We could go on and on about the benefits of strength training—but it's probably best just to let you try it for yourself. Thanks to this workout from Alex Silver-Fagan, trainer and Women's Health's Next Fitness Star finalist, you can.
When it comes to creating workouts, her motto is simple: "Just get moving," Silver-Fagan says. The trainer, who got her start in bikini competitions and then realized she wanted to do more to promote a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle, now teaches rowing and CrossFit and practices yoga #everydamnday.
Here she provides a creative workout that combines strength, yoga, and a unique twist on the classic move everyone loves to hate: the burpee.
How to use this list:
You'll need a pair of 10- to 20-pound dumbbells to complete this workout. Do each move below in order for the indicated number of reps. Do the entire circuit 1 to 2 times for a quick pick-me-up—or 3 to 4 times for a full workout. Do this 3 to 4 times per week.
1. Downward Dog Reach With Oblique Drop
Don't be intimidated by the name. This move is a lot of fun. Start in downward dog with both hands firmly on the ground and hips lifted. (For a more detailed explanation of downward dog, check out this article.) In one fluid movement, shift forward into a high plank, lift left hand, extend overhead, and start to rotate right hip toward floor, engaging obliques. As you drop right hip, circle left arm overhead and tap outside of left thigh. Return to plank, then downward dog, and repeat on the other side. Do 5 reps on each side.
Make it easier: Keep your feet slightly wider than hip width to help with balance.
2. Squat With Rotation and Press
Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with bent elbows. Do a squat by engaging core, sending hips back, bending knees, and lowering. (You don't have to go as low as Silver-Fagan. Knees to 90 degrees is great!) As you stand, rotate upper body toward right, keeping abs tight, and push both weights overhead, holding biceps in line with ears. Lower arms and straighten torso to return to starting position. Squat and repeat rotation on the other side. Do 5 reps on each side.
3. Renegade Row to Extension and Push-Up
Start in a high plank position with each hand on top of a dumbbell. (If this hurts your hands, put dumbbells next to hands so you can easily reach them.) Do a push-up by engaging core and lowering chest, torso, and hips to ground. As you push up, lift right hand with weight and do a row, pulling weight toward chest and keeping arm close to body. At the top of the row, rotate chest open to right and extend right arm toward ceiling, allowing hips and feet to follow naturally. Do not allow right arm to fall behind you; keep it in line with shoulder. Bring arm down, remembering to bend elbow, and lower out of the row (don't just let your arm drop). From high plank position, do a push-up and repeat row and extension on the other side. Do 5 reps on each side.
Make it easier: Skip the push-up or don't use weights.
4. Reverse Lunge and Press
Hold a dumbbell in left hand at shoulder. Extend right arm to side at shoulder height and stand with feet hip width and core engaged. Step back with left leg and bend both knees to come into a low lunge. In one fluid movement, bring left foot forward, lifting left knee toward chest as left arm extends into an overhead press. Do 5 reps and then repeat on the other side.
It's a burpee with a twist—literally. Do a burpee: Place hands on the ground, jump feet back, do a push-up, jump feet back to hands, stand, jump up, and—here's the twist—turn 180 degrees to face the other direction. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: Step back one foot at a time instead of jumping or skip the push-up.