keeping the inside of the elbow crease facing forward, and elbows in towards the body (instead of flared out), bend the arms to lower the body and head between the parallettes until the parallettes nearly touch the shoulder. 
    • Hold the bottom position briefly
    • Push to recover into the top of the piked push-up.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, trapezius, triceps (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Negative deficit piked push-ups: start at the top, lower to the bottom of the position, dismount from the parallettes, resume the starting position, and repeat
    • 10 x reps of deficit piked parallettes push-ups
    • 10 x reps of 5 seconds down and 5 seconds up of deficit piked parallettes push-ups
    • Progress to the deficit piked parallettes push-up with feet elevated (on box or chair)
    • Progress to deficit handstand push-up negatives and the full deficit handstand push-up

9. PIKED 90 DEGREE PUSH UPS

  • Start Position: Same start position as the piked push-up (bent at the hips with the arms and upper body stacked and straight, hands supported on parallettes and legs fully extended)
  • Execution:
    • Bend the elbows to lower the upper body while changing the angle of the upper body from near vertical to horizontal and parallel to the ground at the bottom position of the exercise. 
    • At the end of the negative, you should be in a bent arm forward lean (pseudo planche) with the shoulders past the hands, and the torso and legs in a straight line with hips extended. 
    • To recover, push while piking at the hips and keeping the upper body and lower body straight throughout the movement to finish at the top of a piked push-up.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, (Primary), Chest (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x 5 second Piked 90 Degree Push-Up negatives
    • 10 x reps of Piked 90 Degree Push-Ups
    • 10 x reps of Piked 90 Degree Push-Ups with 5 seconds down and 5 seconds up
    • Next Progression: Piked 90 Degree Push-Up with feet elevated
      • Additional work that may be required: Piked deficit push-ups
    • Next Progression: Tucked 90 Degree Push-Up
    • Final Progression: Full 90 Degree Push-up

BEGINNER CORE PARALLETTE EXERCISES

10. LEG RAISES

  • Start Position: Setup at the top of a dip, arms extended, legs extended, feet resting on the ground. 
  • Execution:
    • Stabilize the shoulders and arms as you lift one or both legs off of the ground, bend at the hip with legs fully extended.
    • Life your extended leg(s) to a 90 degree angle with the body, parallel to the ground while the torso remains perpendicular to the ground, ultimately achieving an L-Sit position. 
    • To, progress to bringing the legs past 90 degrees, ending instead in a V-Sit position
  • Targeted Muscles: Core/Abs(Primary), shoulders, triceps, chest (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Single Leg Raises (each leg) up to 90 degrees, parallel with the ground then recover
    • 10 x Double Leg Raises up to 90 degrees, parallel with the ground, to an L-sit position, then recover
    • Progress to -> L-Sit (20 second hold)
    • 10 x Single Leg Raises (each leg) past 90 degrees, ending in a V-sit position, then recover
    • 10 x Double Leg Raises past 90 degrees, ending in a V-sit position, then recover
    • 10 x Single Leg Raises (each leg) from L-sit hold to V-sit hold, then recover to L-sit hold
    • 10 x Double Leg Raises from L-sit hold to V-sit hold, then recover to L-sit hold
    • Progress to V-sit hold (20 second hold)

11.KNEE TUCKS

  • Start Position: Start in a parallette dip position with legs extended and resting on the ground
  • Execution:
    • Raise the feet, bringing the knees into the chest, and flexing the core for maximum flexion so that the arms are straight, torso is upright, and feet are suspended in the air and tucked to the chest.
    • Pause in the top position.
    • Extend the legs to return to the dip position. 
    • To reduce difficulty perform with one leg at a time.
  • Targeted Muscles: Abs (Primary), shoulders, triceps (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Single leg knee tucks (per leg)
    • 10 x Double leg knee tucks
    • 10 reps of double knee tucks with a 5 second hold at the top and minimal time of feet on ground
    • Progress to leg raises/parallette supported V-Ups (with knees extended)
    • Progress to L-sit hold then V-sit Hold

12. TUCKED L-SIT DIPS (PROGRESSION AFTER PARALLETTES DIPS WITH FEET SUPPORTED)

  • Start Position: Setup in the top of a dip position, arms straight, core straight, shoulders pulled down. Then pull the knees up to the chest and feet off the ground while keeping the torso upright.
  • Execution: With feet tucked into chest and torso upright and as vertically aligned as possible, lower your body until the elbows break 90 degrees at least.  Keep the chest up, torso vertical, and knees in the same tucked position in relations to the chest
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, triceps, shoulders, core, hip flexors (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x negatives
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps at 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down
    • Progress to the L-Sit hold progressions and L-sit dip progressions

BEGINNER COMPOUND PARALLETTE EXERCISES

13. PARALLETTE BURPEES: PLANCHE LEAN PUSH-UP + SHOOT THROUGH + DIP + LEG LIFT

This compound movement is a great way to put the basic parallettes movements together for higher intensity suitable for HIIT workouts.

  • Start Position: Start at the top of a push-up, legs and body extended and aligned
  • Execution:
    • Planche lean + Push-up: Shift the shoulders forward past the hands while dragging the feet forward.  At end range (the furthest you can lean) perform a planche lean push-up.  Then, push backwards to return to the top of the push-up
    • Tuck the legs and shoot through to the top of a dip.
    • Perform a dip
    • Perform a leg raise (single or double leg) or V-Up
    • Tuck the knees to the chest, rotating the body to pull back through to a push-up position
    • Repeat
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Planche lean push-up + shoot through + dip + leg raise complexes
    • Progress to adding a leg raise (single or double leg) after each dip

BEGINNER PARALLETTE WORKOUTS

This beginner parallettes workout is an excellent starting point and great place to progress from

  • 4 x 7 Dips
  • 4 X 7 Push-Ups OR Planche Lean Push-Ups
  • 4 X 7 Piked Push-Up OR Piked 90 Degree Push-Up
  • 4 X 7 Leg Tucks OR Leg Lifts
  • Cool Down: 10 minutes of shoulder mobility work

ALTERNATIVE BEGINNER PARALLETTE WORKOUT

  • 5 x 10 Parallette Burpess (Planche Lean Push-Up + Shoot Through + Dip + Leg Lift)
  • Cool Down: 10 minutes of shoulder mobility work

INTERMEDIATE PARALLETTE EXERCISES

INTERMEDIATE DIPPING EXERCISES

14. L-SIT DIPS

  • Start Position: At the top of a parallettes dip position, lift the legs full extended to be parallel to the ground and at a 90 degree angle with the body to for the L-Sit position.
  • Execution:
    • Bending at the elbow, dip until the elbow breaks a 90 degree angle.
    • Briefly hold the bottom position
    • Push to return to the L-Sit position
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, abs (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x L-Sit Dips
    • Parallette V-Ups
    • Parallette V-Hold

 

INTERMEDIATE PUSHING EXERCISES

15. TUCKED BENT ARM PLANCHE

Static hold

  • Start Position: From the top of a push-up
  • Execution: Hold the bent arm planche for 20 to 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, (Primary) Core/lower back (secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 20 second hold for the tucked bent arm planche supported on a chair or with resistance bands suspending the feet
    • 20 second hold of the bent arm tucked planche
    • Progress to the single leg tucked planche and straddle planche with open hips

Also, progress to the deficit handstand push-up in preparation for the 90 degree push up


16. BENT ARM PLANCHE HOLD

  • Start Position: To assumed the bent arm planche hold – 1) From the top position of parallette push-up, slide the feet forward while maintaining a straight, extended body until the shoulders are well past the hands.  2) Bend the arms at the elbows until they have reached 90 degrees. 3) Shift the bodyweight forward until the feet come off the ground and the body is straight, full extended, and parallel to the ground, supported on bent arms
  • Execution: Aim to hold the bent arm planche for 20 to 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, lats, posterior chain (lower back, glutes, hamstrings), core(Primary), (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • Prerequisites à Bent arm planche lean + push-up à
    • Bent arm planche with knees tucked
    • Bent arm planche with one knee tucked, one leg extended
    • Bent arm planche with legs streaddled, with open hips (legs sagging and hips not extended)
    • Bent arm planche with legs extended and wide, with closed hips (legs wide, fully extended and hips fully extended)
    • Bent arm planche

17. TUCKED PLANCHE

Static hold

  • Start Position:
    • At the top of a push up, lean forward as far as possible while sliding your feet forward and maintaining straight legs and back
    • Draw both knees in to the chest while shifting the bodyweight forward (shoulders past the hands) until the feet come off the ground and your center of gravity is balance over your hands
  • Execution: Hold the static tucked planche hold for 20 to 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, biceps (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • Hold the tucked planche position for 20 seconds
    • Progress to the single leg tucked planche and straddle planche with open hips

18. TUCKED PLANCHE PUSH-UP

  • Start Position: Top position of a tucked planche
  • Execution:
    • From the top of the tucked planche, bend at the elbows while keeping the elbows close to the body, the torso parallel to the ground, and the back straight, lowering to the end of your range. 
    • Pause briefly in the bottom position then push-up to recover to the tucked planche pose.
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, triceps (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • Negative reps of the tucked planche push-up (5 secs per rep x 10 reps): From the start of tucked planche hold, lower for 5 seconds minimum at the same speed through the entire range.  At end range, dismount and reset at the top of a tucked planche
    • 10 reps of the tucked planche push-up
    • 10 reps of the tucked planche push-up at 5 seconds down (through negative) and 5 seconds pushing up
    • Next Progression -> Single leg tucked planche push-up or straddle planche push-up

19. SINGLE LEG TUCKED PLANCHE HOLD

  • Start Position: From the tucked planche extend one leg to completely straight, with straight leg and extended hips, while maintaining one tucked knee.
  • Execution: Hold the single leg tucked planche for 20 to 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, core and posterior chain (lower back) (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x reps of alternating extending each leg while in the planche position
    • 20 second hold per leg of the single leg tucked planche hold
    • Progress to the open straddle planche

 

INTERMEDIATE (OVERHEAD) PRESSING EXERCISES

20. WALL ASSISTED HANDSTAND HOLD

  • Start Position: Position our hands ~2 feet away from a wall and assume the top of a handstand with only the toes supported against the wall. Ensure the body is straight and “stacked” (hands, shoulders, hips, and toes in a straight line).
  • Prerequisite: 10 x Piked Push-ups
  • Execution:
    • After taking the top of a handstand, hold the proper position for 20 to 45 seconds.
    • Ensure to keep the body stacked and aligned through the hands, shoulders, hips, and ankles
    • Ensure to “push away” from the ground aiming to pulling the shoulders toward the head and past the ears through the entire movement
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, trapezius (Primary), core secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • Pike push-up and Pike push-up hold (1 minute)
    • 1-minute wall assisted handstand hold
    • Progress to wall assisted handstand push-ups
    • Progress to handstand balancing without wall support

21. HANDSTAND PUSH UPS (WALL SUPPORTED)

  • Start Position: Top of a handstand position with body stacked (hands, shoulders, hips, knees aligned), supported by a wall with only toes touching the wall
  • Prerequisite: Wall Assisted handstand hold of 20 seconds
  • Execution:
    • From the top of a handstand, bend at the elbows to lower the body until the top of the head reaches the level of the hands. 
    • Pause at the bottom of the handstand to maintain control, once the top of your head is in line with the top of the parallettes
    • Finally, push to recover to the top of a handstand. 
    • Note: Through the entire movement, aim to keep elbows in and the entire body (feet, knees, hips, and shoulders) stacked and straight.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, trapezius (Primary), core secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Negative handstand push-ups at 5 seconds per rep (Start in the handstand, lower to end range slowly and at a steady pace over 5 seconds, then dismount to reset in the handstand and perform the next negative)
    • 10 x reps of handstand push-ups
    • 5 x reps of handstand push-ups with 5 seconds down and 5 seconds up
    • Next Progression: Deficit handstand push-ups

22. DEFICIT HANDSTAND PUSH-UPS

  • Start Position: Top of a parallette supported handstand with body straight and stacked (hands, shoulders, hips, and feet in a single line
  • Execution:
    • From thetop of a parallette supported handstand, bend the elbows to lower the body until the shoulders reach the top of the parallettes 
    • Hold the bottom position briefly
    • Push to return to the starting position, maintaining a straight, stacked body (aligned shoulders, hips, and feet) through the entire movement.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps (Primary), core (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 x Deficit Piked Parallette Push-Ups (negatives, reps, reps with 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 x Deficit Piked Parallette Push-Ups with feet elevated on box or chair (negatives, reps, reps with 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 x Deficit Parallette Handstand Push-Up negatives (kick to top of handstand, descend over 5+ seconds, dismount, kick into top of handstand, repeat)
    • 10 x Deficit Parallette Handstand Push-Up full repetitions
    • 10 x Deficit Parallette Handstand Push-Up full repetitions with 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down

INTERMEDIATE CORE EXERCISES

23. L-SIT HOLD

  • Start Position: From the top of the dip’s starting position, lift both legs to a 90 degree angle with the torso and parallel to the ground, holding the position for as long as possible.
  • Execution:
    • Through the static hold, keep the legs straight and extended, shoulders protracted (pushing towards the ground, not sagging) and lower back straight with a natural curve.
  • Targeted Muscles: Abs, shoulders (primary), triceps (secondary)
  • Progressions :
    • Prerequisite à Leg Lifts
    • 20 Second L-sit with legs tucked to chest (torso vertical, arms extended)
    • 20 Second L-sit with one leg extended (10 seconds each side)
    • 20 Second L-sit

24. PARALLETTE V-UP

  • Start Position: Setup on the parallettes at the top of a dip with the torso vertical arms fully extended, and shoulders engaged with the legs fully extended and resting on the ground
  • Execution:
    • While keeping the legs extended and straight and torso upright, raise the feet as high as possible, rounding slightly to allow ab flexion.
    • At the top of the position, in the V-Up, pause and hold the V-Up briefly
    • Lower the legs to the ground, returning to the start position with feet resting on ground
  • Targeted Muscles: Abs, shoulders (Primary), triceps(Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 10 Reps of Parallette V-Ups with feet touching the ground after each rep
    • 5 Reps of Parallette V-Ups with 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down and feet touching the ground between reps
    • 10 Reps of Parallette V-Ups, without the feet touching the ground after each rep
    • 5 Reps of Parallette V-Ups with 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down and without feet touching the ground between reps
    • Progress to the Parallette V-Hold
  • Why (movement supported, muscles targeted): The V-up and V-hold train and condition core strength and stability for movements in which the abs are flexed to maintain proper positioning (i.e., levers, muscle ups, etc.)

ADVANCED PARALLETTE EXERCISES

ADVANCED PUSHING EXERCISES

25. STRADDLE PLANCHE (OPEN AND CLOSED)

  • Start Position: From the tucked planche position extend both legs outward into a straddled position, and hold.
  • Execution:
    • For lower difficulty, the hips may be allowed to sag and kept from being fully extended (open hip straddle planche). 
    • To increase difficulty, the hips can be extended keeping the legs in horizontal alignment with the upper body, while still being in a straddle position (Closed hip straddle planche)
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, triceps, core and posterior chain (lower back) (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • 20 second hold of the open straddle planche
    • 20 second hold of the closed straddle planche
    • Progress to the full plancce

26. PLANCHE HOLD

  • Start Position: From the top of a parallette push-up slide the feet forward and shoulders past the hands to shift center of gravity.  While maintaining the extended legs for your current progression level, maintain a tight core, and engaged shoulders to initiate the planche hold
  • Execution: Hold the planche hold position for as long as possible, targeting 20 to 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, posterior chain (lower back, glutes) (Primary)
  • Progressions:
    • Starter/Prerequisite #1: 20 second Frog Stand
    • Prerequisite progression#2 : 20 second Tucked Planche hold
    • 20 second Planche hold with single leg tucked, single leg extended
    • 20 Second planche hold with straddled legs, hips open (legs allowed to sag but remain extended)
    • 20 Second planche hold with straddled legs, hips closed (legs not allowed to sag and remain extended, hips fully extended)
    • 20 second full planche hold
  • Tips for training the Planche Hold:
    • Consider rotating your parallettes slightly away from you so that palms point slightly forward, allowing for better body positioning
    • Ensure to keep your engage your lats, pulling your shoulders in and down your back, and maintaining a tight core with the entire body engaged.
    • Do not start training the full planche hold from zero, start with the tucked planche

27. PLANCHE PUSH-UP

  • Start Position: Planche Hold
  • Execution:
    • From thefullplanche, bend at the elbows going to the bottom of your range, while maintaining a straight body with fully extended legs and hips.
    • From the bottom, push back up while maintaining a fully extended body, parallel to the ground.
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps (Primary), core (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • Prerequisites: Planche hold + bent arm planche hold
    • 10 reps x tucked planche push up (negatives, reps, 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 reps x single leg tucked planche push-up (negatives, reps, 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 reps x straddle planche push-up (open hips) (negatives, reps, 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 reps x straddle planche push-up (closed hips) (negatives, reps, 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 reps x full planche push-up (negatives, reps, 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)

ADVANCED (OVERHEAD) PRESSING EXERCISES

28. HANDSTAND BALANCE / HOLD

  • Start Position: Handstand while maintaining a full straight body with hands, shoulders, hips, and ankles stacked in a straight line, and shoulders “pushing into the ground, past the ears”.
  • Execution: Hold the handstand position, full straight and stacked body, for 20 to 45 seconds
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, trapezius, triceps (Primary), core (Secondary)
  • Progressions:
    • 1 Minute Handstand Hold with toes of one foot touching the wall for minimal support
    • Balance Drills
      • Handstand finger press and wall releases – push fingers until the feet lose contact with the wall, then release and come back in contact with the wall.  Aim for longer periods without contact on the wall (performed facing away from wall)
      • Split leg balancing – while in a handstand facing and supported by a wall, slowly split the legs (one forward and one backward).  With the toe touching the wall, kick off lightly to free balance briefly.  As balance is lost, come back in contact with the wall.

29. 90 DEGREE PUSH UPS

  • Start Position: Bent Arm Planche
  • Execution:
    • Starting in the bent arm planche, push-with the chest and shoulders so that the body rotates while elevating to end in a handstand hold.
    • Hold the handstand briefly
    • Lower in a controlled manner to the starting position, the bent armed planche.
  • Targeted Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, trapezius (Primary), core and posterior chain
    • 10 x 90 Degree Push Up – Tucked (Negatives, Reps, Reps at 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 x 90 Degree Push Up – Single Leg Tucked (Negatives, Reps, Reps at 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 x 90 Degree Push Up – Straddle – Open Hip (Negatives, Reps, Reps at 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 x 90 Degree Push Up – Straddle – Closed Hip (Negatives, Reps, Reps at 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)
    • 10 x 90 Degree Push Up (Negatives, Reps, Reps at 5 seconds up + 5 seconds down)

ADVANCED CORE EXERCISES

30. PARALLETTE V-HOLD

  • Start Position: Start at the top of the dip with torso vertical, arms fully extended, and shoulders engaged, bending at the hip and fully extended the legs
  • Execution:
    • Raise the feet as high as possible and hold while maintaining fully extended legs
    • Pause at the highest range and hold for as long as possible, aiming for 20 to 45 seconds as a target.
  • Targeted Muscles: Abs, shoulders (Primary), quadriceps, triceps(Secondary)
  • Progressions:  
    • Prerequisite Progression #1: 10 reps of alternating single leg Parallette V-hold extensions: In the V-hold position, extend one leg and tuck the other in to the chest.  Alternate extending and holding briefly until all reps are completed.
    • Prerequisite Progression #2: 20 second single leg Parallette V-Hold: Maintain the V-hold position with one leg fully extended and one leg tucked to the chest for 10 seconds per leg
    • 20 second Parallette V-Hold – legs fully extended

ADVANCED COMPOUND PARALLETTE EXERCISES

31. L-SIT HOLD TO TUCKED PLANCHE

The L-Sit hold to an tucked planche is an excellent compound exercise to train and progress into the full planche via a more dynamic, repetitions focused way.  This exercise also combines other movements into a signal, powerful, dynamic exercise that trains strength and stamina in the shoulders, chest, and core.

  • Start Position: Start from the top of dip with the L-Sit position
  • Execution:
    • Bend the legs at the knees and tuck the knees while flexing the shoulders and rotating the chest downward
    • Slow the motion to stabilize and end in a tucked planche. 
    • Hold the tucked planche briefly before reversing the movement into an L-sit position again.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs (Primary), quads, biceps (Secondary)
  • Progressions:  
    • 10 reps x L-Sit Hold to tucked planche
    • 5 reps at 5 seconds back and 5 seconds forward of the L-Sit Hold to tucked planche
    • 5 reps ending with a 5 second hold in the tucked planche and L-sit for each rep
    • Progress to the L-sit hold to full planche progression of this exercise

32. L-SIT HOLD + DIP + SHOOT THROUGH + PLANCHE HOLD

The L-Sit Hold + Dip + Shoot Through + Planche Hold is one of the most advanced and difficult compound exercises that can be performed on the parallettes.  Training this compound exercises adds an intense endurance and stamina training component to already difficult strength training calisthenics.

  • Start Position: Start from the top of dip with the L-Sit position
  • Execution:
    • Maintaining the L-sit, perform a full dip and return to the L-Sit
    • Bend the legs at the knees and tuck the knees while flexing the shoulders and rotating the chest downward to “shoot” the lugs underneath the body, then extending back into a full planche
    • Slow the motion to stabilize and end in a planche hold
    • Hold the tucked planche briefly before reversing the movement into an L-sit position again.
  • Targeted Muscles: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs (Primary), quads, biceps (Secondary)
  • Progressions:  
    • Prerequisite movements: 10 x L-Sit Hold To Tucked Planche + 20 second tucked planche hold
    • Perform the movement incorporating progressions for the planche (tucked, single leg, straddle, full extended)
    • Perform the movement incorporating a target 5 second hold for each planche hold rep

WHY PARALLETTES | THE BENEFITS OF PARALLETTE EXERCISES

Whether you are setting up a home gym and home workout routine or using bodyweight exercises to build a more balanced body, training with parallettes is a great way to build an amazing, high performance body.  Here are the top reasons why you should train with parallettes

  • Versatility in Training: Parallette exercises can be easily adjusted to be beginner friendly or advanced, mass and muscle building exercises very easily
  • Strength and Muscle Gains: The leverage achieved with exercises like the planche and the 90 degree push-up make for very intense exercises that build strength comparable to weightlifting
  • Mobility and Flexibility Gains: To do most movements properly, and progress, you’ll naturally have to develop more range of motion and strength through the entire range.  As long as you’re focusing on good technique, these gains will happen naturally.
  • Balanced Muscle Development and Joint Health: Unlike weight lifting, you will only be able to increase resistance when you are strong enough to progress – no earlier.  This natural “fail safe” forces balanced muscle development in the primary muscles, such as the shoulders in the planche, and supporting muscles, such as core/lower back, and legs to remain properly extended.
  • Accessibility and Portability: Parallettes are cheap and easy to make and can be made in 25 minutes or less for less than $25 with this guide for how to build PVC parallettes.  Parallettes are easy to store at home and can be easily toted to the park for an outdoor workout.
  • Gives and Exception Shoulder, Chest, Arms, and Core Workout: Thanks to leverage and progressions, the workout you’ll get from parallettes is as tough as or tougher than any weightlifting workout you can manage.
  • Parallettes eliminate your need for a gym when training chest, shoulders, and abs/core: Pair your parallettes with a suspension trainer, gymnastics rings, or resistance bands and you’ll be set for a full body, gym free workout.

HOW TO START TRAINING WITH PARALLETTES

Getting started working out with parallettes, and using the essential exercises below is quick and easy.  Just follow these 4 steps to get started:

  1. Warm up your joints and muscles before every workout
  2. The workout: Start by focusing on one pushing movement in each direction at the highest level for you difficulty
  3. Progress
  4. Work on form, extending range, and mobility (strength at the end of range and through entire range)

1.     WARM UP YOUR JOINTS AND MUSCLES BEFORE EVERY WORKOUT

Parallette workouts are intense and no joke.  To get the most from your workout, and to avoid injury, you want your muscles warmed up to contract at their highest intensity to execute the movements and protect your joints.

To warmup up for your specific workout or exercise, move the associated joints through their entire range of motion 3 x 10 repetitions to warm up.  At end range of the joint’s movements, relax into the end range, stretching, and contracting lightly before releasing and easing further into the range.  This process of stretching and “contract and relax” will extend your range of motion and prime your muscles to fire at max intensity, allowing you to get your work done and protect your joints in the process.


2.     THE WORKOUT: START BY FOCUSING ON ONE PUSHING MOVEMENT IN EACH DIRECTION (DOWN, FORWARD, AND UP), PERFORM SETS OF 3 TO 5 OF YOUR MAX PROGRESSION AND “LADDER” DOWN THROUGH THAT EXERCISE’S PROGRESSIONS

Once you’ve achieved an extremely tough calisthenics exercise (like the 90 degree push-up) you now have a workout tool for amazing strength training, anywhere without weights.  However, getting the point of executing that movement can be tough.

In the workouts to achieve your target movement and skill, identify the highest level exercise you can fully achieve – completing 10 controlled reps or a solid 20 second hold.  Make the next highest exercise in the progression your target exercise.  Do 4 sets of your target exercise for max reps or max hold (whichever is more applicable).  At set #5 bump down to the next lower and easier progression for a max set.  Continue the downward progression until you’ve achieved 6 to 10 sets total. 

If you are working on multiple skills in a single workout, aim for 7 sets.  If the target exercise is your only skill for the workout, 10 sets are more doable.

Aim to rest 1 week between training sessions for a specific skill to allow for full recovery.


3.     PROGRESS

For each exercise, before jumping fully into training identify what your current progression level is for the exercise or skill.  Do this by starting with the lowest difficulty exercise in the list of exercise progressions and aim for 10 reps or a 20 second static hold.  Once you achieve that for an exercise rest for 2 to 3 minutes and proceed to the next progression higher in difficulty. 

Once you identify a progression exercise that you can’t complete, you now know your progression level.  Your goal will be to train this specific exercise/movement for skill, followed by the next lower difficulty progressions (as detailed in the workout above) to achieve fatigue, resting ~1 week between workouts on a specific skill.  When you finally achieve 10 reps or a 20 second static hold, change your workout to build around the next progression up.


4.     WORK ON FORM, EXTENDING RANGE, AND MOBILITY (STRENGTH AT THE END OF RANGE AND THROUGH ENTIRE RANGE)

As you perform your parallettes calisthenics workouts and progress to your target skill, don’t forget to maintain perfect form, extending your end range (flexibility) and building end range strength.

Perfect and strict form relative to each exercise empowers us to build a stronger body by creating more intense movements, but also helps build safely as the proper form for each movement works with instead of against our body mechanics.  For instance, keeping the elbows in close to the body during muscle ups will save elbow damage and pain in the long run.

Working to constantly extend end range, also known as flexibility, helps build in the elasticity for our bodies to perform throughout its entire range allowing each joint and muscle to perform as it should, and not putting additional strength on any other joint.

Building mobility, or strength at end range, helps us stay safe in training and in life.  At the end of our range, where we are weakest, is where we are most vulnerable to injuries.  Building end range strength with static holds and slow, controlled reps to end range helps build the insurance policy against injury of “end range strength.”

Throughout all of your calisthenics training, prioritize good form, extending your end range, and building strength in the end range of your range of motion.

ESSENTIAL PARALLETTES WORKOUTS


BEGINNER PARALLETTE WORKOUT

  • Dip Movement: 4 x 7
    • Examples: Dips (feet supported)
  • Pushing Movement: 4×7
    • Examples: Planche Lean + Push-Up
  • Overhead Pressing Movement:4×7
    • Piked Push-Up
  • Single Leg Raise: 4×10
  • Shoulder mobility work

INTERMEDIATE PARALLETTE WORKOUT

  • 4×7 L-Sit Dip
  • 4×7 Supported Planche + Supported Planche Push-Up
  • 4×7 Piked Deficit Handstand Push-Up
  • 4×7 Piked 90 Degree Push-Up
  • 3 Minutes Handstand Balancing work
  • Tabata Shoot Through (Push Up + tuck + Extend legs and hips forward + bench dip)
  • Shoulder mobility (3 way shoulder mobilization, plus blocked chest/forearm stretch)

ADVANCED PARALLETTE WORKOUT

  • 4×7 L-Sit Dip + V-Up (Leg Raise)
  • 4×7 Planche Push-Up + 5 second hold
  • 4×7 90 Degree Push-Up
  • 4×7 Deficit Handstand Push-Ups
  • 3 Minutes Handstand Hold balancing work
  • Optional: Shoot Through Tabata – Planche Push-Up + Tuck & shoot through + L-Sit Dip

Note: The Advanced workout is an extremely intense workout that should ideally be split over 2 training days, with adequate rest between sessions

CLICK HERE FOR FREE PDF DOWNLOAD

FAQ

What are the easiest and hardest Parallette exercises?

  • Easiest: Parallette Push-Up
  • Hardest: 90 Degree Push-Up and V-hold – due to strength and mobility demands

Are parallettes worth it?

  • Parallettes are absolutely worth the investment.  Parallettes allow exercises for the chest, shoulders, and arms that rival weight training in strength and muscle development.

Will parallettes build muscle?

  • Yes, if you perform advanced parallettes exercise progressions at high intensity (7 to 10 reps or 20 seconds of maximum effort) parallettes exercises will build muscle.

How tall should parallettes be?

  • 10 inches or taller is ideal for parallettes to allow for end range strength building movements, such as deficit handstand push ups and low dips.

What are the 5 basic strength training exercises

  • Hinging (Deadlift)
  • Squating
  • Pulling (Pull Ups, Rows)
  • Pushing (Push Ups, Dips, Presses)
  • Core Work (Flexion and Sore Stabilization

What muscles do parallettes work?

  • Parallettes exercises primarily work the chest, shoulders, arms (biceps and triceps) and the core (abdominal muscles and lower back)

How much do parallettes cost?

  • A good pair of parallettes can range from $25 to build using this DIY PVC parallettes building plan to $70+ for full metal and reinforced parallettes.  The best parallettes deliver good height, durability, grip when slightly sweaty, and still fit your budget.

What are the best parallettes

  • The best parallettes to start parallette exercises are these DIY PVC parallettes that cost $25 to build in 25 minutes, are very durable, and have the function you need for any exercise on this list.

WHAT ARE THE CORE CALISTHENICS AND PARALLETTES EXERCISES?

  1. Dips
  2. Handstand Hold / Handstand Push-Up
  3. Planche hold /Push Ups
  4. 90 Degree Push-up
  5. The L-Sit / V-Sit

Keep in mind, these are the core parallettes exercises, but the 32 parallette exercise variations in this article allow us to take our chest, shoulder, and arms training to a whole new level.

These 5 exercises are the core of all parallettes exercises and allow us to train for strength, muscle, and tone and cover all of the muscles used and movements performed on the parallettes.  However, 32 variations of these core exercises allow us focus on nearly any portion of the shoulders, chest, arms, abs, and more.

We “scale” each of these exercises to an easier (or more difficult) variation or “exercises progression” to suit the beginner, intermediate, and advanced bodyweight athlete’s current strength, ability, and target workout.  This adjustment of difficulty is done using “exercise progressions” and the 32 exercise variations we will cover in this article. 

This ability to scale and adjust the difficulty of movements allows us to build a bulletproof body with parallettes at home or anywhere.

Leave a Comment

About A Brother Abroad

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carlos is an adventure traveler, Crossfit Trainer, and Strength & Conditioning Coach dedicated to helping others travel better to far off destinations for pure adventure experiences, and stay fit and adventure-ready along the way. Click here to learn more about Carlos's story.