The planche pushup is an extremely challenging exercise that requires a high level of strength in your upper body and core. The exercise is similar to the traditional pushup, except that your hands are set on the floor next to your stomach rather than under your shoulders and you perform reps while maintaining a balanced, straight-plank position, with your feet held up off the floor so all your weight is placed on your hands. Because your feet are off the floor, your anterior deltoid, triceps brachi and pectoralis major muscles in your upper body have to lift more weight. In addition, keeping your feet held off the floor requires significant strength from your rectus abdominis, obliques and gluteus maximus muscles in your core. There are exercises you can use to help you build the upper-body and core strength needed for full planche pushups, including traditional pushups with a planche-hand position, one-arm pushups, frog stands and planche planks. Add the planche pushup to your upper-body or full-body strength-training workouts.
Planche Pushup Technique
To perform planche pushups, lie face down and position your hands on the floor so that they’re next to your stomach, with your palms down and your fingers pointed out to the sides. Push your torso up off the floor by extending your arms. Your torso and thighs should create a straight line similar to when performing the traditional pushup. Lean your upper body forward and engage your abdominals and glutes to lift your feet up off the floor, keeping your legs mostly straight. If necessary, you can bend your knees and lift your feet toward your hips as you lean forward to help you get balanced. Then, when you feel stable, you can extend your feet back out slowly. While maintaining this raised position with extended legs, bend your elbows to lower your body until it nearly touches the floor and then straighten your arms to push yourself back up. This completes one rep.
Building Upper-Body Strength for Planche Pushups
To develop the upper-body strength necessary to perform planche pushups, start by doing traditional pushups with a planche-hand position and one-arm pushups. To do traditional pushups with a planche-hand position, do regular pushups with your toes on the floor but with your hands set on the floor next to your stomach. While traditional pushups mostly work your pectoralis major, doing pushups with the planche-hand position makes your anterior deltoid and triceps brachii muscles work harder, just like they have to do during full planche pushups. For one-arm pushups, lie face down and set one hand on the floor below the center of your chest. Split your legs slightly so that they create a "V" shape. Hold your free hand behind your back. Extend your working arm to lift your body up so that you’re holding yourself up onto your single arm and your toes. Bend your elbow to lower your body until your elbow bends to 90 degrees and then straighten it to lift your body back up and finish one rep. Perform the exercise on both arms. Do planche-hand and one-arm pushups two days per week and complete two to three sets of each exercise, doing as many reps as you can before reaching fatigue for each set.
Building Core Strength for Planche Pushups
To build the additional core strength necessary to do planche pushups, start with frog stands and planche planks. To do the frog stand, squat down and set your hands on the floor right in front of your feet. Rest your knees against the back of your triceps, just above your elbows. Slowly lean forward to lift your feet up off the floor, holding your body up with your hands. Hold the balanced position for as long as you can. Planche planks force you to hold the plank pushup position and strengthen both your core and upper-body muscles. Get into a pushup position but with your hands set on the floor next to your stomach as if doing planche pushups. Lean your upper body forward and engage your abs and hip flexors as you lift your legs up off the floor so that you’re holding yourself up with your hands. Once again, if needed to get on balance, as you lean forward, you can simultaneously bend your knees and lift your feet up toward your hips and then slowly extend them. Keep your arms extended as you hold the planche-plank position for as long as you can. Do frog stands and planche planks two days per week and complete two to three sets of each exercise, with each set performed for maximum time.
Adding Planche Pushups to Your Workout
You can add planche pushups to your upper-body or full-body strength-training workouts one to two days per week. If doing them twice in a week, give your muscles two to three days off between workouts. Do them at the beginning of your session so your muscles are fresh since fatigue will adversely impact your ability to do planche pushups. Before your workout, do a 10-minute dynamic warm-up consisting of light jogging or jumping rope, followed by arm circles and arm hugs. Complete planche pushups for one to two sets of a maximum number of reps. If you ever find that you can do planche pushups with ease, you can quickly make them more difficult by doing them while wearing a weighted vest. To add an instability element to the exercise, you can set your hands onto wobbly training implements such as medicine balls or balance discs.
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