A cool-looking yet somewhat obscure calisthenics move, ice cream makers are seldom discussed in the bodyweight workout circles.
At most, someone would ask whether or not they are worth it, to which they would (at most) get what amounts to “maybe.”
Why is that so? Well, mostly due to the move’s in-between nature.
Ice cream maker pull-ups are neither a jaw-dropping calisthenics skill like the front lever (which they actually help build toward), and neither are they a staple of bodyweight workouts like pull-ups are (which in turn are a prerequisite for the ice cream makers).
But there is undeniably a lot of value in them, and they are certainly more than just a transitional move.
Today we will tell you why they deserve a spot in your exercise repertoire, as well as how to perform and use them properly if you choose to do so.
What They Are Good For
Being a hybrid between pull-ups and hollow body rocks, ice cream makers are very much a compound move. This of course means that they work many muscles at the same time, in this case being your chest, traps, biceps, shoulders, obliques, abs, mid back, triceps, and lats. They are a popular exercise in gymnastics as well as calisthenics and even crossfit.
Sounds impressive, right? Well, with diversification of this sort, there comes a lack of isolation, and you will find it difficult to quickly increase the strength of any particular body part by using only ice cream makers.
The upside is that they will provide an insane bang for your buck, time-wise. This means that adding ice cream makers to an existing exercise regime will greatly increase your overall fitness level.
And if you are working toward a difficult calisthenics skill like the front lever, then they become all the more worthwhile.
Ice Cream Makers Prerequisites
While ice cream makers are not that much of an advanced move, you will still be putting yourself in a somewhat iffy position with all the hanging and rocking. Therefore, you shouldn’t just dive into it headfirst without making certain that you can come out on top.
Before undertaking this journey, we recommend that you be able to pull off:
- Three sets of wide grip pull-ups. 8 reps per set is the bare minimum. 12 is excellent.
- Three sets of hanging leg raises. Sets and reps, same as above.
- Either three sets of 30 second hollow body holds, or three sets of 12-rep hollow body rocks.
If you find yourself unable to meet these numbers, then we recommend that you spend a bit more time working on the basics. If on the other hand, you do meet the prerequisites, then by all means keep reading.
How to Perform a Proper Ice Cream Maker
Obviously, you’ll need a pull-up bar (or parallel bars or rings, but we recommend a pull-up bar). After getting into position like you would before a pull-up or chin up, grab it with your palms facing away from you (the pronated grip). Your hands should be about shoulder width apart as you do this.
Now that you’re grasping it firmly, pull yourself up so your chin is about even with the bar. Now straighten your hanging body as much as you can. Note that this is not the hollow body position, but should rather be a straight line.
Now comes the trickiest part. You are to straighten your arms, and while doing so, bring your body into a position parallel to the floor. If you are going for an easier version like the tuck ice cream makers, you’d tuck your legs closer to your body prior to this step. There will be more on that later.
Don’t try to hold the horizontal body position (that would be the front lever), but lower yourself back down as you contract your arms again. That was one rep. Continue the motion for more.
What to Do If You’re Having Trouble
So by now you’ve probably figured that this isn’t exactly easy. In fact, it’s quite likely that you’ll find the move impossible at first, even if you’ve met the prerequisites. So what do you do then? The easier versions of course, commonly referred to as progressions.
There are two easier variants of ice cream makers that we can recommend, and those are the tuck ice cream makers, and the one leg ice cream makers. Like the regular (and comparatively more difficult) version, these can be performed on the pull-up bar, but also on parallel bars or even the Olympic rings, if you want to spice things up even further. The rings will of course make it even more brutal but hey, if you can swing it, why not.
Conclusion: Or How to Use All This
As we’ve already said, building your entire workout session around the ice cream makers is not that much of a good idea. However, it gives you so much in one single move that there’s no real reason not to add them to your existing routine. All in all, it is an excellent all-in-one exercise.
If on the other hand, you know exactly what you are doing (like preparing for an advanced calisthenics skill), then feel free to put these to as much of a use as you can. They will serve you well.
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.