Using Kettlebells as Parallettes

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Timothy Bell, PTS.

Kettlebells – we love lifting them, we love flipping them, some of us even love throwing them around! But did you know that you can get a workout without even picking them up off the floor?

Parallettes are low parallel bars used by gymnasts to practice static holds such as L-sits and training the planche. Not all of us have access to a set of parallettes, but fortunately a pair of kettlebells makes a great substitute.

Due to its fat, heavy base and raised handle, the design of the kettlebell makes it a suitable replacement for parallettes. The kettlebell’s height from the floor allows for ample space to pull your legs through when transitioning between the plache and L-sit, as well as going deep with handstand push-ups. When using kettlebells for parallette work you’ll want to choose two kettlebells of the same weight. The heavier the kettlebell, the stronger the base, and therefore the more stable it will be for your training. To reduce the risk of tipping over, I recommend using 50 lb. bells or heavier.

Parallette Practice

Note my use of the word “practice” when talking about parallette or any gymnastics training for that matter. In my experience, training both myself and my clientele, it is best to approach your parallette training as a practice rather than a workout in itself. There’s a few ways to put this concept into action. You could simply place your parallette training at the beginning or end of your workout, performing 5-7 sets of either L-sits, tucked planche holds, handstands, or a combination of the three. Putting them at the beginning allows you to take advantage of your full strength before you are fatigued from other execises. Doing them at the end forces your body to work very hard in an already weakened state, which will help you perform at a higher level next time you’re fresh and warmed up.

Another approach is to practice these techniques throughout the day, doing a few sets in the morning, and a few more later on (what Pavel Tsatsouline refers to as “greasing the groove”). This can even be done on rest days as a form of active recovery. Practice these basic holds daily, conquer them, and then move onto more advanced versions of each. There are endless variations you can use to strengthen yourself from head to toe.

Timothy Bell is a heath/fitness educator, founder of Jungle Fit Personal Training, and author of the Jungle Fit Body Weight Solution. For more information on Timothy Bell and Jungle Fit, visit

8 thoughts on “Using Kettlebells as Parallettes

  • By Andy Fossett -

    Sweet! Parallette training just so happens to be something I’m really into. It’s a lot of fun and great for building strength at extreme angles for various skills.

    If you’ve got a set of heavy kettlebells around, they can be a good enough substitute when performing simple exercises that don’t produce very much lateral force. Perhaps the most important part of this article is the caution:

    “To reduce the risk of tipping over, I recommend using 50 lb. bells or heavier.”

    When you’re ready to move on to more dynamic movements and hold that produce more leverage, then it’s a good idea to build or buy a set of p-bars with a longer arm and a wider base.

    They’re pretty cheap to make, depending on your design, so there’s really no reason to use a substitute if you get serious about this tool. Still, two big-ass KBs are a good starting place if you already have them. As mentioned in the article, they’re all you need for L-sits or simple holds.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for your comment, Andy. Kettlebells definitely cannot replace parallettes altogether. I agree that anyone who decides to get serious about this type of training ought to take the time to purchase or build a proper set of parallettes.

    • By Lancehogle -

      You can also use pro grade kettlebells for Parallette training as they have a larger bottom surface than standard kettlebells.

      • By Al Kavadlo -

        Good point, Lance. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Al Kavadlo – We're Working Out! » Using Kettlebells as Parallettes --

  • By Tim -

    Thanks again Al for featuring my article! Love the tucked planche pic by the way! And thank you to everyone for reading the article, if you enjoyed it head to my site and follow me on twitter, youtube etc.! Thank a lot everyone, and take care!

    – Tim

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      My pleasure, Tim!

  • By kettlebell workout dvd -

     Well, I must say that kettle bell a nice tool for workout with so many different uses and style. Actually I’m also using that tool for my body building and exercise and I’m satisfied to it.

Comments are closed.