Straight-arm work is more unique to gymnastics and calisthenics and is trained much less frequently, if at all.  I want to spend a little time explaining some movements we are going to experience in our Gymnastics Pressing Series.

Planche Lean

The full planche is a difficult straight-arm isometric exercise and the planche lean is an introductory progression to develop this impressive skill. The planche lean is like a plank on steroids.  Not only does this require a strong core, but your upper body will be called upon to hold your body into position. One surprising benefit of the planche lean is the strength developed in the serratus anterior, shoulder, and elbow joint.  This type of isometric development will carry over into overhead movements such as presses and overhead squat.

Body Position Cues

  1. Perform some wrist stretches prior to attempting a planche lean


  1. Begin in a plank position with arms straight and shoulders over your wrist


  1. Depending on our wrist mobility you can turn our hands out 45 degrees or 90 degrees (fingers pointed away from your body). You should be resting on the tops of your feet.


  1. Protract your shoulder blades (spreading them apart and across your back) and depress your shoulders (away from your ears).


  1. Begin to lean forward and try to get your shoulders in front your hands. As you lean your upper body is beginning to support your body weight as it is shifted.


  1. Make sure you are squeezing from head to toe. Toes pointed, legs locked out, glutes engaged, core engaged. As you lean press hard into the floor to keeping your arms locked out and your shoulders protracted and depressed.  Fight the urge of your shoulders wanting to retract.  Do not pike your hips!

This may feel awkward at first. There are a variety of ways to ease into this position.

  1. Planche lean pulses. Start in the plank position and as you lean, hold a few seconds and return to plank.  You can perform multiples repetitions of this to build up strength in this position.


  1. Perform the movement with your legs in a straddle position. This will help offset some of the weight during the movement.

If you would like to train the planche lean, I would like for you to accumulate 60 seconds. This can be broken up into sets 6x10s, 4x15s, 3x20s. Also, if you are working on pulses you can perform 4 to 5 sets of 10 to15 pulses.