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Why You Need To Train All Three Planes Of Movement

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Why You Need To Train All Three Planes Of Movement
Planes Of Movement

Your physical training should always be something that empowers you

When planning a workout or selecting a training program, it’s important that the program trains you in a balanced way — so you are strong in every area of your body. 

So you know what to be aware of when selecting the best form of exercise for you, here’s a quick guide to the key planes of movement in exercise. 

Planes of movement in exercise

A truly powerful workout program will train you in all three planes of motion, for total body strength. 

The three planes of motion in exercise are: 

Sagittal: this is where the body moves forward and back. Most common exercises for home or gym workouts —where a muscle pair flex and extend to move a single joint of the body — are in the sagittal plane. Some examples are squats, burpees or bicep curls. 

Frontal: this is where the body moves from side to side. It includes adduction and abduction (moving the arms or legs away and towards the midline of the body).  

Examples include side raises, jumping jacks or side-steps. 

Transverse: twisting movements around a joint. This plane of motion is often thought of as involving spinal rotation, but it also includes twisting around other joints of the body too. 

Some examples include cable chops, or car drivers. The latter is an exercise you often find as a burnout in PWR, where you strengthen the twisting movement of the arms.

Planes Of Movement In Exercise

Why are the three planes of movement important?

It’s important to train in the three planes of motion, because one of the goals of training should be to make your body more resilient in everyday life. 

Each day, your body moves in three dimensions; when you get out of bed, while you work throughout the day, and when you sit down for dinner in the evening, you are moving your body in all three planes of motion.

Training your body to develop strength in all these different patterns of movement will make you more resistant to injury, and will help you to feel confident throughout any activities that may challenge you. Weight training isn’t just for “fit” women, or to achieve an aesthetic goal — it’s for everyone. 

Exercises for each plane of motion

So that you can understand the different types of exercises that should be included in a balanced workout program, here are some examples from each plane of motion. 

Understand that this short list is by no means all-inclusive! There are so many different ways you can move your body for strength and fitness, but this will give you an idea of where you can begin. 

Sagittal plane

These two exercises are full-body exercises that target more than one joint for dynamic and functional strength in the sagittal plane. 

Lunges

1. Safely place a barbell on your shoulders. Please read the barbell safety cues for instructions on how to do this.

Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. Carefully take a big step forwards with your left foot. As you plant your left foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90-degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned with your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.

3. Exhale. Extend both knees and transfer your weight completely onto your right foot. Step your left foot backward to return to the starting position.

4. Inhale. Carefully take a big step forwards with your right foot. As you plant your right foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90-degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned with your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.

5. Exhale. Extend both knees and transfer your weight completely onto your left foot. Step your right foot backward to return to the starting position.

Continue alternating between left and right.  

Bench jump

1. Place a bench horizontally in front of you. Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45- to 90-degrees to your hips. This is called squat position.

3. Exhale. Propel your body upwards and forwards, drawing your knees into your chest, to land in squat position on top of the bench. Ensure that you maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.

4. Inhale. Push through your heels and extend your legs to find a standing position on top of the bench.

5. Exhale. Carefully step backwards off the bench, one foot at a time, to return to the starting position. Repeat. 

Frontal plane

This plane of motion is where the body moves from side to side — frontal plane exercises can involve the whole body, such as the lateral step-up, or one joint, such as a single arm side raise. 

Lateral Step Up

1. Place a bench vertically beside you. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, plant your left foot firmly on the bench and your right foot on the floor, hip-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Push through the heel of your left foot and, using your glutes, extend your left leg, ensuring that your hips remain level.

3. Lower your right foot and return to the starting position.

4. Alternate between left and right for an even number of repetitions on each side. 

Single arm side raise 

1. Connect the handle attachment and set the cable pulley to the bottom of the pole.

Resting your right hand on the cable pole at approximately shoulder-height, stand slightly in front of the cable pole and plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart. 

Grasp the cable handle with your left hand and place your arm down by your left side with the cable running behind you. This is your starting position.

2. While maintaining a slight bend in your elbow, draw the handle upwards and outwards until your elbow and wrist are at shoulder height, ensuring that you keep your shoulder blades down and back.

3. Slowly lower your arm to return to the starting position.

4. Repeat, for an equal number of repetitions on each side. 

Transverse plane

These exercises are examples of spinal rotation. Training this plane of motion is important for stability and to help prevent lower back pain. 

Woodchop

1. Holding a medicine ball with both hands directly in front of your chest, plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. While maintaining a slight bend in your knees, extend your arms and twist your torso to hold the medicine ball slightly above your left knee. This is your starting position.

2. Using your obliques, pivot your feet, turn your hips and torso to move the medicine ball across your body up to eye level on your right-hand side, ensuring that your arms remain straight.

3. Inhale. Using your obliques, turn your hips and torso to move the medicine ball across your body and back to the starting position, once again, ensuring that your arms remain straight.

4. Complete an equal number of repetitions on each side. 

Decline Russian Twist

1. Sit on the decline ab bench with both feet firmly secured under the foot pads, holding a weight plate with both hands directly in front of your chest. Lean back slightly so that your abdominals are engaged.This is your starting position.

2. Twist your torso to the right as far as you can.

3. Untwist your torso to return to the starting position.

4. Twist your torso to the left as far as you can.

5. Untwist your torso to return to the starting position.

6. Continue alternating between right and left

Multiplanar movements

Exercises that target multiple planes of movement are an important part of a balanced workout program. These types of exercises help to maintain joint integrity while promoting coordination and neuromuscular connection. 

Push-up and side plank

1. Place both hands on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width apart, with feet apart on the mat behind you, while resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. While maintaining a straight back and stabilising through your abdominals, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the floor until your arms form two 90-degree angles.

3. Exhale. Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position. Release your right hand and extend your arm upwards. At the same time, turn your torso to face the long edge of your mat, ensuring that you draw up through your obliques (abs along your sides) to keep your hips elevated.

4. Inhale. Lower your right hand and untwist your torso to return to the starting position.

5. While maintaining a straight back and stabilising through your abdominals, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the floor until your arms form two 90-degree angles.

6. Exhale. Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position. Release your left hand and extend your arm upwards. At the same time, turn your torso to face the long edge of your mat, ensuring that you draw up through your obliques (abs along your sides) to keep your hips elevated.

7. Inhale. Lower your left hand and untwist your torso to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between right and left. 

Alternating lunge and twist

1. With your forearms stacked directly in front of your chest, plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. Carefully take a big step forward with your left foot. As you plant your left foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned with your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.

While in the lunge position, twist your torso to bring your forearms over your front leg, ensuring that your knee remains in line with your middle toe. Unravel your torso to bring your forearms in front of your chest.

3. Exhale. Extend both knees and transfer your weight completely onto your right foot. Step your left foot backward to return to the starting position.

4. Inhale. Carefully take a big step forward with your right foot. As you plant your right foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned with your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.

While in the lunge position, twist your torso to bring your forearms over your front leg, once again ensuring that your knee remains in line with your middle toe. Unravel your torso to bring your forearms in front of your chest.

Exhale. Extend both knees and transfer your weight completely onto your left foot. Step your right foot backward to return to the starting position.

Continue alternating between left and right. 

Truly powerful workouts Include all three planes of motion. 

There are so many benefits to training in all of the planes of motion — if you are training for hypertrophy, or muscle definition, then including different types of exercises will help you to achieve this. 

My PWR program is intentionally designed to include the three planes of motion in a structured way to strengthen the target areas of the body. You can follow it in the gym, using the four beginner weeks to learn the basic movements and build up your strength. 

Or if you want to begin your fitness journey at home, PWR Zero Equipment provides ten weeks of no-equipment training to get you started. 

* Results from Post-Pregnancy program may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.

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