I’m pretty set in my ways when it comes to working out.
“If you want to see long-term, lasting results and you want to workout in the safest, most efficient way, Compound Movements are the way to go! These include Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead or Bench Press, and plank variations.”
However, I won’t lie and say this doesn’t get boring. You will eventually want to play around with other movements so that you aren’t only working in one plane of motion – most of these compound movements take place in the Sagittal Plane. This is probably the most familiar plane of motion for most people because many of our typical day-to-day activities happen within arms reach in front of us.
I’m going to give you some ideas for how you can move in all planes of motion in order to make sure you are keeping your whole body mobile. These exercises are not meant to build muscle, rather they make you more resilient in a larger variety of planes of motion and ranges of motion. This is a great way to prevent injury, build up stamina, and experiment with something new without too much fatigue.
These 3 planes of movement also prepare your body for daily life, for sports, and they add variety so they are super versatile! Don’t forget: you don’t even need a lot of equipment to get started.
Here are some exercises I think are overrated or underrated, but if executed properly, can burn calories, increase range of motion, and lead to a healthier and happier life!
Burpees – Sagittal Plane
We’re going right in with the one people hate most! But for those who hate them, I’d like to ask why?!
Burpees tend to be a ballistic movement that requires coordination, speed, and mobility, but it can be so much more than that. Most of the time, people are simply performing this exercise as a finisher to their workout, which means they’re already performing this exercise pre-fatigued.
Play around with how you perform this exercise in order to get the most out of this compound movement.
This leads me to a video made by one of my fitness idols, Jordan Syatt. He made a video about how to properly perform a burpee. Although there is no right or wrong way, there certainly is a way to get injured more easily AND a way to perform this efficiently.
To sum up, try to perform the burpee in broken up movements: a really good Squat + a really good Push-up.
Sure, you can add a jump if you want, but it isn’t really necessary.
Plank Sliders – Sagittal, Frontal, Transverse
As if the plank wasn’t hard enough, now we’re adding an extra “twist”.
Planks can be performed through all three planes of motion.
The plank is typically performed as an Isometric exercise, meaning you hold it for a certain amount of time. In these three examples demonstrated by John Stolz, you’ll see that planks can be dynamic and don’t need to be held to be difficult. This means you get a bit more bang for your buck due to the increased muscle activation, making this a great warm-up for a workout!
Here are the examples if you’d like to go take a look and find out how John incorporated the Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse Plane in his planks.
Keep in mind that wearing the band between his forearms is completely voluntary. It can help increase resistance in order to activate the rotator cuff, lats, serratus anterior, and pecs, but it is in no way necessary if you’re starting to test out dynamic planks!
I personally like to play with twists, especially from a side plank. Play around with switching from side to side, moving the top leg forward and back to test your balance, or sweeping the top arm under your body for some trunk twisting!
Finally, my favorite is placing a slider under your foot to slide your feet out as far as possible to the sides, into a mountain climber, or to sweep the foot across to the opposite corner. Below I’ve demonstrated all 3 in my small space by using socks on my wood floors! A small towel would work as well, and cleans your floors in no time!
Lunges – Sagittal, Frontal, Transverse
This is another exercise that I hear complaints about often, especially when it comes to knees.
I get it! If you’re experiencing knee pain, this one does tend to be exponentially harder.
Lunges can be performed in all 3 planes of motion, however, I don’t often see much variety from gym-goers.
There are so many different variations that can be gentle on the knees but also challenge your balance, increase range of motion, and create more play in your workout!
Forward and reverse lunges travel through the Sagittal plane.
Side lunges or Cossack squats travel through the Frontal plane.
But these are my favorite: Transverse/Curtsey Lunges! They work your Glutes and Hips and require no equipment. They introduce more rotational force in the knee, so if you have knee issues, do not attempt these until you feel comfortable. Remember, if you feel pain, this is not normal and needs to be addressed before moving forward.
I highly recommend following or checking out The Prehab Guys because they have tons of preventative rehab exercises available on their website, including a page that talks about all of the different lunge variations you could try!
Some of these are killer but in a good way!
I only mentioned 3 different movements in this article, but there are so many more! Think of the things that we do in everyday life that require all 3 planes of motion, including cleaning your house, playing with your kids, looking behind you to turn a doorknob, lifting a heavy grocery bag, walking away from your car, and more.
If you are moving from one place to the other or can turn your body using your spine (neck, too!), you are constantly using these 3 planes of motion throughout the day. Why wouldn’t you want to make your body stronger in order to avoid injury? The worst thing would be to pull a muscle from an unexpected sneeze or cough! So take some of these exercises and give them a go!
The best thing is that if you give these a try, you’re still doing a variation of a compound movement, so you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck, even if you aren’t using any weights.
If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section and I’ll be sure to reply. If you have tried any of these exercises or other movements I didn’t mention, let us know in the comment section so we can add those to the list!
Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness are not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management.
When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as hiking, photography, listening to podcasts, or playing video games. She is constantly working toward finding natural solutions to live a balanced lifestyle, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.