Today’s topic is 3D Movement, and how I’ve evolved my training philosophy over the years to incorporate it.
When I first began as a novice trainer, still trying to figure out my ass from my acetabulum, I programmed workouts like most people and many bodybuilders still do, basing it on body part splits (everyone knows this… biceps and back, chest and tris, legs and shoulders, arms and abs, etc.).
Then I started to wise up, and it was in 2006 when my good friend, college rugby teammate, and one of the head nutritionists at Precision Nutrition, Brian St. Pierre introduced me to the concept of pushing and pulling, as his mentor, Eric Cressey, addresses his clients and athletes. “What a novel idea!” I said to myself. Training based on movements that are “functional” and crossover into not only sports, but in everyday life. So I started constructing my workouts based on:
1) upper body horizontal pushing
2) upper body pulling,
3) upper body vertical pushing
4) upper body vertical pulling,
5) lower body pushing
6) lower body pulling.
This worked out great between the summer of my junior and senior year training for rugby, as I was able to increase my squat to a 3rm at 435lbs, and deadlift 3rm at 505. Great! And don’t get me wrong, if you’re trying to get jacked, and put on some appreciable muscle, this works just fine. Here is a sample workout I took from my program in the Summer of ’06 (can’t believe I still have it..):
A1: Front Squat
A2: DB Bench Press
B1: Pull Up
B2: Single Leg RDL
C1: Cable Row
C2: Single Arm DB Overhead Press
Now, as one can plainly see, we cover all 6 motions outlined above, as well as some single limb training to boot. Not that bad! Except for one thing…..
Where are the frontal plane movements? What about the plane of motion that doesn’t get loaded by gravity in upright function, the all important transverse plane? Where’s the 3d Movement? They want to hang out too! and they have every right in the world to feel neglected, because guess what planes of motion are the most neglected in the gym today?
That’s right, 3d Movement! I was introduced to 3d Movement in the next phase of my fitness journey, when I began interning with the University of Texas Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams under head Strength Coach Todd Wright and Assistant Logan Schwartz back in 2008-2010. To this day, Todd regularly presents at the Perform Better Summit, arguably the biggest fitness conference in the world, where a collection of all the “big whigs” in the industry from across the world speak about their respected topics. Logan, plainly speaking, is a wizard of Applied Functional Science, as taught and practiced by the Gray Institute. The simple definition of AFS can be summarized by the notion that it is routed in scientific truths in the convergence of Biological, Physical, and Behavioral sciences – not theory – and that these truths strategically link to the most effective and efficient techniques for the client, patient or athlete.
So, without going into too much technical detail, if we take a look at the “Physical Sciences” bucket, 3D Movement is at the heart of this bucket. I think it would be easiest to understand if I provided an example. Let’s talk about the lunge. Everyone loves lunges right?
Lets take a look at a traditional lunge:
Great exercise, great way to stress sagittal plane leg strength.
Now, lets take a look at a lunge matrix.
As you can see, as oppose to lunging just forward and back like a typical lunge, we employ sagital, frontal, and transverse plane force moments on the kinetic chain when we utilize the lunge matrix. All the same lunging techniques apply:
– keep length in the torso
– land softly on your mid foot, which will help facilitate better, healthier deceleration strategies
– push off through the heel to facilitate more hamstring/glute dominance, or push off the ball of the foot to get more quadriceps/knee dominance out of the movement
Moral of the Story – the sagittal plane is great, but 3d Movement will create more variability in how your muscles load. Every muscle in your body has 3d movement loading capacities, so why not train for more variability? You’re body has over 600 muscles in it, and each are designed to decelerate, control, and accelerate 3d movement.
Move in 3d, move for life.