Body in Balance

Strive for full-body workouts that strengthen your abs without causing back problems.

Most people think about the body in terms of parts—legs, arms, abs and shoulders. Instead, we need to think about the body holistically when designing our workouts as our day-today routines require total body effort.

Additionally, we need to think about our bodies in halves, but not in a “downthe- middle-of-the-front-of-our-bodies” way. Rather, we need to visualize a crosssectional cut of our bodies slicing down from the top of our heads lengthwise. This thinking will help us understand the need to have balance between the front and back of our bodies.

Challenges with Crunches

What does striving for a six-pack really get us? Back problems. The constant crunching that helps to sculpt these hard-to-attain cuts of muscle can lead to a “hulking” appearance.

New Ways to Get a Six-Pack

You still want the six-pack, don’t you? You might already have one—it’s just not visible. Developed muscles are often found underneath a layer of softness.

Here are some ways to get those abs you so desire:

Squats. They’re not just for your posterior. This is a great example of an exercise that balances the body. Start with your arms out from your shoulders, engage your abdominals as you bring your hands together and interlace your fingers. Make sure you have even weight in your toes and heels. Press into your feet and smoothly sit back into a squat. Your knees should not go past your toes. Hold for a beat and smoothly come back up to standing. Do not release your hands. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

Plank Curl. Start in plank position. Press evenly into your hands with your fingers spread. Bring your right knee to your nose. Your back can curl up slightly. Release your right foot back and bring your left knee to your nose and release back. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

The 180+ Crunch. Ideally done over a yoga ball, this exercise can also work over a stack of at least three hard pillows. Sit on the ball or place the pillows under your back with your knees bent. Hands should be interlaced behind your head. Elbows should point up. You should feel a slight arch in the upper back. Start your crunch over the ball or pillows with a deep breath into a deeper arch. Exhale as you come up into the crunch. Maintain the same arm position the entire time. This will prevent the hulking body issues too many crunches can cause. Repeat for 25 to 30 reps.

Laugh More. You can always add laughing into your routine. Laughing activates the deepest abdominal muscles and the ones that heavily support the back.

Check with your doctor before starting any new physical routine.

About the Author

After dancing since the age of 3, Haley Greenwald-Gonella thought it was time to try a new art. In elementary school, she began playing the flute and was in the marching band in middle school and for the first two years of high school. She also played the bassoon during concert season. Dance drew Haley back while in high school.

She graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with degrees in dance and English. She recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts).

Haley is also a certified registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She draws upon her dance and yoga training when it comes to all things fitness and the arts.