The MOVE by BJC Blog

The Importance of Multi-Planar Training

Friday, October 6, 2023

The typical gym-goer usually has the goal of maintaining their health and staying in shape. If you don't participate in races or other physical competitions, you may not think about the non-aesthetic benefits physical fitness provides. Not only can you maintain a healthy lifestyle and mobility as you age but also the way you train translates into how well you perform similar movements in daily life. Similarly, what you neglect to train may leave you vulnerable to decreased performance or injury. 

One way to prevent these consequences is by paying attention to the planes of motion your training includes and making sure all your bases are covered. The three planes of motion in which our body typically moves are sagittal, frontal and transverse.

  1. Sagittal Plane: The body moves straight forward and back or straight up and down. This is commonly the most trained plane of motion – for example squats, deadlifts, bench presses and burpees.
  2. Frontal Plane: The body moves side to side and performs abduction/adduction movements (moving limbs away and toward the body's midline). Lateral lunges, lateral shoulder raises and jumping jacks are examples of frontal plane exercises.
  3. Transverse Plane: Twisting and rotating occurs in the transverse plane. Examples include cable chops/lifts, Russian twists and medicine ball scoops.

Whether you are training for a specific sport, daily activities, occupational demands or to age gracefully and avoid injury, it's beneficial to train in all three planes of motion. We move through all the planes throughout the day, so if we want to be best prepared, then we must ensure our training does the same. 

You'll be happy you worked on frontal and transverse plane exercises when you turn and sprint to catch a shopping cart rolling toward an expensive car or change direction in a basketball game. You don't have to stop doing sagittal plane exercises like squats but maybe add a few lateral lunges. If your job requires you to pick up a box from the floor, lift the box and turn with it to place it on a shelf – keep deadlifting but add some woodchoppers. 

Training all three planes is important for engaging different muscle groups, enhancing functional movement patterns, improving balance and preventing injuries. It also promotes overall body stability and versatility, contributing to a more well-rounded and effective fitness regimen.