The Planche has been a goal of mine since around 2004. I worked thru a lot of the easier progressions back then, before even starting the gym. I had a lot of ups and downs, but I finally achieved the Straddle Planche in early 2007 with a little over 2 years of consistent work.
From there, I worked to get a 10 sec hold and a Straddle Planche Pushup. I completed these as a birthday goal in 2009. After that, I focused a little more on other gymnastic work, then by 2010 or so, I had developed a problem in my left shoulder where I was unable to hold the Planche on that side. Wary of developing a worse imbalance, I quit training the Planche until last fall (2016).
The shoulder issue has been better for many years now. Last fall, I began working toward a planche skill that to my knowledge has not been done yet. I’m keeping what it will be quiet until it happens.
I first got the Straddle Planche back and it was stronger than before after just a couple of months of training. The next step was a Reverse Grip Single Bar Straddle Planche, but after achieving that, I realized I’d need to be able to do the Straddle Planche on Rings before moving on to my specific new skill.
This test was after about 8 weeks of working on the rings – I got this surprisingly fast. I still have a long way to go, but it’s coming along quickly – I’m making much faster progress than I did in the past even though the progressions are harder now.
From continuously educating myself and training clients, I’m much better at programming for specific goals such as this than I was back in 2004-2010. Here are some points that I feel are important to the process – even if you aren’t interested in the Planche or gymnastic strength, these points may also help you reach your specific goals:
1) Focus on the goal at hand. If it’s important to you, put nearly all of your efforts into it. Most trainees, and myself in the past, try to train everything else along with the specific goal. This does not leave a lot of energy to put into the goal, and directly competes with it.
In the past, I often had trouble progressing my Planche – I’d do it first thing in a workout, but I often wouldn’t even be able to do what I had done the week prior. But, I was also trying to do a ton of other work on the other days – squatting, O-lifts, ring work, metcons, etc. It slowed my progress big-time on the Planche, and I didn’t make much for gains on those other lifts either.
Now, I am doing 85% of my strength work on just the Planche and every session is consistently better than the last. I do just enough of my other training to maintain where I am at on everything else.
2) It’s all about the CNS. The central nervous system is paramount if you want to progress. By focusing on one goal, my CNS stays fresh for the Planche work. For example, a lot of squatting may not fatigue the same muscles, but it may well leave my CNS too drained to do quality Planche work.
I test my CNS every morning with the grip dynamometer and only do my Planche work on days when it tests high. If I were to train it when my CNS was down, I may not be able to push to new levels and might only add to the CNS fatigue, making my next quality session even farther away. It’s better to take an extra day of rest and make faster progress overall.
If I’ve had a handful of days off and my CNS still tests low, then I can assume it’s down from the fact I haven’t stimulated it recently. In this case, I may do a short stimulatory workout of various jumps and throws and it will usually test strong the next day.
3) Dialing in the volume of specific work. I used the modified Prelipin tables for isometric and eccentric work from the excellent book “Overcoming Gravity”. These give the range of hold times, sets, and total hold volume based on what your maximum hold of a variation is. I have found these to work very well for myself and a few other athletes that I coach on similar skills. It’s all about finding the right amount of work – enough to stimulate gains, but not so much you can’t recover before the next session.
I hope this has given you some food for thought. If you are interested in programming for specific skills or abilities, shoot me an email at email@example.com