The adverse effects of prolonged sitting have been widely studied and are accepted as fact. We need to move more for our health, happiness and our wellbeing, and while any movement is generally good, being aware of how you move will help you become stronger, reduce injury risks and move more efficiently.
Since most people (even active exercisers) are spending too long in hip flexion (sitting at desks, driving or watching TV), it’s really important to move in all 3 planes to maintain mobility, balance and functional strength (more on this below). Yet given this importance, why do so many ‘full body’ or ‘core strength’ workout programs fall short on activity across all planes of movement?
Have you considered that it’s counterproductive to lie on the floor when attempting to strengthen the core?
For example, have you considered that it’s counterproductive to lie on the floor when attempting to strengthen the core? Leslee Bender, an elite personal trainer, explains that it’s an antiquated and narrow approach to exercise. “Consider how the body responds to gravity: when lying on the floor extending the legs, gravity pulls them down and the hip flexors are worked overtime as they try to stop the limbs from crashing to the ground!”
Thinking about how you move should be a part of any workout routine, regardless of your fitness level or goals. Before we look at some examples you can implement, let’s take a moment to understand the 3 planes of movement:
The 3 planes of motion that determine how you move.
- Sagittal Plane: Moving forward or backward (basic squat, bicep curl, forward lunge, crunch, close-grip pull-up).
- Frontal Plane: Movements from side to side (side lunge, jumping jack, lateral shoulder raise).
- Transverse Plane: Rotational Movement, or horizontal abduction and adduction (Lunge with rotation, medicine ball throw across body, horizontal woodchop).
The Planes of Movement in Exercise
The sagittal plane is the most commonly used in exercise programs, which can actually cause problems if your movements are almost all in this plane.
Your biceps might be strong in one direction, but is your shoulder actually strong?
You might be attending regular Pilates classes, but have you engaged muscles which are already overworked?
Imbalances and functional weaknesses can occur even in highly trained people if the frontal and transverse planes are not incorporated.
Incorporating the Planes of Movement into an exercise program
“The most forward-thinking fitness and sport-specific training programs now have a big emphasis on multi-plane movement.” – Libby Babet
It’s actually easy to move in all 3 planes during any workout, and there are progressions for any level of fitness and skill. Even if you can benchpress more than twice your bodyweight, a Zuu trainer will still seriously challenge you with just bodyweight exercises.
Chris Miller (The Health and Fitness Guy) provides simple and actionable advice to building functional strength: “Combine a complex movement and then carry something heavy”.
For example: Do a Lizard or a Bear Crawl, and then a dumbbell farmers walk with your body weight. (Note: If don’t have dumbbells at home, you can fill some bags to make them heavy and carry them instead).
If you watched the video, what planes is he moving through? What muscle groups are being challenged?
Good certified coaches will consider the planes of movement and exercise variation when designing workouts. The trick is to find one that works with your schedule and fitness goals and can tailor different exercises that suit you.
Getting to a gym isn’t always possible, which is why I started this blog and founded welcomefit.com, where coaches are able to run online workouts with their remote clients, and people looking for an online fitness coach can join one of our daily group workouts.
If you’ve realised that perhaps you haven’t been moving very much in one or more planes, take a gradual approach when incorporating them into your regular activities.