Tennis involves several forms of muscular strength.
There’s the force behind precision shots; the explosive lateral movements across the course; and the endurance it takes to survive for the duration of an intense game.
That’s why today's top players supplement their training with exercises that strengthen the joints and muscles behind those incredible plays.
American pro Sloane Stephens, for example, starts each of her practices with a two-hour workout that includes agility, plyometrics and weight training. The legendary Rafael Nadal’s 36 hours a week of training including 12 hours at the gym.
Like all athletes, tennis players benefit from a balanced, full-body workout. Whether you’re playing outdoors in the summer or under a dome in the winter, the following are great all-season exercises for tennis players of all skill levels.
1. Bench Press
The bench press is a powerful compound movement that engages the chest, triceps and shoulders: all key ingredients of a killer tennis serve. Few exercises build upper body strength as effectively as a properly-performed bench press.
Beginners should master the movement with lightweight dumbbells before progressing to heavier weights.
Video: How to Bench Press
2. Goblet Squat
Squats are a fundamental lower body exercise, and goblet squats are a great variation for beginners and expert athletes alike.
In addition to working the glutes and quadriceps, goblet squats involve muscles in the core and arms, making it a well-rounded exercise for tennis players.
Video: How to Perform Goblet Squats
3. Box Jump
Sometimes, you've got to leap to counter a powerful slam. Box jumps are a fun, low-impact exercise that helps tennis players prepare for the explosive jumping and diving movements. It also improves your ability to absorb the shock of touching back down, which is essential for avoiding foot and leg injuries.
Plus, who doesn’t love to jump around?
Video: How to Perform Box Jumps
4. Lateral Lunge
Lateral movement is a huge part of the game, but it’s an area many traditional strength programs overlook. That's the beauty of the lateral lunge.
Lunges work the entire lower body, including the glutes, hip abductors, knees, and hips. After mastering the basic movement, you can add dumbbells or a barbell to increase the intensity.
5. Internal/External Rotations
Shoulder problems are prevalent in the tennis world, especially rotator cuff injuries.
The rotator cuff is the four muscles and tendons that enable your arm to roll fluidly in its shoulder socket. Serious tennis players push those muscles to their limit. When the muscles are strained or torn, it can become painful or even impossible to continue playing.
The best way to prevent rotator cuff injuries in tennis is to strengthen those four key muscles. Internal and external dumbbell rotations are a great exercise to do this. They in a standing or lying position, and you don’t have to use heavy weights to benefit.
6. Medicine Ball Slam
Medicine ball slams are an effective, full-body movement with emphasis on the abdominal muscles. The force you use to slam the ball translates into better core strength and more powerful swings on the court.
Medicine ball slams also require minimal skill in weight training to perform and pose little to no risk of injury, even in when you’re fatigued.