Wow. That’s what most people say when they watch a gymnast do a Planche. This exercise is incredible to look at, because it literally looks like the body is defying gravity. In some ways, it probably is.
Getting to this level of mastery over the upper body and with balance can provide many positive outcomes, including building upper body and hand strength. Working towards that place is not easy, though. It takes a lot of time and hard work to be able to perform this deceptively simple exercise.
This exercise comes from modern gymnastics, which have their roots in calisthenics and the gymnastics competitions in Ancient Greece.
Hold on There
A Planche is essentially a Push-Up that’s performed on the parallel bars. The body is parallel with the bars themselves, arms out to the sides and pushing up. The difference here is that, while with a Push-Up you have your toes on the ground to support your bodyweight, with the Planche it’s all relying on the arms.
Holding onto the bars and maintaining this stance, or even getting to it in the first place, well difficult would be an understatement.
One slightly under-recognized aspect of this exercise is the hand strength that it requires. Though it might sound simple to “hold on,” you’re talking about holding the entire weight of the body with just the hands. Pull-Ups can be challenging for most individuals, so when you add in the weight and dexterity of the body pressing over the top, it becomes a much more challenging position.
The Planche can be performed on the parallel bars or the rings and does not require any additional equipment.
No Jumping In
This isn’t an exercise that it’s possible to just jump into. In order to perform the Planche, most exercise enthusiasts are going to have to be patient and work hard. This generally involves a progressive series of exercises to finally be able to perform the Planche.
These start out, understandably, with push ups and planks on the floor first. Hand position is important, because the wrists need to be turned out while pushing into the floor as they will be turned out on the bars.
The Planche is essentially a plank with the feet off the ground, performed on the parallel bars. So if you want to master the Planche, you have to first learn to perform a plank with the feet off the ground. The learns to lean further and further forward, with your legs in various positions, until the feet can come off the floor completely.
Over time, it’s possible to progress from the floor to the bars to a complete Planche.
Prohibitions and Benefits
There are a few things that preclude an individual from working on the Planche. Keep in mind that it is a rigorous and demanding exercise, so caution should always be taken. Here are some reasons to step back and rethink whether the Planche is right for you.
- Wrist problems, like carpal tunnel or past injuries, weakness or stiffness.
- Recent injuries
- More general goals, like losing weight or building muscle
- Balancing exercises are new to you
None of these prohibitions mean that you can’t potentially work towards the Planche, they just mean that you need to take your time to get there and that you need to keep your priorities in front of you.
There are massive benefits to learning the Planche, though. Here are just a few:
- Builds tremendous arm strength
- Sculpts and tones shoulders
- Improves wrist strength
These benefits carry over to other activities in your daily life as well, including lifting and pushing.
The Planche is the kind of difficult move that not everyone even wants to attempt. However, with enough diligence and attention, it is possible to defy gravity.