Tennis requires an athlete to be strong, agile, powerful, and coordinated. The game’s swings, serves, and side-to-side shuffles call on your calves, hamstrings, and quads, as well as your glutes, biceps, and triceps. You need the power to be able to get to any ball from any spot on the court. It’s often the difference between winning and losing.
The kind of physical power needed for tennis comes from the ability to perform strength-based movements and that’s why training to develop power is important. These five exercises will help you build strength and power.
Exercises To Build Power
1. Bench Press
The bench press is a compound exercise that targets the muscles of the upper body, especially the chest, triceps, and shoulders: all key ingredients of killer tennis serve. Few exercises build upper body strength as effectively as a properly-performed bench press.
There are several variations of bench presses that each work different muscles. These may involve lying flat, lying at an incline or decline, or placing your hands closer together on the barbell. Beginners should master the movement with lightweight dumbbells before progressing to heavier weights.
Equipment needed: barbell (additional weights optional) or dumbbells, flat bench
- Lie on your back on a flat bench. Grip a barbell with hands slightly wider than shoulder width. The bar should be directly over the shoulders.
- Press your feet firmly into the ground and keep your hips on the bench throughout the entire movement.
- Keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement. Avoid arching your back.
- Slowly lift the bar or dumbbells off the rack, if using. Lower the bar to the chest, about nipple level, allowing elbows to bend out to the side, about 45 degrees away from the body.
- Stop lowering when your elbows are just below the bench. Press feet into the floor as you push the bar back up to return to starting position.
- Perform 5 to 10 reps, depending on the weight used. Perform up to 3 sets.
2. Lateral Lunge
The lateral lunge is great for pre-run mobilization. It’s an area many traditional strength programs overlook. As you lean out to one side and push your hips back, you’re encouraging mobility from both your hips, lower back and groin.
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.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big step to the side with your left leg, then bend your left knee, push your hips back and lower until your left knee is bent 90 degrees. This should take around two seconds.
- Now push back to start.
- You can alternate, or complete all reps (8-10 should do it) on your left before moving on to your right.
3. Goblet Squat
Squats are a fundamental lower body exercise, and goblet squats are a great variation for beginners and expert athletes alike. A dumbbell goblet squat removes that tension while still targeting the quads and glutes, which are the major movers in the exercise.
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.
- Stand with your feet hip or shoulder-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.
- Tighten your abs and hold the kettlebell at chest height by holding the sides of the handle.
- Pull the kettlebell close to your body and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Sit your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat.
- Keep the chest up as you squat and squat as low as you can while keeping your back straight (when your back starts to round, that’s too low).
- Drive through the feet as you stand and squeeze your glutes as you return to a tall standing position.
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4. Box Jump
Box jumps are one of the main exercises in plyometric training or jump training. Not only do you burn a lot of calories through the explosive movements, but you also work on endurance, strength, and coordination. At the same time, you train your body’s stability and mobility.
Box jumps target all of the muscle groups of your lower body, including your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, working together to enhance power and strength. It also improves your ability to absorb the shock of touching back down, which is essential for avoiding foot and leg injuries.
- Stand with the box one short step in front of you and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees slightly and drop down, bringing your arms out behind you.
- Use the momentum from your quarter squat to propel you upward as you jump onto the box, allowing your arms to swing out in front of you.
- Land softly on both feet with a slight bend in the knees.
- Step back and down and repeat.
5. Side Plank
Side planks work the deep spinal stabilizing muscle quadratus lumborum. Keeping this muscle strong can help reduce your risk of a back injury. Strengthens your core without stressing your back. Unlike crunches and situps, side planks don’t put pressure on your lower back.
- Lie on your right side, legs extended and stacked from hip to feet. The elbow of your right arm is directly under your shoulder.
- Ensure your head is directly in line with your spine. Your left arm can be aligned along the left side of your body.
- Engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine.
- Lift your hips and knees from the mat while exhaling. Your torso is straight in line with no sagging or bending. Hold the position.
- After several breaths, inhale and return to the starting position. The goal should be to hold for 60 seconds. Change sides and repeat.