What a perfect time to write my first planche article… Now, I say FIRST because I will be writing a follow-up article once my uhh….. “average form” straddle planche evolves into a perfect form FULL PLANCHE.

Full Straddle Planche

I recommend reading this story in full in order to gain context, habit-forming tips, motivation and other useful guidelines, but if you’d prefer you can skip right down to the training regimen and my progression video.

This current evolution from tuck planche to straddle has taken me quite some time and I’ve begun to realise why…

WHY has it taken me a while to learn this?

WHY have I not been progressing faster?

WHAT have I been doing wrong and how can I fix these mistakes?!

Hey I’m not perfect and I have the tendency to overtrain sometimes, undertrain others, I overwork myself at multiple jobs, get shitty sleep and go on (short (but delicious)) junk food binges but… all of that surely can’t affect my training tooooo much.

WRONG

Your planche work and physical training, in general, will really turn a corner when you funnel your focus and effort into every aspect of your training and recovery.

Sound too hard for you?

Well then MAYBE planche isn’t for you, MAYBE trying to live up to your own high expectations is just too hard, MAYBE you should just continue being a weak ass pussy, give up on your dreams… and go back to bed. Dedication is what gets you somewhere in life, choose your focus and nail that bitch down in your mind as well as in your actions and you will watch as your wildest dreams manifest in front of your eyes.

So for those of you who REALLY WANT it and are willing to put the required effort in – read on.

I suppose my planche journey had officially ‘begun’ in April 2019 but only really started to kick off with intent approximately 8 months later.

Smith Masato

Back in April 2019 was the first time I had personally met and hung out with someone who could actually hold the planche and… damn… I was in total and complete awe from that point onwards. This dude moved from Tokyo to Sydney to see what Australia was like with the hope of training people here in calisthenics but has since moved back to Japan.

I recommend checking out his socials because as good as he was back then; his training continues to be next level shit and as he continues to progress I’m just as humbled by his skills now as I was back then. This isn’t to say that Masato’s skill base is beyond me, I have a body with the same capabilities, he’s not a one-off, it’s not beyond me… and it’s not beyond YOU either.

Smith Masato Planche

With no further adieu I give you Smith Masato – a really nice dude and an absolute nutcase on the bars.

Awards:

3rd place 3位: WSWCF STREET WORKOUT WORLD CUP in Australia 2018

2nd place 2位: Arnolds Pro Sports Festival International Calisthenics Freestyle Championship in Australia 2019

Fast Forward 8 months to December 2019 and I had been working on a few different movements, nailing my front lever down, human flag, 360 spin, fly-away… but my planche training was stagnating, at best.

I was probably training once per week on average but the training itself sucked, there was no consistency or proper groundwork laid out. I would try some planche leans here, a few pseudo planche push-ups there, a couple of tuck holds – or just whatever came to mind or seemed like fun at the time.

THIS WAS NOT PRODUCTIVE AT ALL!

STRUCTURE is what will propel your training forward while CONSISTENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY will drive your skill progression MUCH faster than you would have previously imagined.

Oh by the way… it’s not like I didn’t know this already, I’ve been building my body for over a decade now, and I KNOW what it takes to properly see results but I just wasn’t training that way – one day though I had an epiphanous moment and everything changed from there on out.

For me, this all began after I listened to an audiobook on habitual and deliberate behaviour patterns. The manner in which the author illustrated and broke down the practical steps describing how you can change your life if these adjustments are implemented correctly was easy to follow and intuitive.

Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear

‘An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones’

Reading this book and actually executing the tips and tricks towards maintaining better habits and letting go of bad ones was the start of my better (but not best) planche training regimen.

The changes made at this time to my training were the critical adjustments that set me on the right path… They gave me consistency, motivation, drive and most of all… ACCOUNTABILITY.

Accountability is the absolute key to progression, accountability on your training consistency, accountability with your form, your recovery, your warm-up and cool down, your nutrition and sleep – EVERYTHING.

So in December 2019 the changes I implemented were….

  • Every 2nd or 3rd day I would SPECIFICALLY train planche
  • I would post my training on social media with a specific tag
  • I would attach a $$$ value to each training session (for me it was $5)
  • This $$$ value will be the only money I will allow myself to spend on accessories for my bike (I had just bought a new Ducati 959… my baby)
Day 1 Accountability Planche

Now, this all probably doesn’t mean all that much to you unless you’ve read this book; in which case, you might remember when James Clear talks about habit stacking and how you can lead habits into each other to maximise benefit.

Here’s a general run-down of how it works-

Every 2nd or 3rd day I will do my planche training and when I do this I will post my efforts on my Instagram story with the caption {@maximum_potential_calisthenics Day 5 – $25}.

This served multiple purposes…. Posting this publicly made it visible to everyone so I was accountable, $5 was only added to the kitty if I did my training and if I DIDN’T train I would have to take $5 off.
Acting in this way I would be able to get everything I wanted; the planche, accessories for my bike, happiness in the knowledge that I was progressing and the insight into a whole new way of creating great habits.

To further solidify this approach there is one accountability hack that you can implement that I never personally employed and that is to use a friend. Have someone you trust (someone else that’s working towards a goal?) set a reminder on their phone, have them msg you, call you or whatever every third day – the idea is to have someone who will make sure you’re keeping true to your word.

While this approach worked perfectly for me in order to get myself habitual and accountable, it didn’t do much for my regimen itself. The training itself wasn’t terrible but it was still a bit wishy-washy and required a more intuitive approach if I was to progress at the rate I wanted.

At this stage I was performing:

  • 3 or 4 reps of p-bar handstand straddle negatives
  • 3 sets of planche leans (just leaning out as far as I could for an undetermined amount of time)
  • 3 sets of planche push-ups (to failure)
  • 3 sets of tuck planche holds (10 seconds) or advanced tuck (4 seconds)

On the 18th of February 2020, this all changed.

I had become frustrated with my progress and decided to look deeper by YouTubing and Googling all the big names – Osvaldo Lugones, Gaggi Yatarov, Kurban Gasanov, Viktor Kamenov, Simonster, Eryc Ortiz, Slava Kripak, Daniels Laizans, Victor Allendes etc, etc… 

Just WATCHING these guys motivated the shit out of me so with renewed vigour I delved deeper into HOW the planche is actually supposed to look and feel, what muscles are activated, hand and wrist positions, scapula protraction and depression, hollow body position, etc…

At this stage my planche motivation was at an all-time high; it was all I could think about, all I could talk about. One particular day I was talking non-stop about planche down at Bondi Beach with a few mates and it turned out a friend of mine had a rock-solid plan that he had used to progress his own planche training (shoutout to my man Mateusz Caputa – van Beek!) a little while back.

From the information he presented to me I became more aware that my plan required some work but was intrigued and excited to find out what I could do better.

WWOOWW – after just one session on this new plan I could see why:

  1. My previous training sucked
  2. I NEEDED to change how I was currently performing in order to facilitate progress and eliminate stagnation

With this added knowledge and once I had these two elements lined up

  1. Accountability and self-motivating practices
  2. A proven training regime

I KNEW I would be able to achieve the coveted full planche in what would seem like record time in comparison to my previous training. (If that training would have managed to get me there at all…)

My Current Training Regimen

If you’ve skipped to this point and find this program interesting I encourage you to go back and read the previous paragraphs. This is because without the right mindset you WILL NOT MAKE IT – planche is one of the hardest moves in calisthenics and most people either give up, don’t progress or get injured in pursuit of it, don’t be one of them.

So without further adieu, this is what I do now:

Warm-up

Preparation

Wrist prep

Shoulder & elbow flexibility – pseudo scapula push ups (youtube)

Back, spinal and mobility prep

Leg flexibility

Handstand Practice

3 x HS hold for 15sec ( I like to do 2x on parallettes 1x on the floor )

Planche Leans

2 x pure scapula protraction and depression leans (no hollow body)

The Hard Stuff (20minutes)

In this section I just focus on whatever progression I’m up to that I’m able to hold with good form. For strength gains, I’m looking to hold it for 8-12 seconds each attempt and then I have a rest for 1.5 – 2mins.

The Shit Stuff (10minutes)

After your hardest attempts for 20minutes, you’re more than likely a little fatigued and not getting the best efforts out of yourself any more.

These next 10 minutes are there for you to practice the NEXT stage that you will get up to in your planche journey.

So, you might not be able to do the straddle planche well enough to hold for 8-12seconds or you might not be able to keep your pelvis tucked in your planche leans or you might suck at handstand straddle negatives.

During this 10 minute period, you have the chance to create an early activation sequence for your nervous system where you’re getting your mind-body connection ready for when you ARE at this next stage with good form.

The Repetition Stuff (80% intensity)

Now that you’re well and truly fatigued (unless you didn’t go hard enough) you will work on your scapula protraction and time-under-tension by focusing on just pushing through the scapula as hard as you possibly can.

While this seems like a good part to breeze over because it’s “too easy” or “beneath you”… DON’T…

Stop here… go have a look at a few videos of average planchers vs the best… scapula remains protracted with the best of the best but the people with weak scapula protraction (here come the injuries) will have a neutral scapula at best.

While neutral isn’t a BAD position; protraction and depression will keep injuries at bay and we all know how much your training is negatively affected by injuries…

For this section you will do planche tuck holds for 7 reps of 80% intensity (do not go to failure)

Final Sprint

In the last section of your training you will be doing two rounds of the following:

  • Band-assisted planche
  • HSPU
  • Wrist inside leans
  • Hollow Body Hold dumbbell raises

Once again make sure you’re only going to 80% of what’s left of your energy because by now you’re going to be quite fatigued and that’s EXACTLY where injuries occur.

I’ve been using this method while making only minor adjustments as my strength and technique has progressed. This has been my training for just over two months (at time of writing) and figured I’d create a progression video so you could see it in a play-by-play so… here it is – check it out.

(this video starts in December when I read my motivational book and started habit stacking, 9min32s is when I started using the above method)