Playing with Parallel Bars for Strength Training

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Last week, I received a large, mysterious package a few days before my birthday. It was unmarked, no return address, no name, nothing! On the side of the box read, “Wheelchair Products.” I wasn’t expecting a package, and figured someone had just used an old box to send me a gift. After calling my wife to confirm it wasn’t a surprise gift, I opened it up and BEHOLD, it was… a walker???

Yes, like a walker for people who have trouble walking – THAT kind of walker.

There was no note, no card, nothing to explain why, I, a perfectly healthy and mobile young man received a walker via FedEx delivery.

I had a few theories at first.

My brother Joe bought me a high-tech cane as a joke awhile back, and this could have been an upgrade – you know, just in case. Or, my brother Jim could be sending me something to make fun of me because I’m always doing my “mobility moves.” This could be a secret message that someday my silly mobility moves won’t mean jack when I’m immobile. Regardless, I started putting this fold-out contraption to use right away.

I tested it for its structural integrity and then performed a set of parallel bar dips, then some bodyweight rows. Before long, I was experimenting with some moves I had always wanted to try.So, here is a quick video demonstrating some exercises you can do with parallel bars:

Playing with Parallel Bars for Strength Training

These are just strength training exercises, and my technique isn’t perfect during some of them, but I wanted to give you an idea of how many training options we really have at our disposal. It turns out my brother Jim bought this for me because he had been trying to find a way to do parallel bar dips at home, and this was his best solution.

We don’t always have a perfect training environment, or perfect training equipment, and it’s important that we take inventory of what we do have and use it to our advantage. That doesn’t mean compromise on safety, rather draw on what we know to be safe.

I’ve been reflecting lately on how much we have that is extraneous and on what we could live without. The truth is that specialized training equipment is a luxury we enjoy from an abundant lifestyle. My recent experience with MovNat reminded me of this – that we should be able to practice and train anytime, anywhere. If we don’t have a gym membership, no problem. If we don’t have space in our house for exercising, no problem. We’re people, we adapt to the situations around us, and we don’t necessarily need to try to micro-manage and control everything about our lives.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love playing with new equipment, and as long as I have it, I’ll use it. However, I may just build some parallettes after all to prevent any future faceplants…

To your health and success,

CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT
Fitness Professional

P.S. Find instructions for do-it-yourself parallettes here.

8 Responses

  1. Great article and video as usual John!

    If you live in a big city without open spaces and lots of hills, the gym might still be the best option for you. Putting tons of workout gadgets into a small apartment on the 43rd floor of an apartment building might be inconvenient and pricey at some places compared to an inexpensive gym membership.

    Sure, we should be able to workout without all that high tech stuff in the gym, but it might get inefficient and awkward at some places. Don’t understand me wrong, I do have a couple of parks and hills around my place in Hong Kong, but they are not meant for acrobatics like this and don’t offer any privacy. Also, you should see the forbidden signs at public places: no cycling, no inline skating (rollerblading), no sitting in the grass, no smoking, no dogs, no sunbathing, no climbing. I don’t know what they expect you do do actually ;-)

    Did you find out who sent that thing to you?

  2. Hey Alex,

    Yes, it was my brother Jim, who had found a home gym solution for parallel bar dips and thought he’d share it with me.

    No sitting in the grass – gimme a break!

  3. Hi John, great stuff… just wanted to pass along the EQUALIZER as a training tool for dips and pull-ups, etc. Cheers! Marc

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for your comment, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we met briefly at one of Ryan Lee’s events. I know many coaches who swear by your Equalizer. It looks like a great product, and I’d love to try it out sometime. They’d certainly beat my walker in terms of versatility :)

      Best,

      John

  4. Great article……..just came across your site…..good articles for sure…

    I have literally just taken delivery of 5 sets of the Equaliser for my bootcamp…..used them for the first sessions today, and what fantastic feedback….they are awesome bits of kit.

    Now that I have seen your video, gives me an idea or two for ME to attempt on them….and love the out take at the end of your vid….

    Kudos buddy,

    Train Hard, Live Easy

  5. John,
    Great idea! Not at all what the manufacturer had in mind, but brilliant all the same. LOL You could also set your feet up on the crossbar of the walker and knock out some push ups.

  6. Hey Steve, glad you have the EQ’s now! Have fun with them and if you need any exercise ideas or programming I have a bunch on YouTube.

    Joseoh, you are right! Not what we intended our product for but we do love putting our feet up on a ball for dips and push-ups!

    Cheers,

    Marc

  7. I saw exercises on youtube that required parallel bars and I couldn’t find the bars in my Google searches. Now I can use a walker for those exercises, how brilliant! Thanks for sharing

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