As the Australian Tennis Open has come to a close for another year, it may have inspired you to pick up a racquet. Whether you want to play once a week with a friend, or go for Wimbledon, tennis is fantastic exercise as it mixes a lot of different elements together such as endurance, power and mobility.
In sports science, there is a principle known as SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) which essentially means that you get really good at what you repeatedly practice. In the context of tennis players, this means the best way to get better at Tennis is to play as many games as you can (with suitable rest and recovery in between) while supplementing these games with strength and mobility exercises in the gym.
The Best Gym Exercises For Tennis Players
- Dead Hangs
- Lateral/Side Lunges
- Medicine Ball Wall Slams
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Russian Twists
1. Dead Hangs
Dead hangs are great for shoulder flexibility and strength. To perform a dead hang, it is literally as it sounds, grab onto a pull-up bar and simply hang by your arms. Not only will this improve your grip strength, it will also open up your shoulder joints to prepare you for the workout ahead.
As you can probably imagine, shoulder flexibility is very important for tennis as you swing the tennis racquet to hit your shot. The more flexible and strong your shoulders are, the more force you can generate in your swing and the more mobile you will be when returning the ball.
2. Lateral/Side Lunges
A movement that tennis players such as Andy Murray use in their workout routines. As was alluded to above, the best way to get more powerful side lunges is to do just that. You can perform this exercise with dumbbells or simply using your bodyweight. Stand tall and lunge out to the side to a point that challenges you but remains comfortable) with your feet still facing forward.
Generate force through the foot that you have lunged with to push yourself back to the starting position.
3. Medicine Ball Wall Slams
Medicine ball wall slams are great for rotational power through your arms and core. Stand upright beside a (fairly well-reinforced) wall with a medicine ball in your hands. Keeping your feet and torso facing forward, rotate and throw the medicine ball against the wall.
As you can imagine, this movement closely mimics the motion of a forehand tennis shot while building up strength and power in your arms, core and shoulders.
4. Dumbbell Bench Press
Why am I bench-pressing to get better at tennis? Simply put, incorporating larger weight training into your routine can reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular injury as your muscles, ligaments and tendons get stronger.
Why use dumbbells over a barbell? When you bench press with a barbell, there’s a greater chance of the stronger side of your body doing most of the work. With dumbbells, both arms have to generate the same amount of force to move the weight. Instead of increasing this disparity, using dumbbells and performing other unilateral movements will progress each side of your body the same amount.
5. Russian Twists
Another great core exercise for rotational strength and power. You can perform this exercise with a dumbbell, kettlebell or even without weights. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, and lie slightly back until you can feel your core engage. Move your hands, the dumbbell or kettlebell (depending on what you are using) from the floor beside your left hip to the floor beside your right hip. Imagine you are picking something up off the floor and moving it to the floor on the other side of your body.
(For an extra challenge, raise your feet slightly off the floor and hold them there for the duration of your set.
As the Australian Open continues, we hope that watching Britain’s finest will inspire you to book a court in the near future. If you have an old racquet, come into our Gordon Street sports shop and get it restrung ready for the new season. Shop our full tennis range at Greaves and who knows, you could be the one on the TV in the future.