Although all sports are physically demanding, tennis can be especially so. Tennis requires agility, speed, strength and endurance, so working out is crucial for performing at your best. While a workout program won't automatically turn you into one of the Williams sisters, hitting the weights can make a significant, noticeable difference in your game in just a few weeks. Always be sure to have proper supervision when you work out.
Serving, returning and volleying all require arm strength for both your forehand and backhand strokes. A good tennis workout program will prioritize the muscles of your shoulders and arms, so exercises such as the military press, dumbbell fly, barbell row, chest press and pullup can be beneficial.
Moving quickly on the court requires powerful strides, so leg workouts are also important for a tennis fitness program. The United States Tennis Association website notes that performing lunges in multiple directions can help strengthen your legs in a movement pattern that is similar to what you will experience on the court. Performing deadlifts, squats and barbell step-ups can also help strengthen your legs for tennis.
To perform at your best, incorporate a flexibility routine as part of your tennis workout. Because stretching doesn't produce fatigue like resistance training does, it is sometimes overlooked and underestimated. However, research published in the February 2010 edition of "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" indicates that combining a stretching routine with your weight-training program can help increase the degree of strength gains you experience. Even a minor commitment can make a significant difference, as the aforementioned study produced results with just 60 minutes of stretching weekly. Stretching should be performed after your workouts, as stretching without warming up your muscles can lead to injury. Additionally, MayoClinic.com notes that stretching before some types of exercises can actually decrease your performance.
Performing well at tennis depends on your ability to produce large bursts of strength and exhibit muscular endurance so you can keep hitting forcefully during the course of long matches. The American Council on Exercise notes that performing between one and eight repetitions per set of each exercise is best for strength, while performing 12 to 20 repetitions will help develop muscular endurance.
An essential component of any workout program is adequate rest. Your body uses time off to recover and grow, so you should make sure your workouts are at least 24 hours before any matches. If you try to play too soon after your workout sessions, you'll find that your muscular strength and endurance is compromised. Use your time off to refuel your body with protein, carbohydrates, water and adequate sleep.
- United States Tennis Association: Ask The Lab: Leg Workouts and Stretching
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Early-Phase Resistance Training Strength Gains in Novice Lifters are Enhanced by Doing Static Stretching
- American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Physical Online: Rapid Muscle Recovery
- MayoClinic.com: Stretching: Focus on Flexibility
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images