This Orangetheory trainer has coached more than 13,000 people—here’s a three-move workout she lives by

Build full-body strength and stability in minutes with this trainer’s three-move dumbbell workout

Orangetheory trainer Lara Gadson
(Image credit: OrangeTheory)

You might be familiar with the phrase "there’s no substitute for experience", and our featured trainer has no shortage of that. 

As an Orangetheory coach, Lara Gadson has taught 2,000 classes and worked with more than 13,000 people. That’s why I wanted to raid her expertise for a workout people could do at home. And she gave me an excellent three-move sequence that she uses herself.  

"These are three exercises I live by—they’ve dramatically increased my strength over the past year," she tells me. "And this hasn’t just helped me when I’m doing these exact moves either. They’ve built my strength up for other exercises and functional life movements too."

You don't need much to do this workout, just a yoga mat and a set of dumbbells. Line them up, along with a bottle of water, and you're good to go. 

How to do Orangetheory trainer Lara Gadson’s dumbbell workout

  • Tempo squat x6 
  • Tempo gorilla row x6 on each side
  • Alternating single-leg V-up x6 each side

Perform the exercises listed above as a circuit, taking a few deep breaths after each exercise before moving on to the next one. Gadson recommends completing three rounds in total. 

These exercises are designed to build strength and stability, so don’t rush through them. Take your time and focus on the muscles targeted by each move—this is a training technique called mind-muscle connection, which can improve muscle engagement.

1. Tempo squat

Orangetheory trainer Lara Gadson demonstrating a squat

(Image credit: OrangeTheory)

Sets: 3 Reps:

  • Stand upright with your feet roughly hip-width apart. You can perform this exercise with just your bodyweight, or hold a weight tight to your chest to increase the difficulty. 
  • Push your hips back to initiate the squatting movement, then bend your knees to lower your hips as far as you can while keeping your chest up. This downward portion of the exercise should be slowed down so it takes three seconds, increasing your working muscles' time under tension.  
  • Hold the bottom position of the squat for one second, then drive through your feet to return to standing. 

Trainer’s tips:

Gadson says she has made progress using these three moves by challenging herself and lifting heavy. That’s why she recommends using a weight for this exercise, like a dumbbell or kettlebell, but beginners might want to try the move with just their bodyweight to start.  

2. Tempo gorilla row

Orangetheory trainer Lara Gadson demonstrating a gorilla row

(Image credit: OrangeTheory)

Sets: 3 Reps: 6 on each side

  • Place a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells on the ground in front of you with their handles running parallel. Stand one pace behind them, then bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips to bend over and grip the weights. Your back should now be flat and parallel with the floor. 
  • Row the right dumbbell towards the bottom of the right side of your rib cage, hold it there for a second, then take three seconds lowering it back to the ground.
  • Repeat on the other side. 

Trainer's tips

Rather than focusing on rowing the dumbbell upwards, Gadson recommends thinking about driving your elbow to your hip. 

"The reason I recommend driving the elbow into the hip is to get maximum engagement of the latissimus dorsi muscle [the broad, flat muscle in your back] to help improve overall upper body strength," she explains.

3. Alternating single-leg V-up

Orangetheory trainer Lara Gadson demonstrating an alternating V-up

(Image credit: OrangeTheory)

Sets: 3 Reps: 6 on each side  

  • Lie on your back with your arms fully extended towards the ceiling.
  • Keeping your legs straight, lift your left leg to roughly 45°. As you do this, curl your shoulders off the floor and reach your hands forward to touch your left foot. 
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position, then repeat on the other side.  

Trainer’s tips: 

"I recommend exhaling on the way up and then inhaling on the return to the floor. You should also keep this movement slow, especially on the return to the floor."

Try a free Orangetheory class at your local studio

Try a free Orangetheory class at your local studio

If you want to try one of Orangetheory's workouts, simply head to the company's website, find your local studio, and fill out your details. Once you've signed up, you'll be able to enjoy an in-person class that blasts calories and builds muscle, as long as your nearest studio is participating in the scheme. 

Need some new weights for your home workouts? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.