5 Week Sandbag Workout Program: Week 3 - Planes of Motion
Welcome to the third part of this five-part weekly series on sandbag training. Today I’m going to be discussing the basic biomechanics of sandbag training and further advancing your competency with another three workouts for you to try. Although I briefly touched on the concept of biomechanics in part one of this series, this article will delve deeper into exactly why sandbag training works and how you can maximize your results.
Hold Up, What Are Biomechanics and Why Should I Care?
If you want to be able to critically assess the programming and exercise options available to you, then you need to take an interest in biomechanics. Even a basic understanding of biomechanics will put you head and shoulders above those who blindly pick and choose their exercise options on a whim. Plus, when things go wrong, like picking up an injury, then you’ll be in a far greater position to figure out how to fix it.
Biomechanics is described as the application of mechanics to biological organisms, and the relationship between the two. In this context we are using it to figure out how and why exercises and programs work or don’t work. We want to know how to move more efficiently and more effectively - this is exactly where the value of biomechanics lies. We can use the sandbag to both demonstrate this and also add an extra level of functionality to programs.
Planes Of Motion
The planes of motion might best be described as invisible sheets of glass that your body can pass through. There are three of them, and many movements require that your body move through multiple planes at the same time. A movement in which your body passes through two planes is called multi-planar, and a movement that passes through all three is called tri-planar. Planes of motion are not unique to sandbag training and the theory is applicable to a wide range of training tools and methodologies.
The sagittal plane of motion runs from side-to-side and you pass through it when moving forwards or backwards. Imagine the sheet of glass dissecting your body from shoulder to shoulder. The vast majority of exercises and human movements work in the sagittal plane Examples include walking, swings, deadlifts and sit ups.
The frontal, or coronal, plane of motion runs down the center of your body and you pass through it when moving from side-to-side. Imagine the sheet of glass dissecting your body from your nose to the back of your head. Examples of frontal plane movements include lateral lunges, sidestepping, lateral raises and side bends.
The transverse plane of motion sits through the center of the body and you pass through it when rotating. Imagine the sheet of glass dissecting your body horizontally. Examples of transverse plane movements include wood-chops, round-the-worlds, and T-push ups.
Movement or Stress?
Planes of motion are often confused as only being applicable if a person is physically moving through space. But it’s also important to realize your ability to stop yourself moving through a particular plane of motion is a very important thing.
Standing on one leg is an example of your ability to withstand stress in the frontal plane. This ability is a vital component of sandbag training because the bag does not remain balanced throughout an exercise. While you are fighting to maintain the position of the sandbag you are also effectively stabilizing through multiple planes of motion. In this respect the sandbag forces an element of multi-planar instability into your exercise program, and that’s no bad thing.
Multi-planar stability is also highly correlated with a lower incidence of injury, principally in non-impact injuries. This is primarily due to an improved ability to resist against external stresses and improved joint health and function.
Multi-Planar Sandbag Workouts
The following workouts have been selected to encourage either movement or stability in all three planes of motion. You should also take a look at your current sport (or daily activities that you want to improve) and examine where you might need to develop improved movement and stability. Are there elements of your programming that could do with some fine-tuning?
- 10 x Sandbag shoulder squats (sagittal movement with stress in the frontal/coronal plane)
- 10 x Sandbag lunge and twist (sagittal and transversal movement)
- 10 x Sandbag round-the-worlds (transversal movement with stress in the sagittal and frontal/coronal plane)
Rest for 1 minute and repeat for a total of 4 rounds, switching sides/direction each round.
- 5 x Sandbag get up/windmills on each side (tri-planar)
- 5 x Sandbag single arm/single leg overhead press on each side (sagittal movement with stress in the frontal/coronal plane)
- 5 x Sandbag shoulder lunges (sagittal plane movement with stress in the frontal/coronal plane)
As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes. Rest as needed.
- 25 x Sandbag shoulder-to-shoulder overhead press (sagittal movement with stress in the frontal/coronal and transversal planes)
- 25 x Sandbag bear-hug good mornings (sagittal plane movement with stress in the transversal plane)
- 25 x Sandbag Zercher lateral lunges (frontal/coronal movement with stress in the sagittal plane)
- 25 x Sandbag wood-chops (transversal movement with stress in the frontal/coronal plane)
Complete the workout as quickly as possible.
The sandbag, although unique in its own right, shares a number of characteristics with other odd-shaped objects. Principally, you’ll find that regular sandbag training will improve your ability to move and stabilize in all three planes of motion. This will have a dramatic effect on sporting performance, your ability to perform daily activities, and help you to avoid injury. With an understanding of some simple biomechanical principles you’ll be able to train smart, as well as hard, and make your exercise program even more effective.
Check out the rest of the series:
Anatomy graphic courtesty of Rhetth at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.