The Best Parallettes – The Ultimate Guide

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The Most Important Information

A pair of parallettes can be a fantastic addition to a preexisting calisthenics workout regime. Parallettes are generally used for building upper body strength and increasing balance. I’m going to cover everything you need to know to choose the best parallettes. 

If you focus primarily on calisthenics and gymnastics movements, you can benefit from a set of parallettes at any stage of your training. If you train any other styles, a set of parallettes will likely slow you down.

Note: Parallettes are commonly overpriced. You will not always get what you pay for!

If you’re interested, please continue reading to better understand the reasons behind my recommendations. Otherwise, here’s a quick list of my top picks.

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Bar Material

To choose the ideal material for the bars you need to consider what kind of feeling and grip you want them to have. Also, consider whether or not you’ll travel with your parallettes.

Wood

Hardwood is a high-quality bar material that is easy to grip. Wooden bars should always be crafted with a hardwood such as Birch, Oak, Maple, Beech, etc. for durability. Wood is your middle ground for portability. It weighs less than metal but more than PVC. Wood also costs roughly the same amount as metal, but more than PVC.

Metal

Bare metal bars are not easy to grip. Even if they’re crafted with rough surfaces, or covered with padding, they still don’t offer the quality and comfort of wooden bars. In addition, rubber and foam padding can come loose or tear over time.

Metal bars are durable. Those made with stainless steel are close to weather-resistant too. Metal bars usually weigh more which makes them less portable for flights. Metal costs roughly the same amount as wood, but more than PVC.

Note: Stainless steel is the best metal you can use for outdoor training.

PVC

These bars have the same issue as metal bars. PVC gets very slippery unless it has a covering. Again, in my experience these coverings are not only annoying to use in the first place, they tend to eventually come loose or tear. PVC parallettes have low durability but can be used safely. That said, if you weigh over 90 kilograms (198.42 pounds) you may want to go with wood or metal bars.

On the flip side, the qualities of PVC are portability and price. PVC parallettes are lightweight which makes them highly portable. You can get PVC parallettes for much cheaper than wood or metal parallettes.

Bar Material

The base is an important part of a parallette. Answering the following questions will give you an idea of what to look for in a base.

  • Is the base slippery?
  • Is the base portable?
  • Are the parallettes attached?
  • If the base is wood, is it built properly?
  • Is the base stable enough?

Wood bars will usually come with wood or metal bases. If you’re training on a slippery surface like concrete, the parallettes will slide everywhere no matter what material you choose. To prevent this, you may need your parallettes to come equipped with adhesive pads to prevent movement and floor damage. 

In general, wood and metal bases will not vary greatly in weight which makes them equally portable. Of course, PVC is still the most portable material.

Never get a base that attaches parallettes together. While this offers more stability, you will be losing out on your ability to work with the parallettes at different distances and angles. In addition, parallettes that are attached are less portable and more difficult to store. 

Wood bases are great when they’re constructed properly. If a set of parallettes has a single screw installed parallel to the bar, it’s not worth your money. These are structurally unstable and allow the individual bases to swivel around the bar when you’re moving them in and out of storage. Always look for a single screw installed perpendicular to the bar or multiple screws holding the bar and base together. Also, bases with sharp angles are pretty painful to land on and can get baggy clothing stuck. Always make sure the base you get has soft angles up top. 

Your base needs to be wide enough to prevent you from tipping over. An 11-inch base is ideal for a set of standard parallettes. Don’t worry too much about the width of the base on a set of mini parallettes. They’re so small you won’t need to worry about them shifting under your weight.

Parallette Dimensions

Eventually, you may own two sets of parallettes: one pair of standard parallettes and another pair of mini parallettes. That said, you should start off with standard parallettes if you haven’t trained with these before.

Note: You will likely have no need for mini parallettes unless you travel occasionally.

The bar diameter on both sets of parallettes should be 1½ inches. Any smaller and you’ll have difficulty balancing. Any bigger and you might as well use the floor.

Standard Parallettes

  • Ideal height: 7-9 inches
  • Ideal length: 24 inches

Standard Parallette Height

Standard parallettes should have a height of 7-9 inches. This is much shorter than what most companies will offer. 

I recommend a low 7-9-inch height for three reasons. 

First, the higher the bar the less stability you’ll have. The shortest possible parallette offers high stability without sacrificing mobility. Sadly, companies rarely make standard parallettes any shorter than 9 inches.

Second, short parallettes will force you to use good form during transitions. If you have a really tall set of parallettes there is way too much room to do transitional movements with bad form. 

Third, when you’re trying to balance on parallettes, upside down especially, you don’t want to be focusing on what will happen if you fall over. It’s much more productive to train on lower parallettes. Many people, myself included, have found that while starting out this reduces the constant anticipation of tipping over.

Note: If you’re dead set on buying tall parallettes you may wish to invest in a set of high-quality dip bars instead. To train deep pushups, deep pike pushups, etc, I recommend using plyo boxes or other stable objects such as bricks or logs.

Standard Parallette Length

The length of your parallettes will primarily depend on your lifestyle. The longer the parallette, the more stability you’ll have. But with length comes reduced portability. Each bar should be 24 inches long if you live a sedentary lifestyle. If you’re a travel bug, get them as long as your suitcase permits. 

Note: Some travelers have no issues with 24-inch long parallettes.

Mini Parallettes

  • Ideal height: 1½-2 inches
  • Ideal length: 6-24 inches

Mini parallette height

Mini parallettes need enough height to allow your knuckles to completely clear the ground. Look for parallettes with a height of 1½ inches if you only train on a hard, flat surface.

If you train over a carpet or on uneven soil, go for a height of 2 inches.

Mini parallette Length

The length of your mini parallettes is an entirely personal preference. Because they’re so low to the ground there’s no reason to get incredibly long parallettes for better stability. You can get mini parallettes with lengths as short as 6 inches.

If you want to use mini parallettes to practice transitioning from position to position, you’ll be better off with a bar length of 12 inches or more for that extra stability.

Checklist

Standard Parallettes:

  • 1½x24-inch hardwood bars
  • 7-9-inch tall base
  • Screw installed perpendicular to the bar

Mini Parallettes:

  • 1½-inch hardwood bars
  • Screw installed perpendicular to the bar

Recommendations

The Beam Store 48-Inch Parallettes

These are the best standard wood parallettes I could find for those of you that live a sedentary lifestyle and train at a high level of calisthenics or gymnastics. These parallettes are 9 inches high and 48 inches long with a beam diameter of 1½ inches.

Advantages

Short of bolting bars to the floor, these parallettes have the highest stability you can get due to their length. Unless you plan on jumping from one position to another, you’ll probably be better off with a shorter set of parallettes.

Drawbacks

I love everything about these with one exception: the finish may be slippery when you first buy them.

Click here for more details.

Barre Trainer 24-Inch Parallettes

These wooden bars are the best option for those of you who want the best stability but aren’t planning on catching air during transitions. They are 8 inches high and 24 inches long. The beam diameter is 1½ inches.

Advantages

Because of the long 24-inch beams, you’ll have excellent stability for doing moves with at least one hand on a parallette. Like the longer 48-inch parallettes, these are built with high-quality materials.

Drawbacks

The bars may be slippery until you’ve used them for a while.

Click here for more details.

Body Power PL1000 24-Inch Parallettes

Today’s market requires you to make compromises if you want a set of metal parallettes. You’ll have to choose between optimal height and optimal length. I chose to opt for a stable 24-inch length but sacrifice some stability with a 12-inch height.

Advantages

The Body Power parallettes have a strong build and include protective rubber feet. These standard parallettes have moderate stability due to the bar height. Also, the powder-coated finish will help to prevent the bars from rusting.

Drawbacks

You’ll have to wipe these dry after each training session to prevent corrosion. This is true for all metal parallettes regardless of the finish.

Click here for more details.

Pellor Mini Parallettes

If you’re interested in a second set of shorter parallettes should consider these. They are 4 inches tall, 4 inches wide, and 19 inches long. The bar diameter is 1½ inches.

Advantages

The wood construction of these parallettes is close to perfect. The bars are attached to the bases by screws that run through the bottom end of the bases. This prevents the bars from rotating. These parallettes also come with rubber feet to prevent sliding.

Drawbacks

The one “flaw” I found in their construction was the small 4-inch width. I would prefer a wider 6-inch width for optimal stability, however, the stability of these parallettes is still quite good.

The Pellor parallettes are only available in the United Kingdom and Canada at the moment. A similar version to Pellor’s parallettes, made by a different company, exists in the United States. However, these parallettes have completely wooden bottoms, so they may slip on slick surfaces.

Check out Pellor’s parallettes available in the U.K. here and in Canada here. The details for a similar version of these made by Islilky are available in the U.S. and can be viewed here.

Vita Vibe Ultra Portable Mini Parallettes

Travelers will be happiest with this set of wood parallettes. Their small 2⅝-inch height, 9-inch or 12-inch length, and 1½-inch bar diameter make these a good option for nomads.

Advantages

Because of the small construction, these are the cheapest, most lightweight high-quality mini parallettes I could find. They come equipped with rubber feet to prevent movement along the floor. The company also backs their product with a 10-year warranty. 

Drawbacks

These should be your second pair of parallettes. You will still need a taller set of parallettes to truly benefit from parallette training.

Click here for more details.

Last Words

The parallettes listed above are tried and true (not including the U.S. Isilky Mini Parallette alternative). It wouldn’t be a bad decision to try your luck with some cheaper parallettes that I haven’t recommend here. That said, I am confident that my recommendations will offer close to guaranteed high-quality. Regardless of your choice, I hope my guide has been useful.

If you feel like something was missed, or you’d like to see something I haven’t covered yet, let me know in the comments below.

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