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Mike Donavanik is a Beverly Hills-based personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He also holds certifications from the NCCPT and an advanced certification from the NASM as a Performance Enhancement Specialist.He is known for his expertise in functional training and is regularly featured in national media.

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Functional Fitness
by Mike Donavanik, Functional Fitness

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Build the body you want with just three simple exercises - three exercises made even tougher with just minor adjustments.

Anyone who has embarked on a fitness program has undoubtedly asked herself, "What exercises should I be doing?"

exerciseThe answer is not so simple. But there are three exercises that no workout routine should be without - push-ups, squats and crunches.

A regimen consisting of all three works virtually every major muscle group. Better yet, each can easily be modified in order to make the exercise more difficult.

And one of the biggest perks - especially in today's economy - is they can all can be done with very little, or no, gym equipment.

SQUATS

Why we love them: Squats are a total body workout, they can be done anywhere and they increase overall strength. Plus, they firm up your bottom and who doesn't want that?

Pointers: Squat down as low as you can while maintaining proper form. Keep your knees in line with your ankles - make sure they do not buckle in or out - and keep your knees from passing your toes when descending.

Variations:

Back (Traditional) Squats: Rest the barbell behind you - on your C7 vertebrae - to focus on your glutes.

Front Squats: Place the barbell across your anterior deltoids to focus more on your quadriceps.

Sumo Squats: Take a wider stance and point your feet outwards to build up your inner thighs.

Progressions:

Jump Squats: By adding a jump to your squat, you can makes the exercise more explosive than a standard squat, which takes advantage of neuromuscular reflexes and leads to overall gains in power and strength.

Single Leg Squats: You can improve balance, coordination and overall leg strength with single leg squats. They also help with muscle imbalances (where one leg is weaker than the other). Lift one leg slightly off the ground and extend it in front of you. With your planted leg, descend into a squat - trying to keep the same form and proper mechanics of a regular squat. Go as low as you are able to without losing balance or form.

PUSH-UPS

Why we love them: Besides developing a nice set of pecs, push-ups work every muscle in the upper body and - just like the squat - ...    Continue

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