Parallettes are a fantastic tool to help you accelerate your strength and skill gains while protecting your wrists and hands from overuse injuries, which are very common when people start to train entry-level gymnastic moves.
You can pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a high-quality set, or you can spend a few minutes making a very sturdy, easily-transportable pair of parallettes for $25 with parts you can pick up at any Home Depot or other large hardware store.
In this article I’ll explain why you might want to incorporate parallettes into your training, and how you can make them cheaply and easily.
Why You Might Want Some Parallettes
I talk a lot about becoming strong and coordinated using simple bodyweight exercises that don’t require expensive equipment, but sometimes a few items can help you bypass roadblocks that keep you from making bigger gains.
Parallettes are one such tool, and the way I build them, they’re cheap, durable, and they can be easily taken apart for storage or transportation.
The primary reason why you might want some parallettes is because wrist strength and flexibility is such a huge roadblock for those trying to master entry-level gymnastic exercises.
For instance, to achieve a high-quality handstand, you need to focus on repetitively getting into proper body alignment and spending a lot of time with weight loaded onto your hands. Balance and skill simply comes through lots of time spent in handstands.
Unfortunately, the wrists and hands are the weakest link for most people, and they often give out long before the rest of the body begins to get too sore or tired to continue practicing.
And while sore arms might feel better in a day or two, overuse injuries of the wrist and hands are often stubborn, and don’t heal quickly.
Ultimately, spending time increasing wrist flexibility and strength is the solution, but that can take a lot of time to develop during which you’re not progressing on your handstands.
Where Parallettes Come In:
One solution is to practice enough on the ground to give your wrists the stimulus they need to improve (but not enough to injure yourself), and then switch to the parallettes for the rest of your training.
If you’ve already injured your wrists, you’ll also likely find that you can practice on parallettes without pain, which is nice because you won’t have to entirely abandon your training.
Greater Scope Of Movement:
A secondary benefit of the parallettes is that by boosting you off the floor, they allow you to practice some moves that may be too hard for you to do on the ground.
For instance, many people can’t do an L-sit on the ground, but they may be able to do an L-sit on the parallettes. By practicing the move on the parallettes long enough, they’ll become strong enough to do the move on the ground.
Badass Things You Do With Parallettes.
Wondering what you’re actually going to be doing on these white PVC beauties? Here’s a few ideas to get your started:
Handstand, planches, straddle presses to handstand, handstand pushups, V-sits, L-sits, Pike Presses, Straddle Planche Presses To Handstand, Tuck planches, L-Sit Press to Tuck Or Straddle Planche
How To Make Parallettes
One simple way to make parallettes is to make use of cheap, sturdy PVC piping, which can be found at any large hardware store like Home Depot.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 ½ Inch Wide 90 Degree PVC Elbow Joint x 4
- 1 ½ Inch Wide PVC T Joints x 4
- 1 ½ Inch Wide PVC Cap x 8
- 6 Inch Long, 1 ½ Inch Wide PVC pipe x 4
- 4 inch Long, 1 ½ Inch Wide PVC Pipe x 8
- 18 Inch Long, 1 ½ Inch Wide PVC Pipe x 2
- PVC Cement And Primer
- Fine-Toothed Hand Saw
- Tape Measure
- Electrical tape/masking tape.
What To Buy, And How Much It’ll Cost:
The most important item to get is the 10 foot long, 1 ½ inch wide PVC pipe, which is the only piece that needs to be cut.
Unless you have the time, inclination, and tools, I highly suggest you go to Home Depot or another hardware store that will cut PVC piping to fit your needs for free. Since I didn’t have a good saw at my place, I opted to to do this, and a Home Depot employee cut my PVC pipe into the correct-sized pieces (listed above) in a few minutes.
All the rest of the required items are listed on the chart below along with the price I paid for them.
Building Your PVC Parallettes:
If you want to do the cutting yourself, measure and mark off the 24, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, and 115 inch marks, as measured from one end.
Run electrical tape around the pipe so that the leading edge of the tape exactly aligns with the measured
marks. Use a saw at the leading edge of all the tape marks, and you’ll be left with the correct size pipe pieces.
To Cement, Or Not To Cement:
From here, you have two choices. If you want your parallettes to be permanently stuck together, you can use the PVC primer and cement listed on the optional purchases chart.
Personally, I think this is a mistake, because the parallettes are extremely sturdy without the cement, and if you leave them uncemented you can take them apart for storage or travel.
Whatever your choice, it’s probably a good idea to sandpaper the rough edges left over from your sawing, along with (if you intend to cement) the inside areas of the pipes you’ve created.
- Read the directions on primer and cement packages.
- Primer and cement (P&C) or attach one elbow joint onto each of the four 6″
sections. These are the legs of the parallettes.
- P&C or attach the legs onto each of the two 18″ sections. Make sure that
legs are parallel on each piece.
- Take the 4″ sections and P&C or attach them to each of the four T-Joint sections. These are the feet.
- P&C or attach the caps onto each of the four feet.
- P&C or attach the feet to the legs.
If you carried out those steps correctly, you should be left with a pretty awesome set of parallettes.
Check out the other pieces of equipment I suggest for your home gym.
Get started on bodyweight exercises that will make you dramatically stronger.