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Move in Every Direction

Few fitspo moments are more inspiring than watching a skier like Julia Mancuso carve side to side down a mountain at 80 mph. One training secret that makes that moment possible: "multiplanar" exercises (as in: exercises that have you move 360 degrees). The four-time Olympic medalist says, "I do hops and jumps in all directions, balance moves on a surfboard and agility-ladder drills." Chances are you're more one-dimensional (as in forward). "Most people train in the sagittal plane only — moving straight forward and backward, like when you run or raise and lower your arm for a biceps curl," explains Aletheia Fadness, performance specialist for the EXOS elite athlete-training facility in Carlsbad, California. But in life and in sport, you're constantly moving in all three planes of motion: sagittal, transverse (a sweeping cross-body move like when Michelle Wie rotates to swing a golf club) and frontal (soccer goalie Hope Solo facing forward and shuffling laterally to block a shot). Multiplanar moves have a laundry list of benefits. They engage more muscles, so you tone more quickly from every angle. They may help improve agility by 10 percent, according to research from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Why does being nimble matter? The ability to move quickly and easily can contribute to a bigger calorie burn. And these moves help prevent muscle imbalances, thereby lowering injury risk, which is to say, they'll keep you working out.

Try it:
Pick one exercise from each group below to create a mix-and-match multiplanar workout.

  1. Sprint, squat or lunge: Your choice here covers the sagittal plane. For the squat or lunge, do 2 sets of 12 reps. Pick sprints and go 30 seconds all-out with one-minute recoveries; repeat 5 times.
  2. Side shuffle, star jump or side raise: Now you're working in the frontal plane. Choose the shuffles or jumps and work for time: 45 seconds on, one minute rest; repeat six times. If you opt for the raises, perform 2 sets of 12 reps.
  3. 180 jump, wood chop or bicycle: Your third move is in the transverse plane. Here, you'll work for time again. Go 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds rest; repeat 8 times.

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