Believe it or not, the front lever and its counterpart the planche will not cause significant if any hypertrophy. Why? The number of reasons is longer than you may think.
1.Skill-based movements are not optimal for hypertrophy and basic strength development.
When a movement is complex and demands too much skill, it immediately becomes less suitable for hypertrophy training.
For example, weighted pull-ups and dips are great for hypertrophy whereas L-sits, front levers and planches are static holds dependent mainly on joint strength (damn elbows) and skill development. Additionally, those movements are heavily affected by weight gain. Even 5 pounds may be enough to throw everything off.
2.Static holds could be hell on the joints.
The lats, the long head of the triceps and the scapula retractors can gain the strength needed to hold the front lever position in 6 months.
The hard part is getting there without destroying your elbows which need a lot more time to adapt. Whenever a movement is limited by a very specific joint adaptation, it’s less favorable for growth.
The planche is known to be an elbow and wrist destroyer too. Many people have torn their bicep tendons because of it.
If you want to develop your delts and chest, there are more effective options – bench presses, dips, overhead presses.
3.Static holds have a small range of motion.
Obviously, static holds come with a very limited range of motion. This makes them less optimal for hypertrophy training because dynamic exercises cause more muscular fatigue and damage than isometrics.
What do you think will make your shoulders grow faster? A planche or an overhead press? The overhead press is basic and works the shoulder dynamically over a full range of motion. It’s simply more optimal for the task.
Of course, one could argue that this changes once you start performing front lever pull-ups and planche push-ups. True, but why bother getting to that point if you can achieve the same growth with a simpler and faster approach?
4.Advanced static holds are not for everybody.
Long limbs are a large disadvantage in the world of gymnastics. There is a reason why gymnasts are short – the torque is smaller. The advanced static holds are practically impossible when you have extremely long levers. If you are 6’4″ or more, and you are trying to learn the planche, you are looking at a very long process. Small guys usually get it in a couple of years, but high altitude brahs need even more.
Most tall people will never acquire that skill, just like somebody who is 5’1″ will most likely never dunk a basketball.
Meanwhile, the best hypertrophy exercises are suitable for everyone. Height may make the planche impossible, but you can still bench heavy. That’s why the best hypertrophy exercises are always the basics.
5.You’ve been brainwashed once again.
I am going to say something that may hurt, but people need to hear it. You are not going to become a muscular monster even you achieve sick bodyweight skills.
Most of the bodyweight ninjas are relatively small and short. Meanwhile, the big guys (180lbs +) are usually on steroids and hiding it. Their growth is certainly not the result of planche and front lever training.
In addition, there is a gymnastic cult that consists of brainwashed people who sometimes fail to realize that gymnastic training is not the end of it all.
One of my favorite illusions in the bodyweight circle is the belief that planche training will help you bench 2 times your bodyweight.
Seriously? A shoulder dominant static hold will make you good at a dynamic barbell exercise which requires strong shoulders, chest and triceps? I don’t think so.
The truth is that the planche and the bench press are different. There will be some carryover from the planche to the bench, but let’s get serious. Do you really believe the online legends saying that “planchers” push 2BW the first time they bench?
It’s possible, but you have to realize that many of those guys have been training since their childhood, have short limbs, and can do more advanced things than the planche. I can see somebody with this profile performing a 200% bodyweight bench press after learning the proper technique. However, if you think that by the time you have a planche, your bench press will automatically jump to 2BW, you could be terribly mistaken.
Besides, if a solid bench is your goal, why are you bothering with the planche in the first place. It’s like trying to reach elite runner status in the hope that it will carry over to cycling. Why not train with a more direct approach? Because you have been brainwashed and want to be a part of the “superior” group.
The front lever and the planche are great skills to have. If you want them, you should pursue your goals without hesitation.
Nevertheless, you should not fall for propaganda and assume that you will become as big as the popular calisthenics guys once you achieve bodyweight mastery. It will not happen, regardless of what the gurus are saying. Good luck with your goals!