Exercises for the Frontal, Sagittal and Transverse Planes

Low angle view of a young woman exercising
A woman does jumping jacks outdoors. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Your body is divided into top and bottom, right and left, and front and back halves by three specific planes of motion: transverse, sagittal and frontal. Exercises normally consist of movements in more than one plane. Understanding these planes and incorporating exercises for each of them in your regular workouts will help you establish and maintain a balanced fitness plan that promotes muscular balance.

Put It in Neutral

Before you get started with exercises on the different planes of motion, it is important for you to understand the universal starting position, which is called "anatomical neutral" or "anatomical starting position." To assume this position, stand up or lie on your back with your knees straight, your legs together, your toes forward, and your arms by your side with your palms facing forward.

Frontal From the Side

The frontal plane divides your body into front and back halves. However, despite the plane's name, the exercises you perform on the frontal plane consist of side-to-side -- rather than front-and-back -- motion. Movements of abduction and adduction occur on the frontal plane. Side leg lifts and lateral raises are resistance training exercises you can try on the frontal plane. Jumping jacks and side-to-side gallops are examples of cardiovascular exercises on the frontal plane of motion.

Simply Sagittal

The sagittal plane divides your body into right and left halves. Exercises that involve flexion and extension and forward and backward movement happen on the sagittal plane. Biceps curls and squats are both examples of strength training exercises on the sagittal plane. A simple forward or backward step, walking, or running are all cardiovascular exercises that you can try on the sagittal plane of motion.

Transverse With a Twist

The plane that divides your body into top and bottom halves in the transverse plane. When you perform movements of rotation, you are working on the transverse plane of motion. Exercises that involve twisting happen on this plane. Try alternating oblique crunches or alternating cross jabs to include exercises in your routine that require you to work on the transverse plane of motion.

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