// 3D motion and advanced fitball

by Donal Carr

How well are you and your clients moving in all three planes of motion? According to physical therapist Gary Grey, we have lost 75 per cent of our available range of motion. 3D movement training presents itself as a method of regaining some of this lost range. But what is it exactly, who should do it and why?

First things first: these are advanced exercises and are not suitable for everybody, so do not introduce them into all of your client’s programs. They would be considered dangerous for some individuals, including those with back pain, shoulder dysfunction, knee problems, poor balance and less athletic clients.

If you have athletic clients, however, who want to enjoy quality of movement in all three planes, this method of training can be highly effective. Used by sporting associations including the NBA in the US, English Premiership soccer and PGA golfers, ‘3D’ movement training can help to maintain function in day-to-day life and improve agility, speed, power and strength. These functional benefits are transferable to sports and everyday activities which require the control of an individual’s centre of gravity on their base of support and which control the body in all situations, not just in one plane of motion.

In no way a replacement for an existing program, 3D movement training is a tool to be used alongside all the other things we do with our clients to improve their fitness and quality of life. Personally, using it once or twice a week in conjunction with my regular strength and condition training, it has helped me maintain a full rom and strength in free weight training. Progressing from very light weights initially, over time the overload principle can be applied, employing intensity, weight, reps, sets and tempo to achieve gains. This should only occur, however, as the body grows accustomed to the movements and stability and mobility improve.

It is essential to carry out a comprehensive assessment on a client’s body before considering using any of these exercises in their program, particularly with clients who come to you in pain wanting to return to pain-free everyday activities such as surfing or partaking in sports. I use the Paul Chek™ ‘primal patterns’ assessment for this, but you may have your own comprehensive screening process. After the client is cleared of pain or discomfort, 3D movement exercise will help them to get back to full function.


Lunge with bilateral reach
Start with 2 dumbbells in hands and take a dynamic stepping lunge forward while maintaining core activation and good spinal position; hinge/reach forward from trunk outstretching arms to a position where the hands/dumbbells are outside of the front knee (photo 1). Drive back from the front foot to the start position. From this position the leg that just stepped back steps out to the side, laterally driving body weight back into the hips and maintaining good core activation and spinal alignment. Reach dumbbells in front of the knee (photo 2).

Alternating press to curl with a squat
Start in a wide sumo squat position with the dumbbells at chest height (photo 3). Slowly lower one arm in a reverse bicep curl action as you extend the other arm in a shoulder press action. Work synergistically as you squat down. Return lowering arm up to a bicep curl and bring the press arm back to shoulder as you return to start position from the squat (photo 4).

Using a BOSU® or fitball for 3D movement training requires a high level of balance and stability, and should only be used with clients who require a high level of tilting reflexes, such as surfers, skiers (both water and snow), wakeboarders, skateboarders, ice hockey players and inline skaters.

7 toe tap on a BOSU®
This is an advanced exercise that has been adapted by using the BOSU® and a weight to increase load throughout the entire body. this exercise can be advanced with a press push as you progress through each of the seven movements. standing on the upturned BOS®, drive the foot forward in the saginal plane (photo 5). move the foot to a 45 degree vector in front of the body (photo 6). Continue moving the foot, reaching a frontal plane vector of 90 degrees (photo 7). Continue moving the foot to a reverse vector of 45 degrees (photo 8). Continue moving the foot to the saginal vector behind (photo 9). Continue moving the foot to the 45 degree reverse vector (photo 10). Continue moving the foot to a frontal plane reverse reach behind the body (photo 11).

All of these movements encourage a high level of ankle balance, knee, hip and core control. maintain the knee over the second toe on each position and during movement, pausing in between each movement to gain composure and realign the body.

Kneeling reach with rotation on the fitball
Start position (photo 12) is kneeling on the fitball, so the client must have the ability to balance on a fitball before attempting to do the exercise with weights! slowly reach across the body laterally in a downward diagonal with both hands, hinging at the hips (photo 13). Slowly lift hands back to start position, rotating the hands back across the body in an upward diagonal (photo 14). As you improve you may add speed.

Kneeling frontal plane arms
Start position is kneeling on the fitball (photo 15). Start by doing a slight forward lean from the hips and stabilising the hip and back stabilisers. Maintain balance as you perform an alternating type of lateral raise that moves into a large, integrated, constantly moving, flowing exercise from one arm to the next (photo 16).

Kneeling alternating overhead rotational press

Start with the hands at chest height and perform an alternating, diagonal shoulder press that goes across the midline from side to side (photo 17). Care must be taken with this one, as great balance, stability and coordination are needed to perform it safely. Have fun with it and remember to start with light weights and play with the overload principles.

Donal Carr
An internationally experienced presenter, CHEK Level 4 practitioner and GRAVITY master trainer, Donal has over 16 years industry experience and is head of PT training and development for Fitness First Australia. He runs his own CHEK/GRAVITY business in Sydney where he helps clients to achieve their goals with a holistic approach to post rehab and sports conditioning. For more information, e-mail donalcarr@fitnessfirst.com.au