Training for Sports – Tennis

To celebrate the upcoming Olympic games Zen to Fitness is doing a training for sports series. First up is tennis – as a key Olympic sport it seems fitting to run over some specific training for the readers who play tennis. Saying this the exercises and tips in this post can benefit everyone. Tennis like most sports requires agility, multi-directional movement, spacial awareness and co-ordination. It also requires good hip mobility, and a certain level of upper body strength.

In terms of cardiovascular fitness tennis requires a lot of stop/start training. The constant short bursts of pace combined with hitting the ball can really rise the heart rate but the nature of the sport allows for breaks to get things calmed down again. Therefore a mix of sprinting and running circuits is the best combination for tennis. Sprints done either on hills or on flat ground can build power and strength through the body – See this post.

What I recommend though is finding some kind of pitch or field with lines that you can run between. This will allow you to vary distances and pace – for instance if you have access to a football pitch you can run to the six yard line and back. Followed by the half way line and back. Alternating the different distances and doing the sprints and a fast pace on the way out but slow pace on the way back will give the desired effect in raising the heart rate whilst also giving it time to drop. Get creative, play around with different distances and push yourself hard. A 15-20 minute mix of running, jogging, sprinting and walking is a great way to build endurance and prepare the heart and lungs for tennis.

As for Resistance training there are a few exercises that really standout for tennis, and most of them are bodyweight exercises. The first is a Side Lunge which is one of the best exercises you can do for balance and hip strength/mobility. As shown in the video it can be done with weight or with your hand behind the head. Either way it challenges balance and works the body in a similar way to what is found on the court.

Next you want to transition to an upper body exercise while still working the legs. For this a burpee to shoulder press works great – this can be done with or without added weight. It will build up your upper body strength especially across the shoulder girdle giving you strength and co-ordination to hit the ball.

Finally a powerful but simple upper body exercise – if you are in the gym a press of some sort (chest or shoulder) with dumbbells would be ideal, otherwise a simple push up will do the job.

Have a look at this Tennis resistance workout.

  • 12 Reps of Side Lunges (Each side) 
  • 15 Burpee/Shoulder Presses 
  • 12 Pushups.

REPEAT 3-5x depending on Fitness.

Simple and effective. This will get your heart rate up, force the body to strengthen through the hips, shoulders and back. And it is a great workout for anyone, not only tennis players. Mix in some sprinting or running circuits as described and you have a full body conditioning workout.


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