Tennis requires a strong core to create the racket speed for powerful groundstrokes and serves. While your legs move down and up, your core primarily moves side to side, so ab exercises that include targeting your obliques help you hit harder forehands and backhands and serve more aces.
Start with muscle-building workouts to build your core muscles. Perform your exercises slowly, using maximum muscular effort by keeping tension in your muscles and including a pause between reps. For example, when performing crunches, don’t let your shoulders touch the ground after you lower yourself. Pause for one or two seconds, then raise yourself. This prevents you from dropping down rather than lowering yourself with control, and raising with a bounce rather than using your abdominal muscles. Perform your repetitions to failure, take one or two minutes to recover, then start a new exercise.
Perform more reps of your exercises using less intensity to build the muscular endurance necessary to play long matches. For example, instead of doing crunches slowly with a pause between reps, perform them quicker, letting gravity help you drop down and momentum bounce you back up. You wiall build less muscle, but improve endurance through the added reps.
Perform exercises that simulate the speed of tennis to build the reactive power that comes from two or more muscles working together. Perform high-speed reps for 30 seconds, then take a break for 60 to 90 seconds before starting another set. Do not use resistance, such as weights or exercise cords.
Perform a variety of bodyweight exercises, including crunches, reverse crunches, hip raises, lying-side oblique crunches, bicycle kicks and V-ups. Perform some body-weight exercises, such as crunches, on a stability ball to increase core use.
Use a medicine ball to perform Russian twists and wall tosses. For wall tosses, stand about one foot from a wall, holding a medicine ball near either hip. Toss the ball against the wall and catch it at the starting position; repeat for 10 tosses. Take a short break, then repeat on the other side. Use your left arm as your dominant arm when you toss from your left side to simulate a left-hand dominant backhand if you are right-handed. Make your right arm dominant on your right side to simulate a forehand.
Use other equipment to build muscle, train endurance and improve power. Use a home gym or cable machine to pull cables across your body. For some exercises, start from your shoulders; for others start at your hips. Use an ab wheel, rolling straight back and forth, then from side to side to work your obliques. Perform kettlebell swings to build core strength and muscular endurance and to burn calories.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.