If you weren’t impressed by Serena Williams winning three grand slams in the past six months, her toe point will win you over. The global tennis star graces New York magazine’s fall fashion issue with a long-sleeved black dress displaying her silhouette. However, the opening spread leaves a lasting impression with the 21-time grand slam winner in a stable split, balancing each leg on a bar in a leotard cut to expose her well-defined six pack.
The profile arrives a month before the U.S. Open, where Williams, 32, could complete a calendar-year grand slam, becoming the first woman to do so since Steffi Graf in 1988. New York magazine notes: “The last time a man as geriatric as Serena won a grand slam was 1972.” The piece examines her fashion line, “Serena’s Signature Statement Collection,” and her 16-year dominance in a sport that has never been the same after Serena and her older sister, Venus, came onto the scene in the late 1990s.
But how do you get those abs? Fitness buffs, tennis stars and fans, and the average gym-goers, are wondering. Serena “shows no matter what sport you’re doing, your core is the foundation,” said Gerard “Coach G” Burley, owner of D.C.-based Coach G Fitness.
Coach G has witnessed clients, men and women, achieve defined abs by adding resistance into their core training. He shared his five favorite moves — no sit-ups — to build muscle in your midsection:
Plank with a row using a band or cable
Move your cable to floor level or tie a band to something stable in front of you, then get in the plank position on your forearms. While keeping one forearm flat on the ground, straighten the opposite arm holding the band or cable, then pull the elbow into your side. Do three sets of 15 on each arm. Coach G guarantees these will get your abs popping.
TRX knee to chest
First, put each foot in the TRX strap, then get in the push-up position. Once your feet are comfortable and you are stable, pull both knees to your chest while keeping your feet one foot from the ground. Do three sets of 15, and do not get discouraged if you can’t pump out the reps. It’s okay to take breaks — even every five reps — as long as you complete all 15 reps each set.
Medicine ball woodchopper
With your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a medicine ball with both hands in front of you and squat while bringing the ball to the outside of your right knee. Then stand and swing it up diagonally across your body to your left ear. You bring power to the motion as you twist and raise your heart rate. Do three sets of 15 on both your left and right sides. Coach G recommends a 5- to 8-pound ball when you are starting out.
Resisted side planks
In a side plank, either with your feet stacked or staggered, hold a medicine ball on top of your hip then push your hip into a plank raise. Push your hips up and down while stabilizing the ball for three sets of 15. This exercise targets your obliques and creates that sought-after abdominal “V.” Use a 5- to 8-pound medicine ball to start and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
During sprints, your body relies on core muscles to keep its posture. You burn fat during and after three sets of 20-second sprints. Sprinting means exerting all your energy. If you can talk at the end of sets, you aren’t doing them hard enough. “People with a six-pack are doing some sort of sprinting,” Coach G said.
Complete this circuit two to three times a week in addition to cardio and strength training and maintaining a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables so you can show off those abs. When you can complete sets without a struggle, increase the weight 3 to 5 pounds for all exercises.
“Benefits of having a strong core go further than the visual part — which we all like. It improves strength, power and flexibility,” said Coach G, adding that it all around just makes you feel better.