The world is 3D, so why isn’t your workout? Dave Hunter explains why we need to think more intelligently about our movement and exercise.


The human body is an amazing thing. It learns, it adapts and constantly changes. When it comes to movement, millions of moving parts come together at the same time to carry out even the simplest functions.

If the body is restricted in some way – maybe a muscle or joint lacks strength or flexibility – it will find a way compensate and find the path of least resistance. Another muscle will take over when it needs to, or it will borrow some flexibility from another area to allow you to move. Even the best athletes in the world will compensate sometimes. This difference being that their bodies are so good at hiding them – they make it look effortless.

There are three planes of motion; sagittal (up and down), frontal (left and right) and transverse (rotation) and your body moves in these plains all the time. And I mean all the time.

Try walking forwards, but without rotating you’re hips – you can’t! As soon as one foot is in front of the other, your hips have to have rotated. The same goes with pretty much every movement and every joint. Your body is always moving in these planes.

In the gym, traditional programmes do a lot of sagittal plane movements. We lift things up and put them down again. Many programs will also isolate individual muscle groups. This is great for body building, but can sometimes lack a functional crossover into our everyday life. How often do you bicep curl your shopping bag (okay – maybe that’s a bad example). But then think about how often you twist, turn or reach to the side, and all the time using multiple joints and muscle groups.

To be strong in the positions we need to be strong in, we must adapt our workouts accordingly. Train the body to work effectively in all three planes, so as to avoid other areas of the body having to compensate.

These are my top three exercises and tweaks to add to your routine. Keeping your workouts fresh, dynamic and working in all three plains of motion and see the benefits of three dimensional movement.

Reverse wood chops

You don’t need an axe to get chopping. Take a med ball in both hands and raise from the knee to above the opposite shoulder. The further you reach out to the side, the more rotation you will achieve.

Lateral lunges

Instead of stepping forward or back, go left and right. Add in dumbbells to load up and make it harder. Just remember to keep your hip down and chest upright so you’re not putting excess loading through your lower back.

Press ups

But wait, you do theses already. Try changing your hand positon. Right hand in front, left hand turned out. There are over 50 different hand positons that will work your chest, shoulder, triceps and bicep in different ways. Adding in other small tweaks such as elevating one hand make the possibilities almost endless.

Dave Hunter is a fitness and Crossfit instructor. You can find him at Best’s Bootcamp and WeTRAIN, For more fitness inspiration, follow Dave on Instagram @hunter_movement

Photo credit: Henry Hunt @henryhuntphoto