Planche Progression: Beginner Tutorial

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What Is The Planche?

The planche is an advanced calisthenics skill that looks impressive to the eyes. It requires you to begin in a push up position followed by leaning forward until your legs levitate off the floor, and your body remains parallel to the ground.

This static skill requires significant upper body strength, especially in your shoulders, pectorals, core, biceps, triceps, and the serratus anterior. It is the ultimate push exercise in calisthenics.

If you can do the handstand and you have strong calisthenics fundamentals, you will have a head start towards the planche. Beyond that, there are a few steps you can take to accelerate your progress. Here are the planche progressions that you can do as a beginner. 

How Often Should I Train Planche?

A good place to start is three days a week with a day’s rest in between each other. The workouts will stay consistent and similar. It’s better to keep these exercises consistent rather than doing something new every session. 

Once you are at the advanced tuck frog planche progression, you can scale up your training to four to five sessions a week using the ‘greasing the groove” method. This is great for statics training. 

You will benefit more from training at 60-80% capacity five sessions a week over maxing out three sessions a week. For example, train at 60-80% one day, then 40-60% the next, and alternate this from Monday to Friday. 

The intensity can be lowered by doing easier progressions, increasing rest time, decreasing the number of seconds held in a progression, or decreasing working sets in the workout. 

This is a static skill, so you will focus on building the connection between the muscles, mind, and skill rather than building muscles. Repetition is key when it comes to statics, as the more you repeat these movements, the more your body adapts to it, therefore resulting in faster progression. 

Planche Form

Your form is everything is statics training. If you train with poor form and technique it will create bad habits which could slow your progress. There are a few ways you can hold a planche, either by using parallettes or floor. 

If you prefer to do it on the floor, you would slightly turn your wrists out to the side (at 45 degrees angle) to avoid wrist strain. If you suffer wrist pains while doing push ups, it’s worth checking out this wrist strengthening tutorial. Do it before you begin training!

Here is a valuable checklist for you:

Good form

  • Shoulders depressed (pull-down) and scapula protraction (rounding the shoulders)
  • Pelvis tucked under your tailbone to ensure posterior pelvic tilt (PPT) and your glutes are squeezed
  • Arms locked out by externally rotating the elbows  

Bad form

  • Bent elbows
  • Retracted scapula 
  • Arched back 

A 2016 study suggests that bodyweight resistance training is effective in terms of increasing strength and improving body composition. Not only will you develop an impressive skill, but you will also increase muscle strength, thickness, and improve your mind and muscle connection. Let’s check out these planche progressions below.

Planche Progressions

#1 – Planche Lean

  1. Begin in a push up position with your hands shoulder-width apart, and shoulders stacked on top of your wrists. Your legs are together and your feet are extended. 
  2. Depress your shoulders and protract your scapulars, squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis under your tailbone. Externally rotate your elbows. 
  3. Lean as far as you can while maintaining good form and progress the lean as you get stronger.
  4. Aim to get this hold 30 seconds before moving to the next progression.

#2 – Tuck Planche

  1. Place your hands on parallettes or the ground with wrists rotated outward at 45 degrees. Externally rotate the elbows and lock them. 
  2. Lean forward with your shoulders, draw your knees tightly into your chest, and lift your toes off the ground. Brace your core and ensure your shoulders are depressed and scapular protracted.
  3. Avoid jumping into the tuck planche, but rather lean into it.
  4. Work towards being able to hold 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

#3 – Frog Planche

  1. This is a tuck planche with legs open. Get into this progression from a tuck planche and open your legs. Your shoulders are depressed and scapular protracted. Squeeze your legs and ensure that your back is parallel to the floor. 
  2. Work towards being able to hold 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

#4 – Advanced Tuck Frog Planche

  1. Progress from the frog planche by extending the hips. Your legs will go further away from the body.
  2. As your hips and knee extend, your center of gravity changes which means you will learn more forward which places more stress on the shoulders.  
  3. Keep scapula protraction, pelvis tucked under and arms locked out. 
  4. This step may take a few weeks or months to do so. Be patient and don’t get frustrated with this progression. 
  5. Work towards being able to hold 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

#5 – Single Leg Frog Planche

This progression works your hip flexors which help straighten out your leg for the straddle planche (next progression).

  1. Begin in an assisted tuck planche position where you rest your knees on your elbows. Ensure shoulders are depressed and scapula protracted. 
  2. Extend one leg diagonally outward.
  3. Bring the leg back in and repeat this for reps.
  4. Once you can do 5 reps on each leg, aim to hold each leg out for 10 seconds at a time. This may take you a few weeks to get familiar with his progression. 
  5. Once you are comfortable with this stage, try it unassisted by removing your knee from the elbow. Squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis under your tailbone to ensure a nice straight line. 

#6 – Straddle Planche 

This is the planche with your legs open. A straddle position places less torque (force) on your body in comparison to the full planche. Your body length becomes shorter and the center of gravity becomes higher. 

I recommend you work on a handstand negative down to a straddle planche. From a handstand position, straddle your legs (open legs) and slowly lean forward to shift your weight to your center of mass (waistline). Ensure that your core and legs are squeezed so your hips don’t sag. 

If you can’t do a handstand, here’s what you’d do:

  1. Begin in a tucked planche or tucked frog planche. Keep your scapula protracted, shoulders depressed, arms straight, and elbows externally rotated. 
  2. Extend your legs into a straddle and squeeze your glutes. 
  3. Aim to hold 2-3 seconds with good form and increase the amount of time held to 10 seconds. This can take from 6-to 8 weeks.

Currently, I am at the straddle progression in my planche journey. I will continue to improve my holds and make my way toward the next progressions.

7# – Half Lay

Source: Half lay planche by Simon Ata

This is almost the full planche with your legs extended behind you. The half-lay trains complete hip extension which is how you’ll achieve a straight line.

  1. Begin in an advanced tuck planche position with your scapula protracted and shoulders depressed. 
  2. Extend your hips out fully and bring your legs back behind you. Your body should be in a straight line from head to knees.
  3. Avoid lifting with your lower back. Maintain core engagement, tuck your pelvis under the tailbone, and squeeze your glutes and hamstring.
  4. Work towards being able to hold 10 seconds before moving to the next progression.

#8 – Full Planche

Source: Full lanche by Simon Ata

This is the final stage of the planche journey. Keep persisting through your workouts and you will be awarded the full planche. A good place to start is full planche negative where you begin in a handstand and lower down. 

Push your weight forward to reach your center of mass. If you fall fast with no control, focus on squeezing your glutes and legs. Be patient, you will gain control over time as you get used to this movement. 

This move is rated C in the Gymnastics Code of Points, a scale from A to F, with F being the most challenging. 

Once you have mastered the above progressions, you can attempt the full planche. This will take trial and error.

  1. Begin in an advanced tuck planche position with your scapula protracted and shoulders depressed. 
  2. Extend your legs back into a full planche. 
  3. There are many methods to getting into the full planche, you can do it from a handstand and lowering down, extending from a single leg, or leaning forward until your feet lift off the ground. 

The Takeaways: Planche Progressions

And that’s pretty much it! A full planche tutorial covering all the progressions. Ensure that you take the time to master each progression so that you aren’t skipping any steps. Remember to use the ‘greasing the groove’ method to train the progression faster.

The more you are able to train the movement, the better as the body benefits from daily attempts. It’s better to train at 60-80% intensity five times a week than maxing out three times a week. 

To keep your body in good shape, pair this planche progression with good nutrition. This will help fuel and support your recovery and development. 

For a step-by-step training plan that shows you how to train, recover, and how to nourish your body to maximize growth, check out our 4-12 weeks periodized training program. This way, you can train with confidence and get 1:1 support from an expert coach. 


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