For these Olympic athletes, 2016 was an epic year, and they’re definitely not slowing down. Here, Team USA reveals the strength and flexibility exercises and stretches they rely on to keep them at peak performance—in an Olympic year, or in between.
Simone Biles, Gymnastics
Her Go-To Moves
Seated Spinal Stretch Sit on a step, feet flat in front of you, knees above hips, hands behind neck, fingers interlocked, elbows in. Lift chin and look up as you extend upper back. Return to start for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
Reclined Half-Pigeon Lie on back with knees bent, left foot flat, right foot flexed over left knee. Reach behind left thigh with both hands and gently pull toward chest. Hold 30 seconds; release for 1 rep. Do 3 reps per side.
Achilles Extension Start in a lunge with both knees bent 90 degrees. Straighten back leg and bring heel to floor. Hold 20 seconds; return to start for 1 rep. Do 3 reps per side.
Kami Craig, Courtney Mathewson, and KK Clark, Water Polo
Olympic teams compete with the same goal in mind, but every player does his or her part to get there as one. After months of work, the U.S. Women’s Water Polo players united for their second consecutive first-place win—proving the power of #SquadGoals.
Their Go-To Moves
Use these to keep group training fun and focused.
Leveled Plank Start in a high plank. Lower elbows to floor one at a time. Reverse to return to start for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
Dumbbell Step-Up Stand in front of a step, an 8-pound dumbbell in each hand, palms in. Step right foot up, then bring left foot to meet it. Pause 2 seconds. Return to start for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 8 reps, alternating starting foot.
Step Jump Stand in front of step, feet hip-width apart. Bend knees, push hips back as you swing arms backward, then jump onto step, landing in a partial squat. Stand, then step down for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
Helen Maroulis, Wresting
As a female wrestler, Maroulis has faced many barriers. Instead of giving up, she fought her way through a male-dominated sport to become the reigning women’s champion of 2016.
Her Go-To Moves
Maroulis’s coach, Valentin Kalika, suggests these to increase total-body strength.
Push-Up Start in a high plank. Lower chest to floor, keeping elbows close to body. Slowly push back to start for 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
Dumbbell Row Start in a partial squat with feet hip-width apart, leaning forward, back straight, an 8-pound dumbbell in each hand, palms in. Pull dumbbells to ribs, squeezing shoulder blades and keeping elbows close to body. Lower for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
Pause Squat Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Squat until thighs are parallel to floor. Hold 3 seconds, then return to start for 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.
Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin, Hurdlers
When these hurdlers surge forward, they leave nothing back at the start line. Boundless energy and major motivation led each of them to run their best races off the blocks in 2016—and make history as the first female podium sweep.
Their Go-To Moves
Rollins and Castlin’s coach, Lawrence Johnson, likes these to boost speed.
Hill Sprint Start at bottom of a hill or on a treadmill at 5 percent incline. Sprint 30 seconds. Walk 1 minute. Repeat 5 times.
Rocket Jump Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, arms at sides. Squat until thighs are nearly parallel to floor. Jump, bringing biceps to ears, and land in a squat for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
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