- Serena Williams stays in tennis-pro shape by doing a mix of agility work, cardio, and strength exercises, according to her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.
- For one week, I tried to replicate Williams’ workout by doing different exercises each day.
- Following Williams’ fitness routine forced me to step out of my comfort zone by working my muscles in a different way than I’m used to.
- I definitely struggled through some of the workouts but each day left me feeling empowered and strong.
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In order for Serena Williams to juggle being a tennis icon, mother, founder of her own clothing line, and philanthropist, it’s important for her to stay strong and fit.
It’s not an easy feat being one of the fastest-moving tennis players, so Williams has to be mindful of the exercises she routinely does in order to maintain muscle while keeping her stamina up for long matches.
Williams and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, have even put together a workout routine made up of agility work, cardio, and strength exercises.
Although I’m far from being a pro athlete, I decided to try Williams’ fitness regimen myself. After a bit of research, I devised a seven-day plan so I knew exactly which of her’ exercises I would be doing each day.
Here’s what it was like working out like tennis pro Serena Williams for a week:
Day one: I began Williams’ workout by doing sprints and bodyweight exercises.
Although I felt pretty confident going into this week of workouts, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy on my body.
I began the day with sprints up and down my driveway to get my cardio in as Williams would, even though I’m not a huge fan of running.
Mouratoglou told Shape magazine that he trains Williams on speed, not distance since she doesn’t have to go very far on the tennis court. Mouratoglou also said that Williams sprints 50 meters at a time so she can move fast without running out of steam on the court.
In true Williams fashion, I did my best and by the fifth sprint, I was dripping in sweat and ready to lay down on my front yard to catch my breath.
According to her Instagram, Williams is a fan of bodyweight exercises, so I also did a circuit of moves that worked my entire body.
I did three sets of 10 shoulder taps, split squats to leg kicks, mountain climbers, and crunches. At the end of the workout, I was sweaty and tired but I felt strong and proud of what I accomplished in day one.
Day two: My abs were in pain after doing Williams’ core routine.
There’s no denying that Williams has incredible abs, so I was excited to try her core routine today. First, though, I wanted to start with some cardio.
Williams told Fitness magazine, per Refinery29, that she likes to constantly change things up so she doesn’t do the same form of cardio all the time.
I don’t regularly use the elliptical, so it felt like a good choice for me to switch up my routine, too. I ended up using the machine for 20 minutes.
After breaking a sweat, I rolled out my mat for the core workout.
To work her abs, Williams does a combination of bicycle crunches, leg crunches, front and side planks, and planks with hip dips.
I decided to do 30 seconds of each exercise for four rounds. These simple exercises were very effective for making my abs burn.
Day three: I started my routine with a brutal leg workout.
I started the day by warming up my muscles before diving into a leg workout.
When Williams works on her legs, her trainer gives her specific moves that help keep her knees in great shape, which is key to balance out all of the tennis playing. Mouratoglou told Shape that he has her focus on simple exercises that strengthen the muscles surround her knee joints.
This intrigued me because my knees are pretty bad after my years of being a dancer, and sometimes leg-focused workouts make me nervous that I’ll further put a strain on them.
Since Williams does a combination of lunges, step-ups, front squats, and leg extensions, I grabbed my 10-pound dumbbells and attempted the same.
For these moves, I made sure to really take my time and focus on my form.
I did my best to get through three sets of 12 reps for each exercise. By the second set, I had to take breaks to shake out my legs.
Despite moving slowly through each exercise, I was still breathing heavily and had to keep my towel nearby to wipe the sweat out of my eyes.
Once this leg routine was completed, I cooled down and stretched. Although I work out my legs fairly often, these specific exercises with low weight definitely shocked my muscles a bit and were more challenging than expected.
Day four: Williams’ short but brutal bodyweight routine left me in pain.
As expected, I woke up with sore legs – but I still hopped out of bed and immediately put on my workout clothes for today’s moves.
On the Nike Training Club app, Williams has her own 15-minute workout that you can download and follow. I was intrigued when I heard it was only 15 minutes, but knowing how hard Williams trains, I knew this workout was still going to put me through the wringer.
The workout began with a warm-up that consisted of exercises such as squats and A-Skips, which are very fast-paced skips. After just a few minutes, I was already taking a sip of water, trying to catch my breath.
I pushed myself to finish the workout strong.
From there, the app led me through a series of bodyweight exercises. The transition from one exercise to the other was fast, leaving me little time to rest.
I did lunges, lateral shuffles, and side-plank knee drives, which were so tough I had to bring my leg down a few times and just hold a side plank.
From there I did renegade rows, which worked my back, push-ups, and burpees. The 15 minutes flew by and I was so thankful it was a quick workout.
I struggled a bit through this routine, but I was proud of myself for keeping up with the intense moves and not giving up.
Day five: My lungs and upper body burned from today’s pool workout.
At this point in the week, I was amazed at all of the different ways athletes train in order to be in tip-top shape for their sport. Williams lifts weights and works on her speed – and she also works to strengthen her lungs by swimming.
I’m lucky to have a pool in my backyard so I was able to follow in the tennis pro’s footsteps and take today’s workout outside.
I don’t often exercise in water, so I knew this would be a challenge for me. I gave myself a pep talk before attempting to do five laps back and forth across the pool with my head underwater.
After each individual lap, I took a few breaths once I reached the wall and allowed my heart rate to come down a bit. Not only were my lungs getting a workout, but also I started feeling a burn in my arms and shoulders.
I completed five laps and then rewarded myself with a back float around the pool.
I empathized with Serena feeling like she was “going to drown” during her pool workouts because my lungs were definitely burning from this.
Day six: Williams’ full-body circuit was one of the most challenging workouts so far.
Surprisingly, I woke up excited for today’s workout. This challenge was soon coming to an end and I felt strong from the moves I’d completed so far. I was even starting to see some definition in my arms and abs.
For day six, I found a full-body circuit on Williams’ Instagram. She used a ladder to work on her hops, jumping jacks, and footwork.
I didn’t have a ladder so I used a mat to replicate the circuit and did each move for 45 seconds.
The full-body workout continued with bodyweight exercises.
In the same video, Williams did an exercise that looked like weighted squat jumps with a heel click, plank hip dips, a standing ab exercise with a resistance band, bicycle crunches with a band around her ankles, regular crunches, mountain climbers, and shoulder taps.
I couldn’t believe how many exercises Williams did in one workout session.
I forced myself to get through the seven exercises. I continued using a timer for this portion of the workout but instead of 45 seconds for each exercise, I did 30. I repeated this sequence three times each with a lot of water breaks in between.
Although my body felt like jelly at the end of this workout, I noticed that my stamina had definitely increased from all of the high-impact workouts I’d been doing.
Day seven: Every routine this week worked my entire body from head to toe so I wanted to end this challenge on a fun note.
It was a long week of workouts and although I was continuously sore, I felt strong and a little more confident with how my body looked. That said, I wanted to end the week on a high note.
Williams once told Fitness magazine, per Refinery29, that when she was sick once and couldn’t train like usual, she turned toward dance. Now, she said, she’ll run for 10 minutes and then dance.
I decided I’d do the same for my last workout. After a quick run, I followed along to a dance-cardio workout video from the 305 Fitness YouTube channel.
This workout was exactly what my sore muscles needed. It was fun to just shut my brain off and dance around like no one was watching. I felt satisfied with myself for completing this challenge.
I felt strong and more confident after this week. I also think Williams’ routine would be pretty doable for the average person.
This week of trying Williams’ routine was the first time I attempted an athlete’s workout regimen.
Much to my surprise, a lot of the exercises Williams does were ones I was already familiar with.
I also appreciated the reasoning behind some of her moves, which are designed to help her perfect her craft and avoid injuries. However, sprinting up and down my driveway and doing laps to strengthen my lungs were two of my least favourite workouts.
I also think those two exercises could be tricky for the average person if they don’t have the space for sprints or access to a pool.
Overall, I really enjoyed this week of workouts that left me sore and sweaty. I think anyone can learn a few things from Williams and incorporate her workouts into their already established routine.
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