Gym Exercises for Tennis

Tennis places a lot of pressure on athletes to perform at the best level possible. To meet the physical demands of the sport, players are spending more hours in the gym training to strengthen and develop tennis-specific muscles. A well-designed gym routine consists of a variety of exercises to improve your power on the court and reduce the risk of injury.

Selecting Your Exercises

When setting up your gym routine, select one exercise for each muscle group to maintain your muscle balance, recommends Satoshi Ochi, strength and conditioning specialist for the United States Tennis Association. Ochi also recommends performing one or two multi-joint movement exercises for the major muscles groups such as your shoulders, chest and legs. When you start your workout session, perform exercises that work the larger muscle groups before doing the exercises that focus on the smaller muscle groups. For example, if your workout includes bench presses, squats, biceps curls and triceps kickbacks, perform the bench presses and squats first and then finish with the arm exercises.

Weight, Reps and Frequency

Start with a weight amount that fatigues your muscles after 12 to 15 reps. If your muscles become fatigued after eight reps, reduce the amount of weight, and if doing 15 reps feels easy, increase the weight. Add more weight as your strength level increases. Ochi recommends starting with two to three sets and no more than 15 reps per set with each exercise. When you begin your training, take as much time as you need between sets. As you become stronger, increase to no more than five sets, but limit the time between sets to no more than 90 seconds. Perform your workout three days per week with a day of rest in between sessions.

Upper-Body Exercises

To strengthen and develop your upper and lower back muscles, include exercises such as seated rows, cable pulldowns or dumbbell bent-over rows. Strong shoulders are crucial to the tennis serve and the overhead smash. To focus on your shoulder muscles, perform front and lateral raises, reverse flyes or shoulder presses with a barbell or dumbbells. Bench presses, dips and pullovers are effective in working your chest muscles. Sample exercises for your upper arms include biceps curls and triceps extensions. Include exercises such as dumbbell wrist flexions and extensions for your forearms.

Lower-Body Exercises

The five-way dumbbell lunge exercise focuses on your hip and thigh muscles while incorporating movements similar to what you use on the court. Basically, you hold dumbbells and perform lunges in five directions, forward, backward, laterally, diagonally and crossing one foot in front of the other. Other effective lower-body exercises to include might be barbell squats, dumbbell step-ups, barbell straight-leg deadlifts or hamstring curls.

Core Exercises

Having a strong upper body and lower body is important, but without a strong core or mid-section to connect the two, you can't efficiently produce the necessary power to hit powerful tennis shots, Ochi observes. Examples of core exercises to include in your gym workout are various versions of planks, situps, leg raises and crunches.


Using the wrong technique and not performing the exercises with proper form can lead to injuries. Work with a personal trainer to learn how to set up the exercise equipment and how to perform the exercises correctly. Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.

About the Author

This article was written by the SportsRec team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about SportsRec, contact us here.