How To Planche – Planche Progression Exercises – Part 1 – More Than Lifting

How To Planche – Planche Progression Exercises – Part 1

If you have never seen a full planche, it is difficult to imagine the amount of strength involved in executing it.


The Planche is essentially a horizontal handstand, like a press up but with your feet off the floor, so you are holding yourself up on your hands alone.


Trust me when I tell you: This is really difficult.


But it is possible if you develop the strength and control over time.


The Planche Progressions


In line with my planche challenge – straddle planche by 3rd October is my current target – I am going to share with you the exercises I am doing to beat my gymnastics mates.


This part of the post I am going to cover the easier of the exercises and cover the more advanced ones in the next part. The main focus of this post is to get you into a solid tuck planche, this is the first big step in mastering the planche.


I am going to organise the exercises into order of difficulty so you can start at one and work down through the list.


  • Planche lean
  • Straddle planche lean
  • Pseudo planche press
  • Frog stand
  • Tuck planche
  • Tuck/Frog reps


There is a lot to go through!


The Planche Lean


I covered this in my last post but I’ll drop it in again. The planche lean is the first exercise to try. It will build the foundation for the solid locked arm strength required for a full planche.


It is so important you start training the planche with locked arms, just like l-sits and levers.


All you do is get in a press up position, hands directly under your shoulders. From here, lean forwards to shift weight from your toes to your hands. The further you go the better, but you may be quite surprised at how hard it is!


Once you get well over your hands, begin rounding your shoulders and lifting your torso higher above your shoulders. This will bring your center of gravity even further up your body to your hands.


This is an isometric exercise meaning you hold it to the death!


Straddle Planche Lean


The straddle lean is like the planche lean but you start with your legs as far apart as possible. Not split so it hurts, but just have a wide stance.


Keep your legs straight and turn your toes underneath your feet so they are dragging on the floor and not taking your weight.


More Than Lifting Planche Lean Straddle Calisthenics

Straddle Planche Lean


You will find with this exercise that you need to lean right over, getting your head and shoulders past your hands. Try to get your chest past your hands rather than your bum high in the air because you want to be maintaining a good planche position with your back.


Pseudo Planche Press

More Than Lifting Pseudo Planche Press Up Calisthenics

Pseudo Planche Press


The pseudo planche press up is a variation of the basic press up and it will target a lot if the upper body muscles that need to develop in order to planche.


Lay on the floor as if you were doing a press up, move your hands round and planche them close to your waist so your fingers are pointing towards your feet. Press up to the top keeping your elbows into your body and remember to lock out your arms at the top of the movement, but don’t jolt them or you risk injury.


Pseudo Planche Press Up More Than Lifting


At the top, focus on getting the full scapula extension, don’t settle for dodgy reps, put the work in and do it right for maximum development.


Do reps of this press up variation just like you would with any other, mix it into your 100 rep finishers or squeeze them in throughout the day and you’ll be laughing.


Frog Stand


A lot of people mix this and the crow stand up, it’s understandable.


The difference is with a Frog stand your arms are straight, with a crow stand they are bent. Naturally for the planche, it is the straight arm variation you want to be doing.


Planche Frog Stand Locked Arm More Than Lifting

Frog Stand


Kneel on the floor with your hands in front of you, again under your shoulders. Here you are going to place your knees against your arms and lift up into a stand, lean forward slightly to achieve this and flick with your toes to get your feet up.


The higher up your arms your needs are, the harder it will be, so start by your elbows. This has the added benefit of putting pressure on your arms to keep locked out.


Like the planche  lean, this is an isometric exercise so hold to the death.


The Tuck Planche


The Tuck planche variation is the first big monster to overcome. Once you have a tasty Frog stand it’s time to take those legs away.


To do a tuck planche start on all fours like the Frog stand, but instead of getting your knees right up your arms, keep them now the floor.


More Than Lifting Tuck Planche

Tuck Planche


Make absolute certain that your arms are locked and lever from your shoulders to lift your bump up into the air and keep your legs tucked in tight so they lift nicely off the floor.


This is another ‘to the death’ exercise – isometric – so hold tight and focus on getting your breathing in.


If you are struggling with this you can easily turn it into a rep exercise. Lift up, pause, and lever down. Repeat for reps.


Remember this is the first big milestone in your planche training so get it strong before moving on. Any locked arm weakness you have here will carry over into harder exercises so build your scapula strong enough to take it now rather than risk doing yourself armed mischief later on down the line.


Tuck – Frog Stand Reps


This is a cross between the Frog and Tuck.


Very simply, you are starting Tucked, moving your knees outside your arms into a semi Frog stand – by that I mean unsupported – and then bringing them back into Tuck for reps.


This is going to build your core obliques back and of course your shoulders! Great exercise for building strength beyond the Tuck or Frog stand.


By the time you can do this exercise well, you should be ready to start doing extension variations!


Get Training Your Planche


My next post will cover more planche progressions. There are a lot of exercises I am doing for this challenge and I am going to show you them all. Until then, try these out, if you find them to easy you probably aren’t doing them right.


Really focus on keeping your arms locked out too, if you let that slip now you are setting yourself up for bad form and difficulty progressing.




About the Author

Hey, I'm Rhys and I'm the Coach at MoreThanLifting I am a gymnast, calisthenics enthusiast and personal trainer. I help people get into great shape with bodyweight strength and skill training.

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