The Fitness Zone
At the Institute, we love a fun and friendly game of tennis. In fact, we love a fun and friendly game of just about any sport! From our many attempts on the court (or sometimes on the couch, watching the pro's do it better than we could ever dream) you quickly discover how physically demanding the game is, and how important preparation is - even for a complete rookie!
If you are considering hitting the courts any time soon, we suggest you start incorporating some particular exercises into your gym sessions to give yourself the best possible chance against your opponent and to minimise the possibility of injury and post-tennis match muscle soreness.
So, whether you are a seasoned tennis player, or never played a game in your life, these ten exercises will prepare your body for the physical demands this sport requires!
# 1 Warm Up
When warming up for a game of tennis, in addition to your usual steady cardio, such as a light jog, and some bodyweight exercises, e.g.body weight squats, press-ups and some stretches, incorporating some mobility movements are a great idea before hitting the court. Some mobility exercises you may want to include are:
- Wrist rotations, 30 seconds on each wrist, rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise.
- Shoulder rotations, 30 seconds on each arm rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise.
- Elbow rotations, 30 seconds on each arm rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise.
#2 Overhead Med Ball Slams
If you have ever watched a game of tennis, seeing Rodger Federer nail his opponent with a slam dunk is AMAZING, and overhead med ball slams are a great way train for this powerful move.
To do an Overhead Med Ball Slam, ensure you have your core braced the whole time, as this will help strengthen your abs, as well as support your back at the same time. Holding the Med Ball, lift it up over your head, then forcefully throw it to the ground, when picking the ball back up, make sure you bend your knees.
Repeat this exercise for 10 reps, for 3 sets. As you get stronger, try using a heavier Medicine ball.
#3 Single Leg Squats
Single leg squats are an AWESOME exercise for tennis players, as not only does it help strengthen your legs, you will also see an improvement in your balance and stability.
Now a single leg squat is an advanced move, so below we have two options you can do to build your way up.
- Assisted Single Leg Squat: Shift your weight to one leg, while keeping your other leg just resting on the ground to assist with balance and stability. Sink your hips back and down into a squat position, ensuring your knee is tracking over your toes. Repeat this move for 10 reps, 3 sets each leg.
- CrankIt Single Leg Squat: Holding onto your CrankIt straps, Lean back slightly so there is tension on the straps. Leveraging your weight on the straps, lower your self down into a squat, with one leg. When coming back up, drive up through your heel, activating your glutes and core. Repeat this move for 10 reps on each leg, three sets. As you start to get stronger, try and rely less on the CrankIt straps until you can do a FULL single leg squat using just your body weight.
- Full single-leg squats: Once you have progressed your way through the above options, it is time to try a FULL single leg. There are a couple of ways you can perform this move, here, keeping your chest up, have one foot firmly on the ground, with your other leg bent with your foot behind you. Brace your core, lower yourself down into a squat position. On the upward phase, drive through your heel, activating your glutes all the way to the top. Repeat as many as you can (up to 10 reps) on each leg.
#4 Cable Chest Press
In order to have a STRONG swing in tennis, you need to be able to recruit your chest, for maximum power. A great exercise to build strength in this area, while performing an exercise that has a similar range of motion, is the cable chest press.
Ensuring the weight selected on the cable machine is even on both sides, grab a hold of each handle and lean forward to add tension to the cables. Then, while squeezing through your chest, drive the handles across your body, while keeping your core engaged. Release the tension back to your starting position. Repeat for 10 reps and 3 sets.
#5 Squat Jumps
Being able to jump and reach for those high shots, requires powerful quads, and what better exercise to increase strengthen these bad boys than the squat jump.
Starting with your feet positioned just outside of your hips, sink your hips back and down into a squat, then drive up strong through your heels, using your arms for momentum, before landing softly back on the ground. Repeat this move for 15 reps and 3 sets.
Keeping your chest up, drive out from the ball of your foot vertically, landing softly, with your knee tracking over your toes, then skate back in the other direction. This move Is great for improving your agility and cardiovascular fitness. Repeat this for 20 reps, 3 sets.
Being able to explode and sprint to one side of the court and back again is vital in tennis. To train for this, set up cones 20 metres apart, and count how many laps you can sprint in 30 seconds. Have a 30-second break, and then repeat and aim to better your score. Do this 5 times through.
#8 Plyometric Lunges
Plyometric lunges are another great exercise to increase strength and power in your legs. Jumping your legs into a split stance, keeping your upper body upright, and your core engaged, lower your back knee towards the floor, then drive back up through your heels and switch your legs. Repeat this exercise for 20 reps, 3 sets.
#9 Vertical Jump
Using a piece or chalk or a marker of some sort, stand close to a wall, and jump as high as you can reaching tall, marking your vertical jump at the top, before landing softly on the ground. Repeat this 4 times, aiming to get higher each time.
#10 Cool Down
Just like your warm-up, while bringing your heart rate down, include the same mobility exercises to free up any tight areas that you did in the warm up.