No need to cast fitness goals aside when you’re making merry. Small, lightweight and great for boosting upper-body strength and definition, parallettes should be top of your Christmas list
Push yourself with parallettes
Spend this month hitting the bars by all means (those Christmas parties won’t attend themselves) but why not switch it up a little by turning your attention to a different set of bars – those that’ll provide bona fide fitness gains instead of festive cheer? Hey, it’s all about balance. Parallettes are favoured by gymnasts to build strength, particularly across the upper body. ‘They allow you to challenge your body without putting too much strain on your joints,’ says Rob Smyth, owner of London conditioning studio UN1T. If you’re new to gymnastics or calisthenics, these moves might take a while to get to grips with, but you will get there – and once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be leaner and stronger and boast better muscle definition than ever before.
THE ‘L’ SIT Targets: Abs, arms and core Do: 12 reps
(a) Sit between the parallettes with your legs out in front, knees bent. Grip the middle of each bar and straighten your arms to lift your bum – and legs – off the ground. Be sure not to raise your shoulders.
(b) Straighten your legs and hold for 3 secs before bending your legs back in. That’s one rep.
Repeat, keeping your body off the ground throughout.
SHOOT THROUGH Targets: Shoulders and triceps Do: 12 reps
(a) Start in a high plank, holding the middle of each parallette bar directly under your shoulders.
(b) Using upper-body strength, tuck your knees into your chest, then swing them through the parallettes without touching the ground. Too tricky? Bend your knees and walk through to the next position instead. You want to end up in a reverse plank, looking up to the ceiling with your hands still on the bars. Reverse the move to return to the starting position.
1. Perform as a circuit, resting for 30 secs between each move and 2 mins after a full circuit. Repeat 5 times. 2. Form is important; if you can’t do part (b) with good posture, perfect part (a) until you can.
DIP Targets: Triceps Do: 10-12 reps
(a) Sit between the parallettes with your legs straight out in front. Grip each bar and straighten your arms to lift your body off the ground, leaving your heels on the floor.
(b) Bend your arms to lower your body down, keeping your elbows pointing backwards and upper arms close to your ribs. When your bum is near the floor, push back up to the starting position.
PRESS-UP Targets: Chest and shoulders Do: 10-12 reps
(a) Start in plank position with arms fully extended and hands gripping the bars directly under your shoulders. Lower your body by bending your elbows, keeping them tucked into your sides. Make sure to keep your body in one straight line – don’t let your bum or hips rise.
(b) Pause once your chest is parallel with the top of the bars, then press yourself back up. Wonderful work.
HANDSTAND Targets: Shoulders, back and arms Do: Hold for 30 secs
(a) Begin with your hands on the parallettes and your body crouched behind the bars. Bring your left knee towards your left elbow, then do the same with the right, lifting your feet off the ground. You need to be suspended in mid-air with only your hands on the parallettes.
(b) Feeling confident? Tuck your head and lift your bum into the air. When you feel stable, extend your legs so you’re in a full handstand. If you need some support, do the move against a wall.