10 Important Rotational Exercises Every CrossFit Athlete Should Add into their Training

Firstly, we need to understand the 3 planes of motion. 


Think about the exercises you do. Squats, thrusters, deadlifts, clean and jerks, pull-ups, handstand push-ups; in all these movements the weight is transferred up and down along a straight line. All these movements occur along the sagittal plane. The sagittal plane divides the body into two symmetrical halves – left and right.


The plane that divides the body into front and back is called the coronal plane. Movements along this plane are sideways movements, such as lateral Cossack lunges.


The final and most disregarded plane is the transverse plane, which divides the body into top and bottom halves.

We move along this plane when we twist and turn our bodies, like when we look around before crossing the street. Transverse movements are predominant in sports such as tennis, golf, rugby and gymnastics, the movements of crossfit almost exclusively happen along the sagittal plane. Whether your goal is general fitness, functional strength, or athletic achievement, you should train along all planes.

Ignoring the transverse plane means muscles like the abdominis obliquus are neglected. These muscles are part of the core and provide stability, which in turn allows you to generate greater power and forceful movement. Strong oblique muscles also decrease the chance of injury, as they stop the trunk from over rotating.

Here’s a little wod for you to try with movements that will attack the Transverse Plane:

For Time:

  • 2 KB Turkish get ups (alternating)
  • 30 KB twist lunges (alternating)
  • 30 KB Russian twists
  • 4 KB Turkish get ups (alternating)
  • 30 KB twist lunges (alternating)
  • 30 KB Russian twists
  • 6 KB Turkish get ups (alternating)
  • 30 KB twist lunges (alternating)
  • 30 KB Russian twists

25 meter handstand walk

You can use one KB to work through this entire wod. If you have the skill, handstand walking is a great compound exercise to finish with. As your obliques will be pretty taxed, you should feel how they keep you from falling over with each step and movement.

Other exercises you can include to develop strength along the transverse plane are:

  • Woodchopper
  • Landmine oblique twists
  • One arm dumbbell press
  • Windshield wipers

No Kettelbell? Then be inventive!


1 Half Kneeling Landmine Twist

There is a distinct lack of rotational movement in most functional fitness programs. The time has come to change that. Rotate more with this kneeling twist. A landmine is a great tool to take advantage of in order to build some rotational work into your training.


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2 KB Single Leg Crossbody RDL

Our bodies are meant to move in all planes of motion. Life is 3D and therefore we should strengthen our bodies to rise to any challenge that may be presented.
In this movement we see a large contribution from the hamstring, as well as our obliques and the muscles making up our core. It’s the rotational element that really spikes the engagement of these muscle groups and why it is a great functional exercise for many athletes to utilize.


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