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Multiplanar Training for Your Regular Exercise Routine

Are you multiplanar? Perhaps not the first question we ask ourselves, but definitely an important one.

Multiplanar Exercise And Training

I was recently training a new client who was wanting to mix things up but at the same time wanted to show me how great his usual exercise routine is, and also how proficient he has become with it.

He began with a great warmup on his treadmill, later even incorporated some sprints and then on to the machine where he did some pulls, presses and finally some crunches on the incline bench.

I learn that he loves this routine, it has been very successful for him, and he does this 6 times a week, every week.

Immediately, I inform him that we will do nothing from that routine today. Instead, we head outside, where to warm up I make him run up and down his hill, followed by some oblique chops, some lateral travelling with squats, some single leg work with side to side med ball bounces.

It is here, about 10-15 minutes into the hour that huffing and puffing, he asks why this is so difficult for him, “I never get tired like this normally!”

Well, his body has been doing the exact same work now for months. As much as that bothers me, the fact is that all of his exercises are performed in the same Sagittal movement plane. Everything has been a matter of forward and backward.

No Frontal, or left to right movements. No Transverse, or rotational movements. Many of our joints move in all three planes of movement simultaneously. That means, a joint could flex, adduct, and internally rotate at the same time! So, how can we work this idea into our regular exercise routine?

Let’s take a stationary lunge. Once the good form is established, a nice split stance with the hips, knees and toes all in the same direction. The front knee is over the ankle, with the back knee dropped towards the floor with the heel up, and the torso is nice and tall.

From here, just lowering and lifting is a great Sagittal movement challenge for the entire lower body. Let’s add some movement to this which will add a balance challenge on a Frontal plane.

Take a stability ball and while in a static lunge, bounce it from one side to the other side bringing it up in a nice big arc over the head in the center. This can be quite challenging for most who have never attempted it.

The momentum of the unweighted ball moving side to side causes perturbations in the stabilizing muscles of the spine. Now, we not only fight the gravitational pull with the lunge, but that additional ball movement challenges our hip, knee, and ankle stability as well. Much more bang for the buck!

How about adding a band open up at the top of a squat for additional Frontal plane work? Or a rotational band pull with that squat? That incorporates the Transverse plane of movement. This is perhaps the most important plane of human movement.

The majority of our core musculature is oriented in a diagonal or horizontal nature and over 85% of those muscles have rotation as one of their actions.

Look in the mirror while wearing a loose t-shirt. Go through a throwing motion and pause at the top of the throw. Can you see the wrinkles in the t-shirt? Now, mimic a run stance with left arm forward, right foot forward, now switch sides.

See the wrinkles again? So many of our basic human movement patterns deal with rotations. From rolling over as infants, crawling as babies, to walking as toddlers finally graduating to our standing gait pattern! It is in our wiring!

So when you are planning your next workout, consider these planes of motion and make sure to incorporate them all.

Challenge yourself to work multi-planar when possible. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Now, go out and run! Or side shuffle! Or grapevine.