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

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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.

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