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Work it! How to use different planes of motion to improve workouts

Standard gym moves like lunging are all variations of front-to-back movement, but our bodies move differently in everyday life

Vahdaneh Vahid

Published: Updated:

Most of us spend our gym time moving in just one direction. Standard gym moves such as lunging and squatting are all variations of front-to-back movement. The same goes for machine-based moves such as rows and curls.

Outside the gym, however, our bodies move in all directions, so if your gym program is purely focused on training in one plane of motion, you are no longer using your body as an integrated system, leaving you open to muscle imbalances and injury.

The body is divided into three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. It is important to understand these planes so we can keep our programs varied and include exercises that help our bodies move efficiently in real-life situations.

(Al Arabiya News)
(Al Arabiya News)

The sagittal plane is the most common movement seen in group classes and gyms. It divides the body into right and left halves. Sagittal-plane movements involve flexion (forward motion) and extension (backward). Examples are push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges and burpees.

(Al Arabiya News)
(Al Arabiya News)

Frontal-plane movements divide the body into anterior (front) and posterior (back) halves. A frontal-plane motion involves moving side to side. Examples are side shuffles, jumping jacks, and jumping sideways.

The transverse (horizontal) plane divides the body into top and bottom halves. Twisting or rotating the body is a transverse movement. We are most likely to neglect the transverse plane. In our day-to-day lives we rotate all the time, when we reach across for something or put on a jacket. Rotation is even more vital during recreational activities.
Examples are cable machine wood chops, throwing a ball or swinging a golf club.

Consider adding transverse-plane moves to gym sessions to reduce boredom, boost athleticism and prevent joint injury.

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