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Rock Your Core and Abs Like Serena Williams With These 12 Bodyweight Exercises

Serena Williams abs

Fitness Tips & Videos

Rock Your Core and Abs Like Serena Williams With These 12 Bodyweight Exercises

Serena Williams is one of my favorite tennis players, so naturally I tune in to pretty much everything she shares on social media. Recently, she put her older sister, Venus, through a sweat sesh, and of course, it now tops my list of fave workouts.

As I was watching the workout, Serena said something while coaching Venus through a dynamic body fold that caught my attention:

“For me as a mom, I always try and contract my transverse abdominis.”

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the transverse abdominis (TVA) is a deep core muscle group that plays an integral role in stabilizing the lumbar spine (the lower back) and pelvis before any upper and/or lower body movements happen. It’s an extremely important muscle but often gets overlooked in workouts and training programs. Whether you’re a tennis player or someone who just likes to exercise because it makes you feel good, it’s important that you have core stability to prevent injury and to perform at an optimal level.

If you’ve never heard of the TVA until now, you may be wondering how you can target and strengthen this muscle group. To get you started, I rounded up a few of my favorite core-stability exercises that will have you on your way to a stronger TVA. This isn’t a workout per se, but feel free to add two to three (or more!) of these 12 exercises to your daily workouts. Check them out!

Bear Crawl Hold

bear crawl hold

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  • Start in a quadruped position with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips. Your core should be engaged and your spine should be in a neutral position.
  • With control, lift your knees one inch off the ground. Be sure to keep your back flat and your abs engaged.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and relax your

Side Bridge

  • Lie on your left side with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your elbow underneath your shoulder.
  • Push your hips forward, lifting your thighs off the ground. Rest your right hand on top of your right hip, and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Be sure to keep your knees, hips, and upper body aligned. If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, place your right hand over your left shoulder with your fingers spread apart, and pull your right elbow down across your chest.
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Forearm Plank

Forearm-Plank

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  • Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
  • Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
  • Keep your back flat — don’t let it droop or you’ll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long, straight board or plank.
  • Hold for at least a few seconds, then lower to the mat. This is one rep.

Bird Dog

Bird-Dog

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  • Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Remember to keep abs engaged and keep your back flat.
  • Reach out with your right hand and extend your left leg out behind you, and hold for a few seconds.
  • Round your back and head to connect your right elbow with your left leg under your body. This completes one rep.

High Plank

High-Plank

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  • Start resting on all fours.
  • With your palms flat, raise up off your knees onto your toes. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders.
  • Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.
  • With your head and spine in line, keep your back flat — don’t let it curve. Picture your body as a long, straight board.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower your body to your mat. This is one rep.

Elbow Plank With Leg Lift

Elbow-Plank-With-Leg-Lift

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  • Start in a forearm plank. Lift your left foot about six inches off the ground, keeping your pelvis parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower the leg.
  • Then do the lift with your right leg and hold for 5 seconds.
  • This completes one rep.

Dead Bug

Dead-Bug

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  • Lie on your back with a neutral spine and your hips and knees at right angles with your palms pressed into your thighs just above your knees.
  • Pull your abs to your spine, keeping your ribs and pelvis still as you lengthen your right arm and leg out until they are almost parallel to the floor. Keep your torso and spine completely stable as the arm and leg move.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat on the left side to complete one rep.
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Glute Bridge

Glute-Bridge

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  • On your mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Be sure to keep your feet underneath your knees, not in front. Plant your palms by each side, facing down.
  • Press through your heels to raise your hips up to the ceiling, tensing your abs and squeezing your butt as you do. You should be making a long diagonal line with your body, from shoulders to knees.
  • Hold for a few seconds, making sure your spine doesn’t round and your hips don’t sag. Keep your abs and butt muscles engaged.
  • Lower down to the ground; this is considered one rep.

Glute Bridge March

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  • Start on your back with feet about 12 inches from your bum and hands by your sides with palms up.
  • Press your heels into the ground and lift your pelvis up until your knees, pelvis, and shoulders form a straight line.
  • Hold your bridge while you lift your right knee toward your chest, until your hip is at 90 degrees.
  • Return the heel to the floor and lift the left knee. Do not let your pelvis sag or your back overarch while lifting and lowering your knees. This completes one rep.

Stir the Pot

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  • For this exercise, you will need an exercise ball (see chart for corrects size.) Begin in an elbow plank with your forearms resting on the top of the ball.
  • Keeping your core strong and your body still, use your arms to roll the ball in a small clockwise circle. This completes one rep.

Plank With Knee Tap

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  • Start resting on all fours.
  • With your forearms and hands flat to the ground, raise up off your knees onto your toes. Keep your elbows directly below your shoulders.
  • Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.
  • With your head and spine in line, keep your back flat — don’t let it curve. Picture your body as a long, straight board.
  • With control, slowly tap your left knee to the ground without moving your hips. Lift your left knee back up, returning to the starting position. Repeat the same movement with the right leg.
  • This completes one rep.

Side Plank

Side-Plank (1)

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

Fitness, health and wellness experts from POPSUGAR are here to bring you tennis-specific fitness tutorials, workouts, and other health and fitness related posts that will help you move faster on the courts and hit with more power!

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