Planche Lean Tutorial – The Best Planche Exercise

Dante is doing the planche lean

If you started training for the Planche Lean or full Planche Hold, then terms like straight arm strength, scapula protraction, and leaning far enough, should sound very familiar. Learning the Planche is a vital yet advanced step towards building that sublime core strength every Calisthenics Practitioner ambitions. The Planche Lean is one of the most basic yet one of the best Planche exercises you can do on that road to the full Planche Hold. In this tutorial, we will teach you how to do it correctly and with actionable steps on how to progress closer to your goal of performing first the Planche Lean and then onward towards the Planche Hold. Start reaping the benefits of the Planche Lean, today.

Want to learn the planche? Start your planche training with the complete calisthenics workout from “The Movement Athlete”

The Benefits of the Planche Lean

The benefits mentioned in the introduction above can all be gained from practicing the Planche Lean consistently. Most people are aware that the Planche is a very hard skill to acquire. It takes months, if not years, to master. There goes a lot into this skill before you can call yourself that — a master. By practicing the Planche Lean, you train every aspect you need in order to master the full Planche Hold. By taking these baby steps towards the ultimate goal, even the seemingly past impossible will become a present reality.

By applying the Planche Lean, you will train:

  • Your shoulders:  the Planche Lean targets the exact shoulder muscles you need for the full Planche Hold.  Your shoulders are the main muscles you use for the Planche Hold and Leans will build the strength required to lift you into a Planche position. 
  • Your core: beside the shoulders, the second most crucial muscle section for the Planche Hold is your core. Leans are very effective at building the core strength you need to maintain the Planche position. 
  • Your wrists:  for a good Planche, you need proper wrist mobility. The Lean builds that all-important flexibility and wrist strength you need to avoid injury and maintain a longer Planche Hold. 
  • Correct scapula activation: good and proper form are all-important while executing a Planche Hold. The Lean will teach you to properly protract your scapula and depress your shoulders. 
  • Leaning correctly: the lean is what determines the amount of stress put on your arms and core. A correct lean will allow you to, eventually, lift your legs off the floor for a complete Planche Hold. The Lean will ease you into this process.  
  • Straight arm strength: the penultimate goal of the Planche Hold is keeping your arms straight while supporting your whole bodyweight on them. Before that can happen, your straight arm strength needs to increase sufficiently over time. The Lean does just that.

The Planche Lean is the epitome of easing into it. You start as easy as you can manage it, literally leaning into it a little further every time. You are killing six birds with a single stone by applying the Planche Lean to your workout routine.

How To Do the Planche Lean

The Planche Lean should be understood as a straight arm plank, but while leaning more forward. It is an assisted version of the full Planche Hold. Here is how to do a basic Planche Lean:

  1. Get into a push-up position (in other words, a straight arm plank)  
  2. Rotate your hands 45 degrees or more until you feel that your wrists can comfortably take load. This way, you won’t hurt your wrist when you lean forward. You can also make use of Parallettes as an effective wrist aid. 
  3. Protract your scapula, depress your shoulders, squeeze your glutes, and keep your legs straight. For the right scapula protraction, take a look at the picture below.  
  4. Start leaning forward. Lean until your wrists are around your waist level and keep your arms as straight as possible while keeping your elbows locked. While leaning forward, keep the proper posture in mind as described above at all times. 
  5. Hold this position for as long as possible. Repeat this thrice or until you can no longer maintain the position for as long as you did the first time.

How To Progress your Planche Lean

Now that you know the proper technique to execute a Lean, two thoughts may cross your mind. Either, the exercise will look too hard for you right now in which case you need to step back with a Pseudo Planche Lean. Or, you’ve mastered the Lean and are ready to progress it to the next level towards the final Planche Hold. Progressing to and from your Planche Lean can be a long road but it can certainly be done. We’ll go over the proper steps for you to take.

Pseudo Planche Lean

Taking a step back, and leaning you into a full Lean is the Pseudo Planche Lean. This is an easier version of the Lean and a harder version of the straight arm lean, e.g., the Push-Up position. Here is how to execute the Pseudo Planche Lean:

  1. Take up a straight arm lean — the Push-Up position.  
  2. Put your feet apart at shoulder width or wider. 
  3. Point your fingers diagonally away from you and lean forward until your hands are underneath your shoulders. 
  4. Bend your elbows as if you are mid-pushup 
  5. Now hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat thrice in a workout session.

Increase your hold time incrementally. When you reach 60 seconds, you can start implementing a real full Lean to replace the last Pseudo Planche Lean in your workout. Repeat this until you’re only doing the Planche Lean.

Planche Lean Hold

Once you are able of assuming the Lean, you need to incrementally increase the time you can hold that position. The Planche Lean Hold can be a very tiring experience, requiring the cooperation and effort of practically every muscle in your body to maintain. But once you have mastered the Planche Lean Hold you can work your way up fairly easily. It is a matter of holding fast. We recommend a schedule similar to this:

  1. Staggered implementation of the Planche Lean Hold in your weekly regimen, say twice a week with 2 to 3 days of other exercises and 1 of those days being a rest day. 
  2. Assume the Lean for 10 seconds or more and repeat it three times during a workout. If you cannot maintain the Planche Lean Hold for 10 seconds, revert to the Pseudo Planche Lean as needed. 
  3. Aim to add 1 second per Planche Lean Hold per workout session. Once you can maintain the Planche Lean Hold for 60 seconds, you can try to progress to the Planche Lean Push-Up.

Planche Lean Push-Up

Once you can maintain your Lean comfortably, you can add Push-Ups to dramatically increase the difficulty of this exercise. Planche Lean Push-Ups will result in dramatic improvement of upper arm strength, a vital requirement for progressing on to the full Planche Hold.

Actionable Tips to Boost your Planche Lean Progress

Here are a few actionable tips you can use to boost your Planche progress and get closer to that full Planche Hold.

Proper Warmup

The most important first step towards any exercise is to maintain a good warmup procedure. Preparing your ligaments and joints as well was activating your muscles is absolutely essential to see fast and good results towards the Planche. You omit this first step at your own peril, with joint injury and unwanted atrophy being the result. You can follow our Calisthenics Warm Up to set yourself up for success.

Take Your Time

The Planche Lean can be a fun Calisthenics exercise and holding position to perform. Compared to the full Planche Hold, it is much easier accomplishment. You may notice quite rapid progress and this might entice you to speed the process up. However, supercompensation is an easy pitfall where you’ll overstretch and overburden your body, with regression and possibly creeping injury as a result. You should take your time to learn the proper technique and incorporate the Planche Lean no more than 3 times a week into your workout.

Different hand placements

The most common error we see people making is wrong hand placement. Everyone is different, so the exact placement of your hands on the floor will differ from person to person. However, we recommend you try an angle of around 45 degrees, a little less or a little more and even up to 90 degrees or more (e.g., pointing straight away from your shoulders). Whatever feels most comfortable to support your weight, you should use. Once you’ve become stronger, you can try varying your hand placement to obtain better muscle development.

Mobility Exercises

Mobility, and especially wrist mobility is extremely important. We highly recommend you practice mobility exercises, including for your wrists beside your actual workouts. The Planche is part-mobility exercise either way, requiring both strength, agility and balance. Mobility exercises will not only help prevent injury; it will also help speed up your Planche progress and indeed the progress towards the full Planche Hold.

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When you’re starting with the Planche, your wrists may not be mobile enough to assume a near 90-degree bend with your lower arms. Using Parallettes will significantly reduce the stress on your wrists. They are mandatory for those who struggle with wrist issues, to avoid injury. We recommend using high-quality, very stable Parallettes for the Planche like the Gornation PRO Parallettes. Especially for anything where you’re suspended off the floor, you want a stable platform to work on.

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The central thread through most of these tips is protecting your wrists. They are, for all intents and purposes the weakest link of your body while doing a Planche. For that added protection and stability, you should wear wrist wraps. Good wrist wraps will keep the small muscles in your wrist and the larger ones connecting to it nice and compact.

The Best Planche Program

The Planche is no easy feat and is by no means a risk-free endeavor either. You’re putting a lot of stress on your muscles but most importantly, your joints and ligaments. They will be put under duress at off angles which, should things slip or tumble, could result in serious injury. It is also very easy to simply overburden your hands, wrists, elbows or shoulders resulting in joint-ache, weaker ligaments and tendons and downgraded muscles instead of gains.

In all likelihood, you are reading this Planche Lean tutorial in order to, eventually, be capable of the full Planche Hold. What you will need above all to achieve is the right mindset. It will take a lot of perseverance and mental fortitude to accomplish the Planche Hold, even with these Lean exercises. Instead of doing it all on your own, we find that most Calisthenics practitioners benefit greatly from following a Planche program.

Following a Planche program can be a good motivator to start and to see what your started to completion. Apart from that, the right Planche program can offer you insights and specific stepping stones to improve over time. If you are serious about your progression towards the Planche Hold, we recommend you follow The Movement Athlete’s Planche program. It is the most advanced Planche program for you to take up and complete.

The Movement Athlete’s Planche program gives you an initial assessment of your skill and strength. Based on that, you’ll start with a variation of the Planche — typically a Planche Lean version. It will also plot out a workout course for you to follow over the weeks, increasing gradually in difficulty while continuously assessing your progress. It can be accessed via your phone with an easy-to-use, point-and-click interface and clear, HD-video instructions.

Conclusion — Planche Lean, Planche Hold, Goals?

The Planche Lean is a relatively easy version of the Planche while still exercising all the muscles involved in the full Planche Hold. It is an essential step for most, unless your name is Clark Kent and you were born on planet Krypton, to work your way up to the Planche. It is a fun exercise too and already looks quite formidable to the beholder. When the hold is maintained long enough, it can provide you with a challenging, full-body exercise too. There are also ways to work up to this point, with the Pseudo Planche Hold. Once you’ve started to add seconds to your holds, you’ll start seeing dramatic improvement.

Yet, there is still a way to go before you can graduate to the full Planche Hold. The way there will still be long and arduous, but 100% worth it in the end. The Planche Lean is a stepping stone one shouldn’t miss and one you’ll probably revisit regularly past the point where you’re doing full Planches. On your way, keep in mind that form goes above all else. Practice proper form to avoid injury and supercompensation. Take your time, and, if you’re truly determined, make use of a dedicated Planche program like that of The Movement Athlete.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Planche Lean 

Here are a few FAQ’s we received regarding Planches. 

What is the Planche lean?

A Planche Lean is a holding position based on the Planche. It is an assisted position in that you don’t lift your feet and legs off the floor. Part of your bodyweight will remain supported by your feet, making it easier to maintain the position. It is considered a challenging Calisthenics exercise in its own right and an important stepping stone towards the full Planche Hold.

How to perform the Planche Lean?

You perform the Planche Lean as follows; 

  1. Get into a straight arm plank (push-up position). 
  2. Rotate your hands 45 degrees or more until you feel that your wrists can comfortably take load. 
  3. Protract your scapula, depress your shoulders, squeeze your glutes, and keep your legs straight. 
  4. Lean forward until your wrists are around your waist level and keep your arms as straight as possible while keeping your elbows locked.  
  5. Hold this position for as long as possible. Repeat 3 times or until you can no longer maintain the position. 
What is the best Planche training program?

The best Planche program is The Movement Athelete’s Planche routine. It is an advanced Planche program which does an initial assessment of your strength and skill. Based on that, it creates a workable routine for you to follow which increases in difficulty over time and while keeping track of your progression. The ultimate goal is the full Planche Hold.

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