Runners and triathletes train their bodies with very specific, highly repetitive movement patterns that can lead to muscular imbalance causing injury, but tri plane training balances the body. Tri plane exercises are an essential training method for prevention of injury and performance in running and triathlons.
Throughout my career as a personal trainer, I have attended one of the most renowned fitness conference called IDEA World and at the first convention I went to there was a workshop on tri plane exercises. At the time, it was revolutionary because up until then, all the professional training they gave personal trainers for exercise program design was muscle based not movement based. In fact a lot of the exercises on machines and land that people were using were mainly only in one plane of motion.
Here’s where you get to learn a little bit about how our body moves and why working the body through all three planes of motion is essential. First off, if you are a runner or triathlete, then with the sports of running and cycling you train your body in what is called the Sagital Plane. The Sagital plane is when we move our body or limbs in a forward or backward position. Then there is the Transverse plane of movement which includes rotation of the body and triathletes would use this plane when swimming. Lastly, the third plane of movement our body uses, is called the Frontal plane which is lateral movements. Neither runners or triathletes use the frontal plane.
The poor frontal plane movements are completely neglected for runners and triathletes! If you are a runner, you are only training your body in the Sagital plane and triathletes are predominantly sagital plane dominant with some transverse plane movements when they swim. This is super important for runners and triathletes to understand because when we only train our body in one or two planes of movement, it causes muscular imbalance which can lead to injury.
Why Runners and Triathletes need Tri Plane Exercises
By this point you may be thinking you have never heard about this tri plane exercise training philosophy before so it must not be that important, but I assure you this very method is key to:
- Preventing injuries
- Maintaining muscular balance
- Increasing Performance
The number one reason why you as a runner or triathlete need tri plane exercises in your training program is to ensure muscular balance which prevents injuries. You see, I cannot tell you how many runners reach out to me only once it is too late when they have an injury and we are now treating the muscular imbalance so we can get them back to running.
Frontal plane exercises, those that work the body in the lateral movement patterns, are extremely important to include in your weekly exercise training program if you are a runner or triathlete.
Ironically, even though triathletes train the transverse plane when they swim, those that also include rotational exercises into their weekly training program, increase their power and performance as a swimmer.
Runners also benefit from rotational exercises because transverse plane exercises do the following for them:
- Strengthens Core
- Increases Range of Motion which Impacts Power
- Ensures Muscular Balance for every day Function.
How to Include Tri Plane Exercises Easily into Your Weekly Training Program
Now you have learned what tri plane exercises are and why they are important for runners and triathletes so now I am going to share with you how to put tri plane exercises in your weekly training. Brace yourself because it means you will have to do specific exercises separate from when you are running, biking, or swimming. However, it does not need to take a long time and you do not need to go into a gym if you rather not as a lot of these exercises can be done at home or outside with a few exercise toys, as I like to call them.
- Choose at least two Frontal or Lateral Plane Strength Exercises
- Decide on two Transverse Plane Strength Exercises
- Check the exercises you choose are Functional
- Select some Tri Plane Stretches or Dynamic Range of Motion Exercises
- Decide when you will do these two times a week (do on existing training day or other)
- Choose location and get exercise equipment if needed for added resistance/power
To give you a jump start on your tri plane exercise training program, I will share a few here that are great for both runners and triathletes. If you are not running or doing triathlons, these tri plane exercises are still excellent to include in your weekly exercise regimen.
Tri Plane Exercises for Runners and Triathletes
Lateral Lunge with Rotation
Side Plank with Side Leg Raise
Stationary or Walking Lunges with Wood Chopper
Skier Jumps Side to Side
1 Leg Balance with Opposite Leg Arc Across Front of Body
1 Leg Balance with Air Plane Arms Extended Straight Rotate Torso Hands to Sky
The above exercises give you some examples of tri plane movements that will provide muscular balance, strength, core stability, power, increased performance, and most importantly, injury prevention. Training your body with tri plane exercises prevents injury so you do not have to stop running or training for your triathlons.
Give these a try for 4-6 weeks and watch how your body feels, becomes stronger, more balanced, how it performs, and if some of those tight aches and pains go away.
If you want a tri plane exercise program or are a runner or triathlete who needs a strength and core exercise program to balance your body, I provide personal training and tri plane exercise programs in North and West Vancouver, B.C.
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If you enjoyed this article, read more from Jody Kennett: Spring Outdoor Core Stability & Mobility Exercises