Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Tayytennis, Apr 29, 2013.
Best Gym workouts/exercises to help with tour tennis?
Specifics exercises tour tennis - Not sure, beyond my level. I'd imagine the principals are the same though, with greater intensity and better access to equipment.
As workout areas transcend skill levels, here are some recommended areas to work on for anyone trying to improve their tennis.
1. Strength train at fairly low weights with a high number of repetitions ~25. The goal is to build muscles which can move freely without tiring. The kind of muscle mass needed for heavy lifting is counter-productive in tennis, as it will add significant mass to your body and limit the range of motion.
2. High repetition exercises for the core muscles. The legs and torso are very important in tennis, as they:
-Increase shot power
-Stabilise the upper body, providing more control and consistency.
-Improve movement speed.
So lots of squats/lunges for the legs and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R67ijI8yHtc for the core.
3. Stretches to improve flexibility and prevent injury. You need good arm, shoulder, back, hip and leg flexibility to be able to hit shots out of position, and on the run. It can also increase shot power.
4. Plyometric exercises. Tennis is a game where explosive power is necessary. Increasing the amount of fast twitch fibres in your body will help greatly.
5. Sprint Training. The greater your lactic acid tolerance, the easier you will find long points. The faster your foot speed, the more shots you can run down.
6. Cardio. One of the less important areas in tennis, however being able to recover quickly after running down shots will help you in the next point.
7. Endurance. Obvious really, if you cannot keep going after the first set you will always lose. In particular leg endurance is important, as once your legs start to tire you will lose shot power, stability and retrieval abilities.
Some general 'Good Tennis Exercises' are:
-Skipping rope (all the pros do it)
-Cycling (Save the joints with the low impact alternative to running, just make sure you stretch as well because Cycling shortens the hamstrings)
Or listen to the World Number 4:
^^^^^ Thanks for sharing this link. Excellent
I am doing physical therapy for a rotator cuff strain, and the exercises she has me doing are eye opening. All of them are long-term good for tennis movement too. Unfortunately they would be very difficult to explain in words as they are small muscle group specific.... I have to concentrate on engaging specific muscles when doing an exercise, rather than letting the bigger muscles cheat and do all the work (biceps, triceps, lats, etc.).
So my suggestion is to speak with an accredited physical therapist or trainer to evaluate your current condition specific to tennis, and then demonstrate exercises to strengthen those areas.
Everyone hurts somewhere... and then the body starts to compensate to work around the pain/discomfort... but that compensation might not be best for your tennis strokes. Strengthening or repair the injury can also be painful (trust me... it is!) but it can be long term beneficial.
For endurance... any kind of interval training.
For strength, I was told a long time ago by a wise strength trainer that muscle-targeted weight lifting is a complete waste of time for almost every athlete that isn't a competitive bodybuilder.
He recommended I do three weight training exercises... which I have done for the last several years:
3) Power cleans
That's it. It takes me 30 minutes three days a week. If you do those lifts three days a week, you will be amazed at the full-body strength you will develop. Those exercises require almost all major muscle groups in the body in order to complete.
quoted for truth.
kettleball swings with as heavy a weight as you can manage has similar benefits as well.
A few of my favorites:
-Movements to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff and around the scapulae (your shoulders will thank you) - internal and external rotation, scapular retraction; Y, T, W, L's
-Single Leg Squats or Lunges to help strengthen the legs and also mimic the body positions you may use in a tennis match. Add a medicine ball to challenge your balance and strengthen you core .
-Medicine ball slams and throws. Works rotational power and core. Plus it's just fun.
-Kettlebell swings - helps generate explosive force from legs and hips, requires core stabilization, and can be used for conditioning
There is a Health & Fitness forum here on Talk Tennis where your question may have gotten more replies.
Here is a site that gives great all around advise for workouts and WHY you need to train in all the areas mentioned by GoudX above:
Sports Fitness Advisor Tennis Training Section:
Here is probably the best set of exercises to help avoid the common overuse injuries of the shoulder, elbow and wrist that plague tennis players:
Thrower's Ten Exercise Program: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/pdf/main/athletics/athletic_training/throwers10.pdf
Here's what one USTA coach said about running:
" When training the players the USTA works with, we usually do some sort of "running" four to five times a week. The running session usually lasts between 20 – 40 minutes, but there is a lot of variety in the types of running we do.
You’ll note that we put running in quotation marks, because much of what we do is different from the long, slow distance running many tennis players are familiar with – there is some long distance running, but the “running” sessions also involve footwork/tennis agility work, or interval runs. The type of running depends upon the periodized strength and conditioning schedule of the player.
Generally, the long distance running and longer interval repeats (400s and 800s) are done during the preparation phase when you are getting ready for the season. Shorter, higher intensity intervals (20s, 40s, 60s, 100s, 200s, and 400s) and on-court footwork/tennis agility are the main focus during the pre-competition phase in the weeks leading up to main competition or competitions. During the competition phase of the season, on-court footwork/tennis agility is the “running” focus.
Recognizing that each player is an individual, we adjust the plan depending upon the player’s cardiovascular endurance, agility and their physical and physiological strengths and weaknesses."
High Intensity Interval Training: http://www.intervaltraining.net/hiit.html
USTA agility drills: http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/USTA_Import/USTA/dps/doc_437_269.pdf
Here's the best single source of training in blocks to increase your tennis fitness:
Power Tennis Training [Paperback]
Donald A. Chu (Author)
"Donald Chu, training consultant to the United States Tennis Association and top tennis pros, defines power as speed applied to strength. In Power Tennis Training he shows players at all levels how to put more power into their game.
Power Tennis Training combines a variety of training methods specifically designed to increase tennis players' endurance, strengthen the muscles they use most often, and enhance their speed. These methods are integrated into 3 training blocks that each feature a mix of different workouts. Each block lasts 4 weeks, providing an easy-to-follow 3-month workout cycle that can be repeated again and again.
Workouts in the first block focus on enhancing endurance and developing strength in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In the next two blocks, workouts are designed to help players become faster and hit the ball harder by applying strength more effectively to their tennis strokes."
You're getting some great advice here, it's all good, but don't forget to add a stretching program to your routine. Specifically, HIP mobility. Your power will ultimately come from your flexibility in your hips and core. I watch a lot of videos that are posted here and right away you can see a lack of power coming from the legs. Once your hips get tight you really are limited with any kind of power in your game. I do not know the person in the video, but he was referred to me by a sports science guy who lives in England and I must say, these exercises have helped me tremendously, even at my age. They also have improved my strength-training program, especially performing squats. All of his videos are excellent. Scroll to the middle of the video and try the hip rocking (frog stretch) and all those hip stretches and I guarantee you will see a transformation in your strokes.
I highly recommend Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. It's a great barbell beginner program that translates well into strength and sports.
Specifically for tennis, I like power cleans and overhead press.
use to watch your tennis podcasts pretty religiously. lots of really great stuff. are the videos on youtube or just itunes?
They're on both youtube and iTunes plus a ton of other podcast sites that link off our tennispodpro site. But my youtube channel is GRFtennis which stands for Ground Reaction Force. Personally, I think the game is played for the waist down and that's why I posted on this thread. Unfortunately, the least watched videos on my site are about strength and conditioning.
Thanks for your kind words,
Good info. I'll have to check out the videos and podcast!
I'd be careful with the overhead press as overdoing it or using bad form might aggravate shoulder impingement.
If your body can handle it, squats, bench and deadlift will serve (pun inteded) you well.
If not, look at this article;
It's a total myth that 'big muscles will slow you down' - especially when you consider that, as a tennis player you should be more concerned with trying to add as much muscle mass as possible to your legs - not your upper body so you look good at the beach.
Yes, having a huge man-boob-laden chest on top of spindly legs will hinder you on the tennis court, but having huge muscular legs and a lean upper body will only help your speed and mobility around the court.
Also place a big emphasis on hip mobility and posterior shoulder strength to limit injury.
weighted lunges, love em
I do a hybrid of P90X and P90X2 and have seen my tennis improve as a result. I did have to add a little cardio on the side too since P90X doesn't focus on that very much.
systematic stretching will be most helpful. try to achieve squatting skill like a baby does. feet out knee out heels on ground butt aaall the way down and extend arms forward. this is a sign of good core flexibility.
Since my game is defensive, consistent, and based off speed, I focus on quickness, agility, sprinting, running. a lot of fast twitch stuff.
for strength, i do some high rep, low weight exercises. I do strength and stretching to prevent injuries and add stability on the court.
mainly, i just get into tennis shape by playing a lot of tennis
I'm sorry, but this is blatantly bogus. This would be more appropriate for someone like a cyclist. Having a large amount of muscle mass absolutely slows you down. It is not necessary in tennis by any stretch of the imagination. You want to be lean throughout. Much like a boxer, you need to have ENOUGH body mass. No more, and definitely no less. There is a sweet spot for your height where more muscle simply is more mass for you to move, and less muscle is less power and speed. There is definitely a tennis physique, and bulk anywhere is not a part of it. Two guys who used to have a lot of bulk: Nadal and Tsonga. Both lost a lot of their muscle, and have had their best tennis since.
What do you think the muscle mass in the legs contributes towards? Your speed and explosive power around the court.
Look at the legs of sprinters. According to you the bulk of their legs should slow them down, yet the speed afforded by the muscularity far outweighs the mass. Tennis is about performing a series of sprints in succession.
I would agree if you had massive pecs and tiny legs, your muscle mass would be largely not functional for tennis, but having developed legs and a lightweight upper body is definitely functional for tennis.
Even the worlds fastest sprinters have far less muscle mass in their legs than bodybuilders and powerlifters.
After all, who has the more muscular legs?
Fastest man alive Usain Bolt: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/09/article-2186206-14778887000005DC-
or this bodybuilder: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/3e/TomPlatz2.jpg/200px-TomPlatz2.jpg
As you can see, the goal of sport training is not to gain as much muscle as possible. It is about getting the optimum amount and distribution of lean muscle. In sports like Tennis and football (soccer) acceleration is much more important than top speed, so there is an optimum point where extra muscle slows acceleration (by increasing mass and 'swingweight' around the joints), faster than it improves power.
Also remember that the type of muscle that is important. You could also easily get as muscular as Monfils/Nadal and not be able to move as fast, if you have a lower percentage of fast-twitch fibres. This would happen if you train for maximum strength/endurance, and neglect the explosive power training (sprints, plyometrics, moderate-heavy weightlifting etc...).
Equally, too low a proportion of slow twitch fibres and you will lack endurance. Long distance training, high-rep light weightlifting strength and cardio training help build these.
Finally, remember to train all of the muscles (especially the legs and core), working on both sides of the body. The distribution of muscle is as important as the amount and type.
That link doesn't seem to have worked, so here is a different one. To cover the unlikely case that someone, somewhere has never seen Usain Bolt:
You are not correct. You should go read up on this topic. It isn't philosophy where there is no empirical evidence.
Sprinting is different than tennis. Can you please point me to any sprinter that competitively runs a 5k at a professional level? Oh, you can't find any? I thought not. Now ask yourself why.
Because at that distance, a ripped sprinter can't compete. They are too big.
A professional 5k runner can go that distance in 13 minutes. That is averaging over 14mph/23kph. A sprinter runs 28-30mph and can only sustain that level for probably 6 or 7 seconds.
Tennis players basically run a 5k interval in a long match. You can't be big to do that efficiently.
Matter of fact, I just got my P90X cds back yesterday from my sister who borrowed them. It'll take a while to get back to speed with that program! It is a butt kicker, but I love the ab workout cd... short but very intense!
And if anyone thinks yoga is for whimps and girly-men... whew... try the P90X yoga cd and report back!
Hmmm.... I've seen some tennis players with really large legs... they don't seem so explosive.... or speedy.....
David Ferrer's legs look pretty muscular to me...
Also Berdych, one of the few tall guys that can really move well on a tennis court...
Both certainly have more muscular legs than most gym guys that have huge upper bodies. Tennis players also have disproportionately large calf muscles compared to other sports folk. Big posteriors too. You have to work out your legs, the question is: how?
Those legs are not large, they're lean and defined. As I was saying earlier, you want to have enough muscle. Just enough. Any more, and it doesn't contribute and if anything makes you more tired in the end(remember, you have to refuel your muscles, and if you've got a bigger fuel tank, you need more fuel. Your liver doesn't become quicker at making more just because your legs are bigger). The point of this story is that you need to maximize the muscle that you can use effectively. Having huge legs is not that, and in fitness circles, tennis players have TINY legs.
Case in point. Jay Cutler's and Ronnie Coleman's bodies and muscle is certainly probably more proportionate than 99.999% of the people on the planet. Their legs more than easily support their weight.
These guys are not tearing up the tennis court, I assure you.
No, I think Ehh is pretty spot on. Read the article more closely. There are very few players here who could BULK up like what is being posted. I don't think he is saying that he wants you to look like the Incredible Hulk. I know Malivai Washington was taken off a weight lifting program because of too much muscle mass gain, but most people don't have this problem. Michael Chang did a lot of leg work and had huge legs. The list goes on and on. Do you think Serena is too bulky?? Andre Agassi also put on a lot of mass and no one can deny how much it helped his type of game.
For most of us, doing goblet squats, dead lifts, thrusters and low weights is not going to bulk up the legs. I agree that a lean look like Novak is what everyone should strive for, however, flexibility is the key combined with a proper strength-training program. His legs are huge in comparison to the average person and we don't know how much better he might get with a upper body gain because he is not going to risk putting on upper body muscle mass.
By the way, the ITF is are now offering Olympic Lifting courses for tennis coaches and are trying to encourage teaching pros to get their players into the gym. The benefits of weightlifting have enormous advantages. Hitting millions of tennis balls is not the answer. Murray mentioned this in his last interview and credited weights and yoga to his improvement.
Let's change the mindset here away from Bodybuilding and more to a Crossfit look.
Man, so many rec tennis players like to give themselves excuses to not work out. "It'll make me too heavy!" "I'll get so stiff I can't move!" "Gilles Simon is skinny and he's a tennis player."
If you don't do it - fine, at the rec level who even cares, I guess. But don't pretend that doing resistance work on your legs and, yes, adding size to your legs won't help your game.
Unless you're injecting water into your muscles - that muscle is going to be functional in some way.
If you've trained with low reps and heavy weight, you will have developed your fast twitch muscles and have neurologically trained yourself to use more of them, so you'll have an obvious boost in strength, and, depending on whether you choose to add in plyometrics, this will either carry over a little or a lot to explosive speed around the court.
If you've trained with moderate weight and high reps, you will have developed both your slow and fast twitch muscle fibres to varying extents, improved your tendon strength (for resistance to injury) and also improved the ability of your muscles to recover from short bursts of anaerobic activity. Don't tell me this isn't of use to a sport such as tennis which pretty much depends on your ability to repeatedly recover from bouts of anaerobic activity. Dimitrov, with his, at the moment spindly frame, tends to cramp up at latter stages of matches, suggesting his ability to recover could be improved. Many on here are saying things along the lines of "when he adds in a bit of time in the gym he'll be a force to be reckoned with" - and moderate weight high-rep stuff is the sort of thing Dimitrov could probably use a lot of.
Anyway, whether you choose high weight and low reps or the opposite, you'll see different benefits, although they'll crossover somewhat. Train smart, and choose the correct exercises and, no you won't get injured. Supplement your strength training with mobility work (as you always should) and you'll improve your flexibility, not hurt it.
EDIT: I'm going to re-post the article I posted earlier because it's such a good resource;
what is the relevance of posting these types of pictures? what is wrong with you internet people? everything is extreme...
you don't get this big by doing some squats and lunges 3 times a week and a few sprints. Even the big muscle guys in the gym with massive arms and chest dont' have such thighs that you posted.
Compare Querry, a poor mover, with Berdych (post #28 ). Sam is skinny legged:
As Ehh pointed out, you can add muscle mass and not be extremely bulky. You can add compact, lean muscle mass as you develop strength.
IMHO its sort of stupid to post picts of body builders when talking about training for tennis. If you are training with tennis in mind, you are not going to add that amount of mass. Heck, most people doing their usual work out trying to get big couldn't even come close.
The body builders do build some strength, but their goal is mainly hypertrophy. They have huge muscles and a lot of definition, but most of the guys who are truly strong Olympic lifts / competitive lifting don't look anything like that.
There appears to be some confusion in regards to my advise, sorry if I wasn't clear:
What I am trying to say is that if you are training for tennis, the most important things to work on are explosive power (plyos, sprint training, flexibility), point endurance (sprint training, moderate weights) and match endurance (high repetition of light weights, long distance training).
While doing this, other areas of training should not be neglected, as failing to train in all areas will leave you with attackable weaknesses. Building enough upper body strength to hit a decent pace serve and hit heavy groundstrokes is sufficient. Meanwhile, the advised hill sprint training, plyometrics, squats, lunges and cycling should build ample leg strength.
There is an intentional skew towards leg exercises and endurance in what I suggested, as I believe these are the more important focuses when training for tennis.
tldr: Lifting heavy objects is good for your tennis, but not the "Most Beneficial" exercise.
You make some valid points and some very good recommendations to get in better shape. Now the reality, we still have many junior and adult tennis players playing tournaments who still can't do 5 or 6 pull-ups. They keep getting injured and then try to play through all these injuries. That article referenced in Ehh's post really resonated with me because of a recent injury I incurred because of bad form on a specific lift. This was also caused due to a lack of flexibility in the hips. I am now on a new routine targeting flexibility in the hips. I think the bottom line here is most people don't do or even try strength training to improve their tennis game or just to improve overall health.
There is an obsession here on these boards to try and dissect what a modern forehand looks like, and even if someone could develop a template to reproduce a world class forehand they would still get injured immediately if they don't have a world class body, or something close to it.
There is no EASY way to hit a windshield wiper forehand, 100 MPH serve, or people touting you can learn tennis in a half and hour. Of course, this is if you want to play at the higher levels of the game. By the way, and as you probably already know, there is a direct correlation between leg strength and upper body strength so you don't want to neglect one area over the other.
Getting back to the hips; if anyone has time please read this article:
You need a basic strength foundation so squats, deadlifts, power cleans, pendlay rows, overhead press, and bench press. These along with movement drills and sprints will make you more athletic
THANKS FOR POSTING!!! My 11 year old this week has been feeling a popping in her hip. I took her to the physical therapist and she said she really needs to start stretching her hips. She said her hips were wayyyy to tight.
Ummm... yeah they could.... with their BARE HANDS!
Hitting the tennis ball against the wall (perhaps on the racketball court).
For most of us, the biggest problem is not practicing enough. This isn't the case for the pros or many (not all) top juniors who do a lot of off-court training in addition to tennis.
what kind of Plyometrics and sprint exercises do you guys recommend?
Any specific ones? I used to do these back when i was fit (3 years ago). Need to get back to training... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BmtGNjm7BE here are the drills... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmErE5ogKJE
I'm quite partial to hill sprints myself, given the reduced risk of sprain and the extra resistance. It also helps that I live on a steep hill. If you are going to do any sprinting, always make sure you are running on an even surface, or you are risking a sprain.
For strength, you want to accelerate to maximum speed as quickly as possible. For lactic tolerance, you want to hold the maximum speed for as long as possible On the flat, this may mean over 200m if you are very healthy - the top sprinters only start slowing down again in the 400m+ races.
TO EVERYONE - DO NOT GO STRAIGHT INTO THESE WITHOUT MAKING SURE YOU ARE PHYSICALLY STRONG ENOUGH AND UNDERSTAND THE CORRECT FORM, OR YOU WILL INJURE YOURSELF. (Sorry for that, I just wanted to make sure that people read the disclaimer, as I don't want to be responsible for someone only reading half the post and giving themselves a serious injury.)
The best advice I can find is the first answer by 'TUnit' in this link: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/wotw27.htm
Generally, drop jumping is the classic plyometric exercise, but it is also one of the most difficult. They are only advised if you have decent leg strength (1.5 times bodyweight squat is often advised). Even then, you'll want to make sure you ease yourself into them, start with < 1ft drops just to get the technique right, then work your way up over several sessions.
If you aren't that strong, standing jumps and bounding are advised. For the former, stand on a spot, feet shoulder width apart, then 'explosively' jump as high or as far forward as you possibly can. Bounding is essentially jumping forward from one leg to another, kind of like an exaggerated slow motion running motion.
You're welcome, but I must give credit to Chris from London who is an expert in this field and got me interested in this subject. I am 55 and have noticed a considerable improvement in my overall flexibility and strength due to hip stretching. The frog stretch has helped improve my tennis and strength training the most. I am now getting a deeper squat, something that was static for a very long time. Also, I tend to play with my feet to close together (like most people) so this stretch is great.
Glad your PT noticed this in your daughter. Every PT is different and will focus on their preferences. Hope she gets better.
BTW, if your daughter is feeling anything like a popping in the hip or joints... pay for an office visit and go see a sports medicine doctor/orthopedist.
I would not listen to the diagnosis of a physical therapist (who is not a doctor) or people from internet message boards.
Some good advice here.
I especially like the seemingly wise *ss recommendation to play more tennis. It seems obvious but to really master tennis its thought you need 10,000 hours. The thing is the pros have all mastered tennis - and we mostly have not. Thus when they hit their 10,000 hour mark they can focus on improving fitness and athleticism. For us more time on the court is going to reap the greatest benefits.
I like the advice about injury free mass. People get a little passionate about weightlifting. People are going to want to lift no matter what. So the key is to know that in truth many different exercises strength will reap modest benefits. While its true some exercises are better then others the key point that most tennis players need to be concerned with in my experience is avoiding injury while getting stronger. So if you can do for example overhead presses and bench presses with absolutely no shoulder pain - go for it. Lots of guys I know hurt their shoulders doing it though - and they could get similiar results doing say neutral grip dumbell presses and no shoulder pain.
Now to answer the question of what is the best gym exercise? That would be jumping rope - it helps quickness, coordination and endurance. And personally I feel thats what most adult male opponents lack. I say this because i have hit with juniors who use excellent technique, speed, and endurance to play much better tennis then the much stronger adults..
I think people don't want to hear this because they like to think the bigger muscles are going to make them awesome at tennis - but the crossover seems really really small. Lifting might be fun for the ego and good for overall health and useful for everyday life. But with regards to improving tennis directly for low level players - its way down the list.
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