When diving into the fitness world, understanding the different types of movements can drastically improve your results. One crucial plane of movement often overlooked is the sagittal plane, which divides the body into left and right.
Incorporating exercises that target this plane can enhance your physique, providing a balanced and effective workout. In this guide, we’ll explore 10 sagittal plane exercises to take your workouts to the next level.
1. Squats: Building Solid Foundations
Considered the king of all exercises, squats predominantly operate in the sagittal plane. Not only do they target major muscle groups, but they also help in building strength and endurance.
The Benefits of Squats: Squats offer a myriad of benefits:
- They engage multiple muscle groups like quads, hamstrings, glutes, and the core.
- They promote fat burning by targeting large muscle groups, leading to increased calorie expenditure.
- Improve balance, posture, and overall functional fitness.
Proper Squat Form: To get the most out of squats:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep the chest up and back neutral.
- Lower your body by bending the knees while pushing your hips back.
- Keep the knees in line with the toes. Avoid letting them cave in.
- Rise back up to the starting position.
2. Lunges: Step Up Your Game
Lunges are dynamic and versatile, targeting the thighs and glutes in the sagittal plane. They can be modified to increase intensity or focus on specific muscles.
Why Lunges Are Essential:
- They improve leg strength and stability.
- Enhance hip flexibility.
- Can be varied (e.g., reverse, side, and jumping lunges) to keep workouts fresh.
- Start with feet together.
- Step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90° angle.
- The back knee should hover above the ground.
- Push off the front foot, returning to the starting position.
3. Deadlifts: Elevate Your Strength
Deadlifts, while intimidating for some, are fundamental in strengthening the posterior chain – predominantly in the sagittal plane.
Deadlifts and Core Strength:
- Deadlifts engage muscles from your legs to your upper back.
- The core activation required in deadlifts improves posture and reduces back pain.
- It’s vital for functional activities like lifting heavy objects.
Deadlift Dos and Don’ts:
- DO maintain a neutral spine throughout the lift.
- DO engage your core and lift with your legs.
- DON’T round your back.
- DON’T lift heavier than your current capability.
4. Jump Rope: Cardio With a Twist
Often considered a child’s pastime, jump roping is a serious cardio workout targeting the sagittal plane and elevating the heart rate.
The Cardio Benefits:
- Jump roping can burn more calories than jogging.
- Enhances coordination and agility.
- Boosts cardiovascular health.
Making the Most of Jump Rope:
- Jump on the balls of your feet.
- Rotate the rope using your wrists, not arms.
- Start slow and gradually increase speed.
5. Planks: Simple Yet Effective
While planks may seem stationary, the sagittal plane stability they provide is unparalleled, focusing intensely on core strength.
Why Planks are Non-Negotiable:
- They build endurance in the core muscles.
- Enhance posture and alignment.
- Aid in reducing lower back pain.
Perfecting the Plank:
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Engage the core, squeezing the glutes and thighs.
- Avoid letting the hips sag or pike.
6. Leg Raises: Targeting the Lower Abs
Lower abs can be tricky to isolate. Leg raises, performed in the sagittal plane, can be the solution for a toned lower belly.
Importance of Lower Ab Exercises:
- They help in achieving a well-rounded core.
- Enhance pelvic stability and reduce back pain.
- Aid in functional movements like lifting and bending.
Mastering Leg Raises:
- Lie flat on the ground with legs extended.
- Keep your hands under your glutes for support.
- Raise your legs until they’re perpendicular to the ground, then lower them without letting them touch the floor.
7. Push-Ups: More Than Just a Chest Workout
Push-ups, a calisthenic staple, provide a full-body workout with a focus on the chest, triceps, and core in the sagittal plane.
The Versatility of Push-Ups:
- They strengthen the upper body and core simultaneously.
- Different hand placements (wide, narrow, staggered) can target different muscles.
- Can be modified for all fitness levels.
Achieving the Perfect Push-Up:
- Start in a plank position.
- Lower your body, keeping elbows close to your body.
- Push through your palms to rise back up.
8. Mountain Climbers: Cardio Meets Strength Training
Mountain climbers are dynamic, blending cardio with strength training, predominantly in the sagittal plane.
Why Include Mountain Climbers:
- They elevate the heart rate, aiding in fat burn.
- Strengthen the core, shoulders, and hip flexors.
- Improve agility and coordination.
Executing Mountain Climbers:
- Start in a plank position.
- Drive one knee towards the chest, then quickly switch legs.
- Keep the core engaged and back flat.
9. Bulgarian Split Squats: One Leg at a Time
Often overshadowed by its two-legged counterparts, the Bulgarian split squat is a powerful lower body exercise that heavily operates in the sagittal plane. By challenging one leg at a time, it emphasizes unilateral strength and balance.
Why Bulgarian Split Squats Stand Out:
- They specifically target the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Improve balance, stability, and single-leg strength.
- Can help correct muscle imbalances between legs.
Getting the Split Squat Right:
- Stand a couple of feet from a bench or platform.
- Extend one leg behind you, resting the top of your foot on the bench.
- Lower into a lunge, ensuring your front knee aligns with your foot.
- Push through the front foot to return to the starting position.
10. Dumbbell Rows: Strengthen That Upper Body
While often associated with the transverse plane, dumbbell rows, when done correctly, engage muscles in the sagittal plane, focusing on the back muscles.
The Upper Body Boost from Dumbbell Rows:
- They target the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius muscles.
- Improve posture and upper body strength.
- Enhance scapular movement and stability.
Perfecting the Dumbbell Row:
- Begin in a staggered stance holding a dumbbell in one hand.
- Hinge at the hips, keeping the back straight.
- Pull the dumbbell towards the hip, squeezing the shoulder blades together.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell, maintaining control.
What are the planes of motion in the body?
The body moves in three primary planes of motion: the sagittal plane, which divides the body into left and right halves and involves forward and backward movements; the coronal (or frontal) plane, which divides the body into front and back halves and involves side-to-side movements; and the transverse plane, which divides the body into top and bottom halves and involves twisting movements.
How can you determine the plane of motion of an exercise?
Every exercise can be related to the movements we do in real life. If an exercise primarily involves flexion and extension joint motions, it is classified in the sagittal plane.
For instance, movements that track along a plate that cuts the body into front/back (sagittal), left/right (frontal), or top/bottom (transverse) halves can help determine the plane of motion.
Is the bicep curl a sagittal plane exercise?
Yes, the bicep curl is a sagittal plane exercise. It involves flexion and extension of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder, staying on track parallel to the sagittal plane.
What are frontal plane exercises?
Frontal plane exercises involve movements that track side-to-side with the frontal plane. Examples include straight-arm lateral raises, lateral leg raises, side shuffle, side lunge, and side bend exercises.
How are inversion and eversion related to the frontal plane?
Inversion and eversion are movements of the foot in the frontal plane. Inversion occurs when the foot swings internally, exposing the sole medially, while eversion occurs when the foot swings to the outside, exposing the sole laterally.
What are transverse plane exercises?
Transverse plane exercises involve movements around an imaginary axis running vertically down through the center of the head through the spine.
Examples include spinal rotation, limb rotation, and exercises like bench press, push-ups, chest and back flys, and seated hip adduction and abduction machines.
Why is three-dimensional movement important?
Improving three-dimensional movement reduces the risk of injury and makes day-to-day functions easier. Activities like loading groceries, playing with kids, and doing yard work become more effortless and enjoyable.
How can one create a 3D training program?
To improve three-dimensional movement, one should choose exercises that move the body through all three planes of motion. Incorporating multiplanar exercises can bring new levels of three-dimensional challenge and help in achieving fitness goals.
Understanding and incorporating sagittal plane exercises can revolutionize your workouts. By integrating these exercises into your routine, you’re ensuring a well-rounded, effective, and balanced approach to fitness. Ready to embrace the sagittal plane? Start with these ten exercises and watch your physique transform!