Why Different Planes of Motion?

Planes of Motion
What are the different planes of motion and why should you work in them?

Stick to the end, and I’ll give you the 1 exercise that works all 3 planes of motion.

We all know that our bodies are meant to move around and to be as mobile as we can be. However, we the general population often move in a one-dimensional way.

Did you know there are 3 different planes of motion? If you incorporate all 3 you reduce your risk of injury as well as increase your overall mobility.

Let’s break the 3 planes apart…

The Sagittal Plane;

This plane divides the body into left and right areas. Working in this sagittal plane of motion means we are making our bodies work in a forward or backward motion.

Extension and flexion also happen along this plane. Think of a squat, your hips go from extension to flexion (bottom position) then back to extension.

Your body is meant to move in all motions, particularly in this plane of motion since most of our daily activity involves us to move forward and then a little backward. Whether this is walking or something as simple as picking an object up.

The Frontal (Coronal) Plane;

This plane divides the body into front and back. When it comes to the movement in this plane we are going either towards or away from the mid-line of the body.

Going away from the mid-line with our limbs is especially useful. This is called abduction. Abduction helps strengthen our abductor muscle groups and it’s tremendous for functionality.

For example, yoga incorporates a lot of these movements. When you abduct from the body you help open up the joints which gives them fluids that enable more freedom to do what they are meant to do. This helps to protect the joints and help you achieve freedom of motion.

The Transverse Plane;

This plane of motion divides the body into top and bottom halves. Any time we incorporate rotational movements in our daily life, we are in the transverse plane. The only problem is, we are BARELY in this plane of motion even when we exercise. We are mostly in the sagittal plane.

In a well thought-out exercise program, a transverse plane of motion is definitely incorporated because all our major joints like in our hips, shoulders, and spine need this type of movement.

Yoga also incorporates lots of rotational movements which are healthy for your joints. There’s a reason as to why these twisting motions are important. It’s known to relieve muscular pain in the back by lengthening the long muscles like the latissimus dorsi.

Rotation also helps incorporate some length in between your vertebrae and helps restore movement in the spine. Your back is an important part of your body and it’s best to take care of it whenever you can. Move your joints like how they are meant to be moved.

Now that we know the different planes of motion and why they are useful, here’s a few of examples for each…


– Bicep curls
– Back squat
– Front squat
– Bulgarian split squat
– Numerous squats


– Lateral squat
– Lateral step up
– Step up and press


– Reaching side lunge
– Squat with diagonal lift
– Bench press


That Exercise…

I promised you that I’d give you the one exercise that works all 3 planes of motion. One of my favourite exercises happens to be this one,  the Turkish Get Up.

In hindsight, all you do is lay down and get back up, hence the name. But there are many movements involved. There are plenty of motions that cause you to really stick to form, be conscious of your movement and go past your mindset barriers to finish the exercise.


Now that you have an idea of what these different planes of motion look like, it’s time to incorporate these in your fitness routine. Remember, a healthy body is one that moves in ALL directions, not just one.

Happy moving!

by Shahab Nilgiri, Milton Personal Trainer


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright Trainers On Site © 2019