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Plane-of-Motion Exercises

author image Jay Donelson
Jay Donelson began writing fitness and nutrition articles for LIVESTRONG.COM in 2011. Jay has a Bachelor of Arts in English from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts in adult education from the University of Rhode Island. He is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (CFNS).
Plane-of-Motion Exercises
A young woman is doing push ups on the beach. Photo Credit BlackVAP/iStock/Getty Images

Figuring out which exercises to include in your exercise regimen to improve your overall general physical preparedness is a difficult task. One way to do it is to include exercises that will work your body in all the ways you might move your body on a daily basis. Using plane-of-motion exercises will help you do that.


According to the American Council on Exercise, the human body can move in three planes of motion -- sagittal, frontal and transverse. The planes split your body into halves. For example, the sagittal plane involves movements to the front and rear, including bicep curls, squats and running. The frontal plane includes movements to the side, such as side lunges and lateral raises. Transverse plane movements rotate your body, like a batter's swing in baseball or a golf swing.

Sagittal Plane

Sagittal-plane exercises involve flexion and extension. Laree Draper of Davedraper.com points out that most gym exercises, including squats, flat pressing and pushups, work in the sagittal plane. Bicep curls, which start by holding the weight in the extension phase and curl the weight up to the point of flexing the bicep, is a sagittal-plane movement. It is important to include exercises from the other planes in your program to prevent injuries and sculpt a well-balanced body.

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Frontal Plane

According to My Fitness Hut, frontal exercises involve abduction and adduction. These motions push a limb away from the center line of your body, out to the side, then pull back to the center line of your body. Side lunges and dumbbell lateral raises for your shoulders are considered frontal exercises. The frontal plane is important for sports involving side-to-side footwork movement, such as tennis or basketball.

Transverse Plane

Transverse movements are common in many sports, from throwing motions to a golf swing. According to My Fitness Hut, this is a dominant plane of motion for many sports. Many injuries occur during transverse movements, so it is even more important to exercise these types of movements during your workouts if you plan to participate in sports. Rotational exercises that you can use in an exercise program include medicine ball throws from the hip and diagonal lunges requiring you to pivot and step.

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