The Gymnastics Planche: What is It – and How Can I Do It?
The gymnastics planche. It’s more than an oddly spelled word. It’s a gymnastic element and body weight exercise where the individual holds their body parallel to the ground, feet raised in the air, body in a straight horizontal line using just their arms, which are straight, not bent.
There are several ways that athletes and individuals who use gymnastic workouts to gain muscle strength and endurance can perform the gymnastics planche; there are multiple pieces of equipment that can be used to perform this move:
- the gymnastic rings;
- the parallel bars; or
- the parallettes.
It is an exercise that takes a large amount of skill, strength and balance. This move works multiple areas of the body – the abdominal muscles, arms, shoulders, back and chest muscles.
There are two variations on this move: the planche and the reverse planche. While the planche leaves the individual in a plank position without their feet touching the ground, the reverse planche requires starts with a handstand and the individual bends so that their legs are parallel to the ground, but behind them. In either variation, one’s arms should be straight, not bent.
Training to complete a gymnastic planche
This is not a move that you should rush to complete. For most athletes and individuals who intend to do a planche or reverse planche as part of their workout, it takes months of working through the five progressions to gain the strength and flexibility to complete the move. There are five progressions.
- The Frog Stand
- The Tuck Planche
- Advanced Tuck Planche
- Straddle Planche
- Full Planche
Most trainers suggest that individuals move through the progressions slowly, building up endurance. Once you can hold each position for sixty seconds, it’s time to move to the next progression. The exception here is the straddle planche, which some say is best to hold for just 10-15 seconds before moving on, due to its difficulty.
A reverse planche begins from a handstand and then, with straight arms and minimal lower back arch, lowers the back to the floor using shoulder flexion strength. This move uses the limber progression and is essentially a static move held along that range of motion.