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Who are Pauly and Pablo? – Parallette Exercises

Greg Use Parallettes

Today I learned about Pauly and Pablo from my friend and Mekanix super star Greg!  It’s an awesome story that put a big smile on my face.  And maybe most importantly, I got Motivated to TRAIN HARD!  I promise that wrapped up in all this are some valuable calisthenics nuggets.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me start by telling you about Pauly and Pablo.

Who are Pauly and Pablo?

We were at Mekanix, training hard as usual and getting our 1% Better for the day.  I think we had just wrapped up a set that included a bunch of push-ups, L-sits, and leans.  My whole upper body was talking to me – in a good way –  and we were taking a break before doing the same thing all over again.  So Greg and I started talking.  The conversation went something like this.  I probably didn’t get it 100% right because the blood had rushed out of my head  to help my poor muscles recover, but I think my memory is close enough.

Me:  I love these parallette exercises.  They’re tough, but there’s something about them that’s just addictive.

Greg:  I know!  I was hooked the first time I tried a routine on parallettes.  I immediately went out and got a pair and that’s’ when I started my journey with calisthenics.

Me:  Haha.  No kidding.  Do you remember which ones you got?

Greg:  You bet.  I still have my very first pair and I still train with them every week!   I was so excited when I got them I gave them a name.

I called them:  “Pauly” and “Pablo”

At that point I couldn’t help but crack a big smile.  It reminded me a bit of my own story.

My Story

I had a similar experience recently.  A few years into my calisthenics training, I decided I wanted to upgrade my own set of parallettes.  So I started trying out a few.  After going through at least 10 different kinds and spending no less than $700 ordering all these different models (Seriously!) I finally found a set that I really liked.  Something about the weight (surprisingly heavy), the grip (wood), and the height (tall enough to be workable, low enough to challenge me on kick throughs)   – all the elements came together into a neat final product.  As soon as I grabbed them and did my first pushup on them I knew they were perfect for me.

Strangely addictive.

Just like Pauly and Pablo, they felt like the perfect training tool.  The feeling is something like suiting up for the day in your perfect pair of comfortable jeans.  They inspire familiarity and confidence!

What did I name my set of parallettes?  Confession … I haven’t!  I’d love to get your advice, though. Shoot me an e-mail and let me know:  What should I name them?

What’s The Big Deal About Parallettes

As you can see from the pictures, parallettes are nothing more than sturdy raised bars that are typically anywhere from 9” to 16” off the ground.  The height varies – for kick through exercises lower is harder (some beasts do kick-throughs on  ultra low bars that are no more than 2” or 3” off the ground) while for pushing exercises, taller is often harder if you lower your body below the level your hands grip.

What makes parallettes great is:

  • They’re simple. There’s something powerful and pleasing about simplicity. I know it sounds crazy but you’ll understand when you grab the perfect pair and do your first workout with them.
  • They’re mobile. Parallettes are easy to put in the back of your car and take your training anywhere. Home, gym, the park, by the pool.  Heck … there’s some so small you can probably fit them in your back pack when you bike from place to place.
  • They’re easy to use. Enough said.
  • They dramatically expand your training options. This simple piece of equipment allows you to perform a wide variety of exercises and also provides an opportunity to scale up or scale down the exercise in difficulty.
  • They allow you to target muscle groups in unique ways. For example, the humble push-up can be modified to make use of three completely different hand orientations which in turn works your shoulders, chest, arms, and even wrists in completely different ways.

Let’s look at a few general pointers on using parallettes and then we’ll go into a few great exercises you do with them.

General Pointers on Using Parallettes

  • Find a set that is comfortable for you. You will need to decide on the perfect bar diameter, height from the ground, and material.  My personal preference is wood, about 1.5” in diameter, and working surface about 10” off the ground.
  • Position them the correct width apart. This is different for each person but the simplest method is to place them shoulder width apart, which will cause your hands to be positioned directly under your shoulders when you workout.  This will make it much easier to achieve the movement as your arms will be like vertical columns supporting your body.  An easy way to determine shoulder width is to measure the distance from the tip of your fingers to your elbow.  Of course cell phones make it very easy to double check this by taking a video of yourself working out and adjusting accordingly.
  • Use them on a flat, sturdy surface. For proper balance, support, and safety during a workout they should be on a flat surface.  The floor of your gym, house, or garage would be perfect.  An uneven surface in the park is less than ideal.

Exercises with Parallettes

What kinds of exercises can you do with parallettes?  It’s a pretty long list, but here’s a few to get you started.

  1. Straight arm lean a.k.a. planche lean
    1. Challenge yourself by increasing how far forward you lean.
    2. Planche lean w/ mountain climbers
  2. L-sit.
    1. Push from the ground
    2. Push from straight arm
  3. Push-up on parallettes
  4. Push-up to L-Sit.
    1. Try it with 3 different positioning variations.
  5. Archer / Typewriter push-up.

If you want to see videos on how to perform these exercises, you’ll find them on our Facebook page (and, coming soon, our YouTube channel.)   To make it easy for you, though, we’ve put them all in one place with detailed step by step instructions.   Interested?  Enter your information below and we’ll send you a copy of our eBook free!

Bonus.  Want your very own set of parallettes?  We’re producing a limited number of custom made wooden parallettes.  Enter your information below and we’ll send you details.