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The sagittal plane is responsible for forward and backward movement, meaning all of the popular and important lifts occur in that plane — squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, lunges, pullups, and rows all fit the category. With that said, building a general baseline of athleticism is all good and proper, but failing to address other areas of our athleticism through loading different planes of motion will end up catching up to us — either in the form of a stalled physique, or in the form of an injury due to imbalance.
Once your foundation is on point and you’ve got a handle on the big lifts, there are three planes of movement that you should consider, and the sagittal plane mentioned above is only one of them.
Here are the other two.
The Lateral Plane
This involves loading movements that involve a side-to-side action. Plenty of the stabilizing muscles to our load-bearing joints get recruited the most when zeroing in on these forces, and this plane shouldn’t be neglected.
The Transverse Plane
The muscles responsible for the rotation of the spine are of prime importance and are often neglected. This results in insufficient T-Spine range of motion, and often compensation from the lumbar spine. For a lot of clients I see that the end result is chronic pain in the lower back and poor shoulder mobility to boot.
If you’re a lifter after strength and size (which is why you’re likely reading this article), then you’re probably at greater risk for losing peak functionality in this plane based on the way you’re used to training.
Tip: Use the Force
Taking advantage of different force angles, planes, and force curves will only serve your fitness and development well. There’s no harm in taking a phase or three away from the big lifts in their conventional form, to focus on patterns that may even mimic them while utilizing different vectors. Your body will thank you. And you just might break through a plateau of muscle development while you’re at it — or a strength plateau when you make your return to the big stuff.
To get the most bang for your buck, it’s smart to think about movements that involve most of the body to produce an effort, and are as functional as possible. Here are some smart choices to get every part of your body on point.
Lee Boyce is a personal trainer, speaker, fitness writer, and college professor based in Toronto, Canada. He is the owner and operator of leeboycetraining.com and works with clients and athletes for strength, conditioning, and sport performance. With a background as a varsity level sprinter and long jumper in university amid his kinesiology studies, he now brings plenty of that experience and anecdote to the lectures and workshops he delivers around North America to help make trainers and fitness professionals more effective at their jobs. Follow him on all social media @coachleeboyce
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