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Fitness Questions From Instagram (March 2021)

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Are you a bad person if you don’t do the turn out on ring pressing exercises, fixing a front lever plateau & the benefits of push ups on parallettes compared to the floor………

Is it essential to turn the rings outwards on ring push ups and other such moves? I can’t turn the rings out. It’s very difficult for me!

Fundamentally speaking, it’s not essential. However, I like to advise people to do it because the turnout conditions the elbows and the connective tissue of the arms, to withstand more intensity down the line. If you have any aspirations of levers and things of that nature, the turnout is very helpful.

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Rings turned out vs rings neutral/slightly turned in

If you just want to build your boobies, the turnout might not be as important. I know people who just use ring push ups as a pure pec builder (which incidentally, ring push ups are a wonderful exercise for anyone struggling to feel their pecs in pressing exercises).

As usual it depends on what you want to get out of the move and where you want to go in the future.

You say you ‘can’t’ turn the rings out………this tells me you could be lacking in strength AND/OR mobility. The mobility element comes in the form of externally rotating the shoulders under load. This is a function of pliability and strength in the external rotators themselves.

A quick test for this is to lay on your back and bring the arms out to 90 degrees at the shoulder and elbow. From there, check if you can get the forearm and wrists to touch the floor WITHOUT the ribs flaring and the lower back lifting?

Active range of motion measurement for external rotation. Participant... |  Download Scientific Diagram
( – example of the supine shoulder external rotation test shown on a physio table (can be done on the floor too)

If you are restricted here and can’t do this, you have work to do on your external rotation mobility. Luckily for you it’s a fairly straight forward process compared to some mobility deficits.

One last option to ‘practice’ the turnout still is to do the ring push ups at an inclined angle – where you make the weight you have to press notably lower and this should allow you to get more turnout at the top. And then just work your way down incrementally.

I’ve been practicing the front lever for 9 months now and made fast progress in the beginning, however I feel like I’m stagnating now as I haven’t progressed in 3 months really! My current best FL hold is a 2 second straddle and I train the front lever within an upper body session twice per week. I do unassisted holds, assisted holds (bands), ice cream makers, pull ups and rows…….I think I may need more frequency and retraction exercises? What do you think?

3 months without progress is definitely too long and you need to do some trouble shooting for sure.

I will answer your question with some questions……..

When you’re doing holds, are you taking each hold to a max hold time?

What rep ranges are you using on the pull ups & rows?

And lastly, what pull up style are you using? Hollow or more retracted?

At first glance it seems like you’re missing some dynamic work to target the front lever muscles through a full range. The isometric/static holds only really build strength at the joint angle they take place in. So you could be quite weak in the portion of the move between the dead hang and the lever itself, or between the lever and the inverted hang OR even in both!

A simple tweak you could make right now is to substitute the ice cream maker for the full range front lever raise (in whatever body leverage you need). This isn’t me saying ice cream makers are ‘bad’, it’s just they’re very similar to the pull ups you’re already doing.

One last suggestion I have is to look at having two days with different focuses: one statically focused and one more dynamically focused. And as much as a 3rd day sounds good as it offers a frequency increase, if you’re pushing the static holds to the wall already, you may just end up accumulating more fatigue that you’re already struggling to recover from.

Take home: Add dynamic exercises in and instead of taking every hold to the wall, leave a few seconds left in the tank and only max out your best hold every 4 weeks or so. Use this as a marker for overall progress. If you add a third day, watch carefully for your body’s recovery markers.

I’ve been told parallette push ups aren’t a good chest exercise due to the hands being neutral. What are your thoughts on this?

This is an interesting point! Their line of thinking is most likely that the function of the pectorals is to internally rotate the arms, so therefore if the grip is neutral, you won’t be getting an internally rotated finish position at the top.

However, I’d have to disagree here that the parallette push up isn’t a great chest exercise.

The big selling point here for me is the extra range of motion it offers – you can get your chest BELOW the hands and stretch the chest more. There have been many studies on muscle growth (hypertrophy) showing range of motion and the stretch are key component of successful muscle building.

Note the depth the parallettes allow……..#range

Basically: if you get very strong on parallette push ups, you will definitely develop your chest! I would honestly rate the parallette push up as a pretty chest dominant exercise overall.

If you would like your question answered for next month’s feature, shoot me a direct message on Instagram (@straight_talking_fitness) and I’ll be happy to help!

Alternatively, you can email me: or even leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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