Laura McGraw Fitness 360: Training Program

Laura McGraw likes lifting and cardio both. Here’s the plan that helped her win the 2012 $100,000 Transformation Challenge!

Laura used Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer to win the contest, but she had to make variations to adjust for her body (damaged by a handful of car accidents) and schedule. Be mindful of your own body's limitations during training. Follow Laura's lead and create a program that fits your goals and abilities!

Laura McGraw Fitness 360

Watch The Video - 11:22

Laura's Training Philosophy

I have been an athlete my whole life, but it wasn't until after my first car accident that I found myself in a real gym. I had missed the feeling of being on a team since college, and found the gym to be a good substitute. I made new friends who shared my goals and interests.

I train for specific activities, like sports or events, and also for personal appearance goals. I'm naturally strong and genetically blessed with some lean mass. When asked how I got so much muscle, I always say, "It's 70 percent what God gave me, and 30 percent what I do with it."

I lift weights 4-5 times per week and do cardio 5-7 times. Cardio keeps me sane. I need to feel the hard sweat and the endorphin rush.

Now, when the majority of programs focus on less cardio and more resistance training, I continue to hit cardio hard almost every day. I am thankful for the muscle I've built over the years, helped by my good DNA. For me, cardio offers more than it can ever take away.

I don't fear muscle loss and find that, with a solid weight program and proper clean eating, I can use cardio to fine-tune my physique. If I do HIIT training, I see it in my glutes and legs. If I do more steady state, I see weight drop all over. You have to know your body and find a balance between what you love and what works for you.

Laura's Training Regimen

  • Perform 4-6 lifts per body group
  • For each lift, perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • If I am leaning down (like at the end of the challenge), I will do HIIT training or plyometrics between sets and drop the total sets to 2 per exercise.
  • Jump rope, mountain climbers or platform jump-ups
  • Cardio gauntlet: Step mill PT 5000 … 20 minutes to 2 hours

"Yes, that is right 2 hours—people will do crazy things for money."

Day 1: Back


Resume regular sets

Optional: Jump rope, mountain climbers or platform jump-ups … between working sets


Day 2: Chest


Day 3: Legs

"I have to be careful here not to load my spine, because of the fusions."


    • Leg Press Leg Press

      Leg Press

      2-3 sets, 20 reps at a lighter weight

Resume regular sets


Day 4: Cardio Only
Day 5: Biceps/Triceps


  • Running, Treadmill Running, Treadmill


    60 min
Day 6: Shoulders/Abs


  • Running, Treadmill Running, Treadmill


    60 min
Day 7: Light cardio and Stretch or Rest

Laura's Training Inspiration

Over the last couple years, I've watched my dad's mind deteriorate, and this daily reminder of mortality keeps me focused. My dad was fortunate enough to spend his life doing what he loved. As a teenager, he played for Fulham, a division one team Football team in England. He had a great playing career, followed by 30 years of coaching.

Sadly, my dad's favorite sport is now the source of his demise. He suffers from SRTBI (Sports Related Traumatic Brain Injury). He's now 66, and last month we decided to put him in a memory-care facility. I know his daily workouts and hard sweats were his best medicine, and I'm confident they slowed down the progression of the disease.