Planche Training Update

It’s been over a year since I started training for the planche and progress has been slow. In fact, I took several months off last year to focus on other aspects of my training as I was getting frustrated with my lack of progress. It’s often been said that doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. With that in mind, I have retooled my planche training strategy.

In hindsight, I was trying to get to the finish line too quickly. Rather than establishing a solid foundation with the tucked planche and other variations by performing them with straight arms, I rushed into trying to achieve a full planche with bent arms. By practicing with my arms bent, I was able to get my body closer to the full planche, so it seemed closer to the final objective, but in the process I put more stress on my shoulders than they were ready for.

Luckily I knew to back off before I crossed the line between discomfort and pain. Now after a hiatus, I’ve been back to practicing towards a full planche. This time, however, I am employing a different method, using kettlebells as parallettes and working on getting comfortable with extended tucked planche holds before I move onto the harder variations. I’m also working on transitioning back and forth from the tucked planche to the L-sit. I’m not certain that this method will guarantee me success, but my previous strategy wasn’t getting me very far, so it’s worth a shot!

I stand by the other techniques I demonstrate in my old planche training video and will continue to practice them, but I will not be doing bent arm planche holds. The goal is to get a straight arm planche, so I shall practice with straight arms! I’ve also been throwing in some weighted pistol squats in an attempt to increase my abdominal and lower back strength.

Watch the video below for more:

25 thoughts on “Planche Training Update

  • By Mattman -

    I’ve started really getting into my planche and handstand training recently, so this post is good timing =D
    I’ve been able to extend my legs a little with straight arms, but I don”t have the core strength to put them out fully just yet.

    Btw, what exercises do you do to complement your planche training?
    I’m doing alot of core, lower back and upper body work.
    Also, do pistols really work your lower back?? May have to throw those into my training as well =)

    Keep up the good work =D
    I want to be able to straddle planche by summer =P lol.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Matt – the handstand is always a good thing to practice concurrently with your planche training, as is the L-sit. I’m also continuing my usual regimen of muscle-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, dips, etc.

      And, yeah, the weighted pistols work my lower back (and of course my legs!).

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  • By Jsweet -

    Hey Al – been a big fan of you website since I found it last month from your posts on bar-barians. I have always incorporated some standard body weight training into my strength training, which was heavy on free weights and kettlebells, but have been focusing more on body weight movements. I notice that advanced body weight training throws alot of stress on the shoulders. So my question is: is there any type of prep work (not warm up) that someone can/should do before they start working the tuck planche to L-sit? I can already hold an L-sit for 30 sec, but haven’t really worked the planche yet- like I said, really stresses the shoulders (not pain, but I don’t want something to go pop). Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks! If you can hold an L-sit for 30 seconds then you’re probably ready to start working on the tucked planche – just make sure to ease in real slow. Start with a few sets of 3-5 second holds and then gradually build up from there. You are right that it can be stressful on the shoulders so you don’t want to do too much too soon.

  • By Nelly -

    This is pretty beast! We worked on tucks, high tucks and L-sits today (with parallettes, though, not KBs), which was ridiculously fun but it murdered my hands. Does using the KBs (or anything with a smaller grip, I guess) help with that much, or does it just take some time?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Nelly! In my experience, the KB’s are not any easier on the hands than parallettes. Like you said, it just takes time to get conditioned.

  • By Derrick -

    Well I found out that doing headstand-frogstand-headstand for reps (slow, controlled movement of course) can build necessary shoulder strength for tucked planche, and when i was comfortable with my tucked planche, i did headstand-tucked plance-headstand for reps, and it helped my shoulders massively 🙂

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the suggestion, Derrick! I’ll have to try that!

  • By Nyall -

    The first picture has a candle that meshes nicely with your foot. It looks like a big thumb.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Haha – you’re right! I never saw it like that before – trippy!

  • By typedeaF -

    I always admired the gymanist that make such moves look simple. Have you ever trained with a gymnastics teacher? What do you think about the “worlds strongest kid” video where the 5-7 yr old kid is doing a planche on stacked wooden cubes and pushups with no feet on the ground? How can a kid have such core strength?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      I blogged about Guiliano Stroe a while back: https://alkavadlo.com.gridhosted.co.uk/2010/03/giuliano-stroe-worlds-strongest-boy/

      As for your other question, I’ve taken a few tumbling classes but I’ve had no formal gymnastics training on the planche.

      • By typedeaF -

        Funny thing about kids, they just do what you tell them, w/o question. As a guitarist, I’ve seen 5yr old prodigies that make me want to quit. I think not having any mental barriers of “cant do” or “impossible” –being young and naive, may be a large part of it.

        I find it strange that you struggle with this, when proportionally you are as muscular or more muscular than most gymnast, esp. female gymnast. Do you think perhaps your height makes it more difficult. Most gymnast are very short, and probably for good reason: low center of gravity?

        • By Al Kavadlo -

          Being tall definitely makes it harder to achieve a full planche, but there are guys taller than me who can pull it off, so I’m sure I’ll get there one day. We all have strengths and weaknesses – I gotta keep practicing!

  • By Daniel -

    Hey Al, have you tried tucked planche push ups, or getting someone to spot you doing the full planche then doing a negative?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Hey Daniel – I can do a couple of tucked planche push-ups and I’ve tried a lot of different tactics towards working the full planche, but it still continues to elude me.  I’ve kind of put it on the back burner for now, but I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some point!

  • By Javier -

    Hey Al, what if I don’t have any paralletes? Should I do the tucked planche with my palms open or on my fists?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Yeah either one sounds good.  Get it in however you can!

  • By Misfittroy -

    Here’s an interesting progression:
    http://vimeo.com/album/1851588/video/15993928 

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Nice clip – thanks for sharing!

  • By Miles Crume -

    Nice form! Keep working at it and you will get it. It took me a year to get a full planche and straddle planche push-ups as well as lowering from a straddle handstand to straddle planche.

    The planche is a lean, so when you are in a push up position, try leaning forward and rounding out your back, keep your hips up a little and lift.

    When you go from handstand to planche, start descending with the shoulders.

    It will come! Good luck!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Miles!  I’m still a long ways off from a full planche but I’ve got plenty of time to keep practicing.  I’ll keep your tips in mind.

  • By Andreas -

    Hi Al. I may sound like a dick here, but you’re planche technique is wrong. The problem is that you are lifting your hips, instead of protracting your shoulders and leaning forward. 

    Google “problem with planche gymnastic bodies” and check out Dillon Zrike’s post with pictures in the thread, it should get you started correctly. You’re serratus anterior muscle i probably already pretty strong, so if you learn to do the statics and pseudo planche push-ups (PPP) correctly you should get a decent straddle planche within a year.  

    There are a few other threads on the same forum which be of interest to you as well. Please don’t take this advertisement. Trust me when I say that once your learn to planche properly your progress will start to take of. Good luck Al.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks for the advice – I don’t think you’re a dick at all.  I’m certainly not above learning from my readers and obviously I need help on this move!  I’ve actually put my planche training on hold for the time being, but I’m definitely not giving up on it.  Once production wraps on my DVD I’ll probably get back to working on planches again.

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