To get into gold medal form and treat lower back pain, here are April Ross's favorite core moves

When April Ross and Alix Klineman walked into the stadium for their beach volleyball game, the temperature in the sand in Tokyo was scorching hot. Even Ross, a veteran of the sport with 15 years of competitive experience, admitted that it’s not typical to play in this type of weather. “You don’t feel that heat very often,” she later said to POPSUGAR. “Walking around in the sand and being in the heat is harder than I can tell.”

Ross and Klineman had prepared for the harsh conditions, however – if anything, Ross said she had over-prepared, packed sauna workouts into her busy training schedule, and planned a training camp in Florida to get used to the heat and humidity. “It was really worth it,” said Ross. “Maybe it was adrenaline or my focus, but I didn’t feel the heat when I was out there, so whatever it was, it worked.”

Ross and Klineman won the gold medal match in straight sets (they lost only one set in the entire tournament) and fell stunned. “I can not believe it. I can’t believe it, “Ross remembered saying over and over again. It means “everything” to bring home gold, she said after going home with silver in London and bronze in Rio. “Actually bringing it home this time was such a dream come true.”

How is April Ross training for the Olympics?

Heat training was only part of Ross’ fitness build for the Games. The three-time Olympian places a high value on health on and off the sand and works with pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly “to spread the idea that health matters,” and for Ross it meant intense strength and endurance training for her body prepare for the hardships of Tokyo.

“I’m really focused on building muscle,” said Ross. “I have to be really strong out there and have strength endurance.” She does Olympic weightlifting, including power cleans, squats, and rear deadlifts, to develop total body strength, and she’s also a fan of yoga.

The story goes on

Related: Leslie Jones’ hilarious comment in her Olympic TikToks makes the games even better

April Ross’ favorite abdominal exercises

The core work, said Ross, is important to both their health and their performance. For one, strengthening her core is her main solution to the lower back pain she struggles with after years of gaming. Building core strength increases support for your lower back, which helps Ross relieve that pain.

Additionally, “every move” in beach volleyball affects your core, Ross said. Get a serve, raise your arms to pass the ball, sprint into position to keep a rally going: Your abs and core are where your strength comes from and how you create momentum, Ross said. “If you don’t have a strong core first, it’s hard to do anything else,” she explained. “It’s always a priority for me.”

You won’t be surprised that Ross’ favorite abdominal movements are dynamic and difficult. She says she does a lot of v-ups, body saws on a slide board, and BOSU ball exercises. Hanging knee pads are also a big issue: “It’s important for me to drive as slowly as possible,” said Ross. “It’s super painful, but it’s one of the best.”

Her intense training puts Ross in a good position to maintain her performance over the entire beach volleyball season. After Tokyo, she has four more tournaments ahead of her before she can take a few months off from volleyball – although she says she’ll still be training and exercising at the gym during her break. After this? Ross doesn’t know exactly what the long-term future holds, but she knows that she will soon sit down with Klineman to discuss it. “There is definitely a chance you will see me in Paris.”