Athletes & Celebrities

How Beach Volleyball Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings Got Those Abs

The 36-year-old three-time Olympic gold medalist has her sights set on the 2016 Summer Games with new partner, April Ross. Here’s how she balances training, nutrition, and life as a wife and mom of three young children.

by
Kerri Walsh Jennings

Embrace VarietyI grew up playing a variety of sports, and I learned so much about my body by doing that. Today, I keep up a well-rounded cross-training system that challenges me from top to bottom. I try to make sure my body never gets comfortable, so it can keep evolving in the way I want it to. In addition to three hours of beach volleyball practice a day, I do Pilates three times a week—on the reformer, the mat, and the beach. I also do fast-twitch workouts twice a week with Olympic lifting and plyometrics.  

Food for ThoughtI want to be the best I can be, and there’s no way I can do that unless I’m fueling my body properly with the right nutrition. I’m a huge advocate of starting the day off right at breakfast. I’m a creature of habit, and as a crazy-busy mom I tend to make a lot of shakes for breakfast that I quickly drink while getting my family ready in the morning. I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk like Almond Breeze, vanilla whey protein, kale or spinach, chia seeds, oats, and honey and blend it up to drink while I’m on the run. Between morning and afternoon workouts I’ll have another shake, or a protein bar, or a turkey sandwich on Paleo bread with mustard and avocado. It’s important to get protein in soon after my workouts. I also drink a lot of water since that helps with recovery, mood, and hunger.

Injury Prevention PlanStaying strong and flexible is how I stay healthy. I’m a big fan of weightlifting to make me strong and prevent injury. It’s also great for metabolism, confidence, posture, and bone density. Pilates has helped me so much in my career as well. I worked hard to get my strength back in my core and strengthen my upper back, especially after breastfeeding. 

Get UncomfortableI have career goals that I want to hit as well as stepping-stone goals. I want to grow as a mom and a wife. I work with a sports psychologist who tells me, “Kerri, if you have a chance to go out on a limb or stay safe and be comfortable, don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable.” Whether it’s giving a speech or trying something totally new to me, I’m going to work hard at it, and then afterward, I’ll be glad I did it. I love winning in life. Whatever my “gold medal” is, I hope to keep striving for it.

Form Your Home TeamBalancing life as a professional athlete and a mom who’s also married to a professional volleyball player [Casey Jennings] means my husband and I need to act as a team with our kids. They’re wonderful and humor us a lot and are very adaptable. It’s important to surround yourself with amazing people who challenge you, support you, and inspire you. I’m the richest woman in the world in that regard.

Beyond the OlympicsI’m so excited that I’m not done competing yet, but when I think about my life after my competitive career I’m excited, too! I have fictional book ideas and I’d love to go on a speaking tour to share the secrets I’ve learned from so many people. My husband and I are going to start an academy that will be centered around volleyball and the whole athlete, focusing on the body, mind, spirit, leader, and character.

Photo Courtesy of Asics

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