Tri-Planar Movement Training

Tri-Planar Movement Training

Training like a bodybuilder and training like an athlete are not the same.

Sure, there is overlap in certain areas.   Getting stronger is valuable for both groups, and athletes want to build muscle to some degree just like bodybuilders (how much is dependent on your sport, position, and current physical condition).

Even certain exercises work well for both, with squatting, pressing and deadlifting movements being by far the most common.

But the similarities end there.

Velocity-based training, minimizing isolation movements, set and rep schemes, and the variety of exercises needed to excel is very different for a bodybuilder than it is for a serious athlete.  

And one of the greatest differences is the need for athletes to train in all three planes of motion.

Bodybuilding exercises definitely nail down the linear movement!  Presses, rows, curls, lunges, squats, they all involve moving in a forward/back or up/down fashion.   This is simple, it builds strength, and is necessary for both groups.

But what about lateral (to the side) movement?   Shuffling, lateral band walks, lateral jump drills, lateral lunges...these are not part of the bodybuilding world but are critical to athletic success.  

Think of a baseball pitcher or any thrower who starts the movement by pushing in a lateral direction.   Same for the baseball and softball hitter, pushing off their back leg.  

How about hockey players?  The skating stride has a lateral component to it.   Same for any sport where you make a sharp cut or shuffle. There is a lot of lateral movement ingrained in sports.

All these athletic movements are powered by muscles that are oriented to best help you move laterally.   And they do not get worked as well during linear training drills (they generally act more as stabilizers).

Then there is rotational movement.

Rotational power plays a significant role in the success of athletes in:

  • Ice Hockey
  • Field Hockey
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse
  • Wrestling
  • Soccer
  • Javelin/Shot Put/Discus Throwing

Being stable and powerful in rotational movements leads to better shooting, throwing, kicking....just about every athletic movement besides vertical jumping.   It would stand to reason that kids playing any sport on this list should spend some of their workout time improving their stability and explosiveness in rotational movements.

Creating rotational core stability and executing velocity-based rotational drills can greatly impact an athlete's success in any sport on that list, especially so for younger kids who would gain a coordination benefit from them as well.

Tri-planar training is likely not being developed by athletes who follow old-style bodybuilding programs, or even new-age high intensity programs.   Yet by changing the plane of motion in which you must demonstrate stability, strength and power, your body will change too, and develop in ways that more closely resemble the way athletes actually move in their sport.


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