How Crossfitters Neglect a Vital Functional Movement Plane


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 lunges.

The functional movement planesSource: Machine Design
The functional movement planes


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

Check out Rich Froning destroying this 100m 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!

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