The move I love to hate: Kerri Walsh Jennings' two-part pullups
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings is the most decorated beach volleyball player ever -- and is also busy raising three kids with her husband, Casey Jennings. Last week, she made headlines by rejecting a contract with the AVP tour -- which means she also will be splitting with her most recent Olympic partner, April Ross.
But Walsh Jennings is not retiring; she has indicated she is working to find a new partner and intends to train for the 2020 Olympics.
To keep her body injury-free for the next three years, the 38-year-old has been focusing heavily on conditioning. On her list of resolutions this year: perfecting the dreaded pullup.
The move: Pullups
How to do it: "We do pullups as almost a two-part movement," says Walsh Jennings' trainer, Tommy Knox. "Starting from a dead hang, the first part is to pull your scapula down and back lifting your torso only a couple of inches. Then once you have that stability in your upper back, you contract your lats to pull your chin all the way up over the bar. We will hold for a count at the top, then under control, reverse the process, keeping the tension in the mid-scapular area until the very end. Done this way it's a brutal exercise. There is no momentum or swinging around. It hurts the whole time."
When I do it: The number varies, but about three to five sets of five to 12 reps (the higher ones are assisted with a band or on an assisted rack). "We generally work to failure or where form breaks," says Knox.
Why I do it: "Pullups make me want to throw up," says Walsh Jennings. "But I believe in them so much if you do them right."
Says Knox: "We do pullups primarily to help stabilize and support her shoulder girdle, to balance all the pushing movements she does. It's a great strength movement for the upper body."
Why it's so killer: "I think because I'm so long, it's not my favorite thing," says the 6-foot-3 Walsh Jennings. "My trainer has to stay on me because of my form."
Knox has a different perspective, though. "Kerri trains like a beast," he says. "The fact she doesn't like pullups proves she's human."