The highest form of practice is improvisation – there are few exceptions.

And so here I demonstrate the elegance of movement improvisation in the form of the beautified straddle-planche face-plant; attempted by few, mastered by none…

Okay, okay, of course this is not improvisation; it’s an ugly, imperfect, weak and uncontrolled movement… but it’s further than I was three years ago! I was about to say that this is three years of progress, but strictly that’s not true at all. When I first learnt what the “planche” was (again, Jan 2013), I figured I could get it in about 6 months. That’s 6 months coming straight out of 8 years of pure hypertrophy training. I learnt a few things in those 6 months, with regards to my both training knowledge and optimistic mentality (keeping in mind I was a teacher to many)…

  1. You’re an idiot.
  2. You’re an uneducated, idiot.
  3. You’re an uneducated, naive, unprepared, idiot.

That’s not to say a trained individual can’t learn to do a planche in 6 months, although that would be unbelievably phenomenal. But for that to be a possibility, you would have to have at least a strong command over your body through some discipline and a firm understand of planche mechanics, as well as a progressive scheme in place right from the beginning. And believe me, there’s a big difference between seeing a load of explanations and demonstrations of planche progressions on YouTube with your eyes and then actually trying to feel them with your body. It’s like listening to Rammstein then believing you can speak German.

You know what… I’m going to pull the shot and say that no one who ever reads this could ever achieve a full planche in 6 months of training. Full stop. Two years is more realistic. This is basically what you will look like if you buy a Rammstein album and believe you can speak German in six months:

A true planche. Freaked out by the weird thoracic (upper back) curve? That’s called a ‘hollow-back’ position. If you are interested in learning the most basic of planche progressions, my advice is to start with this breadcrumb.

There’s not much useful commenting I can attach to that video from Jan, 2013, other than… don’t do that. Don’t do it. It seems that I was trying to do a planche – one of the most integratively advanced movements in bodyweight training – without having had any prior training. Moreover, it seems I thought that that was possible. Yeah… don’t do that…


Fast forward three years and three months, and I have just about graduating to bent-knee straddle planche with an extended back. I use this as static-hold strength training (12 second holds), along with other dynamic strength exercises in an attempt to increase the time of my straight-leg straddle hold. There will be many more planche-related posts, so I will not disclose exactly what that training looks like yet.

Recently, I was inspired by a challenge set to another friend, and I now hope to achieve a 4-second straight-leg straddle planche by the end of the year. I’m at around 3 seconds now, but, as you can see from the video below (no face-plant this time), I’m more falling slowly than holding. My knees carry a bend, butt shoots up high, legs come down too low, and, to be honest, my hollow back needs a hell of a lot of work. But I’ve got another 9 months to get this baby in the bag. I don’t feel like an uneducated, naive, unprepared, idiot at the moment… but I’m sure I’ll have something to say come 2017.