Tennis Workout Forehand

Tennis Workout and Training Programs

Mark Kovacs

Dr. Mark Kovacs is a performance physiologist, researcher, professor, author, speaker and coach with an extensive background training and researching elite athletes.

To get to the next level in tennis, a middle school player, a collegiate player, an adult league player, a senior recreational player, and a professional tennis player all need to work on their overall fitness. The use of powerful strokes, the repetitive nature of the game, the various court surfaces, individual game styles, and the variety of movement and stroke patterns and stances in tennis call for a proper tennis workout program.

Complete Conditioning for TennisPlayers such as Serena Williams, Andy Murray, and Madison Keys have the ability to hit the ball just as hard in the first game of a match as in the final game of the third or fifth set. These professional players have committed themselves to a tennis workout plan with strength training exercises that allow effective energy transfer for one stroke and to developing muscular (strength) endurance so that they can perform tennis strokes at a high level for an extended period of time.

We’re going to review tennis workouts and training programs featured in my book and the only USTA approved conditioning resource, Complete Conditioning for Tennis, that help improve performance and prevent injury. Keep in mind that strength training is only one aspect of an overall tennis conditioning program, the others being flexibility, power, agility, and speed. When players improve each of these components, their overall game improves by leaps and bounds.

Alright! Let’s dig into some common strength training terms, critical components of a strength training program, and examples of tennis workouts to improve muscular strength and endurance.

Designing a Tennis Workout and Strength Training Program

The first step in designing a tennis workout and strength training program for any athlete is to develop a needs analysis. This analysis should include the following and before commencing any new program, always consult with your physician:

  • Chronological and training age
  • General health status, fitness level and body type
  • Strengths and weaknesses identified by you and your coaches, trainers and physicians
  • Current and previous injuries
  • Tournament and competition goals

The concept of specificity is of vital importance. Every resistance exercise program must contain exercises that address the demands inherent in the sport or activity the athlete performs. However, there are some general guidelines for developing a tennis workout plan and strength training program.

Tennis Workout Sets

A set is a group of repetitions. Typically, 2 to 6 sets of an exercise are required to improve strength and muscular endurance. For tennis, usually 2 to 4 sets of an exercise are recommended. Performing multiple sets of an exercise provides greater benefits than performing a single set and the high volume of training and practice required for player development have led to the recommendation that tennis players use multiple sets of resistance training exercises. You can assume that the following exercises all require multiple sets.

Tennis Workout Repetitions

The number of repetitions performed per set not only determines the amount of work done but also regulates the amount of weight lifted and therefore the intensity of the exercise.

What is the optimal number of repetitions in a set for a tennis player? Most experts recommend sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, because they provide a strength training and muscular endurance stimulus, both of which are required for tennis. The higher number of repetitions also means the athlete will use a lighter weight.

Tennis Workout Intensity

Set the intensity of an exercise (determining how much weight to use) by using the repetition maximum (RM) system, which is sometimes referred to as a 1-repetition maximum (1RM) system. In this system athletes select an appropriate weight for a set of exercises that will allow them to perform the desired number of repetitions without breaking proper form and will cause them to feel significant fatigue within the muscle during the last 1 or 2 repetitions of the set.

Tennis Workout Rest Requirements

One factor closely tied to the specificity of a resistive exercise is rest. In tennis, the average point lasts less than 15 seconds and is followed by 20 to 25 seconds of rest. Therefore, many of the programs for a tennis player should emphasize 20- to 25-second rest periods between sets.

This work-to-rest cycle provides a stress to the muscles similar to the one used in actual tennis play and metabolically stresses the systems used to provide energy to the working muscles just like when you’re playing tennis.

Tennis Workout Periodization Training

The term periodization refers to the systematic process of structuring training and competition into phases to maximize an athlete’s chances of achieving peak performances. Periodization typically involves a training plan that includes specified periods devoted to building general fitness and muscular endurance, strength and power, high-intensity training, competition, and rest.

A player could structure a season in many ways in terms of the number of tournaments to play and the times at which he or she wants to peak during the year. Pay attention to the following guidelines:

  • In the preparation phase, training volume should be high and intensity should be low to moderate.
  • In the precompetition phase, the training shifts to lower volumes but higher intensity.
  • During the competition phase, the volume should be very low but intensity should be high. Matches count as high-intensity exercise. Also, players should not be afraid to train during a tournament. Many of the exercises presented in this book can be done on the road.
  • During the active rest phase, volume and intensity decrease.

Here are the steps to developing your own periodized training program:

  1. Start by identifying the most important tournaments on the calendar.
  2. Identify a period (or several periods) of 6 to 8 weeks that you are willing to devote to building a strength and conditioning base.
  3. Identify a period (or several periods) that you will take off from tennis for an active rest phase.
  4. Develop a chart or table, and select an emphasis for each week of the year. For example, during the strength-building phase, the emphasis may be on building tennis-specific endurance. However, 2 weeks before the main competition, the emphasis may be on maximizing power or improving on-court movement.
  5. Become even more detailed, and outline exercises, sets, and repetitions for each day. You do not have to lay out every day of the year on January 1, but some foresight should go into your planning, and you should know what you are going to do several weeks or months down the line.

Strength Training Tennis Workouts

Below are tennis resistive exercises that use multiple forms of resistance that fit into nearly any player’s training situation regardless of the availability of weight machines or sophisticated machinery and equipment. Though all these exercises are fully explained in the book, only the ones that are not widely covered or are complex are fully detailed below.

Lower-Body Tennis Exercises

Research conducted on elite tennis players shows that lower-body strength is the same on both the left and right sides. Therefore, lower-body training for tennis players should focus on both legs to ensure balanced strength unless one leg has been injured or is underdeveloped structurally.

  • Leg Press
  • Front Squat
  • Partial Squat
  • Lunge
  • Tennis-Specific Lunge
  • Calf Raise
  • Multihip Machine
  • Monster Walk
  • Elastic Band Kick
  • Hamstring Curl
  • Romanian Deadlift

Partial Squat

Improve the strength of the quadriceps and hips.

  1. Tennis SquatBegin by standing with the feet shoulder-width apart, looking straight ahead. You can hold a dumbbell in each hand or hold a medicine ball in both hands behind your head and neck to provide resistance. Or you can loop a piece of elastic tubing or an athletic band under both feet, then wrap it in each hand or bring it up over the back of the shoulders to provide resistance as you progress through the partial squat.
  2. Bend the knees and flex the hips to descend slowly, keeping an upright posture. Avoid bending forward at the waist. As your knees bend, make sure they do not buckle inward and that each knee is aligned over the second toe of each foot.
  3. Bend to 60 to 90 degrees of knee flexion in a controlled fashion, then pause at the low position for 1 to 2 seconds before returning to the start position.
  4. Perform multiple sets of 8 to 15 repetitions.

If you have difficulty with your posture in this exercise, stand with your back against a wall and an exercise ball placed in the small of your back. Perform the partial squat exercise leaning against the ball as you descend and ascend.

Tennis-Specific Lunge

Improve lower-body strength.

  1. Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Start by performing the lunge using only your body weight. For greater resistance, grasp a dumbbell in each hand or hold a medicine ball behind your head and neck with both hands.
  2. Keeping an upright posture, perform these tennis-specific lunging movements:
  3. Lunge forward (Lunge 1), and return to your starting position.
  4. To perform a 45-degree forward lunge, position your right foot forward and on a 45-degree angle (Lunge 2), then return to your starting position.
  5. To perform a 45-degree backward lunge, position your right foot backward and on a 45-degree angle (Lunge 3), then return to your starting position.
  6. To closely mimic on-court movement patterns, perform a crossover step for more tennis specificity (Lunge 4).
  7. Performing each of the four movements on both the right and left leg is considered one repetition.
  8. Complete multiple sets of 4 to 6 repetitions (4-6 on left and right legs), alternating right- and left-leg sequences.

Monster Walk

Strengthen the hips and core.

  1. Stand with your feet slightly closer than shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance. Loop an elastic band around your ankles. (Note: The band should not be so heavy that it limits your ability to move and take steps. A light band will go a long way in providing resistance as you exercise, and you can always progress to a heavier band if you feel the band is too easy.)
  2. Take a lateral step with one foot while keeping tension on the band. Do not stare at the ground; keep your head up, and maintain an upright posture.
  3. Bring the other leg toward the one you initially stepped with, planting the foot while maintaining tension in the band. Your goal is to maintain a shoulder-width hip position throughout the steps.
  4. Repeat for 10 to 15 steps in one direction and then change directions and perform 10-15 repetitions on the opposite direction. Perform this movement slow and controlled.”

Elastic Band Kick

Band Kick 1Band Kick 2Band Kick 3

Strengthen the hips and core.

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your weight on one leg, and a band looped around both ankles, similar to the starting position of the monster walk.
  2. Keeping an upright stance and slight bend in the knee of the supporting leg, quickly move the other leg to the side lifting approximately 12 inches (30 cm) high and back to the starting position.
  3. Keeping light tension in the band, continue kicking with the same foot for 30 seconds.
  4. Rest for 20 seconds, then repeat the exercise, making rapid forward kicking motions lifting approximately 12 inches (30 cm) high.
  5. After another rest period, make rapid kicking motions in a backward direction approximately 12 inches (30 cm) high for another 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat this series to fatigue on the same leg; then switch to the other leg. You will notice that both the standing leg and working leg work hard and that this exercise challenges your balance. It requires great skill to successfully execute the kick in all three directions while maintaining proper balance.

Trunk Tennis Workouts

We have an entire chapter focusing on core stability training, for a complete discussion of the specific demands that tennis places on the core and for specific exercises to train this part of the body which should also be part of a comprehensive core strength program.

  • Rotational Chop With Elastic Tubing
  • Trunk Rotation

Rotational Chop With Elastic Tubing

Improve strength and stability of the trunk through rotation.

  • Attach a piece of resistance tubing to a fence or pole at least 6 feet (1.8 m) high. Stand tall with a slight bend in your knees with your left side next to the resistance. Grasp the handle of the tubing with both hands together.
  • Using a controlled, rhythmic movement lasting 1 to 2 seconds, with straight arms pull the tubing diagonally across the body high to low (left shoulder to right hip) while bending and rotating at the hips and torso throughout the movement.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Perform 6 to 15 repetitions, then switch sides. Perform this for multiple sets.

And here are the additional exercises that can be incorporated into your routine:

  • Drawing In
  • Abdominal Curl on an Exercise Ball
  • Dead Bug
  • Seated Ball Rotation
  • Russian Twist
  • Lunge With Rotation
  • Prone Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Superman
  • Arm and Leg Extension (Kneeling Superman or Quadruped)
  • Cobra
  • Knees to Chest
  • Knees to Chest With Rotation
  • Diagonal Leg Tuck

Upper-Body Tennis Exercises

The muscles most developed through tennis play itself include the internal rotators of the shoulder, biceps and triceps, and forearm muscles. The following exercises are useful for training the nondominant arm and should be performed (if time allows) to provide greater muscle balance between the left and right arms. However, it is more important to train the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers, especially on the dominant arm, with the exercises described in the next sections.

  • Lat Pull-Down (Front)
  • Seated Row
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Core Chest Press
  • Biceps Curl
  • Lying Triceps Extension
  • Standing Overhead Triceps Extension

Shoulder Tennis Workout Program

Here are some core exercises that should be part of a comprehensive upper-body strength program.

  • Shrug
  • Prone Fly
  • Shoulder Punch

Prone Fly

Strengthen the posterior deltoid, rhomboids, and trapezius.

  1. Lie prone (facedown) on a narrow bench with your feet off the ground.
  2. With dumbbells in hand, extend your arms from your sides at right angles (90 degrees) with elbows also bent 90 degrees.
  3. While maintaining a right angle at the shoulders and at the elbow, raise your arms until they are nearly parallel to the ground and hold at the top of the movement for 1-2 seconds.
  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions for multiple sets.

Shoulder Punch

Strengthen the serratus anterior, an important scapular stabilizer.

  1. Lie on your back, and hold a small medicine ball or dumbbell.
  2. With your arms straight, hold the medicine ball away from your chest. Push the ball toward the ceiling. Even though your arms are straight, you should be able to push the medicine ball up several inches. This extra motion comes from activation of the serratus anterior (a scapular stabilizer), and the resulting scapular motion it produces.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions for multiple sets.

Again, we devote an entire chapter in the book detailing a rotator cuff and overall shoulder program to develop solid shoulder stability with these additional exercises:

  • Sidelying External Rotation
  • Shoulder Extension
  • Prone Horizontal Abduction
  • Prone 90/90 External Rotation
  • Standing External Rotation
  • Standing External Rotation at 90 Degrees of Abduction
  • 90/90 Prone Plyometric Ball Drop
  • 90/90 Plyometric Reverse Toss

Forearm and Wrist Tennis Workout Program

  • Wrist Flexion and Extension Curls
  • Radial and Ulnar Deviation
  • Pronation and Supination

Radial and Ulnar Deviation

Strengthen the muscles that stabilize the wrist during tennis.

Radial

  1. Stand with your arms at your sides, and with one hand grasp a dumbbell on only one end (similar to a hammer). The weighted end should be in front of the thumb.
  2. With the wrist in a neutral position and the palm toward the thigh, slowly cock the wrist to raise and lower the weighted end through a comfortable range of motion (figure 8.15a). All the movement should occur at the wrist with no elbow or shoulder joint movement; the arc of movement will be small.
  3. Perform for 10-15 repetitions and switch hands and perform the same movement on the opposing hand. Perform this movement for multiple sets.

Ulnar

  1. Stand with your arms at your sides and with one hand grasp a dumbbell on only one end (similar to a hammer). The weighted end should be behind your little finger.
  2. With the wrist in a neutral position and palm facing your thigh, slowly cock the wrist to raise and lower the weighted end through a comfortable range of motion (figure 8.15b). All the movement should occur at the wrist with no elbow or shoulder joint movement; the arc of movement will be small.
  3. Perform for 10-15 repetitions and switch hands and perform the same movement on the opposing hand. Perform this movement for multiple sets.

Pronation and Supination

Strengthen the forearm pronators and supinators.

Forearm Pronation

  1. Sit in a chair with one elbow flexed and the forearm resting on a table or your knee. Let the wrist and hand hang over the edge.
  2. Use a dumbbell with a weight at only one end (similar to a hammer). The weight is on the thumb side to start. Begin the exercise with the palm upward so that the handle is horizontal (figure 8.16a). Slowly raise the weighted end by rotating your forearm and wrist until the handle is vertical.
  3. Pause for 1 second, then return to the starting position.
  4. Perform for 10-15 repetitions and switch hands and perform the same movement on the opposing hand. Perform this movement for multiple sets.

Forearm Supination

  1. Sit in a chair with one elbow flexed and the forearm resting on a table or your knee. Let the wrist and hand hang over the edge.
  2. Use a dumbbell with a weight at only one end (similar to a hammer). The weight should be on the thumb side to start. Begin the exercise with the palm down (figure 8.16b). Slowly raise the weighted end by rotating your forearm and wrist until the handle is vertical.
  3. Pause for 1 second, then return to the starting position.
  4. Perform for 10-15 repetitions and switch hands and perform the same movement on the opposing hand. Perform this movement for multiple sets.

Comprehensive Tennis Workout Plan

The resistive exercises and concepts discussed in this article are key to developing a successful tennis-specific strength and conditioning program. Adhering to the guidelines and recommendations in this article and integrating them with dynamic warm-up and flexibility training, endurance training, tennis movement specific power exercises and a tennis nutrition and hydration regimen will enable you to perform safe and effective exercises to enhance performance and prevent injury.

Comments

  1. Silvia Odete Morani Massad

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism
    or copyright infringement? My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced
    but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any techniques to help reduce content from being ripped off?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  2. Neuro Max Pills

    Hiya very nice website!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing ..
    I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds also…I’m glad to
    seek out a lot of useful information here in the post, we need work out more strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing.

Leave a Comment