The 3 Planes of Motion in Fitness + Exercise Examples

The 3 Planes of Motion in Fitness + Exercise Examples

Your body moves in three dimensions. If it didn't, life would be pretty boring. 

The three dimensions are also referred to as planes of motion. To create effective exercise programs, you have to understand these three planes. So with that in mind, here are the three planes of motion and how to design exercise programs that incorporate them.

The 3 Planes of Motion in Fitness:

There are three planes of motion: the sagittal, the frontal, and the transverse. These three planes include all the exercises you perform in the gym.

The Sagittal Plane:

The sagittal plane is an imaginary line that runs through the middle of the body and divides the body into the left and the right side. It is also the plane that most exercises take place in, including squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, and pull-ups.

Sagittal Plane Exercises:

The Frontal Plane:

The frontal plane is an imaginary line that goes through the middle of the body sideways and divides the body into the front and back, or the anterior and the posterior side. Lateral movements take place in this plane and are usually accessory or warm-up movements. This plane includes arm raises, leg raises, and side shuffles. 

Frontal Plane Exercises:

The Transverse Plane

The transverse plane divides the body into superior and inferior, or top and bottom planes. It runs perpendicular to both the frontal and sagittal plane.

This plane is responsible for rotation movements and exercises. Typically, these exercises are accessory movements that work the glutes and abdominal muscles.

Transverse Plane Exercises:

How to Incorporate the Three Planes of Motion into an Exercise Program

To incorporate the three planes of motion into an exercise program, first conduct an assessment of you or your client’s capabilities.

Ability level, exercise history, and goals dictate what the training program will include. Learn our method of assessment for free on LearnRx.

With the assessment data accounted for, it’s time to create a training program. 

The majority of exercises in the program will take place in the sagittal plane. If appropriate, use movements from the transverse plane as an accessory, warm-ups, and activation exercises. Finally, frontal plane exercises can be used for warm-ups and as accessory movements at the end of a program.

Sample Training Program


  • Banded Lateral Walks, 25m x 3 sets (Frontal Plane)
  • Side Plank Rotations 8-10 per side x 3 sets (Transverse Plane)

A1) Barbell Front Rack Lunge @20X0, 10-12 reps per leg x 3 sets; rest 90 seconds (Sagittal Plane)

A2) Bench Press @3131, 10-12 reps x 3 sets; rest 90 seconds (Sagittal Plane)

A3) Seated Cable Row @ 2121; 10-12 reps x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds (Sagittal Plane)

B1) Cable Hip Abduction @ 2121, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 1 minutes  (Frontal Plane)

B2) Pallof Press @2121, 8-10 reps per side x 3 sets; rest 1 minute (Transverse Plane)

The Planes of Motion and Fitness

It’s important to understand the planes of motion.

But this is just one small detail of writing workouts. To create quality exercise programs it is far more important to understand the principles of exercise progression and how to assess ability levels. 

Get started with our free coaching course on LearnRx and learn how to create exercise programs that get results today.



 Kinetic Anatomy With Web
Resource—3rd Edition
. Human Kinetics. 2012.
pp. 31–. 
ISBN 978-1-4504-3391-4.


Fitness Assessments for New Clients