The American Council of Exercise asked 17,000 personal trainers what was the one exercise they couldn’t do without.  The 7 exercises personal trainers can’t live without when designing programs for their clients are:  Lunges, Squats, Push-Ups, Abdominal Exercises, Running, Walking, and Yoga.

Well, 17,000 Trainers can’t be wrong so I thought we’d provide you with a little bit of guidance in each of these areas.


Stand with one leg positioned in front of the other leg.  Keep the front knee over top of the ankle.  Keep the back knee underneath or slightly behind your hips.  Slowly lower the back knee towards the ground keeping the front knee over top the ankle the entire time. Only go as low as you feel comfortable.  Keep your body weight positioned over the front leg – this is your working leg.  Maintain proper posture and keep your abdominals contracted.  Complete 8-15 reps each leg.  Intermediate:  Same as above but lunge lower.  Advanced – Perform the same exercise as above but start to add resistance by holding free weights.




Start by standing with your feet between hip and shoulder width apart.  Set your posture by contracting your abdominals, pressing your chest out and up and your shoulders back and down.  Start by slowly squatting backwards while keeping your kneecaps pointing forwards – avoid allowing your knees to collapse inwards. Try to keep your weight equally distributed on all 4 corners of your feet – avoid allowing your arches to collapse inwards.  Lower to a comfortable position. You’ll notice that your upper body will come forward slightly while your buttocks travel backwards.  Now slowly extend back up.  When getting started, you may want to just start with mini-squats until you master the technique and then start dropping lower and lower once your muscles get stronger. Perform a set of 8-12 or 10-15 reps.  As you progress, add resistance.





Beginner – Lie on your stomach.  Position your hands on the floor a few inches beside your shoulder.  Make sure that your elbows are directly over top or to the inside of your wrists.  Keep your abdominals contracted and your back in its neutral position.  Now slowly push up and slowly lower down to the starting position.  Relax for a few seconds.  Do it again.  Perform 8-15 repetitions with a break in between each one.   (Placing your hands on an incline like a bench, step or wall, or staying on your knees will provide a more gentle entry level option also).  Intermediate – Perform the same exercise as above but without the rests in between each rep.  Advanced – Incorporate various tools to advance the intensity (BOSU Trainer, Stability/Medicine balls /Decline)


vsitrotation2_1Abdominal Exercises: 

There is no one perfect abdominal exercise – variety is key to ensure a balanced and strong core in all ranges of motions.  Here’s a few of our favorites.




planktoes_1The Hover (A.K.A  The Plank):

Start by lying on your belly with your elbows directly below your shoulders.  Curl your toes under and lift your body off the floor.  Pull your belly button toward your spine.  Remember to breathe.  To make the Hover a bit easier you can do it on your knees rather than your toes.  If you need more of a challenge you can lift one foot.  Try to hover for at least one minute.


heelslideb1Straight Leg Lifts:

Lie on your back with knees bent at about 45 degrees and feet on the floor.  Put your hand on your abdominals and pull them in and up so your stomach becomes as flat as you can get it.  Keep your stomach in this position throughout the entire exercise as you slowly lift one foot a few inches off the floor.  Continue alternating legs.  Your back should not move at all during the exercise.  Continue for 60-90 seconds.   To increase intensity straighten legs, to decrease intensity bend legs.


obliquecruncha_1jpgOblique Crunches:  

Lie on your back with your feet positioned on the floor.  Place your hands behind your head to lightly support the weight of your head.  Tuck your chin slightly into your chest away and focus your vision at about 45 degrees into the ceiling.  Avoid looking straight up to the ceiling or towards the opposite wall.  Now slowly lift your torso up on an angle.  An oblique crunch does not need to involve a large twisting action.  Focus on the upward lift on an angle – opposite hip to rib.  As you lift your upper body, lift your opposite leg a few inches off the floor at the same time.  Contract your abdominals on each repetition.  Alternate sides and continue for 60-90 seconds.



Sit upright with perfect posture – chest out, shoulders back.  Now slowly recline back a few inches while keeping your abdominals contracted and back in its neutral position.  Hold for 2-4 counts and then return to the starting position.  Continue for 60-90 seconds.



sprint drill bRunning:

Running is an incredible activity however, consider this – with each running stride, your body is forced to absorb impact forces as great as 3x your body weight.  So if you weigh 150 pounds, imagine 450 pounds of force pounding through your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons with each foot strike. You can imagine that over the course of a five-mile run, the amount of force the body absorbs is tremendous. Due to the nature of the sport, specific imbalances and areas of weakness can result. For these reasons, proper progression is critical if you expect to continue running on a long-term basis.  So if you’re are just starting a running program, try the following learn to run program for 20-30 minutes, two to three times per week on alternating days.

  • Week 1 (Run 1 min. Walk 4 min)
  • Week 2 (Run 2 min. Walk 3 min)
  • Week 3 (Run 3 min. Walk 2 min)
  • Week 4 (Run 4 min. Walk 1 min)
  • Week 5 (Run 5 min. Walk 1 min)
  • Week 6 (Run 6 min. Walk 1 min)
  • Week 7 (Run 7 min. Walk 1 min)
  • Week 8 (Run 8 min. Walk 1 min)
  • Week 9 (Run 9 min. Walk 1 min)
  • Week 10 (Run 10 min. Walk 1 min)


The beauty of this activity is that you can do it anywhere with no special equipment and very little instructional training.  So this one is easy and up to you – just do it! Incorporate hills if you want to advance the intensity.


stretch warrior2Yoga:

There are so many variations of yoga and a multitude of different poses and approaches.  It is our recommendation that you start your Yoga training under a certified professional or invest in an instructional video from a reputable instructor.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 20 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.  

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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