Which Muscles of the Body Are Used While Playing Tennis?
Tennis is a sport that allows you to enjoy yourself while improving your physical fitness. During a tennis match, all the major muscle groups are used and the energy exertion required during play can burn over 200 calories in 30 minutes, depending on your height and weight. Tennis also requires a high amount of agility, flexibility, quick reflexes and aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
Due to the swinging of the racket, tennis is often thought of as an upper-body sport, but your leg muscles, including your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, are doing most of the work out on the court. Tennis requires several bursts of short-distance running; if you can’t get to the ball, you can't hit it back over the net. Your feet never stop moving when a ball is in play — even when your opponent has the ball. Additionally, the power for your serve, forehand and backhand originates in the legs and travels up through your body to your racket. Playing tennis will help strengthen your legs, but if you are a serious player, consider adding additional leg exercises to your workout routine such as squats, lunges and step-ups.
Agility, balance and strength all come from your core — your lower back and stomach muscles — which is used during every shot and movement during a tennis match. Not only does your core connect your lower body to your upper body, most movements originate in your core. While moving forward, backward and side to side, your core helps you make quick changes in direction. A strong core keeps you balanced and stable so that you can focus on hitting the ball. In addition, every time you hit a forehand or backhand, you work your abdominal muscles, especially the obliques, which run down the sides your torso.
The upper back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps all come into play during a tennis swing or tennis serve. Although the movement begins in your legs and travels up through the core, your upper body is responsible for the final execution and follow through on the shot. While practicing and playing tennis will strengthen your upper body, conditioning these muscle groups off of the court will help your game. It is best to engage in functional exercises that will strengthen while also keep them loose and flexible. Wellness Massachusetts recommends doing seated rows, overhead presses, bench presses and lat pull-downs.
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Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.