When we are kids, it seems like we can put our bodies through the ringer. We can run and jump at will. We can even fall and get back up more often and even quicker. We were truly blessed with some amazing vehicles to get us around with. But as the years go by and our bodies age, it takes more work and effort to keep our vehicles moving and functioning correctly.
When it comes to the norm in the gym, we all for the most part go in and workout the same. We train our arms, chest, back, shoulders, sometimes our legs if we feel spunky, oh and we do our core if there is time. Training almost becomes more “show” than “go”. As we age and the “show” gets a little harder to keep up, we are reminded how we should have focused a little more on the “go” as well.
From an exercise and motion standpoint, we can break the body’s planes of motion into three groups: sagittal, frontal, and transverse. These planes cover the different ways our bodies move in life and in the gym. We can look at these planes of motion in how our bodies move parallel to an imaginary line. Sagittal plane of motion is when the body moves parallel to an imaginary line that separates the body between left and right calves. An example would be doing jumping jacks. Frontal plane of motion is when the body moves parallel to an imaginary line that separates the body between front and back halves. An example would be doing lunges. Transverse plane of motion is when the body moves parallel to an imaginary line separating the body from top and bottom at the midline. An example would be twisting core movements.
We tend to focus a lot on the frontal and sagittal planes of motion when we train. The muscles and areas covered in this group tend to be the “show muscles”. They give off a perception of health, being fit, strong and visually appealing. But remember, we have to look at the “go” of our bodies as well, especially as we age.
Let us look at our bodies like a home. We can put the nicest roof, siding, windows, doors, and paint it the prettiest color. This is like when we train the frontal and sagittal planes. Everything is out in the open and seen by all. We may even give the perception that our “house” is of high value. But what if this beautiful house was built on a soft, unbalanced foundation? That foundation is the transverse plane, or your core. All the pretty things you are showing to the world eventually would start to fall apart, show imbalances, and not be too sturdy or strong. This is how the body reacts when we neglect our transverse plane.
By neglecting one plane in general, you will have imbalances, obviously. But neglecting the foundation of one’s body (core) which is trained through transverse motion training, you are hurting the overall structure and balance of the body. Core strength allows the other planes of motion to be more balanced and stronger. A muscle that comes to mind when training in the transverse plane is the transversus abdominis. The transverse abdominis helps with the breathing process by assisting in exhalation and compressing the internal organs. However, its main function is to activate the core musculature and stabilize the pelvis and low back prior to movement of the body. This muscle is imperative to train for mother’s trying to get their core strength back or people who have struggled with weight and back issues.
Effective movements for transverse abdominis training are:
- Abdomen Hallowing
- Supine Leg Extensions
- Glute Bridge
- Quadruped Lifts
- Russian Twists
If you look at the movements listed above, you will see that a few them can fit into the category of working in planes of motion other than transverse. But these movements will help build balance and strength in all your other lifts and movements in the planes of motion.
So, the next time you hit the gym, think of your body as a home. Where do you start? The foundation is a good suggestion. You will see most people putting up the shutters, siding, roof, and windows first. By focusing on the foundation of your body, in the long run, your “show” will last longer because you put emphasis on the “go” or your body. Better workouts. Better strength. Better balance.
Go out and lay down that foundation.