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 article explains what you need to learn before you can planche. At the bottom of this article, we will explain 7 steps 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.
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.
Step 4: Advanced Tuck Planche and Tuck Swing
Next is the advanced tuck planche. It can be tricky in the beginning. If it is too difficult at first you can put your knees against your elbows until you don’t need that support anymore. Or you can use a resistance band. Slowly extend your pelvis/hips until you are fully in position. You need to learn how to get into this position and learn to keep your balance. If you feel any weak points make sure to train them separately. And keep your form correct.
This is a big compound exercise so different body parts need to work together. Do not get frustrated if it is too hard at first. You can perform it against a wall first to increase your strength. And after some time do it without support to increase balance. This will really help you master the planche.
Tuck swings come in handy as well since you bring your position from the tuck planche to advanced tuck planche. This makes it more dynamic. Plus, it is a great strength exercise. Once you are able to do an advanced tuck planche on your own you can increase the time you can hold the position. Set a goal for 3 times 45 seconds for the advanced tuck planche and 3 times 10 reps for the tuck swing.
Step 5: One Leg Planche
Keep practicing and improving the previous exercises. Try out this next one with a resistance band. As you stand in the advanced position with the band around your ankles, stretch 1 leg in the band and keep the other in advanced position. If you can hold this position you can do the same with the tuck swing. We recommend performing both. The static position hold is more focused on the planche itself. And the dynamic one trains your muscles and balance more.
Another good practice is to have a planche lean form. Put one leg on a bench or high block and keep the rest of your body in advanced position. So a part of your weight is supported on your foot. By practicing you can put more weight on your hands. Do this for both legs.
At a certain point you won’t be needing the bands or support anymore. Of course, that requires more of your core stability. Increase the seconds you can hold one leg planche for both sides and make sure you contract your abdomen all the time. You can also do a dynamic variant by slowly switching left and right. So, now you are already 1 leg into the actual planche. You will master it before you know it! Set a goal for the static one leg planche of 3 times 15-20 seconds.
Additional Tips to Master the Planche
If your wrists can’t handle the pressure try it with two low paralletes. That way, your hand position will be different and it can reduce the pressure. It is also an option for step 6. Additionally, you can use two resistance bands of the same strength and put both legs in a different band. Then you can stretch them one at a time and switch.
Step 6: Straddled Planche
Now you are almost there. Just one more step to master the planche. Straddled just means with your legs wide. This position is slightly lighter as the planche itself but still difficult. After you completed step 5, you will need the resistance bands again. You can use one or two. See what fits for you. Now try to stretch both legs at a time when you’re in a advanced tuck planche position. If this is too difficult you can stop midway through. When you stretch your legs abduct them as well to make it to keep your balance. Just like in step 5 this can also be practiced with a bench and as you progress put more weight on your arms. Set a goal of 3 times 10 seconds.
Step 7: Full Planche
Once you complete step 6, you are ready for the actual planche. The only difference is that your legs are closed. You could also try to go from advanced tuck planche position straight towards this position and maybe hold it for a couple of seconds. Use resistance bands if you need them. If your balance is out of control try with your feet tapping a wall. Keep at it and no doubt you will learn how to master the planche! Set a goal of 3 times 5 seconds. Remember, the world record is 18 seconds.
After You Master the Planche
If you can perform it on the floor, you could practice it with paralletes or on dip bars. The higher you go the higher the thrill, of course. There are people doing one arm planches so this could be a new goal as well after you master the planche. We hope these two articles will help you improve and master the planche. Feel free to ask us anything if you need something. If you need the resistance bands or parellettes we mentioned, click right here to get the ones we reviewed.