This Section was initially titled Develop the Stabilisers, but this didn't sit right with me I imagine your wondering why it seems like a pretty good title. My problem is there is no such thing as a stabilisers muscles as in there is no muscles that are just responsible for stabilisation. Muscles have different functions depending on the movement or series of movements that we demand of them. For example, during the throwing of a ball the abdominals work to stabilise the trunk for maximum power transfer, but during an abdominal crunch, they now become the prime movers. So when we talk about developing the stabilisers what we really mean is ensuring an equal development in all movement planes to ensure that muscles are balanced. Training in all movement planes should ensure that all muscles are developed equally meaning that regardless of what the muscle is called to do during the movement it is sufficiently strong enough to perform its duties.
Being overly specific can leave you with muscle imbalances and injuries later down the line. Specificity is the number one training principle a bit like energy balance being the number one nutrition principle, want to get better at squats then you need to squat, want to improve your golf swing then guess what you're going to need to practice it. The problem comes from when the training is too specific for too long muscles that act in opposition or as stabilisers do not develop as well, leaving them weaker and susceptible to injury. Now when and how to implement this is more the concern of the periodisation of the training year, and that's well another entire section ( We will cover this but all in due course my friend I can only type so fast )
So let's get stuck right into the types of movement planes there are and some examples of which exercises fall into them.
There are Three planes of Movement.
Sagittal - This plane passes through the body front to back, dividing the body into left and right. Movements include forwards and backwards type movements sit-ups, bicep curls, squats etc.
Frontal - This plane divides into front and back. Movements in this plane are sideways movements such as lateral raises or jumping jacks etc.
Transverse - This plane divides the body into top and bottom. Movements in this plane are rotational type movements like swinging a golf club.
Movement patterns are a way of grouping exercises based on the movement direction of the exercise, the primary joint lever or the joint that's deemed to experience the most significant relative forces.
Here are how we group these exercises.
- Hip Hinge
- Hip Dominant
- Knee Dominant
- Vertical Push
- Vertical Pull
- Horizontal Push
- Horizontal Pull
- Rotational + Diagonal
- Anti - Rotation
- Anti - Flexion
- Anti - Extension
- Anti - Lateral Flexion.
You'll notice that those last four is what made up our core strength post so instead of just repeating those checkout Law thee Core strength for more information on these exercises. We will take a look at the rest of the categories and the exercises which fall within them.
Hip Hinge ( Saggital Plane + Frontal Plane )
Movements in this category involve exercises where the primary action consists of hinging at the hips with little to no Knee movement.
- RDL ( all variations )
- Kettlebell Swing ( Hardstyle )
- Reverse Hypers
- 45 Degree Back extension
Hip Dominant ( Saggital Plane + Frontal Plane )
Movements in this category involve the primary action to engage the hips but in instances where the movement isn't reflective of a real hip hinging movement.
- Glute Bridges ( single and bilateral variations )
- Leg press ( feet placed high on the platform )
- Low bar Box Squat
- High box step ups
Knee Dominant ( Saggital Plane + Frontal Plane )
Movements in this category involve the knee being the dominant lever during the exercise.
- Front Squat
- True Olympic weightlifting style back squat ( although all squats are a bit of a misnomer as they are all hip and knee but for the sake of categorising them.
- Low box step ups
- Leg Press ( with feet closer to the bottom of the platform )
Vertical Push ( Saggital Plane + Frontal Plane )
Movements in this category include all the exercises which involve you pressing something over your head
- Push Press
- Military Press ( Seated + Standing )
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press ( Single + bilateral: Seated + Standing )
- Log Press
- Handstand push-ups
Vertical Pull ( Saggital Plane + Frontal Plane + Transverse Plane )
Movements in this category are the opposite to the previous category. Instead of pressing things overhead you either pull something above you towards your or you pull your self towards it.
- Lat pulldowns ( All variations )
- Pull-ups ( All Variations )
Horizontal Push ( Saggital Plane + Transverse Plane )
Movements in this category involve pressing a weight straight out in front of you.
- Bench press ( All Variations )
- Dumbbell Bench press ( All Variations )
- Chest Press Machine
Horizontal Pull ( Saggital Plane + Transverse plane )
Movements in this category are the opposite of the previous category and involve pulling a wight towards the torso.
- Inverted Row
- Seal Row
- Barbell Row
- Dumbbell Row
- Face Pulls
- T Bar Rows
- Low Row Cable Machine
Rotational + Diagonal ( Transverse plane )
Movements in this category involve rotation. Think twisting or passing a rugby ball.
- Cable Rotations
- Lateral Med Ball Throw
How Balanced is your training program? Take all of the exercises that you do over a given period, i.e. a month and see which movement patterns they fall into. Look for potential issues by identifying movement patterns which are lacking in your training program and try adding some to create more balance.
The best time to develop equal strength in all movement planes is during the early stage of training or during GPP/Anatomical Adaption blocks for more advanced athletes/Lifters. So planning periods of more general training can help more advance athletes keep healthy.