Get in shape with Mike McCannon

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Basic crunches

Basic crunches work the abdominal muscles, which help strengthen the body's core. Like lunges or push-ups, crunches require little space and can be done anywhere.

Begin by lying flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you. McCannon suggests crossing your arms against your chest. If you are uncomfortable in that position, take your fingertips and place them behind your ears, cradling your head.

"You can't pull on your neck," McCannon advises.

When crunches are done incorrectly -- and thus ineffectively -- people crank on their neck with their arms, using arm muscles instead of the abdominal muscles they are targeting.

"Crunch your abs like an accordion and shorten the distance between your shoulders and hips," McCannon directs. "If your shoulder blades leave the ground, that's fine, but you don't need to worry about it. The key is to make the abs muscles work."

He suggests three sets of 10 to 15 crunches per set.

Push-ups

The push-up is the ultimate upper-body exercise, and it can be modified to work different muscles and altered to focus on balance. McCannon suggests starting with two sets of between 10 and 15 push-ups. Increase repetitions and sets as strength increases. Using an exercise ball under your lower legs when doing push-ups will force you to work more abdominal muscles to maintain balance. Body alignment does not change.

Step 1
Start with hands shoulder-width apart; that's where your strength is. Make sure legs are straight and feet are together. McCannon calls this the "plank position" because the body should be straight and aligned from head to toe.

Step 2
Tighten abs. Keep them tight throughout the exercise to support back.

Step 3
Drop arms toward floor, keeping back straight. Don't drop your neck. Stay aligned.

Step 4
Raise yourself off the ground with your arms and repeat.

Lunges

The lunge is a lower-body exercise that targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus and calves. McCannon suggests starting with between one and three sets of 10 lunges per leg and slowly increasing that load to 12 to 15 lunges per leg. As strength increases, add weight resistance by holding free weights, gallons of milk or soup cans in each hand.

Step 1
Start by standing up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and hands on hips.

Step 2
Take one giant step forward with one leg.

Step 3
Bend the back leg but keep the back straight and abs tight. Return to standing position and switch legs. Repeat steps.

About the trainer

Mike McCannon is a personal trainer with Forever Fit of Steamboat Springs. His training career began 25 years ago, when he started designing workout regimens for friends. He soon discovered a passion for helping others achieve physical fitness.

He moved to Steamboat with his wife, Jennifer, in 1991. The couple has two boys, Grant and Mitch. McCannon received his bachelor's in health, exercise science and recreational studies from the University of Iowa in 1987. He helped open Forever Fit in 2004.

Forever Fit offers personal training, physical therapy, Pilates and Gyrotonic workouts in addition to cardiovascular machines. To kick off an exercise at home, McCannon suggests starting with basic movements such as lunges, push-ups and crunches because they are easy to do, easy to modify and applicable anywhere.

"My trial workout is something that can be done anywhere," he said.

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