If you are a fan of bodyweight exercises like myself, you probably have heard of the planche, which is among the most extraordinary forms of bodyweight training out there.
The planche is categorised as an upper-level gymnastic move, where you use your hands to lift and hold your body parallel to the ground. It requires remarkable skills in controlling body strength and balance.
Although the planche can be seen competing in many gymnastic events, it is also popular to regular fitness enthusiasts. Holding a planche, even for a few seconds, is quite an achievement even for those with advanced calisthenic skills.
That’s why a planche is not something to be taken lightly of. Beside the efficiently high-leveled gymnastic techniques, you must also have endless resolve and nerves of steel to pull this off.
It is strongly advised to take one step at a time when learning to planche. There are many different planche variations. If you attempt a hard one too soon, you will likely injure your own wrists and forearms. The frustration and slow progress are just some devastating impacts that follow.
Here to help you out is a complete guide on how to do a planche, including proper positioning, safe progression and many different variations for you to choose.
The Fundamentals of A Planche
First of all, let’s be practical here, this exercise is an absolute killer and it’s not for everyone. If you’re having one of these following issues, I advise you to stay away from planche for good, or at least try to solve them before thinking about planching:
- You’re trying to cut down your weight; that is somewhat more urgent.
- You’ve recently suffered from injuries (especially wrist injuries) and are still in recovery.
- You only want to develop strength (there are a lot of easier exercises out there).
- You have never practice balancing with your hands before.
However, it should be achievable to those who have been working on hand-balancing.
Personally, I found being honest about your current skill level is the hardest step. After that, all it takes is your determination; and remember ‘Patience is a virtue’.
To prepare for this exercise, there are somethings else you can do to maximize the gymnastic capability of your body for a better planche, such as: reducing body fat with cardio exercises, training your handstands, and eating and sleeping well.
Advantages Of The Planche
If you’ve tried doing the planche then got frustrated and you quitted because it’s too difficult, these benefits will hopefully change your mind and bring back your commitment:
- It’s one hell of a skill to acquire and it looks freaking awesome too.
- The planche develops massive strength in straight-arm and shoulders, not to mention the incredibly powerful wrists, even at the beginning level.
- The impacts on your strength will be reflected on other movements like back levers, pressing handstand and your overall balancing abilities.
Before executing a planche, you should understand few remarks related to the technique:
- While holding the planche position, your elbows should be fully locked.
- Try to extend your scapulae as much as you can.
- The key is to maintain the ‘hollow body position’. You should try to avoid arching your back to reimburse inadequate upper body strength.
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How To Do A Planche
It’s quite tricky to obtain the right positions of your wrists, shoulders and legs while planching if you don’t understand the proper body positioning.
Basically, the body positioning of the planche can be distributed on four major parts of your body:
1. Hands Positioning:
It’s down to individual preference. You should try different hand positionings and find the one that work best for you.
The most popular variations include:
- Fingertips hold
- Flat hand
- Fingers forward
- Fingers to the side
During the progression exercises, parallettes and push-up bars are highly recommended to reduce the risk of wrist injuries.
2. Arms Positioning:
- Arms should be straight, locked-out and pushed into the ground.
- Elbows should also be locked out, with pits facing forward.
- Pull down your shoulders while leaning forward.
3. Torso Positioning:
You should contract your muscles to form a head-to-toe straight line parallel to the ground.
4. Hips & Legs Positioning:
Hips should be maintained on the same level with shoulders (again, through progression training). A full planche requires closing the gap between your legs.
These basic positionings might change slightly depend on which part of the progression you’re working on. We will discuss more about planche progressions in the next section.
As I mentioned earlier, unless you’re well-trained focusing on planche in advance, you most likely won’t be able to perform this feats right off the bat.
And that’s why planche progressions is so important; it helps you improve your strength while enhancing other required skills.
The four main and highly-recommended progressing exercises for the planche are:
- The frog stand
- The tuck planche and other advanced variations
- The straddle planche
- Full planche
These are arranged based on their levels of difficulty.
These progressions require a strong physical base in advance, which is established by various compound exercises; for example, planks, push-ups, pull-ups and dips.
You should master each progression, starting from the easiest, before moving on to a harder one.
- In general, holding a progression for 60 seconds consecutively in good form is considered good enough.
1. The Frog Stand
Congratulation on making the very first step of planche training! Here is a video to help you with the basics of the frog stand.
Start with the full-squat position, then place your hands on the ground, your feet right behind the hands.
You can use your elbows to support your knees as you lean forward and focus your weight onto the hands.
The goal is to completely lift your feet off the ground and hold that position for 60 seconds. More advanced frog stand variations can be seen in this video.
2. The Tuck Planche & Variations
That’s one step closer. In order to accomplish the full planche, you must be able to do a tuck planche first. This video below will show you how to progress with tuck planche step by step.
Assume the same position as frog stand. The difference is instead of resting your knees on the elbows, they should be pressed into your chest.
As the results, you rely solely on your straight arms to support the entire body weight.
This progression requires consistent practice. You should aim to level your hips at shoulder height and hold for 60 seconds consecutively.
Once you’re able to execute the tuck planche for the required length of time, you’re ready for the advanced tuck planche, which differ by the straight back positioning.
More details on tuck planche progression and variations can be found here.
3. The Straddle Planche
This progression actually builds on the tuck planche position, with legs extended straight out from the body.
From the tuck planche position, slowly shift your legs and extend them out from the chest behind you.
You should try to lean forward to counter the shift in weight and maintain your balance. Balance can be acquired easily by keeping your legs further apart.
However, you should attempt to bring them closer together as you get better at the exercise.
Aim for a consecutive 10-second hold because this progression is much harder than the previous ones.
4. The Full Planche
This is the final test. The complete tutorial of how to do a full planche can be seen here.
It is important to warm up your body to the best condition before attempting the full planche. It also prevents some injuries. Some common exercises are: touching toes and stretching arms.
Finally, you’ve conquered the static planche, but it’s not the end. You can intensify the exercises by integrating some dynamic movements or attempting the planche push-up.
So here are all you need to know about the planche and how to do it. Remember to stay determined and patient; train these progressions daily and make incremental progress. Make sure you follow the progressions in said order and you’ll be able to execute a full planche gradually.
If you enjoyed learning how to do a plank, the next step is how to do a proper front level progression!
Thanks for reading and good luck in your calisthenic journey. As always, I love to hear feedback from the readers, so please leave a comment and share this article if you find it helpful.