Up, Down, Left, Right, Front, Back…

Planning a workout isn’t as easy as it seems sometimes.

You have to take in to account a lot.


When you’re designing a program you will do well to build it around the Planes of Movement.

There are only 3, Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse but can you remember which is which?

Creating a workout based around these fundamental principles will help you create far more effective programs than simply thinking along the lines of “Chest & Tri’s” or “Back & Bi’s”.

If you can’t quite remember what they are here is a refresher for you.

The Sagittal Plane:

This divides the body into left and right.

When we move along this plane, we are using the strength of our muscles to move parts of the body forward or backward. Extension and flexion happen along the sagittal plane. This means most running, biking, rowing, and lifting movements make use of this plane.

For example, in a squat, both hips move from extension into flexion, and back into extension. The hips and knees in particular spend a lot of time in flexion, so mobility work should involve extending both joints.

The Frontal Plane:

The Frontal plane divides the body into front and back.

When we move along this plane, we are moving toward or away from the midline. Adduction and abduction are movements along this plane. Many of our daily movements and exercises involve very little abduction. We tend to stay fairly neatly hugged in toward the middle.

The Transverse Plane

The transverse (or horizontal) plane divides the body into top and bottom, but it is a little less straightforward. Any time we rotate a joint we are moving along the transverse plane. In daily life, this is the action we do least frequently, particularly with the large joints in the hips, shoulders, and spine.

When you begin to think in terms of what planes of movement you’re working it makes creating workouts that stimulate the whole body EQUALLY very easy.

For each horizontal push you must have a horizontal pull. Vertical push? Yep… You need a vertical pull.

You will want to match compound for compound, isolation for isolation. So if you do bench press, either a seated row or bar bell row would be a great opposing movement. While a reverse fly would also work it wouldn’t stimulate the same amount of muscles, nor produce adequate overload.

Balance is the key, yet it’s almost always forgotten.

I personally have always been a fan of having 2 pulling movements for every one pushing movement. It’s rare you see people with an undeveloped anterior chain (mirror muscles).

An example workout I often give is as follows (try and see if you can find what planes are worked):

Day 1:
A1 – DB Incline Press – 5×5
B1 – DB Chest Supported Row – 6×6
C1 – Dip 4×12
C2 – Supinated Chin 4×6-12
D1 – Russian Cable Twist 3x fail

Day 2:
A1 – BB Squat – 8×3
B1 – BB DL – 12×2
C1 – Leg Extension – 3×8
C2 – Leg Curl 3×8
D1 – Tornado Ball Slam (back to the wall, twisting left/right 3x 60 seconds

Day 3:
A1 – Overhead Press – 4×6
B1 – Wide Grip Pull Up – 5×10
C1 – Lateral Raise – 4×12
C2 – Upright Row – 4×12
D1 – Gym Ball Scorpion Kick 3 x 12 each side

Working the varied planes with a balanced mixture of compound/isolation movements will build lots of lean muscle and a balanced physique.

Bye Bye,

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