How to Strengthen the Shoulders to Do Planche

The planche is like a floating pushup.

The planche is like a floating pushup.

The planche is an incredible feat of strength. If you aren't familiar with this exercise, then just picture a floating pushup. Okay, you're not really floating because your hands are on the ground. But your torso and lower body are indeed floating. If you wish to learn how to do the planche or improve your planche, it's a good idea to strengthen your shoulders. More specifically, your deltoid muscles. You can do this with just your body weight and a pair of dumbbells, so don't sweat it if you're limited on training equipment.

Planche Tuck Practice

Practice the planche to begin each shoulder workout. This is important for learning the actual movement and also to strengthen your shoulders.

Get in a kneeling position and put your buttocks over your heels. Put your hands by the sides of your knees and spread your fingers apart as this will help you better distribute your body weight while you practice the planche.

Extend your arms fully and keep them in this straight position. Do not bend your elbows at any point during the planche. This cannot be stressed enough.

Try to lift your knees off the ground. This will feel next to impossible when you first start out. Do not worry. This is typical. Just try to lift your knees and feet off the ground while keeping your arms straight. The goal here is to begin strengthening your shoulders and get them used to supporting your body weight. Do 15 to 20 repetitions of this. Each time you lift your knees and feet off the ground, try to hold the position for as long as possible. You may start out with a fraction of a second per try, but keep trying and do not give up. Take a 30-second rest in between each try.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Grip a dumbbell in each hand with an overhanded grip. Use a weight that will allow you to do ten to 12 repetitions of this exercise. If you have never done this exercise before, you will figure out the proper weight via trial and error. Do five sets of this exercise, taking a two minute rest period in between each set.

Stand with your back straight, hip and knees extended and feet on the ground at shoulder-width apart distance. Hold each dumbbell by the sides of your shoulders with your elbows bent. Internally rotate your shoulders so your elbows are pointing in a slightly forward direction.

Press the dumbbell overhead by extending your elbows until your arms are straight. Then lower the dumbbells down to the sides of your shoulders by bending your elbows.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Warm up your shoulders with five sets of one-minute arm circles before doing the aforementioned exercises.

Finish off with two stretches for your shoulder after you do the planche tuck and dumbbell press. Start with the cross-body arm stretch, in which you bring either arm across your chest and hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Next, do the behind-the-body cross arm stretch. Bring either arm behind your body and hold it with the opposite hand for 15 to 30 seconds. Complete three sets per side for each stretch to conclude your shoulder strengthening workout to improve your planche.

Items you will need

  • Your body
  • Pair of dumbbells


  • Perform two to three shoulder strengthening workouts per week. Separate each workout by one to two days. This workout split will allow your shoulders to recover from each workout.


  • Consult with your health-care professional before practicing the planche if you suffer from any shoulder pain.

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About the Author

Richard Choueiri is a fitness and nutrition expert and the author of "The Human Statue Workout." He began writing professionally in 2007 and his work has been featured in Bodybuilding.com and "Physique Magazine." Choueiri studied exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds an American College of Sports Medicine CPT, and a National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association CMMACC.

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