Celtic Kane

What is a Parallette?

Parallettes are a gymnastics tool that simulate parallel bars — which are similar to dip bars. You can use a pair of parallettes to to wallstands, handstands, dips, ab exercises, and tons of other weird, gymnast stunts. The following tutorial explains the process of making your own parallettes. The entire process shouldn’t take more than an afternoon, and is quite inexpensive because it uses PVC pipe.

Required Tools and Equipment

  • PVC Pipe – about 6 feet, and a diameter that is comfortable in the palm (probably 1 inch or greater in diameter)
  • A hacksaw (for cutting the PVC)
  • [4] PVC T connectors
  • [4] PVC Elbow/90 degree joints
  • [8] PVC end caps

Here is a picture of all the required PVC pieces for ONE parallette (remember, you’ll need to double this to get two parallettes)

Building Instructions

The process of actually building the parallettes should be pretty simple based on the completed images. In the event that you would like step-by-step instructions, however, just follow the images below:

Step 1

Cut a piece of PVC pipe about a foot and a half in length, then attach the two elbow pieces.
Step 2

Cut two pieces of pipe about 4-6 inches in length and attach them into the other end of the elbow pieces.
Step 3

Attach two T joints.
Step 4

Cut four pieces of pipe about 3-5 inches in length and attach them to all the open ends of the T joint. This will serve as the base for your parallette to prevent it from falling over.
Step 5

Add four end caps to all open holes.
Step 6

Make sure all the pieces are held tightly together, you may glue them if you like. I didn’t glue them, and I would recommend that you don’t so that it can be disassembled. Set it upright and you’re ready to start exercises.

Now What?

Well…first off, you need to make another one. In terms of exercises, my favorite is to put the parallettes perpendicular to a wall, do a handstand on the parallettes, and support myself with the wall. If you’re really in shape or just really skinny, you might be able to do a vertical pushup — where you do a handstand, then go down like a pushup and back up. Of course you’ll need more exercises than this, so I’d definitely recommend checking out A Parallette Training Guide by American Gymnast. You might have to register for the guide — currently the registration is free. If you can get into the webpage, it’s got plenty of beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercises with pictures that will give you plenty of variety to this workout tool.

  1. How to Develop the Strength of a Gymnast « EUVICTUS (May 6, 2010)
  1. May 4, 2009

    This is a great piece of equipment you can make yourself. I found a already assembled set for $119.00. Maybe it’s because they were they were made out of steel. This is going to save me alot of money. Thanks for the quality info.

  2. June 23, 2009

    One 10 foot section of pipe cuts easily to make one pair of parallettes.

    Coating the end caps in a non-skid, rubberized material makes them even more stabile on multiple surfaces. Heck, the 10 foot section of pipe is about $3.00 and the elbows, caps, and tees are about $0.60 each. This was a great tutorial! You just saved me a few hundred dollars!

  3. keven
    August 26, 2009

    you just save me big bucks…thanks

  4. chris
    September 17, 2009

    Do you have any idea of how much weight these things can take? i would’nt want to break my neck working on them.

  5. Mat
    January 29, 2010

    I have seen larger men that weigh at least 200 lbs(muscle weight) using these…

  6. Alex
    October 17, 2010

    Does anyone know the actuall thickness of the PVC pipe that is recommended as it comes in different thickness?

  7. Paul Geddes
    February 13, 2011

    1 1/2″ does the trick for me. 5′ 10″, 215lb. This is a superb piece of kit and so easy to assemble.

  8. zako
    March 1, 2011

    yea the weight is amazing :) as mat said ive seen 200 lb guys use them, ever standing on one of them! i think if your really that worried about it, make the main bar shorter, who know how amazingly strong that would be :)

  9. Tido
    October 21, 2011

    Did you end up making it? I’d say the thicker the better.

  10. Tido
    October 21, 2011

    “Cut four pieces of pipe about 3-5 inches in length and attach them to all the open ends of the T joint. This will serve as the base for your parallette to prevent it from falling over.” How are you guys finding it for stability, little worried about the parallette tipping sideways. Perhaps using a 5″ pipe on each side of the t-joint will do the trick.

  11. Randy
    January 17, 2012

    To address stability concerns while maintaining portability…

    I Use 1.5″ diameter pipe of the most durable PVC available. (good fit for my hands)

    Bottom “T” Shaped Base Sections
    -I cut the bottom supporting PVC pipe lengths to be on the 5″ side of the specified 3-5″ range. (From Step 4)
    -I assembled and PVC prime + glued the bottom caps to the “T assembly
    -I filled the bottom horizontal part with sand. To add weight.
    -Then I poured 1/2″ of glue down the vertical part of the “T” Base. To stop sand from getting out.

    Top Cross Bar
    -I primed + glued the 90 degree connectors to the cross bar. Because of my potentially irrational fear of the bar slipping out of one of the connectors during a handstand push-up (haha).

    The end result is 3 pieces per parallette. (2) weighted base “T” shaped sections and (1) Cross Bar with 90 degree connectors (glued together see step 2)

    More stable. Still portable.

  12. Andy
    August 20, 2012

    There are some really great tips here so far on making safe and stable PVC parallettes. If anything, I would just reiterate that using PVC glue should not be considered optional. As you train, the plastic has a tendency to work itself out of the joints, which can be dangerous if you’re upside down ;)

    If you’re concerned with strength, you might look into making some P-bars out of wood. Here’s a couple of different sets of instructions: http://www.parallettes.net/parallette-construction/

    The wood also feels better than plastic, but that’s a personal preference.

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