- What is a Planche?
- Equipment to learn Planche
- The Best Planche Equipment
- #1 Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System
- #2 Gornation Parallettes
- #3 Resistance Bands (with Pull-Up Bar)
- #4 Gornation Wrist Wraps
- #5 Compression Sleeves
- #6 Liquid Chalk
- Using your Planche Equipment
- Frequently Asked Questions About Planche Equipment
Many have tried, most have failed. The Planche is a devious exercise, simple in appearance and technique but hardest to accomplish. With the right Planche Equipment though, you too can achieve mastery over your body. As far as we know, the Planche has been a staple of excellence amongst athletes and soldiers for thousands of years now. Doing the Planche is a testament not only to your bodily physique but also to your mental focus and the willingness to commit to your physical health. We discuss here the merits of the Planche, how you too can learn to master the Planche and of course what equipment you need to make the Planche happen.
What is a Planche?
In its simplest form a Planche is a static form where you support yourself on nothing but your hands while keeping your body straight and parallel to the ground. This means you need great straight arm strength but also all the other muscles in your body need to be strong enough to keep your body straight and stiff. The Planche requires a fit body, strong with lean muscle mass and a concentrated psyche willing to endure the strenuous hardship.
There are a number of variations to the Planche, which are often combined in a “flow” where the practitioner transitions from one variation to the next, holding each static form for a couple of seconds before moving on to the next. Transitions between L-Sits and Planches are also a frequent part of the repertoire. Combined, such a flow is the epitome of physical excellence and a testament to your mental and bodily fortitude. We have Indepth articles explaining how you can train to Master the Planche as well as on the various variations like the Advanced Tuck Planche and the Straddle Planche Push-Up.
Benefits of learning the Planche
Aside from looking the part, the Planche has a number of major benefits to your Calisthenics. You will develop superior shoulder and core strength, which make doing practically all other Calisthenics exercises a lot easier. It also gives your wrists more flexibility and strength as well as practicing your balance. In due time this will diminish the risk of injury. Last but not least, where many Calisthenics exercise is a simple matter of repeating the same movement, the Planche is much more a mental focus exercise as well. It teaches you to transcend into that state of mind athletes call the “flow”. This does not take away the fact that the Planche really is one of the hardest exercises to complete.
Equipment to learn Planche
In theory you don’t need any equipment to learn the Planche. You could do them on your bare hands even. That said, learning the Planche will take you upward of a year or more to its fullest extent. That is with Planche Equipment included. But this is the twenty-first century after all and there’s no reason why you should go in unassisted. This is a quick rundown of the most used equipment to learn the Planche. Going on, we will take a more detailed look at what specific Planche Equipment will get you the farthest. What you will need is the following:
- Gymnastic Ring System or Pull-Up Bar
- Resistance Bands (If you’re using a Pull-Up Bar)
- Wrist Wraps
- Compression Sleeves
- Liquid Chalk
Gymnastic Rings System or a Pull-Up Bar?
We use a suspended point of contact so that we can add some method of lessening the load. Put simply, using rings or a Pull-Up Bar means you can use a suspension method (like a pulley system or a Resistance Band) to take some of the weight away from your arms. This isn’t possible if you’re starting out on Parallettes. These simply don’t have the ground clearance.
With a Pull-Up Bar, you make use of a Resistance Band. With a Ring System, the weight lessening pulleys are integral to the system. Whichever way you choose, training for the Planche becomes much easier and can severely lessen the time it takes to master this technique. We highly recommend a Gymnastic Rings System as part of your Planche Equipment since the final stage of performing the Planche is usually the Gymnastic Rings either way. By starting your training on a rings system, you are already training for the final step.
Open Chain versus Closed Chain Excersises
We want to briefly touch on the subject of Open Chain and Closed Chain systems in regard to Calisthenics and fitness. A Closed Chain means that all points of contact form a solid whole with a static surface like the ground or the wall. As an easy example, if you’re using Parallettes, the Parallettes stand firmly on the ground and ordinarily cannot be moved (if they’re worth their money). This is a Closed Chain system and has the advantage of being a stable platform. You need to worry a lot less about maintaining balance.
This is opposed by an Open Chain, where the point of contact does not form a solid whole. The most well-known example of this would Gymnastic Rings. The rings, attached to ropes, do not stay in place when you use them. You have to maintain a good sense of balance to keep this Open Chain system stable enough to do your exercises. Open Chain exercises are inherently more difficult to do. Our recommendation for using a ring system, in other words and Open Chain system, is like diving into the deep end right away. Your support to stay afloat is the pulley system. We believe this is the quickest way to master this technique and bring out its fullest potential.
Without the pulleys from a ring system, going straight from a Closed Chain (Parallettes) to an Open Chain (rings), would be too difficult.
The Best Planche Equipment
We’ll start off by saying that these are our individual favorites, both as Planche Equipment and as Calisthenics Equipment in general. Maybe there are better options out there, but we doubt it and we just like these. We choose to only train with the highest quality equipment but for an affordable price. We see no reason why your Planche Equipment or otherwise should cost you thousands or even just hundreds of dollars. Our aim was always to make your home Calisthenics Equipment so affordable, that it is feasibly cheaper than a 2-year or 3-year gym subscription.
#1 Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System
We mentioned that using a Gymnastic Rings system is our recommended method. Quite specifically we mean a rings and pulley system like the Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System. These are basically Gymnastic Rings with a pulley system to take part of your bodyweight away.
The benefit to using Gymnastic Rings is that in addition of training your straight arm strength, you’re also training your balance. The addition of the pulley system allows you to, very accurately, decrease the weight felt when you’re doing the Planche. This allows you to focus on technique and skill. You’ll gradually decrease the resistance (so increasing the weight) until you can do the Planche unassisted. You can then graduate to the Parallettes or just keep doing them with just the Gymnastic Rings, it’s up to you. This would skip the ordinarily taken step of progressing from tucked Planches gradually up to the straight Planches.
We like the Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System most for its durability, versatility and highly adjustable design. We don’t use these words lightly either. You can use the Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System on its own as a straight up pulley, this would roughly half the resistance felt. You can also use them with weights like kettle bells. In this mode you can very accurately set the assisted weight and decrease it over time as you progress. Like we’re used too from Gravity Fitness, the fit and finish are excellent, the rings feel great to the touch and the vest sits comfortably.
As a cherry on top, the Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System is very affordable as well.
As very close competitors we need to mention the Power Monkey Ring Thing and the Gymnastic Forza. Both are in some ways better than the Gravity Fitness where it comes to comfort or simplicity, both are quite vastly trumped by the Gravity Fitness value for money.
#2 Gornation Parallettes
More traditionally, you’ll see Planches being performed on Parallettes. As far as Plance Equipment and Calisthenics Equipment goes in general, Parallettes are a staple. As part of your Planche Equipment, you want to have sturdy, durable and very importantly, stable Parallettes. They allow you to use a sturdy hammer grip, instead of having to place your hands flat on the ground. It’s just way more comfortable to do and much safer for your wrists. You can skip this if you’re only ever planning to do Planches using the Gymnastic Rings system. Otherwise, or when you need something more mobile to take with you, Parallettes are a must-have.
Our all-time favorite for any serious Calisthenics, including doing Planches are the Premium PRO and Premium MAX Parallettes from Gornation. They give you the perfect platform to perform Planches and achieve that flow state while transitioning between L-Sits and Planches.
We don’t recommend you use the smallest Parallettes out there, including the Gornation Premium ACTIVE. For this exercise you want a little more ground contact and surface area.
#3 Resistance Bands (with Pull-Up Bar)
If you’re using a Pull-Up Bar, you can use Resistance Bands instead to modulate your weight. They fill in the same role as the pulleys and weights of the Gravity Fitness Gymnastic Rings System with of course some limitations. For one, you can’t accurately change the resistance on them and you’re stuck with the maximum resistance the bands have to offer. No Resistance Band will give you an equal amount of weight assistance through the Planche either. Lastly, Resistance Bands aren’t as comfortable fitting when doing a Planche, especially not when you’re more advanced and fully horizontal.
To increase your options, we recommend using the Gornation Resistance Bands. They are very durable, have a nicely uniform pull and come in a variety of resistances. That way you can better scale the assistance you get while doing the Planche.
Tuck Planche With Resistance bands
Straddle Planche With Resistance Bands
Full Planche With Resistance Bands
#4 Gornation Wrist Wraps
Protecting your wrists is the single most important thought you should have while learning the Planche. Doing it wrong could lead to serious and permanent injury. Even if you don’t feel it now and you’re pushing through it, you could be accumulating damage in your wrists which will surface at some point. Despite all our medical knowledge, wrist injuries are may turn permanent and untreatable. They will heal but they won’t ever be the same again.
Wisdom errs on the side of caution and luckily there are protective wrist wraps. Wearing these will stiffen your wrist into a straight position as well as prevent unwanted bending of the wrist. They may cause you to fall over once or twice but this is preferable to your wrist bending beyond its capability. We personally use the Gornation Wrist Wraps for a variety of Calisthenics exercises including Pull-Ups, Push-Ups and Dips. For these exercises we like the Performance Wrist Wraps for their good blend between protection, sturdiness and mobility. We also use these to perform our Planches.
It is important to slowly accustom your wrists to exercise without the Wrists Wraps. If you forever rely on your Wrist Wraps, your wrists may develop rigidness and even lock up while bending in certain directions. The easiest way of doing this is by starting your exercise with the Wrist Wraps and omitting them from a number of sets in the middle of your routine. You expand this gap where you go without gradually until you no longer use them. Every time you increase the difficulty of your routine (for instance, when you increase the felt weight or decrease the level of Resistance Band), you go back to using the Wrist Wraps.
If you’re just starting out learning the Planche, then we recommend getting the Power Wrist Wraps instead for their added protection. The Light Wrist Wraps are suitable for general sports use which don’t involve moving a lot of weight. We can’t recommend them for Calisthenics. As far as Planche Equipment goes, Wrist Wraps are relatively inexpensive and you shouldn’t cheap out. Your wrists will thank you.
#5 Compression Sleeves
Like your wrists, you want to protect your elbows as well. One of the key elements to learning the Planche is to build up straight arm strength. Keeping your elbows and arm muscles nice and compact helps tremendously to maintain that static form for a couple of seconds longer. Those extra seconds make all the difference. As an extra benefit, Compression Sleeves can reduce swelling and recuperation time between workouts.
There are two different types of Compression Sleeves, elbow sleeves and arm sleeves. The elbow compression sleeves only really protect your elbows. They keep them compact and right, preventing unwanted and accidental lateral movements (side to side movements which our elbows can’t do). The arm sleeves also compress your muscles, which helps with sustained feats of strength. As part of our Planche Equipment, we prefer the arm sleeves from Gornation.
#6 Liquid Chalk
This one is truly optional, but using liquid chalk will give you that extra little grip you need. The Planche is not an exercise you do with gloves. In absence of those and while doing your first attempt at a Planche, you’ll find it takes about 10 nanoseconds to work up a sweat. To maintain that grip on the rings or the Parallettes, a tiny dab of liquid chalk can go a very long way. Even we, who do Planches as a standard part of our Calisthenics routine, use liquid chalk each and every time. We just can’t be bothered having to stop mid-flow to dry our hands yet again. We like the Gornation Liquid Chalk, but there are multiple affordable and excellent options if you read our article on the best Liquid Chalk.
Using your Planche Equipment
Now that you’ve gathered all your Planche Equipment, it’s time to get started. As with anything worthwhile, it takes a while to achieve. Even with the rings and pulleys system, you’re looking at a sustained effort. But the results will be well worth that effort. As a quick summary, you’ll be undergoing the following steps:
- Pull-Ups until your biceps and shoulders are strong enough
- Dips until your triceps are strong enough
- Knee raises and then leg raises until your core is strong enough
After that you’ll begin doing static forms:
- Iron Cross hold (arms spread while suspended in the air)
- Maltese hold (body parallel to the ground but with your hands near to your side)
- Tucked Planche
- Advanced Tucked Planche
- Straddle Planche (like a regular Planche but with your legs spread wide for more stability)
From the Straddle Planche hold you can gradually close your legs together while keeping your balance and keeping your body straight.
Benefits to using Ring Systems
Using the rings forces you to maintain a better balance. Training for the Planche is pretty hard and especially in the beginning. We also know that using Gymnastic Rings adds an additional layer of complexity to your Calisthenics. At first glance it would make no sense to combine the two for an even harder exercise. You’d be right, but that’s for just the naked Gymnastic Rings. The addition of a pulley system, however, is a massive gamechanger.
A large part of the weight is taken away from you, that much we mentioned. But eventually, being capable of doing the Planche on the Gymnastic Rings makes the rest of Calisthenics so much easier. We’d even go as far as saying that it’s sort of a Calisthenics life hack. If you’re anything above a beginner athlete, you should have the confidence to do this.
Frequently Asked Questions About Planche Equipment
Here are a few frequently asked questions we received about the Planche.
We don’t know. Historically, ancient Greek warriors and athletes have already been performing what we would recognize as Calisthenics today, including Planches and Planche-like exercises.
Learning the Planche will take a long while. It requires a fair bit of lean muscle mass and that just takes time to build up. With regular exercise and depending on your height and weight, you can achieve the Straddle Planche in half a year. The more advanced forms are achievable in 1 to 2 years of regular training. Professional athletes use ring and pulley systems to gradually build up their strength while maintaining proper form.
The Planche is one of the most effective ways to build and retain both muscle as well as endurance. It is one of the hardest exercises humanly possible and requires a fair bit of lean muscle mass already.
The Maltese has your arms level with your body and swept backward. You kind of look like you’re an airplane. The Planche has the arms stretched straight out underneath you. The Maltese is an important stepping stone towards learning the Planche using Gymnastic Rings.
The Planche is considered one of the hardest if not the hardest Calisthenics move. Especially if the Planche is performed as part of a flow, where the practitioner transitions between different forms of the Planche and/or L-Sits.