If you're looking for a way to tone your tush, try tennis. Tennis would be a lot easier if you could just stand in one place and have the ball come right to you. Instead, you have to hustle to wherever the ball is, stop on a dime and change direction in a split second. All this movement requires just about every muscle in your body, including your butt muscles. To put it simply, tennis makes you get your rear in gear.
The Importance of Strong Butt Muscles
Your butt muscles, or glutes, not only help you get from point A to point B on the tennis court, they are also involved in every stroke. The glutes are part of the kinetic chain of power. Simply put, power is transferred from one body part to the next. The power is generated from the ground and is first transferred from your legs and hips, then to each body link -- your trunk, hitting arm, hand and finally to the racket and the ball. If you don't have strong butt muscles or you leave them out of the power chain, more demand is placed on smaller muscles, which can lead to injuries.
Butt Muscle Action During Your Strokes
Butt muscle contractions, concentric and eccentric, help transfer power from your lower to upper body. Your point-ending forehands, backhands or service aces all start with a push-off phase. This is when your glutes shorten, a concentric action, and energy is stored in the muscles. As your arm accelerates forward on your groundstrokes and as you explode upward into your serves, your glutes lengthen, an eccentric action, and the power is then transferred to your upper body.
Sample Exercise to Strengthen Your Glutes
You can give your glutes a good workout with lateral shuffles. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your hips and knees, and lower your body into a squat. Hold your arms in front of your body for balance. Take a step to your right with your right foot and then a quick step to your right with your left foot. Once you get the hang of it, pick up your pace. Perform 10 to 12 steps in one direction and then reverse the direction.
Getting in shape for tennis doesn't mean just doing butt exercises. You'll also want to perform exercises to strengthen your thighs, core, shoulders and arms. Plan to exercise three days per week with rest in between sessions. Don't forget to perform a 10-minute warm-up before your workout sessions to get the blood flowing to your muscles and loosen them up. Make stretching after tennis a regular habit. Stretching keeps your muscles from tightening up and can help reduce post-tennis aches and pains.
- Complete Conditioning for Tennis; E. Paul Roetert and Todd S. Ellenbecker
- American Council on Exercise: Lateral Shuffles
- University of California San Diego: Muscle Physiology
- American Council on Exercise: ACE Lists Top Ten Reasons to Stretch
- Wendy Hope/Stockbyte/Getty Images