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Why Condition for Tennis?

Legs - speed training

 
 
Strengthen your body and watch power and consistency quickly infused into your tennis game.

 

  • Increase your general work capacity
  • Improve your ability to tolerate increasing levels of muscular fatigue (stamina improvement)
  • Elevate heart rates to upgrade your cardiorespiratory capacity (stamina improvement).
  • Enhance your overall body strength, including the strength and resiliency of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the integrity of your joints, and the strength and density of your supporting bone structures (strength improvement).
  • Improve your movement skill and body awareness. You'll perform exercises that utilize body weight as the primary form of resistance (skill improvement).
  • Increase your lean muscle mass by a moderate amount and decrease your body-fat levels through high levels of energy expenditure (body composition improvement)
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.  -  Chinese Proverb

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"Train for your sport." That's what the fitness instructors are telling us these days. And it's true; you need to train your body to be able to meet the particular physical demands of any athletic activity. But what exactly does "sport-specific training" mean for tennis players?

Watch any match and you'll get a general idea: Every player needs to stop and start quickly, scramble to get to wide balls, and use the core of the body to provide balance and rotate through ground strokes, all while hitting with power and accuracy. These skills don't just happen; they're all built on a solid fitness foundation. Because of that, a well-structured conditioning and strength program that focuses on injury prevention and performance enhancement should be an integral part of every tennis player's training plan. 

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During the past few years, endurance athletes in a number of sports have added resistance exercises to their training programs to boost their muscle power.

Scientific studies have linked resistance training with a reduced rate of injury in athletes. It fortifies leg muscles and strengthens weak links' in athletes' bodies, including the often-injured hamstrings and shin muscles, as well as abdominal and low-back muscles.

Resistance work also improves tendon and ligament strength and increases bone density, which decreases the risk of injury.

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Here's a look at a tennis player's major muscle groups, with exercises to keep dominant and weaker sides in balance

 

MUSCLE GROUPS:


 

SHOULDER  

The muscles that internally rotate the shoulder (pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, latissimus dorsi) are typically 33 percent stronger than the external rotators (posterior deltoid, infraspinatus) on the dominant side in tennis players. Every time you hit a serve or a forehand you use your internal rotators, and they become quite strong. The external rotators typically must be strengthened to maintain normal shoulder function and prevent injury.

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TRUNK

The benefits of core training

The significant benefits of core training follow through to whatever you are involved in, because the area around your trunk and pelvis is where your center of gravity is located. A strong core gives you:

  • Better posture
  • More control
  • Improved, more powerful performance
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation
  • Increased protection and "bracing" for your back
  • A more stable center of gravity
  • A more stable platform for sports movements

When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work in harmony. They provide support to your spine and help transmit increased power and performance for just about any activity.

A weak core makes you susceptible to lower back pain, poor posture and a whole host of muscle injuries. Strong core muscles provide the brace of support needed to help prevent such pain and injury -- and this discovery is why core training has become so popular among elite athletes.

Because they contract their stomach muscles with every stroke, tennis players typically develop abdominal muscles that are stronger than their lower-back muscles. This is in contrast to most people, who have stronger muscles in the lower back.

 

OBLIQUES These are the abdominal muscles just above your hips along the sides of your torso that cause the trunk to rotate when they contract. Tennis keeps trunk-rotation strength balanced on both sides of the body because players hit both forehands and backhands, which require these muscles to be strong in both directions. But because these muscles facilitate the rotation necessary for open-stance strokes, tennis players should train them regularly.

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FOREARM AND WRIST The muscles in the dominant forearm and wrist are 30 percent stronger than the same muscles on the non-dominant side. Within the dominant side, the pronator muscles, which rotate the palm inward, are 40 percent stronger than the supinators, which rotate the palm outward. The pronation that occurs in serves and ground strokes contributes to this strength imbalance.

 

LEGS The quadriceps, crucial muscles for getting up for serves and exploding toward the ball on ground strokes, are twice as strong in tennis players as the hamstrings. This is not an imbalance to be worried about, but a ratio needed by every athlete.

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Strengthening Various Muscle Groups
 
All parts of the body can benefit from building strength, players should key on these specific areas:

It has been stated repeatedly in the tennis literature that tennis places demands on the ability of a player to move quickly in all directions, change directions often, stop and start, while maintaining balance and control to hit the ball effectively. The sprinting, stopping, starting and bending nature of tennis puts repetitive demands on the bones, ligaments and muscles to absorb the shear forces. Therefore, proper training exercises, including flexibility and strength training, are paramount for injury prevention purposes.

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Exercises:

 

Shoulder Exercise: To keep shoulder strength balanced, do rows. With a dumbbell in one hand, bend and anchor your body by putting your opposite hand and knee on a bench or chair. With your back flat and arm straight up and down, slowly pull the weight up to the center of your body. Hold and release to starting position. Do three sets of 10 to 15.

 

Forearm and Wrist Exercise: To keep forearm strength balanced and help prevent tennis elbow, perform wrist extensions. Sit with one end of a light exercise band under your feet. Rest your right forearm on your thigh so your hand is over your foot and hold the end of the tube in your hand, palm down. Place your left hand, palm down, over your right forearm for stabilization. Raise your right hand, keeping your forearm on your thigh. Hold for one second; do 15 times with each arm.

 

Trunk Exercise: To strengthen your lower back and rebalance the strength in your core, try performing Superman exercises. Lie face down on the floor, arms fully extended over your head. Lift your arms and legs simultaneously. Hold for one to five seconds, release, and return to starting position. Work up to 20 repetitions.

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Obliques Exercise: To keep your obliques strong, do crunches with a twist. Lie on the floor with knees bent, back flat against floor. Place your arms on the same side of your body, holding a tennis racquet in both hands. Bring both arms up and across your body in a diagonal movement while using your trunk to rise up. Do 20 reps and switch sides.

 

Legs Exercise: Strength can be built in the quads with standing squats. Put a barbell of comfortable weight across your shoulders (or use a Smith machine), point your feet slightly outward, bend your legs 90 degrees, then power the bar up until you're standing. Keep your back straight throughout. Do 15 repetitions

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The eight exercises in your circuit

Here is the sequential format provided in this training plan for each circuit, with an analysis of how it helps the athlete:

Total-body exercise: Four-count squat thrusts

1. Develops strength and mobility in your knee and hip joints – important for high-speed movement. Develops stability and strength in the upper trunk, abdominal, and pelvic regions, strength that is necessary to control torso movements during the running stride or when you strike a ball. Greatly increases your cardiac demand, hikes the power of your leg muscles, and increases the impact forces (upon landing) as well, fortifying the bones in your legs and feet.

Upper-body exercise: Push-ups

2. Increases upper-body strength, developing abdominal and hip-flexor stability. Improves stability, helps to control hip, trunk, and shoulder movements as you move quickly. Also promotes balance between the upper and lower body.

Lower-body exercise: Scissor step-ups

3. Develops leg strength, power, and dynamic-balance control (coordination) - without which you can't move quickly, whether it's from one end of the football pitch to the other, from the baseline to the net on a tennis court, or from the start to the finish of a 10k race. Cardiovascular benefits of this exercise can be increased by speeding up your stepping cadence or by increasing the height of the step.Enhances leg-muscle power and improves mobility of the hip and knee joints.

Core/trunk exercise: Abdominal sit-backs

4. Increases abdominal stability, which carries over to improved posture and better core stability as you run. A strong pelvic girdle and trunk provide the anchor point for a strong pair of legs, allowing you to use your legs in a maximally powerful manner during quick sprints – or during sustained, vigorous running.

Total-body exercise: Squats to presses

5. Increases strength and power in your legs, hips, low back, abdominals, shoulders, and arms. Note that the whole-body involvement of this exercise increases your cardiorespiratory requirements, compared to the more commonly used, isolated pressing exercises such as bench and shoulder presses.

Upper-body exercise: Body-weight rows

6. Improves pulling strength of the upper-back, shoulder, and arm muscles, and does for the back side of the body what the push-up does for the front side. Also serves to increase stabilizing strength in the low back, gluteals, and hamstrings, all of which are critically important for quick movement whenever you participate in your sport. You'll achieve a balance between lower and upper body strength by performing this exercise.

Lower-body exercise: Single-leg squat

7. Develops muscle strength in the quads, hamstrings, and gluteals, the muscles which provide much of your power while running. By strengthening your hip and knee joints in a coordinated and integrated fashion, your leg strength and running power should improve tremendously. It can also help you improve your vertical jumping ability.

Core/trunk exercise: Low Back Stabilisers

8. Heightens low-back strength providing for proper posture while running and also provides excellent ‘motion control' of the torso and hips throughout the running stride. As a result, you'll move more quickly – whether it's to return a serve on the tennis court or to reach the football in time to score a goal.

Remember that improvements in how your body functions can occur whenever you overload your body's systems.  It provides an overload of your cardiorespiratory system (especially the hard circuits), taxes your muscular system by forcing it to work against increased resistance, and forces the key joints involved in moving your body to go through a wider range of motion than they commonly encounter.