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3 planes of movement

Fitness Facts: The 3 Planes of Movement

June 24, 20242 min read

Here’s a common exercise question, followed by a helpful explanation.

“Why do you sometimes have us twist our bodies while we’re also moving forward? Or lift our arms in front while lunging to the side?”

You see, fitness isn’t just about doing one thing at a time, like lifting a weight now and then running ahead in a straight line later.,

It’s about understanding how your body moves to improve and protect it.

So, rather than think about moving just one way at a time, pay attention to how you actually move. Sometimes straight ahead, sometimes side to side… sometimes twisting, looking back… and usually combining more than one of these kinds of movements without realizing it.

Your body is amazing! It wants to move. And it wants to move in all directions all the time. That’s a key component of functional fitness, the three planes of movement in the gym and in life.

First, think about how you move frontward and backward or up and down in a straight line – like walking or running. That’s one plane of movement.

To strengthen your abilities in this plane, common exercises include squats, which require moving up and down and engaging leg muscles and the core; and lunges, which also develop balance and coordination.

Next, notice side-to-side movements, like the way you move at the baseline playing tennis or stepping over something in your path.

Exercises here include lateral lunges, when you step to the side and target the inner and outer thighs, glutes and hips; and jumping jacks, which use multiple muscle groups.

Finally, notice how you rotate (or, maybe, how you DON’T rotate as well as you’d like). Can you turn around easily? Put away groceries – or swing a bat or golf club?

Exercises include Russian twists, core exercises that involve rotating your torso from side to side to engage the oblique muscles; and cable woodchops, which mimic chopping wood to strengthen obliques, shoulders and hips.

Add Them Together

Now, here’s where it gets really great. A solid fitness routine will incorporate multi-planar movements, which go through at least two planes of movement. Think about bending down to scoop up a toddler or lunging to make a tennis shot.

A common example of a multi-planar exercise is the lunge with a twist. You start at a standing position, step forward to perform a lunge, and twist your body in one direction at the bottom; then twist back to center and press up to the starting position.

This is a more natural way to move, like you do when shopping, gardening, or playing Pickleball. You’re this way, that way, and all around. And by working on your strength, stamina and agility with us regularly, you’ll improve your functional fitness, muscle development, balance, and more.

So, let’s mix it up! We are here to help in any way you need – forward/back, side to side, and rotational.

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