We've all heard our share of weight loss success stories, but honestly, they never get any less inspiring. Case in point: Women's Health's Next Fitness Star finalist Erica Lugo.
After being too tired to play with her young son, Lugo hit a breaking point. "I was 322 pounds, and I thought: I just have to change," she says. "That was it."
Lugo started small: eating better, joining Planet Fitness, and tracking activity on MyFitnessPal. She updated her progress on social media and soon had a devoted following asking her for advice. That led her to get her own trainer certification.
"Fitness is for everyone, and my goal is to speak for those women who are afraid to go to the gym," Lugo says. "It shouldn't be intimidating."
Preach! With that mega-motivating journey in mind, try Lugo's total-body, strength-building routine below.
How to use this list:
You'll need a set of dumbbells for this workout. Lugo likes to call it "The Dirty Dozen." Here's how it works:
- Do 30 seconds of your favorite high-intensity cardio, immediately followed by 12 reps of the first exercise on the list below. Rest for 30 seconds. That's 1 round.
- Repeat the round with the second exercise and then again with the third exercise.
- Repeat the entire circuit (all 3 exercises) for 12 to 15 rounds, 3 times per week.
For your high-intensity cardio, try sprinting, high knees, jumping rope, mountain climbers, or any heart-pumping cardio moves here.
1. Sumo Squat With Dumbbell
Hold a heavy dumbbell (15 or more pounds) with both hands at chest center. Stand with feet wider than hip width, toes turned slightly out. Do a sumo squat by engaging core, sending hips back, maintaining a straight back, bending knees, and dropping into a low squat. Straighten legs to return to starting position.
2. Wing Crunch With Dumbbell
Lie faceup and hold a light dumbbell (3 to 5 pounds) overhead with extended arms. Crunch up, bringing shoulder blades and upper back off mat, and draw legs toward chest so knees form 90-degree angles. Holding both ends of weight, bring arms overhead and place weight on top of ankles. Extend legs, balancing weight on ankles, and stretch arms overhead (while keeping core engaged and shoulders lifted). Crunch in again, transferring weight back to hands, and extend limbs to complete 1 rep.
3. Squat Thrust With Dumbbell
Hold one dumbbell in right hand, directly in front of torso, and stand with core engaged and feet hip width. Drop into a squat by sending hips back, maintaining straight back, and allowing weight to naturally fall between legs. Tap ground. Stand and in one quick-but-controlled movement, draw weight in front of body and extend arm overhead. Do 6 reps and then repeat on the other side.