GETTING MORE OUT OF YOUR PARALLETTES- 7 progressions, regressions and new moves.

24/04/2021 | Andrew Tracey

Andrew Tracey is a long time collaborator with Bulldog Gear. A coach, writer and current fitness editor of Men’s Health Magazine, he has been in and around the fitness industry for the past 16 years. Having enjoyed and endured a number of disciplines from endurance racing, to strongman, to Crossfit AT enjoys getting neck deep in the practice just as much as the theory.

Bodyweight training is one of the most phenomenally practical tools a trainee can have in their arsenal, and 'parallettes' or free standing parallel bars are one of the chief pieces of equipment that can be added into the mix to take the war on gravity to the next level.

In this video and article we cover seven regressions, progressions and potentially brand new moves that you can add into the roster, to upgrade your bodyweight training and grind out some fresh, new gains.


Horizontal pulling movements are criminally under-programmed in functional fitness. If you want to incorporate more but you're still struggling to nail those first few bodyweight rows, adding a band will give you (quite literally) a huge boost. Loop your band around both parallettes and set yourself up in a strong inverted plank position, hanging under each bar, with the band crossing your mid back, assisting you as you pull your bodyweight upwards. Use a progressively smaller band as your strength increases.


Once you've completed your band set, it's time to step it up a level. Far more than just an incredible regression for the pull-up, full bodyweight inverted rows are a powerful, back-building movement in their own right. Set yourself up in a strong inverted plank position, hanging under each bar, explosively pull yourself towards the bars, squeeze and pause here before lowering yourself under control to a full hang. 


With bodyweight rows firmly in the bag, you may be looking for a new challenge: Set yourself up hanging below a single parallette with its opposite number around 2 feet away. Lift your heels up onto the opposite bar, create a strong plank from ankles to shoulders. You should be at around a 45 degree angle depending on the height of parallettes. Explosively pull yourself towards the bars, squeeze and pause here before lowering yourself under control back to a full hang. The increased angle adds leverage, making each rep more difficult.


Time to flip things over now. Just as we did with our rows, we're going to begin with an assistance move to help you get those first few press-ups, or just to aid you in upping the rep count! Loop your band around both parallettes and set yourself up in a strong plank position on the ground, hands on the ground, elbows and shoulders stacked above, the band crossing your stomach or waist. Lower yourself to the floor under control, before pushing back up explosively, the band assisting you. Use a progressively smaller band as your strength increases.


Following the trend of upping the ante, next we shift to a resisted variation for when push-ups just aren't cutting it. Lay a single parallette down on the ground, a band looped around the uprights (if you have small parallettes, use the pair and loop the band across the top of both). Set yourself up in a strong plank position, hands on the parallettes, with the band crossing your mid to lower back. Lower your chest to the floor before pressing back up explosively against the resistance of the band. Repeat (until you can't anymore).


When it comes to building a big chest, dips are push-up's bigger, meaner brother. If you haven't quite got them in the locker, try this banded alternative to build up the strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps.  Loop your band around both parallettes and set yourself up gripping the bars with straight arms, legs bent, with the band supporting your weight across your knees. Bend at the arms and slowly lower yourself to the ground, pause when you feel a deep stretch in your chest before pressing back up explosively, the band helping to propel you skyward.


So you've mastered high rep dips and you want to keep the gains train rolling? Loop your band around both parallettes and set yourself up gripping the bars with straight arms, legs bent, the band crossing over your shoulders, creating (even more) downwards resistance. Lower yourself to the ground under control, then attempt to blast back upwards against the increasing resistance of the band.