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Mastering The Frontal Plane For Athleticism And Optimal Fitness

Mastering The Frontal Plane For Athleticism And Optimal Fitness

So the original publishing date of today’s article was on May 4th 2017. I wanted to pull this one out of the archives for today to stress the importance of training in the frontal plane of motion.

It’s very common for many programs to get caught up in training the same movement patterns which tend to be dominated by the sagittal plane of motion. Because of this I thought it was a good time to break out a good reminder for you with this article as to why you should be training in the frontal plane more often. Enjoy the read.

As strength coaches one thing that enables us to advance a trainee, or athlete is being able to identify weaknesses. It’s sort of counterintuitive because even though we’re called “strength coaches” in many cases the ability for us to investigate and identify weaknesses is what makes us successful. It’s sort of like we’re the Sherlock Holmes detectives of the iron game!

The Frontal Plane Of Motion

You are only capable of moving through three different planes of motion. Of those three planes of motion you are looking at the sagittal plane, the frontal plane, and the transverse plane. For the sake of today’s discussion I want to address the frontal plane of motion especially because this tends to be a weakness for many folks in terms of their training.

To understand the frontal plane I want you to imagine standing upright with your hands down by your sides. Now without being gross imagine your body being separated into segments that divides your body into front and rear halves. This line of division is essentially the frontal plane of motion.

I know what you’re thinking…so coach why is this important? Well, the significance of this plane is determined by what movements we perform that would fall in line with the frontal plane. In other words, any movement that you perform that moves parallel to this plane of motion would be considered a frontal plane movement.

Developing this plane is great for helping you to achieve a more well rounded and better functioning body for the purpose of athletically demanding movements, as well as for having a more complete level of fitness! Today I want to look at a simpler approach to progressing your ability and function in the frontal plane. I’ll be introducing a nice little progression of drills to take you from a more baseline start all the way up to a more intense level of training within the frontal plane of motion.

Side Lateral Lunge

For starters, let’s take a look at a basic strength drill that moves us along the frontal plane of motion. Building a basic level of strength is the key to starting the process towards banging out more killer dynamic drills for optimal fitness and performance. Enter the side lunge…

As you can see the side lunge demands a sound level of control and the hip hinges in the in the same way as you would during a squat movement once you take that side step. Including these into your strength program on a regular basis and mastering this movement with your bodyweight can progress you further until you can load yourself either with a weighted vest, or by holding a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells by your side. Start out performing 3 sets of 5 to 7 reps on each side with this drill.

Three Cone Lateral Shuffle

The next logical progression for building on this movement in the frontal plane is by adding the element of speed into the equation. By introducing something as simple as 3 cones we can now work on developing how fast we can move within the frontal plane with the 3 cone lateral shuffle drill.

As you can see the key here is being able to stop and accelerate laterally in this movement. Now you can start to see how this would be the next logical progression from the side lunge. You can also see how the element of speed offers a different type of stress and outcome in terms of moving along the frontal plane.

Start this drill by performing 3 sets of 5 to 7 reps counting a full left to right, or right to left transition as a complete repetition. Prepare to start breathing hard because this drill will challenge your respiration and spike your nervous system in a hurry.

The Two Cone Lateral Bounding Drill

Finally, when looking at third and final phase of building on this progression in the frontal plane of motion you can include a 2 cone lateral bounding drill. Keep in mind that this drill is for more advanced athletes and trainees and should only be performed by first making sure that you are proficient in more intense plyometric bounding and the previous frontal plane drills I’ve outlined here.

Also keep in mind that the purpose of this drill is to build further on developing optimal movement in the frontal plane by introducing the element of power. In the beginning this progression started with a baseline of strength with the lateral lunge, then focused on speed with the 3 cone shuffle, and now with this particular drill we’re focusing on power development with the 2 cone lateral bounding drill.

And there you have it! This is a solid progression for you to build on mastering the frontal plane of motion in 3 different ways. When including this drill you can start out by performing 3 sets of 5 to 7 reps on each side.

In Closing 

The thing is that you can always progress the drill for a greater intensity and outcome. Even after mastering this drill you can continue to intensify the process even further by increasing the jump distance between cones, or by loading with a weighted vest for greater intensity. I guarantee this will transform the way you look, feel, and move.

What moves do you perform in the frontal plane of motion? 

How often do you train the frontal plane of motion? 

Post up and share here in the comments below. 

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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