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September 06, 2022 7 min read

The sagittal plane is an imaginary line that divides your body vertically into left and right sides. There are two more planes – the frontal plane and the transverse plane. They allow lateral or sideways movements and rotational movements respectively.

The frontal plane, also called the coronal plane, divides the body into a back half and front half, while the traverse plane divides it into a top half and bottom half.

Although we use the different planes in our everyday lives, the frontal and traverse planes feature significantly less in our daily activities and exercises. In contrast, any straight forward or backward movements are considered sagittal plane exercises. 

The sagittal plane is the most common plane of movement.

SAGITTAL PLANE EXERCISES AND MOVEMENTS

Along with straight forward and backward movements, Sagittal plane exercises also include up and down movements. The “Big Six Movement Patterns” are the Squat, Hinge, Lunge, Push, Pull and Carry.

All of these movements are sagittal plane exercises, meaning  you are moving in an “up and down” or “forward and backward” motion.

Walking, running, squats, step-ups, bench presses, rows, deadlifts, pull-downs, cycling, etc., are all sagittal plane movements. This explains why we spend most of our day-to-day lives in this plane of motion. Although it is wise to include frontal and transverse plane exercises in workout routines, it’s not a bad thing to program sagittal plane exercises regularly.

Here we will show why most people spend the bulk of their workout time doing exercises in the sagittal plane.

Sagittal plane movements are classified as follows:

FLEXION

A movement that bends ordecreases the angle at a joint.

Steel Supplememnts Flexion Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

Example:The leg curl, also known as the hamstring curl, is an isolation exercise that targets the hamstring muscles. The exercise involves flexing the lower leg against resistance towards the buttocks. There are three types of leg curls. There are seated leg curls, lying leg curls, and standing leg curls, all of which are sagittal plane exercises.

EXTENSION

A movement that extends orincreases the angle of a joint.

Steel Supplements Extension Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

Example: Plank is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining an extended body position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time.

HYPEREXTENSION

A movement that extends the angle at a joint beyond neutral. Hyperextension happens when you straighten a joint and then push it beyond straight.

Steel Supplements Hyperextension Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

Example: The superman stretch requires you to lie on your stomach with stretched arms and legs. Then lift the arms and upper body, as well as the legs and lower body as high as possible, thereby hyperextending in both directions.

DORSIFLEXION

A movement that bends the ankle, moving the top of the foottoward the shin. For example, when walking on heels the ankle is described as being in dorsiflexion.

    Steel Supplements Dorsiflexion Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

    Example: In a seated position, place a suitable weight across your feet and bend your feet up toward your shins.

    PLANTAR FLEXION

     A movement that pushes the foot down andaway from the body, like pointing the toes.

    Steel Supplements Plantar Flexion Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

    Example: It is the movement that allows you to press the gas pedal of your car. It also allows ballet dancers to stand on their toes.

     

    WHICH PART OF THE BODY BENEFITS FROM SAGITTAL PLANE EXERCISES?

    Sagittal plane exercises work the muscles all over your body.

    CARDIO

    We spend much more time moving forward than sideways. The same goes for cardio exercises, which involve whole-body movements in the sagittal plane.

    Examples include walking, running, cycling, and cross-country skiing.

    LOWER BODY AND CORE

    Strengthening the muscles in your lower body and your core mostly involves sagittal plane movements.

    Steel Supplements Lower Body Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

    For example, you move forward when doing forward lunges, and you bend – or flex – the front knee to place your foot in front of you. Returning to the starting position requires you to extend – or straighten – your knee.

    Strengthening exercises for the muscles around the ankle include calf raises. In this exercise, you use the plantar flex movement as you lift your heels and push your toes down, and you dorsiflex the ankle as when you lower your heels and lift your toes toward your shins.

    Other strengthening exercises on the sagittal plane include squats, crunches, back hyperextensions, and knee extensions.

    UPPER BODY

    Many of the upper body strengthening exercises involve movements on the sagittal plane.

    Steel Supplements Upper Body Sagittal Plane Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

    For example, triceps curls and biceps curls involve extending and flexing the elbow.

    Likewise, when you hold dumbbells in your hands and use flexion and extension movements to lift your arm in front of your body to shoulder height, and then return your arm to the starting position.

    STRETCHES

    Sagittal plane stretching exercises include any forward bending stretches.

    Steel Supplements Stretches Sagittal Plane Exercises – Image from Shutterstock

    Bending forward flexes your spine and your hips. You also move in the sagittal plane whenever you bend forward to touch your fingers to your toes while standing or sitting.

    Front splits also happen in the sagittal plane. It uses an extension movement for the hip of the back leg, and the hip of the front leg is flexed.

    THE BEST SAGITTAL PLANE EXERCISES

    A varied workout series and functional training are essential ingredients in preparing the body for multi-directional movement patterns. 

    It involves more than working on a single muscle group, body part, or plane of motion.

    Multi-planar workouts can improve mobility, strength, posture, and fitness, while also optimizing your capacity to move with balance and coordination. However, sagittal plane exercises form an integral part of all workout routines, some of which we’ll describe here.

    FRONT DUMBBELL RAISES

    The target of front dumbbell raises is your front or anterior deltoids.

    Steel Supplements Front Dumbbell Raises – Image from Shutterstock

    It is a popular exercise among bodybuilders for developing their shoulders. Front dumbbell raises are sagittal plane exercises because your arms do not cross the body’s mid-line.

    To perform this movement, start with a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Rest your hands on your upper thighs with your palms turned toward you. Your elbows must be rigid but slightly bent.

    Perform this exercise by raising and lowering both arms at the same time, or you can do it as follows. Raise your left arm up to the height of your shoulder and then lower it to the starting position. Immediately follow that with another rep with the right arm. Continue alternating arms for the duration of your set.

    LEG EXTENSIONS AND LEG CURLS

    You will target your quadriceps when you do leg extensions, and your hamstrings when you do leg curls.

    Steel Supplements Leg Extensions – Image from Shutterstock

    These leg exercises are isolation exercises because they only work a single joint. The only movement is that of the knees moving forward and backward in the sagittal plane. 

    Despite these two exercises targeting different parts of your thigh muscle structure, they are performed similarly. In a seated start position, you will extend your legs forward against the resistance, or bend them down and backward against the resistance for leg curls. Leg extensions and leg curls are strength-training machines found in many gyms. However, they can also be done without machines.

    BARBELL BICEPS CURLS

    For those looking to increase their upper arm sizes, barbell biceps curls are a go-to gym exercise.

    STeel Supplements Barbell Biceps Curls – Image from Shutterstock

     To perform this exercise, use an underhand, shoulder-width grip to grasp a barbell. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms and the bar across your upper thighs. Bend your elbows, curling the weight up to your shoulders. Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat. To maximize the quality of the work your biceps perform, you must keep your upper body steady and your elbows tucked into your sides at all times.

    CRUNCHES

    Even in a lying, or supine position, exercises can be performed in the sagittal plane.

    Steel Supplements Crunches – Image from Shutterstock

    For example, crunches target your abs in your abdomen and serve to flex your spine forward. Neither of which crosses the line of the sagittal plane.

    To perform crunches, your starting position is on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs, across your chest, or on your temples.

    Contract your abs while exhaling, and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold the top position for a second and then lower your upper body back to the floor. If you want a greater abdominal challenge, use a stability ball to perform the crunches.

    SQUATS

    Squats aredynamic strength training exercises that require several muscles in your upper and lower body to work together simultaneously.

    Steel Supplements Back Squats – Image from Shutterstock

    Squats form part of just about every exercise routine. They occur in the sagittal plane and use both flexion and extension movements, using the joints of the ankles, knees, and hips. When you do a squat, everything above your waist is stable while everything below is in motion. You perform a flexion movement when you lower yourself to the ground, and an extension movement when you stand back up.

    When you flex and extend your lower extremities, your knees track parallel to the imaginary sagittal plate that cuts the body into left and right halves.

    Furthermore, the hips move back and down, also staying in line with the track of the sagittal plane.

    There is no intentional left or right movement during the  traditional squat exercise. Therefore, the back squat can be classified as a sagittal plane exercise. The various forms of squats are some of the most efficient sagittal plane exercises there are.

    LUNGES

    There are about a dozen different lunges, each working a lot of muscle groups in the lower body. 

    Steel Supplements Lunges – Image from Shutterstock

    The range of motion makes them a good exercise for toning your hips, glutes (butt), and thighs. They are all sagittal plane exercises; each one works the muscles a little differently, and you can change them up to keep your workout fresh.

    The basic version requires you to stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Step forward with both knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Shift forward onto the lead leg. Push off on both legs and step through, lifting your back leg and bringing it forward so your rear foot lands ahead of you in a lunge position. You can add extra muscle work by holding a medicine ball in front, with your arms outstretched.

    CONCLUSION

    As mentioned, many of the movements and muscles discussed here help power us through daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, bending, or carrying heavy loads. They are arguably going to be responsible for most muscle growth in your workout routines. However, we should not ignore the side-to-side movements or inside-outside twisting and rotation motions that take place in our day-to-day life, in any given sport, and in optimizing safety and limiting the risk of injury in workout routines.

    Adduction and abduction movements in the frontal planes, like lateral raises and side lunges (lateral lunges), and jumping jacks are also included in most training programs.

    REMINDER

    Never ignore the importance of warming up before your workout routine. A significant percentage of muscle injuries happen because they were not warmed up.

    On a final note– remember to replenish muscle glycogen and electrolytes depleted from intense bursts of energy during your training. 

    HyperAde is a fast-absorbing non-stimulant electrolyte glycogen supplement that will quickly  replenish carbs, electrolytes, and amino acids while improving endurance.