Planes of Motion
There are three different planes of motion: Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse.
When thinking about each plane, think of an actual plane of glass splitting the body in it’s respective halves. Actions that move along these imaginary planes of glass fall into that correlating plane of motion.
The sagittal plane splits the body into left and right halves. This is the plane that people train most often and include exercises like triceps push downs, curls, close grip bench press, hammer grip over head press, close grip rows and squats.
The frontal plane separates the body into anterior and posterior portions, or front and back. Movements that would fall into this category would be side lunges, sumo squats, lat pull downs, military press, upright rows, and side raises.
The transverse plane separates the body into superior and inferior portions, or top and bottom. Trunk twists, bench presses, and wide grip over hand rows fall into this category.
So why does this matter?
This is important because when movement is analyzed it shows that people move through every plane of motion. Think about a running back in the NFL. He is spinning, juking left and right, jumping, and getting tackled and twisted constantly. If his body were weak in a particular plane he would snap like a twig! (which actually happens at times during non-contact injuries, but that is another article for another time)
Now lets think about a more practical example. Think about how someone might pick a box up from the floor. This movement turns into a sumo dead lift which falls into the frontal plane. As the person moves the box up to their chest through bicep and shoulder flexion, the sagittal plane is crossed. Now to place the box on a desk to this person’s left, they must rotate to move the box to the designated area. This shows use of the transverse plane of movement.
So it would make sense that people train how they naturally move, but the problem is that most people don’t.
Many weight lifting routines are too focused on isolation movements, rather than incorporating movements that span every plane of motion.
Exercising though every plane of motion will help a person move more efficiently, decrease back pain, decrease change of injury, increase athletic ability, and increase a person’s functional strength.
You can create workouts that hit all of these planes, or you can create compound exercises that hit all three in one rep. These exercises are called triplanar movements.
One example of a triplanar movement is a single arm cable squat to row with a trunk twist.
Let’s see if you can create any on your own!
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