THE TUCK PLANCHE HOLDS...

This is a straight-arm gymnastic strength move that builds strength through the triceps, shoulders and abdominals. Build your strength and work towards holding both feet off the floor!

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HOW TO TUCK PLANCHE:

THE BASICS

HANDS ON THE FLOOR – otherwise you’ll have next to no chance of lifting yourself up! Place your hands just outside your knees. Your hands ideally will be pointing straight ahead (if you have the wrist flexibility). Turn them out slightly if you don’t or if you want to ease the pressure on your wrists.

LOCK-OUT THE ARMS – just like any of these gymnastic drills. We want biceps spun forward, with the arms totally straight.

PROTRACT THE SHOULDER BLADES – spread them apart, feel the upper back stretch and hold that feeling throughout.

TURN ON THE POWER – then, without letting the arm position change at all, start to press into the floor.

SUCK THE KNEES UP – as close to your stomach as you can using your abdominal and hip-flexor strength.

LIFT OFF – keep pressing into the floor with your arms and suck your knees up as close to your stomach as you can. If you’re good enough, you will be able to lift your feet of the floor too. If not, make sure your feet are resting on the floor, but only as much as required. The goal is to get airborn.

HOLD! – now you’re here, hold!

TOO TOUGH?
Fear not, these can be beginner friendly, but I do like to tweak the above a little. The above describes the procedure for those who can come off the floor–or are at least very close to it. This is how it’s done in a more beginner-friendly manner:

HOW TO DO IT WITH TOES DUG IN

Follow the procedure above but with your toes dug in. Focus on setting the arms, then the shoulder blades and then suck your knees up, but with both feet still down.

Make sure your knees are in line with your hands when you start though, we want to be crunched up or 'tucked'; not spread out with a plank-like body position.

If it’s still too tough, keep extra weight back in your feet. If you’re getting the hang of it, shift more weight forwards to your arms. At this stage we want the hardest position you can hold–well – for 10 seconds.

HOW TO DO IT WITH FEET FLAT

The next level (which sounds more gruesome than it is), is exactly as above, except we no longer dig the toes into the floor, rather, the toes are taken away and the top of the foot should be resting on the floor.

This automatically forces more weight into your hands (and remember the ultimate goal is to have 100% of the weight on your hands).

If your ankle hurts, you're not ready for this yet. Otherwise do it like this from now on. This is, of course, what we describe in the original description above, but there’s one other thing…

HOW TO DO IT WITH ONE FOOT OFF

For the next progression, lift one foot off the floor and suck the knee as close to the stomach as possible.

This does two things:

Firstly, it shifts more weight forward — so your arms have a sterner test.

Secondly, it makes your abs works harder and simulates the position you need to be able to hold with both legs if you want to get airborn.

WHICH PROGRESSION?

Now, in theory, these are best done in this order, just like in The Tuck Planche Progression Ladder:

1) TOES DUG IN

2) FEET FLAT

3) ONE LEG UP

However, in practice it’s not so cut-and-dry, and the best position – where we get the most neat work done, depends on the individual.

The important thing is that you find the position that works you hardest — with perfect form — while generally progressing through the moves.

I can often be found making my torturees hold these with one leg up to get more abdominal work, but with toes dug in on the leg still grounded, even if they can get away with feet flat. If it's uncomfortable for the ankles then it's better used only for when testing your strength and not neccessarily for regular training.

Play around to find the best style for you.

HOW YOU PEOPLE MESS IT UP...

YOU BEND YOUR ARMS – if you’re not strong enough, or not used to straight-arm strength training, your arms will rotate and bend – your biceps will spin inwards and your elbows will bend. To fix it: be mindful, watch your elbows so you can see that they don’t budge, not even a centimeter, and back off slightly. If you can’t come off the floor without your arms bending, don’t (not often, you might want to do it occasionally to have a good time). Try only putting 80% of your body weight into the drill for now, then ease closer to the real thing when you get stronger.

YOUR ARSE TRIES TO ESCAPE — When prompted to lean forward and get your shoulders past your hands, you’ll find you need a helluva-lot-a shoulder and tricep strength. If you’re not blessed with such qualities just yet, you might find that as you attempt to lean, you won’t get much lean at all, meanwhile, your arse will have tried to escape upwards and away. Naughty. The fix: get stronger, check your wrist flexibility and find a special friend willing to keep an eye on your arse. Oh, and be patient -- these moves are hard and take time to master.

YOUR WRISTS HURT – this is common. Try turning your hands out. If that still hurts, both work carefully on your wrist strength and flexibility, and perhaps practice on some parrallettes. Then, just be patient and build up slowly, wrists can take time to adapt, but they will.

YOU CAN’T GET IT UP – this getting both feet off the floor thing, that IS the challenge, and it’s TOUGH! So don’t underestimate it. If you’re heavy (good or bad heavy) the Tuck Planche is still a good exercise, but you may well find it harder to get airborne. Keep working at it and respect the challenge. Some people will master these quickly, others will take months or years. Keep it as a long-term goal and don’t injure yourself being too ambitious too quickly.

YOU FALL FORWARD – as you get good at these, you’ll probably progress to leaning forwards a little. If you lose focus or strength though, you’re going to fall forward. Especially if your hands aren’t straight. If this happens to you when you’re just learning, accept that you need to develop more strength. At first, it’s not about leaning, it’s about sucking the knees up and pushing the floor away.

YOU JUMP INTO IT – this happens all the time. You don’t seem to be able to ‘suck’ your feet off the floor. So you sort-of jump into it, hoping you have the strength to hold it once you get there. It ain’t happening though. Sadly. Don’t let that be you. Rather, be patient, respect the challenge and earn the right to do it with strength.

YOUR SHOULDER BLADES DON’T PROTRACT/ YOU CAN’T HOLD THEM THERE – learning this feeling takes a lot of practice at first. Then it takes strength, where you won’t have strength if you don’t have a gymnastics background. It took me two years to learn to hold this position on a Tuck Planche. If you can’t hold position, the fix is simple: Practice without as much weight (don’t lean forwards or try to come off the floor); learn the feel of it, then spend time building strength in a perfect position before you try to leave the floor.

YOUR ANKLES HURT – if you cannot put a high percentage of your body-weight on your hands with this drill, you might feel your ankles hurting–especially if you’re a little tight down the front of the shin. It’s no problem. The Fix: get stronger so you can put more weight forward! In the meantime, dig your toes in to keep your feet in a more comfortable position.

IT’S ALL LEGS! – not sure what’s working? But bloomin’ 'eck the front of your thighs are killing? Well, sadly my friend, you just completed one hell of a squat session or you’re not strong enough in the upper body so your legs are having to work too hard to help. The Fix: either leave your knees down on the floor and focus on your upper body, or use other exercises until you are ready, OR just ignore it, but practice dilligently until you no longer feel the legs and can shift more weight forwards.

WICKED CUES!

GET AWAY FROM THE FLOOR! – If it goes wrong and your arms are bent or you haven’t protracted enough, your breast plate will be too close to the floor. With your arms in position, trying to push your breast plate as far away from the floor as you can is a great cue.

TURTLE BACK – picture it. It helps.

FEEL THE STRETCH IN THE BICEP TENDON – for many a sure-fire sign that your arms are locked.

THE FLOOR UNDER YOUR FEET IS ON FIRE! – that’s a technique cue, not a literal statement. Try imagining it if you’re starting to get lazy and keep too much weight in your feet and you’ll edge forward and load more weight onto your arms.

LONG ARMS – Might stop you sinking and bending them.

ABS. SHOULDERS. CHEST. TRICEPS! – You should feel these muscles controlling proceedings. Try to feel them contracting. It will help.

WHY DO IT TO YOURSELF?!

SHOULDER. TRICEP. FOREARM. CHEST & ABDOMINAL STRENGTH & MUSCLE – it’s not bodybuilding but it takes serious strength and can be used to build serious muscle if you so choose. It’s a demanding exercise that builds real strength.

START THE (OFTEN LONG) JOURNEY TO THE PLANCHE -- The Planche is preserve of the seriously strong only. But man does it look good when it’s done well. Almost superhuman. At the time of writing I’m nearly at a decent straddle Planche, and have a long way to go if I’m to master the real thing. You won’t get me talking about the advanced ones until I can do it well. But I find that knowing what can be done at the end of years of training is always inspiring.

GET REAL STRENGTH TRAINING ANYWHERE WITH NO KIT -- Not only is this seriously difficult, but it's another completely bodyweight move, soyou can practice anytime. That’s why there is so much body weight stuff in The Strength Sessions Programme. We don’t want any barriers to training. Just get down and get stuck in.

ALTERNATIVES...

If you need to switch this out for something else I'd suggest extra work on any of these:

BENT-ARM PLANCHE

PUSH UPS

HANDSTAND STRENGTH

L-SIT

WRIST WORK -- Plus I'd work on my wrist strength and mobility to prepare them for the stress they face on this move.

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