It's no secret that tennis is a game of endurance, but surprisingly, many aspiring tennis players invest very little time in developing the muscular stamina needed to play long matches. Fit muscles can endure the abuse of lengthy, intense matches, while still being able to deliver the needed power and strength to help you stay consistent until the final point.
One of the best ways to develop muscular endurance for tennis is to engage in cross training. The goal of cross training is to provide your body with a variety of exercises that will develop and strengthen the muscles commonly used while playing tennis, while at the same time increasing your overall athleticism. The following cross training exercises will help you target specific muscle development toward improving your on-court performance and increasing tennis endurance.
1. Biking - Biking is an excellent exercise to help you improve your tennis endurance for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important one is the positive effect it has on your cardiovascular system. Biking is categorized as a non-impact cardio exercise, which is a needed contrast to the high-impact nature of tennis. Biking improves the body's capacity to absorb oxygen, sharpens your equilibrium and increases your overall physical stamina, all of which are critical for peak performance during tennis matches. Many clubs offer spinning or indoor cycling classes if biking outside isn't an option.
2. Swimming - Swimming is one of the few exercises that work practically every muscle in your body at one time. The consistent pressure of the water on your body provides excellent, non-jarring resistance for your muscles, which will help them develop more endurance. In addition, the regular act of holding your breath when going underwater increases the ability of your lungs to efficiently utilize oxygen, another key point that will help you develop endurance.
3. Plyometrics - One of the most important components of your tennis game is the ability to accelerate quickly. This requires developing the muscular capacity to produce explosive movements at the drop of a hat. Plyometrics such as vertical jumps, lateral jumps and squat thrusts (a.k.a. burpees) can help you fine-tune your muscles for short-burst movements. Regularly incorporating plyometric exercises into your workout routine will help you develop the endurance necessary to perform these movements multiple times during matches.
4. Jumping Rope - This perennial classic exercise is a favorite of top tennis players because not only does it develop cardiovascular strength (a key to endurance), but it improves your coordination and footwork as well.
5. Sprints - Although tennis is an anaerobic sport, it requires a good aerobic foundation to be able to properly maintain endurance. Interval sprints can do wonders towards helping you develop an aerobic base. You can perform fast sprints for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds, then sprint again for 30 more seconds, etc. If this is a little too intense to begin with, try resting longer between sprints. As you gain more aerobic strength, you can experiment with different time frames, but try to keep your sprints under 90 seconds total.
6. Elliptical Training - Logging in some regular miles on the elliptical trainer is another great way to increase your cardiovascular health with virtually no impact on your joints. Elliptical training provides you with a full-body workout, and it builds your aerobic health by increasing your heart rate.
7. Core Exercises - A strong core is essential to your performance and endurance as a tennis player. All of your on-court movements will engage your core to some degree, so any exercises you can perform to target your core muscles will be worth the effort. Some of the most popular core exercises include crunches, V-sits, planks and various Swiss ball exercises. Another highly popular core exercise is push-ups, which also work your chest and shoulders.
8. Weightlifting - Maintaining good shoulder and arm strength is a vital component of your tennis game; without it, your arms can wear out quickly during matches, and the power of your strokes can diminish. Include weightlifting workouts that target your shoulder and arm muscles, such as overhead dumbbell presses, lateral raises and T-bar rows. Each of these exercises also engage your upper back muscles, which adds strength to your overall upper body.
Cross training will help you develop into a more well-rounded athlete, which will ultimately serve towards making you a better tennis player. If you consistently implement the cross training exercises listed above, your stamina and endurance will increase, and your tennis game will improve almost by default.