- Workouts for tennis should move the body in all directions, trainer Luke Worthington said.
- Most gym equipment and workout classes only focus on moving forwards and backwards, he said.
- It's important to twist as well as work the body forwards and backwards, and side-to-side.
People who want to build an impressive physique should train like tennis players, a trainer to elite athletes told Insider.
Improving your tennis skills requires workouts that challenge the body in all directions, and this subsequently builds a balanced physique, Luke Worthington said.
Playing tennis requires speed, power, endurance, strength, and hand-eye coordination. It's also a "tri-planar" sport, meaning the player moves in all three directions, Worthington said. And what's even more challenging is that those changes in direction are random, as the player responds to their opponent.
Training in a three-dimensional way to improve tennis performance helps create a balanced body, as our bodies were designed to move in all directions, he said.
Doing the right workouts can help prevent injury too, he said.
Most gym workouts or generic fitness classes aren't as helpful for improving tennis skills as they could be because they don't work the body in all directions.
A tennis-focused workout should be 'three-dimensional'
Most gym equipment and exercise classes work the body in a two-dimensional way: forwards and backwards (known as the sagittal plane), Worthington said.
"While this is important to tennis players, they also need to be equally proficient at moving side-to-side (frontal plane) and rotating (transverse plane), so a workout for a tennis player would look a little different," he said.
Movements on the court are driven by the lower body, in particular the hips, but tennis players also require upper body strength and core stability to connect the two, he said.
2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, for example, showcased her lower body strength when she posted a video showing her hip-thrusting 200 kilograms (440 pounds) on Instagram in February 2022.
"A workout routine for tennis should be built around three-dimensional lower body movement, overhead upper body strength, and 'anti-rotation' core strength, to help both transmit force from the hips through the upper body and to the racket, and also reduce any risk of injury," Worthington said.
Work the lower body, upper body, and core
Worthington recommends performing tri-sets, which are mini circuits of three exercises back-to-back: one lower body, one upper body, and one core. You perform all three then rest before repeating the circuit.
This moves blood from the lower body to the upper body and back again, boosting your cardiovascular fitness too, he said.
Here's a workout designed by Worthington that will boost your tennis performance. Repeat each circuit three times:
- Hip-thrusts, six to eight reps — targets the gluteus maximus and build forward and backwards strength.
- Inverted or TRX rows, eight to 10 reps — builds upper body strength.
- Half-kneeling pallof (or 'anti rotation') press, eight to 10 reps — resists rotation through the core.
- Sideways lunges, eight to 10 reps each side — targets the outside of the glutes and the adductors on the inner thigh to build strength moving side-to-side.
- Single-arm kettlebell press, six to eight reps each side — builds upper body strength and stability in overhead positions.
- High-to-low resistance band "wood chop," six to eight reps each side — builds rotational core strength and stability.
- Single leg deadlift, 10-12 reps each side — targets the entire glute area and builds rotational lower body strength.
- "Face-pull" either with a resistance band or cable machine, 12-15 reps — targets the back of the shoulders, helps prevent injury and improves posture.
- Horizontal resistance band "wood chop," eight to 10 reps each side — builds lateral core strength and stability.