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Squatting in All Planes of Motion: The SFT Squat

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

This month's movement from the newsletter is the SFT squat! SFT is an abbreviation of the three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse. Exercises that incorporate all the planes can be helpful for several reasons.

SFT squats can improve strength, test mobility, and target muscles by using different foot positions. The SFT squat can be performed in 27 various positions using all three planes of motion, making it the perfect movement for warm-ups and assessments.


man squatting
Squatting in the Sagittal Plane

What Are the Three Planes of Motion?

The three planes of motion include sagittal, frontal, and transverse.

anatomical planes


The body is divided into left and right sides. Although the plane is dividing the body into different sides, the movements that are performed in this plane move forward and backward; think of it as following the plane through the body, forwards or backward. For example, when you squat, the motions of lowering down and back up move your body backward and forward.


The body is divided into front and back sides, and the movements go side to side. Think of it as following the plane through the body from left to right. For example, squatting with your feet turned out.


The body is divided into top and bottom sections, and the movements are rotational. Think of it as following the plane around the mid-section of the body. For example, squat twists.

You can do this exercise in one plane at a time, or make it more dynamic and incorporate multiple planes at once.

SFT Squats as Warm-Ups

Energize your warm-up routine with SFT squats! By using SFT squats in your warm-up, you start to create length-tension relationships within muscles and joints. This length-tension relation allows us to create stability in different positions before loading up with weight, speed, or any other form of intensity. This also presents the opportunity to work on mobility and range of motion early on without adding excess load on the joints.

SFT Squats as an Assessment Tool

This is also a great assessment tool when looking at foot mechanics. For example, we can see how the foot might compensate for motion it lacks with positions like internal or external rotations of the feet and hips. OR, taking the stance into wide and narrow positions also gives us a great look at the mobility of the hip and ankle of our athlete. Narrow foot positions for squats tend to challenge the dorsiflexion of the ankles, while wide, or sumo-like squats take up the slack of the muscles in the hips much faster. Our goal is to use all of these different foot positions to help us identify the most efficient and non-efficient ways you move in space.

The Function Behind the Movement

Just as we move in all three planes during our day-to-day, we should train that way too. In the real world, we bend, squat, and get off the floor in a variety of different ways using our hands and feet. Rarely do we think about the correct or perfect position to move or receive a load of mass like a barbell, medicine ball, or kettlebell in the gym. In our everyday lives, our bodies need to be able to respond and react in a split second, and if we don’t train this way in the gym, we won't recreate it in the real world in a safer, more efficient manner. Check out the SFT Syntax below to give you a visual of the different foot positions mentioned earlier. Try these with your squats and see if it improves your overall strength, endurance, and mobility!

To see SFT squats in action, visit our movement library

foot positions in anatomical planes

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Scott Ryan, BS, CSCS, CF-L1, CF-W, BFRC is a professional coach who specializes in Applied Functional Science, Strength and Conditioning, CrossFit L1, and Olympic Lifting. He attended New England College in New Hampshire obtaining a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics. He has a passion for injury prevention and coaching, as he was a collegiate athlete who suffered sports injuries. His goal is to get athletes back to optimal shape as well as prevent future injuries.

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