With the myriad of different fitness training modes and methodologies available, it can be confusing trying to figure out what is right for you and your goals. But, examining the concept of multi-planar movement is a fantastic starting point that will allow you to develop a functional strength training program that is supportive and effective.

What is Multi-Planar Movement?

It refers to the three primary planes of motion in which the body can move. These are:

  • Sagittal – forwards and backwards
  • Frontal – side-to-side
  • Transversal – rotationally

Exercises and movement in general, can then be classed as multi-planar if they occur through 2 or more planes of motion.

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#1 – It helps to create balance

Whether multi-planar movement is a key characteristic of your training program, or simply something that you consider as part of the bigger picture, it forces you to take a greater accountability for your overall physicality.
Regardless of what some may lead you to believe, there is more to fitness than simply “doing the work”. True champions in any discipline realize that the journey towards greatness can be somewhat oblique. By examining the demands of each of your exercises and activities you can better adapt your training program to meet them.

Many traditional gym-based exercises occur in a single plane of motion and this can create issues when the body is required to perform in multiple planes. A few simple adjustments to include forwards and backwards, side-to-side, and rotational movement in your program can do wonders for building balance in both physique and function.

#2 – It creates better athletes

Fostering an ability to work effectively in multiple planes of motion is a valuable trait that transfers into a specific sport as CrossFit. A look at some common sports like Football, Baseball and Basketball and it’s not difficult to see that multi-planar movement patterns are in place in all of them. A training program that recognizes this and appropriately meets the demands of your chosen activity is always going to trump any cookie-cutter option.

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#3 – It helps to prevent injury

While injury is a complex issue, there is no denying the fact that a certain level of strength, flexibility and mobility can help to avoid it. Plus, the accompanying attention to detail that your programming will now contain will get you thinking differently about how you can stay injury-free.
It’s also very important to think of the concept of multi-planar movement as both stress and movement. You could argue that resistance to injury might be increased by an individual’s ability to withstand forces that are trying to move them in one of the three planes of motion. Consider the weightlifter pressing a barbell overhead. They absolutely must resist side-to-side (Frontal) and rotational (Transverse) movement for the lift to be successful.
If competent movement through all three planes of motion is important, then the ability to resist movement in all three planes of motion is vital.

#4 – It widens your skill tree

Hard and intelligent work is at the very foundation of improving your physical fitness. Having numerous options that allow you to continue making progress is a fantastic weapon in your arsenal and will allow you to stay fit for life. While there are many great options for building the base of your fitness program, you can use multi-planar movement theory to make that program easier or harder, more specific to the overall goals, or simply add options for progression.

#5 – It’s fun!

When you look at how people tend to naturally move it’s typically multi-planar. Children will climb, clamber, jump, and crawl when left to their own devices. These movements are all multi-planar. Compare those activities with common adult activities, like driving or sitting at a desk and you can see the differences. We need stimuli under all aspects of the exercises to report in our sport.
Your body wants to move in multiple planes. Isn’t it time you let it?

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