Planes of Motion: Sagittal, Frontal, Transverse

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Written By: Leslie Kutcha CPT, CSCS

Did you know that your body moves through three planes of motion? These three planes are the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. Knowing this can help you not only understand the human body better, but how to create a balanced training program that challenges your body in all dimensions.

Planes of Motion: Sagittal, Transverse, Frontal

Let’s talk a little about the different types of exercises that can be performed in each plane:

 

Sagittal Plane

The sagittal plane divides your body into left and right halves and involves forward and backward movements.

When you think of a typical workout split, or if you are more experienced with programming, you know that the “Big Six Movement Patterns” are the Squat, Hinge, Lunge, Push, Pull and Carry. All of these movements occur within the sagittal plane, meaning you are moving in an “up and down” or “forward and backward” motion.

Squat in Sagittal Plane

Walking, running, bench presses, squats, deadlifts, rows, pull-downs, etc. are all sagittal plane movements as well. We may spend most of our lives in this plane of motion, but it’s not a bad thing to program these exercises regularly. They are arguably going to grow your muscles the most! However, we can’t ignore the side to side or in twisting motions that take place in our day-to-day life, or any given sport.

 

 

Frontal Plane

Consider an athlete cutting to switch directions quickly on the field or court, a golfer swinging a club, or a baseball player winding up to throw a ball. These are all examples of people operating in the transverse or frontal plane, as well as the sagittal plane. The frontal plane divides your body into front and back halves and involves side to side movements.

You may not be a star athlete anymore, so think about when you are running or walking and need to avoid a big hole in the sidewalk. Or when you are loading your groceries into your car, dancing, or doing chores around the house. These activities require the body to move in different ways other than just up and down or forward and backward.

Some examples of frontal plane exercises are lateral lunges, lateral shoulder raises, suitcase carry, and lateral shuffles. In short, anything involving side-to-side movement.

Lateral Raise in Frontal Plane

 

 

Transverse Plane

The transverse plane divides the body into top and bottom halves and refers to rotational or twisting motions. Think cable wood chops, cable anti-rotation hold, curtsy lunge, and kettlebell halos, to name a few.

Kneeling Med Ball "Chops" - Transverse Plane

Adding in exercises from the transverse and frontal plane will help you to prevent injury – especially those “silly” injuries that stem from lack of balance, coordination, or rotational core strength.

 

Multiplanar Exercises

Some exercises also engage more than one plane at once, which we call multiplanar exercises. A simple way to make an exercise multiplanar would be to do a single-arm or single-leg version of the exercise. When the load is only on one side, your body has to fight to stay in position and keep from rotating or bending toward the loaded side.

For example: in a single-arm shoulder press, your core muscles are working to keep your body upright, versus pushing away from the weight. This will be a sagittal and frontal planar exercise.

Single Arm Shoulder Press - Multiplanar

Training your body in all three planes of motion creates a well-rounded and balanced musculature, along with working the cross-sectional connections of your body.

Our world is three-dimensional; therefore, we should allow our bodies to move in 3D!

 

Written By: Leslie Kutcha CPT, CSCS

@LeslieKutcha

Leslie Kutcha

 

You might also like...

Returning to the Gym Postpartum: A Guide to Bounce Back Successfully

There are many conflicting viewpoints floating around the internet when it comes to returning to the gym postpartum. So often, the new mother is responsible for seeking out this information for herself, and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of endless information. By Coach Katie Clementi (Edited by: Austin Current, Sue Bush, and

Maintenance Phase: What It Is — And Isn’t

Maintenance is often labeled synonymous with regression (to move backward, away from your goals). If you’re not making progress, where are you going? You may even hear: “Stagnation is the enemy of progress…”. Written by Coach Kailey Moonen The self-help world echoes this message. Unfortunately, the fitness industry has its own way of using this

External Rotation shoulder - Physique Development

Improve Shoulder Mobility When Pressing — 2 Quick Tips

Whether it’s from past injuries — or you just have poor mobility at the shoulder — this article takes you through two ways of adjusting your overhead presses to relieve stress and reduce the risk of potential injury and improve your shoulder mobility when pressing. Written by Coach Austin Current Time and time again we

Looking For a Coach?

Whether you’re a serious competitor or a casual gym-goer, we’ll give you the tools to
transform your physique.