A planche is a type of gymnastics move in which the body is held parallel to and above the ground, with the legs held together and extended straight back, as though an unbroken straight line runs from the head to the toes, using only the arms for support. It requires a great deal of strength and superb balance. This move and variations of it are often used in gymnastics training and competitions. It is also used by skilled break dancers.
In gymnastics, a planche is the final stage in a progression of maneuvers, with the moves becoming progressively more difficult. Gymnasts begin training with a position called a frog stand. In a frog stand, the athlete holds his or her body off the ground using only the arms for support. The body is in a tucked position with the arms bent at the elbows, and the knees rest on the arms for support and balance.
The next position is an advanced frog stand, which is identical to the frog stand but with the arms fully extended. After mastering the advanced frog stand, an athlete may move on to the tuck planche. This pose differs from the frog stand pose in that the knees are brought together inside the arms. The gymnast must still hold his or her body in this tuck position, back parallel to he ground, using only his or her arms for support.
The straddle planche is the last position leading to the final form. To perform this move, the athlete must hold the body parallel to and above the the floor, using only the arms for support. The legs are held straight, but widely apart. This maneuver may also be performed in a sitting position, which is called a sitting straddle planche. In this pose, the arms may be placed inside or outside the legs.
Once an athlete has mastered the straddle planche, he or she is ready for the final form, which is also called the straight-legged planche. Many variations of this pose are possible by altering the position of the hands, angle of the arms, or position of the arms under the body. A very difficult exercise, the planche push-up is performed from this position. It is identical to a normal push up, but the legs and feet are lifted along with the body with each repetition.
In accredited gymnastics competitions, only two variations of the planche are recognized for scoring purposes: the straddle planche and the straight-legged planche. Other forms and variations are used only as intermediate moves. Break dancers often use the planche and its variations as part of their dance routines, including very difficult spinning maneuvers and a planche performed with the body resting on only one arm.