“Planche is not something that you would expect to be able to just jump in right away and do in Day 1,” says David Durante, an alternate on the 2008 USA Gymnastics Olympic team and a member of the CrossFit Gymnastics Seminar Staff. “Most gymnasts (take) years to be able to develop that kind of a strength, and the development to be able to do that kind of a skill is pretty high level.”
That said, the planche can be developed with progressions, and Durante begins with the basics: wrist flexibility and strength, the balance aspect, positional work and the tuck-planche position before opening the body.
Durante uses a wrist-push-up progression done from the backs of the hands to start building up to the movement.
“I know it’s going to be awkward,” he says. “It’s not something I expect people to be able to do right away. It’s really advanced. You have to have a lot of strength and flexibility to be able to handle that much weight.”
Next, Durante puts three-time CrossFit Games athlete Dan Bailey through a frog-stand progression, a wheelbarrow progression, a parallette-tuck progression and a planche/maltese progression using plyo boxes. In the process, he discovers that Bailey continues to bend his elbows rather than lock them out.
“You’re so strong that you rely on that. You rely on that rather than (trying) to work on that technique,” Durante tells Bailey. “But a lot of this is technique. When you are working on this, make sure you start out in that good, locked-out position.”
By refining technique and building strength, CrossFit athletes can gradually work up to more complicated movements. The key is using appropriate progressions to gradually move toward challenging gymnastics positions. Additional progressions and movement demos can be found on the CrossFit Gymnastics site.
Video by Tyson Oldroyd and Eric Maciel.
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Additional reading: Additional reading: The Russian’s Gymnastics Warm-Up by Leo Soubbotine, published Nov. 21, 2009.