A Tennis Workout Plan For The Competitive Player

A well planned tennis workout plan is often the difference between a victory and a loss. Creating a tennis workout plan is key to improving in tennis.

A well planned tennis workout plan is often the difference between a victory and a loss. Carefully creating and following a tennis workout plan is the key to improving in tennis.

tennis-workout-planA tennis workout plan should contain a focused set of goals and intended outcomes within a set time frame

Professional tennis players use tennis workouts plans to guide their tennis training sessions as well as to set goals.

For competitive players and those seeking to improve their game, it is not enough that they simply practice their strokes over and over again. This effort should be complimented by a regimented fitness program that can boost the player’s ability to hit harder, reach more balls, have more stamina and avoid injuries.

Basics of a Tennis Workout Plan

A tennis workout plan can be perfect only if it develops strength, flexibility, power and endurance for all muscle groups of the entire body while paying special attention to the critical muscle groups and joints that are placed under repetitive stress when playing.

A program must also be individualized to tailor fit a particular player’s unique anatomic and physiologic traits.

Periodization is a concept that is used for designing a tennis workout plan. It breaks down a long program into shorter periods, each with its own objectives. These periods are sequentially arranged and must be followed in their specified order.

tennis-periodization (2)

Building a Solid Tennis Workout Plan

The first phase of any tennis workout plan aims to build a solid foundation of overall body strength. As an athletic endeavour, strength is valuable in order to play the game well. The muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and joints must be conditioned for the sport.

However, tennis places uneven stresses on the body which might lead to postural problems and injuries. This makes it even more vital to train the entire body in order to counteract any tendency to develop imbalances.

The following tennis weight training routine is recommended to be performed only twice a week for 6-8 weeks. This allows ample time for rest and recovery in between sessions. The main targets are the major muscle groups in order to strengthen the whole body. These exercises are done during the off season like in winter.

Tennis Workout Plan Using Free Weights

Around 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions are done per exercise using only 40-50% of the maximum weight load you can do for 1 rep. Lifts should be smooth and controlled. Either free weights or machine weights can be used. The rest interval between sets should be no more than 90 seconds.

Before doing the actual work out, start with a 10 minute aerobic warm up and some dynamic stretches.


  • Light jogging in place, jumping rope or jumping jacks
  • Wrist circles
  • Arm circles – start from small to medium to full circles
  • Trunk twisting
  • Toe touching
  • Side bending
  • Abdominal stretching over stability ball
  • Groin stretching on stability ball
  • High knee kicks
  • Rear kicks

An ideal tennis workout plan includes a cool down part. After the work out, another additional 10 minutes are taken to cool down with some static stretches.

  • Wrist stretches
  • Tricep stretches
  • Shoulder stretches
  • Chest stretches
  • Lower back stretches
  • Groin stretches
  • Quadriceps stretches
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Calf stretches
  • Achilles stretches

These static stretches are held for around 10 seconds.

The main part of the workout makes use of the exercises usually recommended for this initial phase of your tennis workout plan:

  • Squats or Leg Presses
  • Bench Presses or Push Ups
  • Back Extensions on Stability Ball
  • Lunges
  • Single Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • Twisting Crunches
  • Shoulder Presses
  • Standing Barbell Curls
  • Standing Calf Raises
  • Barbell Upright Rows

The following exercises are specific for the rotator cuff and the forearm and are done not just in the first phase but throughout all phases.

  • Horizontal external rotations
  • External rotations with knee support
  • External rotations while lying on one side
  • Internal rotations
  • Forearm pronation and supination
  • Wrist curls
  • Wrist extensions
  • Wrist rotations
  • Grips Tennis Workout Plan to Develop Strength

The second phase of your tennis workout plan aims to develop maximum strength. The exercises used during this period are more intense. If an athlete can train to attain maximum strength, he or she has greater potential to develop more power and muscular endurance.

A tennis player should be able to hit the ball just as hard at the end of a long match as he or she has at the beginning. This phase takes just about as long as the first phase (6-8 weeks). Each exercise is done 2 to 3 times a week. 3-4 sets of 5-8 smooth and controlled repetitions are done with a rest interval of 3-4 minutes.

The weight used is 80-90% of maximum capacity for one rep. Just as in the first phase, a proper warm up and cool down should precede and conclude each work out session. The exercises used during this phase are the following:

  • Barbell Squats or Lying Leg Presses
  • Bench Presses
  • Lat Pull Downs
  • Shoulder Shrugs
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Weighted Crunches

In the third phase of a tennis workout plan, the maximum strength that was developed in the previous period is now going to be converted to power and endurance. Exercises are now more tennis specific in the sense that they mimic the movements used in the sport.

Tennis Workout Plan: Movement Specific Exercises

These movements are quick and explosive. Simple weight training is not the only component anymore. Instead, plyometric exercises are done additionally.

These include jumping exercises and medicine ball throwing exercises. The length of this period is 1-2 months. Each exercise is done no more than twice a week. Three sets of 8-10 reps with a rest interval of 3-4 minutes should be performed. Like the previous phases, a proper warm up and cool down should bookend each training session.

  • Squat Jumps
  • Medicine Ball Side Throws
  • Hurdle Jumps with Sprint
  • Medicine Ball Over the Back Toss
  • Box Drill with Rings – four rings are drawn on four corners of a square and the athlete must hop clockwise or counter-clockwise from one ring to the next.
  • Slams – this is a medicine ball exercise where you pick up the ball from the ground, hoist it over your head and slam it back down as hard as you can.
  • Plyometric Exercises in a Tennis Workout Plan

Aside from power-building plyometric exercises, a strength endurance circuit training session should be done twice a week. Schedule these such that they don’t fall on the same day that you will be doing your plyometrics. Circuit training makes use of different body weight exercises each being done for one full minute.

After each exercise, a 30 second rest period is taken before moving on to the next exercise. After completing all exercises, you are said to have accomplished one circuit. A 2 minute rest is taken between circuits until 2 or 3 circuits have been completed. Needless to say, a proper warm up and cool down should be done before and after a training session.

Squat Jumps Push Ups Squat Thrusts Sit Ups with Twist Box Step Ups with High Knee Drive Bench Dips Alternating

Split Squats Alternating Superman exercises – lie prone on the floor and lift up your left arm and right leg off the ground for 10 seconds then do the same with the opposite arm and leg.

Incorporating Proper Nutrition and Diet in a Tennis Workout Plan

A total tennis workout plan also takes into account your nutritional needs. A proper diet can be formulated based on a player’s need to gain or lose weight. Carbohydrates are the main fuel of the body for physical activity and should be taken before a training session.

Complex carbohydrates are best because they are more gradually metabolized and do not get converted to fat as easily as simple sugars. Examples include wheat based bread and cereals, brown rice and pasta.

Proper Tennis Diet in a Tennis Workout Plan


Simple sugars can be taken during or right after a training session to replenish depleted stores of carbohydrates. Proteins from eggs, white poultry meat and lean red meat are important in muscle and tissue repair and development. Hence, the ideal time to eat such food is after a training session.

Dietary fibre is also important as it improves digestion and contributes to better metabolic regulation. Vitamins and minerals should not be neglected as well. Deficiencies in any of these will result in suboptimal performance due to their effect on the nervous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems.

Fluids and electrolytes should be replaced during and after your work out. However, be careful not to drink too much while working out. Instead, limit yourself to just a few sips during rest intervals. Drink a lot after the training session.

There was a time when even the professional players didn’t have a real tennis workout plan. But today, every serious tennis player must undergo some kind of fitness regimen in order to be successful. Whatever your definition of success is, a fitness program specially designed for you will help make the realization of your goals more easily achievable.

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March 12, 2015