Whether you are new to or experienced in the fitness world there are certain exercise terms that everyone should be familiar with.
Being knowledgeable about planes of movement, their common joint actions, and kinesiology terms will give you a better understanding of the way the body works, will enable you to balance your workouts and will aid in the prevention of injuries.
Three Planes of Movement
Our bodies move in three dimensions and incorporating an exercise program that uses all three planes of movement is advantageous because it trains to how we move in real life.
Frontal Plane – (also called coronal plane) This plane divides the body into front and back. Abduction and adduction movements occur in this plane.
Sagittal Plane – (also called medial plane) This movement divides the body into right and left portions. Flexion and extension movements occur in this plane.
Horizontal Plane – (also called transverse plane) This movement divides the body into upper and lower portions. Rotation movements occur in this plane.
General Joint Terms
In each plane several joint actions occur. Below is a list of the major joint actions.
Abduction – Movement away from the middle of the body. An example of this exercise is the lateral press.
Adduction – Movement towards the middle of the body. An example of this exercise is the lat pull down.
Flexion – forward movement that diminishes a joint angle and shortens the angle between two bones. An example of this exercise is the bicep curl.
Extension – backward movement that increases a joint angle and lengthens the angle between two bones. An example of this exercise is a tricep extension.
- note, figure (F), knee joint movement is labeled incorrectly. Forward movement of the knee joint is an extension while backward movement is a flexion. While most flexion movements are forward movements and most extension movements are backward movements, the knee joint is an exception to this rule.
- Thanks Jonathan for noticing the discrepancy in the picture!
- Below is the correctly labeled movement.
Rotation – movement around a pivot point usually involving the neck, shoulder or hip. Examples of this type of exercise are the internal and external rotator cuff exercises.
Circumduction – movement in a circle (360° ) usually at the end of a limb (arm or leg). An example of this is shoulder circles.
Anatomical Position and Directional Kinesiology Terms
An anatomical position is considered to be one in which the body is in a standing position with hands down and palms facing forward. Terms are applied to the body in this position.
Anterior – toward the front of the body
Posterior – toward the back of the body
Lateral – away from the middle or midline
Medial – toward the middle or midline
Superior – above, nearer the head
Inferior– below, toward feet
Superficial – on or near the surface of the body
Deep – further from the surface of the body
Proximal – closer to the midline or trunk
Distal – further from the midline or trunk
Supine – lying on the spine (back), lying face up
Prone – lying face down
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