Strengthen your sides to help support your back.
The sides of the body, oftentimes known as “love handles,” support the spine and alignment of your back, so there are multiple benefits to strengthening and engaging this part of the body. If you carry a large instrument or have a routine that includes a lot of crab walking, these exercises will be especially helpful.
Triangle pose from yoga is a great way to really find these muscles. Start standing with your feet apart, toes pointed in toward each other, with your hands on your hips. Turn your right toes out to the right. Your left instep should be in line with your right heel. Lift your arms straight out from your shoulders with your palms facing down. Turn your face to the right, so that your nose, chin and right ankle are in one line.
As you inhale, shift your weight forward and lower your torso as if you were in between two panes of glass. Rest your right hand on your right ankle, and reach your left hand to the ceiling. Your arms should still be in a straight line. Take three to five breaths. Repeat on the left.
Take either 5- or 10-pound weights, one in each hand, with your arms straight down by your sides. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, with your toes pointed straight in front of you.
Lift your arms to be perpendicular with the floor and lean over to the right for a breath and then back to center and then over to the left for a breath. Try to complete two repetitions of 10.
Lunges are also a wonderful way to strengthen the sides of the body. If done with proper alignment, they can truly alter the way your body feels.
Start with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Take a large step forward with your right foot; as you bend through your right knee, make sure that your knee is directly over your ankle, not extended beyond it.
Shift your weight slightly forward and lift the heel of your left foot. Keep your left foot straight as you press into the ball of your foot. Make sure that your hips are slightly tucked and that your hipbones are facing forward. You can check this by putting your hands on your hips.
As you inhale, lift your arms forward and up by your ears. Make sure that your shoulders are down. The engagement of the shoulders and arms targets the lunge to work your sides. Stay in the position for three to five breaths. Repeat on the left.
Warrior I in yoga is another version of a lunge. Warrior 1 keeps the back heel down, and the lunge lifts the heel up, working different parts of the back and consequently side body.
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.