The Planche is easily one of the most impressive bodyweight skills out there, if not the most. Maybe it is not the hardest gymnastic position, but for an average fitness enthusiast (especially if he/she wasn’t competing in gymnastics since childhood), holding a Full Planche for 5 seconds is a great achievement by all means.
The Planche is the skill that requires nerves of steel and infinite determination. You won’t achieve it overnight/in 4 weeks/for some individuals even in several years. Patience is your biggest friend in this affair, not ego.
The Planche is also one of the most unforgiving skills out there. Move to a harder variation too soon and you will most certainly win a jackpot of wrist and forearm injuries, lack of progress and frustration.
Furthermore, the Planche, as any other advanced gymnastic skill, has its clear and unquestionable technique points:
– Your elbows should be completely locked during holding the position.
– You should maintain a so-called hollow body position. Your lower back should not arch compensating the lack of upper body strength.
– Your scapulae should be protracted as much as possible.
If you don’t meet any of these requirements, I’m sorry to frustrate you, but it wasn’t a real Planche on that video you posted on YouTube.
Finally, I like the Planche because it requires no equipment and seems to question the gravity.
OK, I’m done with this unexpectedly long intro. Two minutes of your life spent on reading it are gone. Deal with it. On the bright side, what you can read below may be exactly what you were looking for.
Just recently, I was lucky enough to interview several calisthenics experts on the theme of the Planche. I am quite pleased with the result and I believe you can benefit from this information big time. My goal with this improvised round table was to gather different opinions on training the Planche. You will be able to see how different people approach the process of obtaining the same skill, which I find educating. Read, absorb, and use the information below.
Here is the full list of participants (in no particular order):
– Yuri Marmerstein;
– Ryan Hurst;
– Alessio Proietti;
– Steven Low;
– Alan Thong;
– Al Kavadlo;
– Max Shank;
– And of course, I couldn’t possibly leave you without my own answers. So, yes, you will have to read that stuff that Alex Zinchenko finds funny and relevant to the theme (writing in third person about yourself makes everything much more serious).
Without further ado, let me present you the Rough Strength Planche Round Table. Enjoy!
1. Introduce yourself. Tell us about your training experience.
Yuri: I am a self taught acrobat and internationally renown handstand and movement teacher. I have performed across the US including on Broadway and the Vegas strip and I currently teach seminars abroad. My movement background is quite varied, including martial arts, weightlifting, gymnastics, circus arts, and dance. All of this was learned as an adult so I am able to give a unique perspective into the matter.
Ryan: My name is Ryan Hurst. I’m the program director and co-founder of Gold Medal Bodies. I started training gymnastics at around age 7 and competed up through high school.
Alessio: Hello everybody! I’m Alessio Proietti. I’m Italian. I train calisthenics for two years now. I joined to the Barstarzz’s team one year ago.
Steve: I started with gymnastics when I was a young child and continued for about 5-6 years until middle school. While I was a student at the University of Maryland College Park, I participated with an exhibitional gymnastics troupe called Gymkana. I performed with them all throughout my 4 years of college. I also helped teach their summer camp, and came back as a coach to help out after I graduated. From then on I have continued to coach for Gymkana, and I also wrote Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength.
Alan: I am Alan Thong, a personal trainer who specializes in overall health and performance in terms of fitness level and bio-mechanism efficiency. I have been training for 3.5 years, ranging from calisthenics, handbalancing, kettlebell, powerlifting, and to functional training (3 planes of motion, speed, agility, quickness, balance and coordination).
Al: My name is Al Kavadlo. I’ve been strength training for over 20 years with a dedicated focus on bodyweight training for the last several. I’ve also trained/coached hundreds of people and written a few books on bodyweight training, including Stretching Your Boundaries, Pushing The Limits! and Raising The Bar.
Max: I own a gym called Ambition Athletics in Encinitas, CA. My training started with some bodybuilding, crossfit, and then moved into kettlebell training. I travel internationally teaching RKC certifications now. I have also developed a bodyweight training addiction.
In short, my name is Alex Zinchenko (and by the way, it is short from Alexey, not Alexander). I’ve been strength training for I-don’t-remember-how-long. I’ve been coaching since 2009. I started Rough Strength in 2011, as well as published a book called “Rough Strength Files” in 2013.
I believe in using everything you have at hand for gaining strength. My favorite training tools are bodyweight, kettlebells and sandbags. Hard work and dedication mean everything to me, while gimmicks and trends mean nothing.
2. Let’s dive into some history. How did you learn about the Planche? What or who inspired you to learn the skill?
Yuri: I was first inspired to train the planche when I saw the Bboy Junior video on Ebaum’s world. I had never seen this skill done before, so I didn’t really know it was hard. I immediately went out and tried it with little success. Eventually I started doing some research and learned some more about what a planche really is. I am still learning more the more people I see do the skill.
Ryan: I knew of the planche through my gymnastics training of my youth. But I hadn’t started training it until around 4 years ago.
Alessio: I learned the planche following the right progressions (tuck, advanced tuck, straddle, half full lay and full) and with exercises that strengthen shoulders and core. I was insipired much to learn the planche by Vass TheSupersaiyan, Erik Neri and lately by Anton Abasov.
Steve: Obviously, being a former gymnast the planche was one of the skills along with back lever and front lever that you trained for when you were a gymnast.
It’s interesting because each gym has their own way of gaining mastery over these movements from different combinations of static and dynamic exercises. Likewise, as each different coach has their method of teaching planche, so too does each group outside of gymnastics such as in calisthenics and bboys and others have their own methods.
Alan: I learnt about the Planche when I saw planche in action by Vass. I thought it was amazing to beat the gravity by pulling off such an astonishing physical hold. There, my planche journey began.
Al: The first planche I ever saw was from B-Boy Junior. Someone posted a clip of him doing planche push-ups on the Bodybuilding.com message board in 2005 and I was blown away.
Max: Honestly, I saw a couple of videos of people doing pushups with their feet completely off the ground and was stunned. It’s almost gravity defying.
Alex: The first “Planche” I’ve seen was on that famous video of Hannibal. Here it is in case someone missed it for some reason:
Of course, this variation is much easier than the real Planche. The first time I’ve seen the proper technique of the skill was, I guess, on the video of Vass. Not this one, but check the form out:
3. Do you train the Planche right now? What’s your progress?
Yuri: Right now I train planche on and off. I can maintain a straddle planche fairly well now that I know what it feels like to do it (as long as I don’t lay off too long). Usually when I train planche these days I work on pressing to handstand in and out of straddle planche. It surprised me recently when I tried a legs together planche for the first time in a while and was able to get several seconds hold.
In short, there is a lot I train, and planche is only one small facet of it.
Ryan: Yes, I train the planche. My routine is probably quite different from other people. I don’t count sets or reps. I use auto-regulation and train depending on where my body is that day. So, I might do a very heavy session with many statics or dynamics of planche training or have a very light day. I am 41 and my biggest thing is recovery so I make sure to listen to my body.
Alessio: Yes, the planche is always a part of my training! I can hold a full planche for 6/7 seconds (my goal is to overcome 10). I have achieved 7 full planche push-ups on the floor and 10/11 in straddle planche.
Steve: Nope, not currently training for my planche as I have delved more into climbing.
I’ve always been interested in general overall strength and not specific movements. However, my best with the planche was a straddle planche on the rings.
Alan: I still train the Planche now and then, just for maintenance. I got Full Planche, but lost it after stopping for about a few months. Straddle Planche would be a more comfortable variation for me right now.
Al: It’s not something I am actively pursuing at the moment, but I can hold a pretty solid advanced tuck planche with straight arms. I can extend my body fully if I bend my arms, but I have yet to achieve a straight arm/straight body planche at this point in time.
Max: I’ve achieved a full planche with legs straddled as well as straddle planche pushups. A full planche with completely horizontal body is close but not solid.
Alex: Yep. I have a long history with this skill. Due to stupid impatience, I had to scale back several times. At the moment of writing this article, I feel comfortable holding a bit “piked” Straddle Planche for sets of 7-8 seconds. Of course, the Planche is just a part of my program. I’m not concentrating solely on it. I mix it with other strength skills.
4. What are the prerequisites for starting training for the Planche?
Yuri: Essentially just a pushup position is enough to start, but the recommendation would be decent upper body pushing strength in order to be able to protect the joints.
Ryan: Solid straight arm and shoulder strength. Plus determination.
Alessio: My requirements to train the planche are to have a good strength base of all types of pushing exercises (dips, push ups, handstand push ups etc.) and to have a stronger core.
Steve: Generally speaking, it depends on the athlete. If they’re coming in with no previous strength training experience it will be better to get them more proficient with some of the more foundational bodyweight movements such as pushups, dips, and handstands before moving onto planche. Likewise, good wrist, elbow, and shoulder warm ups along with support holds and body positioning drills will be effective to allow people to start. If someone is more athletic or has a background you still want to do a lot of the connective tissue drills as well but they may be able to get started with some of the initial progressions of planche if they are proficient with pushups, dips, and handstands already.
Alan: Primarily, one should have strong wrists, shoulders, and biceps. Moreover, you should be able to perform basic calisthenics exercises at ease, such as 50 push-ups, 30 dips, 10 pull-ups.
Al: You should probably be able to do at least 15 pull-ups (ideally more) and at least 10 HSPUs against a wall. I’d say a very solid frog stand is also a prerequisite.
Max: I would say the biggest requisite is wrist flexibility and shoulder and lat strength. I wouldn’t have anyone do a planche if they can’t do a full press to handstand.
Alex: Basically, it all depends on your bodyweight and strength levels. Everybody is different. Obviously, the heavier you are, the more strength you need. Exercises like Pseudo-Planche Push-Ups, Weighted Dips, Wall-Assisted Handstand Push-Ups, and Planche Leans can help you. You will need to test your Tuck Planche periodically until you can lean forward enough to lift your legs up and hold the position with completely locked elbows for at least 5 seconds.
5. What are reasonable ways to achieve it in your opinion? What progressions? How often? How much?
Yuri: There are many progressions available, ranging from pushup leans to working tuck planche and extending out. I try to keep it simple; because I learned the planche without using any real progressions I was able to go back and reverse engineer what actually feels like a planche. It’s a bit more complicated than I can explain over the internet but there are specific cues that really make the difference.
However, the general rule is to get on your hands and lean forward until your feet come off the ground. Generally 2-3 times a week works pretty well, especially if working other skills at the same time. I usually put some planche work at the end of a hand balance practice a couple times a week and go pretty sub maximal.
Ryan: I think that this all depends on the person’s current level of health, fitness, strength, age, etc. For example, a younger person will be able to train this more often than a person who is older. For example, rather than 2 days on 1 day off progression, a person might have to use 1 day on 2 days off. That is, of course, all dependent upon the person and more importantly how badly they want the skill. Generally I believe the higher up on the goal list a skill is, the more often that person should be working on it.
Alessio: The best way to train the planche is to perform static holds 4 times a week at the start of a training session to accumulate as much seconds as possible (like 60 seconds). Also, add exercises to strengthen the shoulders and for the core (dragon flag, back lever, l-sit)
Steve: For most I would say start with the general isometric progressions working up to 20-25s holds max for 2-3 sets and try to move onto the next holds after that. These may be assisted with a band or made tougher with ankle weights or a weighted vest. Likewise, adding in one supplementary exercise such as dips/PPPUs/planche pushups/etc for the first few progressions. About 6 months down the road potentially adding on another for volume as your body gets stronger and requires a bit more to force strength adaptations.
Alan: Consistency plays an essential role in planche training, such as 3-5 training days a week, 5-8 max hold attempts each day. General progression would include pseudo planche, tucked planche, advanced tucked planche, one legged planche, straddle planche and full planche.
Al: Lots of patience, practice and dedication. Like I said, I have yet to achieve the full move, so I don’t feel in a position to be giving a lot of advice on the subject.
Max: Slow and steady wins the race here. I found that some accessory work with dumbbells holding the same positions was very helpful. I would say frequent practice is always the best but don’t aggravate any joints.
Alex: Well, my method seems to differ from the conventional approach. I guess it is because of my weightlifting background. I like to train the Planche heavy once a week and to practice it “grease the groove” style throughout the rest of the week. Regarding sets and reps, I prefer the Most Flexible Set/Rep Scheme.
Let me give you an example. Say, your somewhat comfortable max in the Advanced Tuck Planche is 8 seconds. Once a week you are putting all the effort in. Your training session can look like this:
Advanced Tuck Planche:
Set 1 – 8 seconds;
Set 2 – 7 seconds;
Set 3 – 6 seconds;
Set 4 – 6 seconds;
Set 5 – 4 seconds.
Total: 31 seconds
Throughout the rest of the week, you are doing one set of 4 seconds here and there, anytime when you feel like it.
This scheme works great for me and my clients. Try it and let me know how it worked for you.
6. What are your personal tips for the Planche?
Yuri: It’s all about knowing where to place the shoulders. This can mean something different for everyone as many people have achieved success practicing planche many different ways. You have to feel your shoulders are solid. Once that is in place, everything else will follow.
Ryan: Don’t get in a hurry to achieve it. Spend an extra long period of time working on the basics and get those down. That goes for any skill.
Alessio: As in everything, do not rush. Everyone has his/her own pace, do not to give up early (I hitted the ground with my head so many times at first). Take care of technique: straight arms, prone shoulders and hips in line with shoulders. Avoid the shape of banana with bent arms. Those holds are not PLANCHES!
Steve: This depends on the person and their particular body anthropometry.
In my experience, the things that helped me most with planche work were actually planche holds and rings turned out (RTO) pseudo planche pushups (PPPUs). I’ve talked to Jim of Beastskills before and I remember him saying that weighted dips helped him a lot. I’ve dipped 1.3x+ my bodyweight (190 lbs for 5 reps at 145 lbs) and it didn’t help me much with planche. Likewise, I’ve known people who have used just used static/isometric exercises to get there, and others who use straight arm press handstands to supplement their planche work. Likewise, you can use barbells and dumbells to build muscle mass or strength in the positions or just overall on the pecs and delts.
There’s lots of ways to metaphorically skin the cat, and it takes a bit of experimentation to understand which exercises will help you the most.
Max: Work it from both angles. Tuck from the floor, and lower into it from a handstand at different angles to improve your proprioception. Back levers and skin the cats are good accessory work for the planche as well.
Alex: For me, the Planche is all about leaning forward. The earlier you get this, the faster will be your progress. Additionally, your shoulders should be solid while holding the Planche. And of course, do not forget that your scapulae should be protracted all the way. This will ensure a proper position. You can read more information about this here.
Furthermore, the Planche is a really hard skill. The key to achieving it in my opinion is to break the progression down into as little steps as possible. Let me give you an example. The classic progression to the Full Planche consists of such steps:
– Advanced Tuck;
– Half Lay;
I’ve never seen a person struggling to work up from Tuck to Advanced Tuck. However, it seems that moving from Advanced Tuck to Straddle is impossible sometimes (especially for bigger guys). My personal solution here is to break the progression down more. After Advanced Tuck, I worked on Advanced Tuck with knees out. After mastering it, I moved to a bit “piked” Straddle Planche. Then goes straight Straddle version.
NOTE: In case, you have no idea how do the planche progression steps look, check this video out:
7. What are possible injuries? What precautions should be taken?
Yuri: Planche work places tremendous strain on the shoulders, wrists, and elbows. General maintenance and preparation of the joints and soft tissue is crucial. In addition it is important to have a good connection with your body to know when it’s ok to push farther or back off.
For the sake of longevity it is safer to back off training if something doesn’t feel right than to push through it.
It is also imperative to maintain directional balance in the shoulder; too much planche work can make the front of the shoulder too strong. Do not neglect the rest of it, it is a complex joint.
Ryan: Wrists, shoulders, and elbows should be diligently warmed up. Also, don’t rush into the higher progressions too soon. Again, focus on the basics and make sure that you have the proper straight arm strength first.
Alessio: It’s important to warm up with pushing exercises or previous progression steps. With the Planche, it’s easy to injure shoulders and tendons of biceps.
Steve: Soft tissue injuries are the most common either at the wrist or the shoulder. If ground planche practice hurts the wrist, then work on stretching and strengthening the wrist and practice on a more wrist friendly equipment such as parallettes.
Likewise, the shoulders can be an issue if it starts to hurt. Good soft tissue work with a foam roller or tennis/lacrosse ball can be good, but it is important to keep the shoulders balanced as well. That’s why I recommend there be as many push exercises as pulling exercises.
Additionally, be wary of any imbalances you may have from other sports, previous injuries, or whatnot. These may need to be addressed, but that’s beyond the scope of this interview.
Alan: Biceps tendon tear, wrist joint pain and elbow joint paint. Always warm up all the muscle groups involved before planche training. Preparation includes strengthening of the joints and tendons related.
Al: I’ve fallen on my face a couple times because my arms gave out. It’s good to watch out for that! Haha!
Alex: You can injure lots of muscles as well as tendons during your Planche journey. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it.
My advice would be to take it easy and slow. The more you rush the progress, the more chances you will get injured. My main concern with the Planche would be the health of wrists and forearms. Luckily, Yuri recorded a very good video on wrist rehab/prehab:
8. What do you think about carryover between the Planche and the Planche Push-Up? Can you train only one of them and achieve both?
Yuri: Planche pushups are great, but it is rare to see people truly lock out at the top when they perform them. At a more basic level I see planche pushups as assistance work for planche development and 90 degree pushup, but to develop the planche you must train the planche.
Of course, at a more advanced level planche pushups are an excellent display of strength and control.
Ryan: I feel that they are different fruits. I’d say spend more time focusing on your straight arm strength for the planche and that will help somewhat for when you start adding push-ups in. After all, you must have a proper planche with arm lock-out for the solid planche push-ups.
Alessio: You have to train both.
Steve: Planche and planche pushups are good supplements for each other. Generally speaking, if someone’s goal is only planche for pushing exercises they are a good compliment. However, usually people will have multiple goals pushing such as with dips, handstand pushups, or other movements. Thus, you may only be working one of these at a time but that’s fine because you can’t work everything at once nor should you try to.
Alan: Planche Push-Up can be possibly achieved solely with Planche training, but Planche can rarely be achieved with Planche Push-Ups.
Al: They are very similar, but my understanding is that the planche push-up is easier as your leverage is better when the arms are bent. Planche push-ups don’t require you to lock the elbows for any extended amount of time.
Max: A solid planche is tougher than planche pushups–I doubt you will find a person who can do one but not the other.
Alex: In my experience, there is only one-way carryover: if you get stronger in the Planche, you will get stronger in the Planche Push-Up. It doesn’t really work the other way around. Oftentimes, we see people perform Planche Push-Ups without lockout and with no pause at the top. This type of movement doesn’t make you stronger in the Planche.
9. What are your thoughts on using weights to achieve the Planche? I mean holds with additional weight, mimicking the Planche position with two dumbbells, or any other possible way to utilize weights.
Yuri: Weights and bands can serve as assistance work but still do not quite simulate the real thing.
Planche while wearing a weight vest is easier because of the counter balance.
Dumbbell holds and lifts work well as a warm up or cool down but should not be the bulk of the training.
I like the bands for high rep work and to help feel the shoulder position, but, again, it is still just assistance work.
Ryan: I generally don’t use props. Rather, I focus on drilling the basics and working on form. Over time with proper practice the strength will come. And besides, a lot of people end up injuring themselves with adding weight.
Alessio: Yes, of course. For example, weighted dips. However, I prefer the classic bodyweight method.
Steve: Weights in any form can be a good way to progress with planche. Like I said, different people respond a bit differently to exercises, so if one exercise is not working for you — after a protracted time using it for at least 4-6 weeks — then it may be a good idea to try something else or have someone more experienced offer you advice. Don’t sell some exercises short because a particular exercise may be useful more down the line where they may not be as effect now.
Alan: From my experience, I achieved the Planche with no use of weights. It is complimentary, but I wouldn’t prefer it.
Al: I haven’t done much of that, but like I always say, there are many paths to any destination.
Max: See above, definitely.
Alex: I think that there is a place for using weights in the Planche training, but it can be applied only as assistance work. The actual skill will be acquired only by practicing the actual skill.
Mimicking the Planche position with dumbbells can be a cool assistance drill after the main holds.
A weighted vest or a back pack can be a cool way to make the progression smoother or to increase intensity. By the way, the back pack shifts the center of mass less comparing to the weighted vest.
Additionally, at the beginning of 2014, I came up with a pretty cool exercise for assistance work. I described the actual method in this article. Here it is in action:
The camera angle is awful, I know, but it is the best I could come up with.
Basically, you make your body lighter with the use of the pulley system. Of course, this exercise can’t replace the actual Planche work, but it is an interesting way to taste the full Planche position without injuring yourself. And by the way, it allows to train the Planche as gradually as possible.
10. What’s next? Where should you progress after the skill is achieved?
Yuri: Once a static planche is achieved, the next step would be learning transitions in and out of it such as planche press to handstand or planche pushups. After that many ground movements can be linked into planche.
Just as well, learning to planche on a different apparatus such as the rings will increase the difficulty quite a bit.
Ryan: Work towards the full planche with legs together and other movements like the planche press to handstand repeats.
Alessio: You can increase the time of the hold, train with different grips and apparatus, and switch to the one arm planche or maltese.
Steve: Progression after this strength movement really depends on your goals. For some, they just want only this movement. For other they want planche pushups. Gymnasts may want to be able to move in and out of this movement on rings. Others may want to do planche to handstand to planche. Whatever your goals are you should pursue!
Alan: Sky is the limit – just to name a few, one arm planche, one arm planche push-up, maltese, etc.
Al: There are a couple freaks out there who’ve managed things like one arm planches, so anything is possible!
Max: Pushups is the next logical step, I’ve also used a weight vest.
Alex: There are several things you can do:
– add weight;
– gradually shift to one arm;
– work on harder positions like the Maltese;
– practice the Planche on rings, fingertips or a straight bar;
– combine the Planche with different skills.
11. Your final advice to those who desire to learn the Planche? You can add any thoughts that were not covered earlier.
Yuri: Give it time and stay committed. Never expect results in any set amount of time, just keep at it and it will pay off. Do your research, try things differently to see how you react. Experiment for yourself to give you greater understanding of the skill and your own learning curve. Look for weaknesses or imbalances and treat them as gold nuggets. Be tenacious with correcting them. Seek out teachers and interpret their lessons for yourself.
Above all, make the process your own. You will learn a lot about yourself in the process.
Ryan: I’d just like to reiterate to focus on the basics and make sure that you have the proper straight arm strength first. Don’t get in a hurry to try to just “get” the planche. Over time it will happen.
Alessio: 1) You should use proper technique: straight arms, prone scapulas and hips in line of shoulders.
2) Train it 4 times a week to reach 60 seconds.
3) Add complimentary exercises for shoulders and core.
Alan: The journey may take months, or even years, but as long as you keep going, you will be there! Even a little progress is still a PROGRESS. Remember, consistency and determination are keys to the FULL PLANCHE!
Al: Be extremely driven, yet extremely patient; enjoy the process. That advice really applies to all advanced bodyweight exercises.
Max: Seriously, slow and steady with very frequent easy practice is the best.
Alex: Be patient and smart about it. It may seem impossible at some point, but you need to grind your way through. It will probably take a lot of time to achieve the Planche, but you have no better things to do anyway.
Finally, don’t allow this exercise to injure you. If you feel serious pain in any body part during holding the Planche, it may be a good idea to scale back a bit and work up slowly.
12. Where Rough Strength readers can find more information about you and your training approach?
Yuri: I regularly post training tips, thoughts and musings on my facebook page:
Check my website for my blog, photos, events, products and services I offer:
Also, follow my instagram @yuri_marmerstein
Steve: You can learn more about me at:
My book Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength about bodyweight and gymnastics strength movements is here:
And for any further questions our community forum is on reddit at:
Alan: You can contact me via my personal Facebook page. I have posted many videos in regard to my training approach. Action speaks louder than words!
Here are my actions! Guaranteed Unseen!
Al: I’m pretty active on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/al.kavadlo
Plus there is also my blog: www.AlKavadlo.com
Alex: You know where to learn more about me.
Well, there you have it. I hope you learnt a thing or two from this improvised round table. Now it is time to apply and test all this information in your training and to achieve that Planche finally. Huge thanks to everyone for participating and, as always, thank you for reading. I invite you to discuss everything in the comments section below.
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