If you are into calisthenics you have probably heard of the planche and maybe seen someone do it. It looks like something only very strong people can do. In calisthenics, it’s a common trick a lot of people achieve or are trying to achieve. This first article of two, explains what you need to learn before you can planche. In the second article, we will explain how to master the planche.
What is a Planche
The planche is a calisthenics exercise in which you hold your body still above the ground and parallel to it. You support your body with hands on the ground or on paralletes. From your shoulders to your feet you’ll contract and hold your body still like a plank. It is the ultimate version of a regular plank hold. Of course, it requires strength and balance. But anyone can master it.
The current world record for a planche on 2 straight bars is 18.10 seconds. That is not a lot of time. So you can tell the exercise is pretty difficult. That is because there are a lot of muscles involved and you need to learn the technique. Though there are several variations it is best to start with the regular plance. And we will give you all the basic and advanced techniques to master the regular planche.
Technique to Master the Planche
Before you try the planche it is good to know the following exercises. Pseudo push-up, pseudo planche lean, frog stand, tuck planche stand, advanced tuck planche and straddle tuck planche. If you don’t know these exercises please look them up first. Because they are important to get the planche technique under control. You can increase stability by practicing the planche itself.
For you information: a tuck often refers to the exercise being done with your knees tucked in, to make I easier.
A lot of muscles are involved with this full-body exercise so it’s important to train them together. A regular planche involves your chest, shoulders (mostly the clavicular part), upper back, lower back and abdomen (core). So make sure to train these muscles first separately to get strong enough to lift your own body weight. Some exercises you can do to become stronger are push-ups, pull-ups, supermans, sit-ups and V-ups help. Check out our blog for more information about many of these exercises.
Step 1: Preparing to Master the Planche
To master the planche you need good wrist mobility and shoulder stability. Make sure your wrists have an overall 180 degrees flexion without pain or tension in joints and muscles. Your shoulders must be pain-free and you must be able to retract them. A lot of pressure will be on the front shoulder (anterior part) so stability is important to prevent injury. You should be able to do at least 15 scapula push-ups, 15 scapula pull-ups and 15 scapula dips straight after each other without feeling tiredness or pain. In regular shoulder movement you should not feel pain either. If you are in pain during these or the next exercises and resting does not help please see a doctor or physical therapist. The planche is complicated and puts a lot of pressure on your shoulder. It is not without risk of injury. So please do the prep we recommend.
Step 2: Pseudo Push-up, Pseudo Planche Lean and Frog Stand
Start with these 3 exercises if you want to master the planche. In case of the pseudo push-up make sure that your fingers point towards your legs and your thumbs outwards. Then, as you push yourself up, fully extend your elbows. The difference from a regular push-up is the placement of your hands and the fact that you lean more forward with your upper body. The shoulders need to be in front of your hands, the further the better. This way, your hands will be more at the height of your belly button. As a result, it will be easier to lift up your body. Start with a slight increase by placing your hands placed next to your chest and as you progress place them deeper. Set a goal of 3 times 15 reps.
For the planche lean hold the starting position is the same. Just hold it and as you progress try to lean more forward. Set a goal of 3 times 30 seconds hold. Keep your hands between belly button and chest.
Regarding the frog stand, make sure you can hold this position for 45 seconds without touching the floor with your feet or head. Don’t go further into the planche until you have mastered these 3 exercises first.
Step 3: Tuck Planche Stand
Start practicing the tuck planche stand. In my personal experience it is easier to start with legs between the arms and slowly contract your back and extend your hips. Remember to keep the elbows extended. You can practice this with a resistance band around your ankle/knee for support or next to a wall for balance. Set a goal of 45 seconds.
Increase your reps and/or seconds for these exercises. You can do this by lifting one leg up with the pseudo planche push-up (core training) or increasing range of motion (ROM) with paralettes.
If your back or abdomen is not strong enough train these as well. You can do that with supermans, crunches and V-ups. Make sure you are able to do this before you continue. In part II of this blog article we will explain to you how to master the planche. Stay tuned!