Saturday, December 18, 2004

A New Path Towards the Planche

In my planche training, I've seen pictures and read about the straddle planche. I've even lowered down into one on some parallettes. But in all my training, it's never felt comfortable trying to hold one, or even get into the position.

For the visual learners, here is a great picture of a straddle planche:

Note - this is not me. Although, I'd say the resemblance is uncanny!

So my problems with a straddle planche - It's my hips, I think. I'm just too inflexible in my hips!! Flexibility has never been my strong suit, so until I start a dedicated program for working towards my splits, I'll have to find another way to get to the planche.

Enter. . .

The One Legged Planche

This planche position felt great. It was a little bit harder than the advanced tuck position, but still felt very strong. My hips are a bit higher than I'd like, but I think this is on account of my tucked leg. Straightening of the bent leg should help me flatten my back out more. In the very least, my extended foot is in line with my shoulders and head. Holding the position for the camera was not that difficult, it was trying to fit my entire body in the shot!

Speaking of the spatial limitations of my room, I also like this one legged planche because I'm not kicking things, as with the straddle planche.

It's obvious that the progression for this one legged planche is to slowly extend the tucked leg until the two are together and I'm in a fullout planche.

Interestingly enough, I've been working a similar position for the front lever. Instead of trying a straddle front lever to work up to the front lever, I simply extended one leg and varied the extension of the second leg. If it worked for the front lever, why not the planche?

After the shot above, I met up with a friend of mine and his brand new kettlebells. For those unfamiliar, kettlebells look like this:

Cannonballs with handles.

I'd heard the praises of these weights for quite some time. But still, I wasn't sure if swinging or clean & jerking a kettlebell would be far superior to doing the same with a dumbbell. I mean, it's just a change in handle position, right?


I guess I should've known, as I was first surprised at the simplicity and effectiveness of the block weight (see my home gym post)
Anyway, the kettlebell is absolutely incredible for swings. If I used one for nothing else, it would make the cost worth it. They're much easier to grab with two hands for swings, and much more resilient to the inevitable dropping that will occur. They'll generally smash into the ground bottom down, so there's little chance the handle is going to break off. Swinging and catching from hand to hand was great fun, as was turning the kettlebell over in the air and recatching. Even using a 16 kg (35.2 lb) kettlebell for swings, as light as it was, felt great and really got the blood flowing.

My buddy had a 16 kg, 24 kg (52.8 lbs), and 32 kg (70.4 lbs) kettlebell that we used to crater the grass outside my gym. Clean & jerks, snatches, and shoulder presses felt great with these kbs. And I learned of the "bottom-up" press. You simply grab the kettlebell like you're going to shoulder press it, but you keep the ball above your hand. You have to grip hard and feel the balance in order to press the kettlebell and not have it come back down on your forearm.

After the quickest hour and 1/2 workout of my life, I headed back home and snapped this picture:

Fantastic to see that I'm consistently hitting the same position. I'm looking forward to see the progress I can make with this new position.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great progress man. I'm working on holding a tucked front lever and the straight-arm frog stand right now for my planche. You're mad beastly getting those skills down to where they are now. I'm crazy impressed.


4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great. I've been working at the planche for a couple of months now. Mines at about the stage yours would be if you had both legs where your bent one is and I can only hold that for a second or two. Been doing the front lever too and I can do that with one leg out straight. I can hold a back lever now with both legs out straight. These are the three I consistantly practice the most.

Paul Corfield.

6:56 AM  

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