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Jesus Candal

Bent arm vs Straight arm planche

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Jesus Candal

Oh another thing. My understanding is that Slizzardman is the fella to ask about when it comes to levers, forces, attachment points, and all that good stuff. Is there a way I can like, mention him on a comment so he gets a notification and thinks about chiming in? It'd be interesting to hear his thoughts too hehe.

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Brian Li
9 hours ago, Mark Collins said:

Or you could just do the exercises, ask those that coach and are experienced in these exercises and accept that one is harder than the other.

The OP does accept that one is harder than the other. He just wants to know why. 

10 hours ago, Jesus Candal said:

I don't agree with this. Actually, I'd argue the opposite. The triceps are working very hard during a SA planche. The elbows want to bend because of the component of weight parallel to your arms I explain on my post before. Just because the elbows are straight doesn't mean the triceps aren't hard at work (think top of a dip or a push-up). As long as you have some kind of force trying to get your hand to your shoulder, the triceps will have to fight it.

On the other hand, during the BA PL, all force is torque. There is no force along the arm, so actually the triceps would do very little work. There is no force trying to close the angle of the elbow. In fact the force is all trying to OPEN the angle of the elbow, which is why the biceps are hard at work during the BA Pl.

From experience, the triceps are not or hardly at work in the SA planche, instead the biceps or other elbow flexors (depending on hand placement) are hard at work to prevent the elbows from overextending. Keeping the arms locked in a planche is not dependent on the triceps because either gravity or the shoulder flexion tries to extend your elbows once you have them locked, that's why the elbow flexors are working hard to stop that. You can't really use the example of the top of a normal dip or push-up to compare with this because those are not leaned forward and even then the triceps are working less in the fully extended position compared to bent arms.

On the other hand, the triceps are working hard in the BA planche and the biceps are not working or hardly working in the BA planche because at those arm angles, gravity wants to make your arms bend to lower your body.

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Alexander Egebak
7 hours ago, Jesus Candal said:

Oh another thing. My understanding is that Slizzardman is the fella to ask about when it comes to levers, forces, attachment points, and all that good stuff. Is there a way I can like, mention him on a comment so he gets a notification and thinks about chiming in? It'd be interesting to hear his thoughts too hehe.

Slizzardman aka Joshua Naterman is no longer around here. You can find him on reddit and tag him perhaps.

One point which has not been mentioned is that a muscle has an optimal length at which the most actin-myosin overlap can happen, which is essentially where the muscle is the strongest. When the muscle is completely extended the muscle itself (if we disregard the strength that various connective tissue contributes with) is pretty weak. When triceps is at a weak point the shoulders must be able to compensate for for this and thus work harder.

I am not a bio mechanics or physics expert but I am fairly decent with the physiology. And I am pretty sure this among some other points being made is a very important factor. 

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Eva Pelegrin


In Applied Functional Science® (convergence and integration of the physical, biological sciences, and behavioral sciences), we say “muscles are REACTORS. Not ACTORS.” 

If you can put aside the idea that our body is essentially a continuous compression structure like a steel frame building where our muscles attach to the frame in such a way as to make it mobile (like the arm of a steam shovel or the Transformers movie), I‘m happy to share my views.

Muscles don’t move the bones ("sticks") as it is commonly envisioned. Muscles are turned on by gravity and movement. Function is task-driven, from reaching for a cup of tea to a Planche. A more functional way to begin to grasp how our bodies work in 3-dimensional space is to picture our bodies as a BIO-TENSEGRITY structure.

Tensegrity structures where discovered by the sculptor Kenneth Snelson in the 40’s and popularized by Buckminster Fuller, a designer in the 60’s who coined this term. 

A tensegrity structure, as you may know, is one that is held up by the tension balance between two opposing forces: one pushing out (“sticks"), and the other pulling in (myo-fascial matrix illustrated below by rubber bands). Unlike a continuous compression structure (steel frame building), a tensegrity structure uses tension to create lift and offset the pull of gravity. Without the myo-fascial system, our bodies would simply fall to the ground in a pile of glop and bones. When you look at your body as a tensegrity structure, your bones provide the outward push and your connective tissue (muscles and fascia) provide the inward pull. You could say your bones are actually “floating” or held in place – supported in a balanced way, by tension within a matrix of fascia and muscle. Amazingly, without the bones even touching each other. Pretty neat.

An interesting property of a tensegrity structure is that:

  • A stress applied to one part of the structure can affect a distant area, and deform the whole structure. Just like a pain in R shoulder may have its origin in your L ankle.
  • If one single part of the structure is weak, the whole structure could collapse; so your body always works very hard to maintain its structural integrity by compensating for weak links. In an effort to fortify any weak links, collagen builds up along the “weak” line/s of tension like a strap (think duck tape job) which unfortunately only strengthens a structure that is not so sound to begin with. 

You could also think about it this way: All your muscles/fascia are essentially one big 3D web that’s segmented (muscle attachments) into many interconnected parts (biceps, triceps, pecs, etc.). The whole myo-fascial complex is spun around and in between your bones and organs in ONE continuous web and everything, EVERYTHING is interconnected and inter-dependent. E.g.: Breathing.

Why is this relevant? Muscles, well actually, the myo-fascial system will REACT differently depending on how it’s positioned in relationship to gravity. I won’t go into levers, torque and angles, since you already explored them and you can explain it in physics much better than I can. 

In a very simplistic way, “muscles” only pull. In a SA Planche the Triceps are pulling, fully flexed at end-range (concentric, elbow extension), or whatever you wanna call it. In a BA Planche, the Triceps are still pulling hard, but the tissues here are lengthened and performing eccentrically like you very well pointed out.

A muscle can be very strong at end-range of its contraction, or not. Usually it’s not as strong when it’s fully extended at end-range, unless it’s been trained in those end-ranges. A perfect example is Christian noting that in his SA PL (he barely feels his Triceps working/fatiguing), whereas with BA PL his Triceps are on fire at (let’s say) mid-range. If you’re a gymnast, and lucky enough to have experienced 90% of Coach’s progressions, your connective tissue is made of titanium and you don’t have to worry about that.

My point is that the Triceps are ALWAYS working! HOW they’re working, what tune are they signing and with whom are they negotiating. It’s complicated. To add insult to injury, what we feel during a particular exercise is highly individual and tinted by our own imbalances, weaknesses, strengths and training history. 

The reality is that "muscles” and fascia (like humans) are 3-dimensional and doing different things in different planes!

A muscle can be eccentrically loading (lengthening) in one plane and concentrically loading (shortening) in another while movement is taking place or in isometric loading. Now imagine all the “muscles” doing a variation of that at any given time! More important, another vital concept to understand is that all the “muscles" (and fascia) are always working as an integrated unit from head to toe (Principle of Integration). “Muscles" work together to accomplish a certain task, movement or static position, no matter how coordinated or uncoordinated a person is. How correct, easy or pretty it looks, it’s whole ‘nother story.

The body is like a family. It’s either fighting or in harmony.

You can quote me on that one. There are many ways to do something and one way might be more energy efficient than another. Ultimately, we all want efficient movement patterns or positions that we can perform better at a higher intensity, safely and with less effort. If you apply the family concept to the myo-fascial matrix, you can easily see how in the BA PL, there’re more family members (namely pecs, triceps) in the party in a more advantageous position to share the load. If you’d measure the deltoids activity in both planches, you’d probably get different readings, as they are participating (reacting) in different ways with the rest of the body.

It’s easy to see how as the complexity of "lines of pull" (not just muscles) increases and contributes to perform a task, the more “party” orchestration (coordination) that is required to insure that all the tissues at play are doing what they are supposed to be doing. This can be difficult and often requires higher levels of motor recruitment/skills. But on the other hand, you can also say that the intensity or effort from all the “participants" (tissues) should be less if everyone is doing their part. 

Again, the unifying principle of whole body integration prevails in movement skills. The whole system IS working AS ONE! You cannot really separate muscles from fascia. We shouldn’t even be talking about "muscles."

We want just the right amount of force/s, from the right tissues, at the right time for the right reason. The rest is waste.


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