The Steel Mace is a great tool for training in the transverse plane of motion. Consistent training in the transverse plane will increase your core strength and stability, balance and coordination, and rotational power (we're talking drive through the hips, knockout power!).
However, many people neglect transverse plane movements, a.k.a. rotational and anti-rotational training. They aren't even aware they are missing this key component. A component that will improve the way they perform during physical activity. A component that comprises of one-third of the way we move...
If you aren't familiar or need a refresher, there are 3 planes of motion - Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse.
Sagittal Plane: This plane divides the body into right and left sides. Movements in the sagittal plane are flexion and extension, meaning forward and backward or up and down i.e. bicep curl and squats.
Frontal Plane - This plane divides the body into front and back sides. Movements in the frontal plane are abduction and adduction. Any lateral (side) movement i.e. dumbbell lateral raises and lateral lunges.
Transverse Plane - This plane divides the body into top and bottom halves. Movements in the transverse plane are rotational, both internal and external rotation. i.e. horizontal wood chop, medicine ball throws.
All 3 planes of motion are important and deserve respect. The reason being…we naturally move in these 3 planes!
Yet, the Transverse Plane is so often neglected. Most of our workouts include Sagittal Plane movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press) with a few movements in the Frontal Plane (side lunges, lateral raises).
But what about the Transverse Plane?
Transverse Plane = Rotational Movements
Rotational and anti-rotational exercises are both equally necessary. Let's quickly go over the two.
Rotational exercises require you to twist through a rotational pattern. Your internal and external obliques, serratus, and transverse abdominis are all engaged when you twist your torso explosively in one direction.
These exercises relate perfectly to movements used in sports and everyday life. Training for core rotational strength will allow your body to move fluidly with greater ease while increasing the power and explosiveness of the movements and decreasing the risk of injury.
Create stability through the core without moving at the spine.
Think of anti-rotation exercises as a force being delivered that is trying to cause trunk rotation, and your duty is to prevent that rotation from occurring. That is the true function of the rotary muscles of the core – stability, and prevention of rotation.
Rotational training and anti-rotational training go hand in hand - Think of it this way, you need rotational strength and power to punch someone hard enough to knock them down, and you also need stability so once you connect you can resist the force and keep balanced.
Functional training programs place greater emphasis on training in the transverse plane. Multitudes of people are expanding their training regimens to include more transverse plane work. This is in part due to the easy access and insight (thanks to Instagram) into how professional trainers and athletes exercise.
Athletes train in the transverse plane as it correlates to an improved performance in their respective sports. i.e. swinging power for golfers, punching power for boxers, balance and stability for football players.
The same benefits that athletes get from transverse training will be useful to the average joe in his daily life, whether that's for labor work or lifting at the gym.
Transverse Plane Movements: Understanding Anti-Rotational Movements
Do not confuse anti-rotational movements with anti-lateral movements. A lot of people think they are performing anti-rotational movements when they are holding a weight offset while they are in an upright position. This isn't anti-rotational, this is anti-lateral. To make it anti-rotational, you need to be fighting a force that is trying to make you rotate, not lean. A simple way to turn these offset movements that are actually anti-lateral into anti-rotational is to put yourself in a hinge position, that way you are actually resisting a force to rotate. So, the simplest way to understand anti-rotational movements is to think about it in terms of "is this movement trying to force me to rotate or is it trying to force me to lean to the side?" Be mindful and ask yourself that question if you have any doubts with the movement you are working on.
Since you are still reading thus far. And you probably like, have, or are intrigued by the steel mace, then you may have already got the word on how the steel mace smashes through the Transverse plane. The offset weight of the mace (and the design in general) makes it ideal for rotational and anti-rotational movements.
The steel mace won’t allow you to cheat like many other tools. It won’t give you the option to move your upper body in a rigid fashion. Instead, you'll move in a relaxed fashion with your upper body as you begin to do things like trunk rotation or foot pivots. The steel mace is great for developing good rhythmic movement, needed for actions like throwing a ball or sprinting. i.e. sprinting - it's your lats and glutes working diagonally during a sprint that give you your explosiveness.
Since we are going to try to relax the upper body to get better function out of the mace, do myofascial release on pecs, lats, upper traps, and upper abdominals. Also, warm up with some rotational body movements such as trunk twists, opposite toe touches, etc.
Now let's get into some examples of transverse plane exercises with the steel mace taken from the Instagram Steel Mace community.
The following exercises in the transverse plane of motion are best done in sets of 10-15 reps each side.
Ultimately, rotational and anti-rotational training are both working for the same team. The core.
Postural strength is an important factor in all sports performance, and in life. A strong core protects our internal organs from injury. It also allows us to maintain a stiff torso when under external forces - this prevents the spine from moving in ways it’s not supposed to move. Just think of a football player getting tackled. That’s one of the biggest reason this kind of training is important and should never be underestimated - Injury prevention is key!
YOUR CORE - THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE
Your core includes much more than just your six-pack. Your core is a girdle of muscle that lies beneath your six pack and extends around your lower back, connecting to your glutes, hips, and obliques.
When this corset of muscle is strengthened properly, you’ll have ripped abdominals and an excellent center of gravity.
So how exactly do you do this?
Train in all 3 planes of motion and keep practicing and performing your transverse plane exercises!
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