After the long, cold, snowy winter, people are hitting the tennis courts in droves. If you’re in the process of dusting off your racquet, adopt this workout to get those muscles in tip-top shape and improve your game. This workout is effective for any racquet sport, including racquetball and badminton, or sports that don’t use a racquet but use the same arm-swing motions and side-to-side leg movements, such as volleyball and handball.
Activity-Specific Workout of the Month Defined: A 30 minute strength and stretch training workout tailored to benefit those who engage in a particular recreational sport or activity. The workouts will be challenging and safe for the novice but will also offer progressions for the experienced. If your children participate in these activities, know that strength and flexibility training is not only safe for kids but beneficial as well. The workouts will have minimal equipment requirements so they can be done anywhere. The goal is to properly strengthen and stretch the key muscle groups involved in the activity so the participant can achieve performance improvements and reduce the risk of injury. Click on the exercise to link to examples and step-by-step descriptions provided by www.acefitness.org.
Strength & Flexibility Training Workout for Racquet Sports
Concept: Primary strength targets are the arms, shoulders, upper back and core with secondary targets of chest and thighs, especially the inner and outer thighs. Because swinging affects the body’s entire kinetic chain, flexibility training is very important for the abdominals, back, shoulders and thighs. The warm-up progression is designed to elevate the heart-rate while providing agility training targeting the inner and outer thighs to mimic the side-to-side movements done on the court during a match. Progressions are intended to be increasingly challenging so you can continue to build strength throughout the season. Be sure you can master the base exercise and each subsequent progression with excellent form before advancing to the next progression. Perform this workout 1-3 times per week, allowing a minimum of 48 hours rest between workout sessions, starting several weeks before and continuing throughout the season:
Warm-Up: 2-5 minutes of high knee marching, swinging opposing arms to shoulder height as you lift knees to hip height.
Progression: 5 minutes of lateral shuffle agility drills. You need not have actual cones to perform these. Substitute items on hand as stand-ins for cones. Always be sure to have plenty of unobstructed space around you to perform drills safely.
Strength Workout: Perform the following exercise circuit in succession with no rest between exercises
- Front Plank: Hold for 10-30 seconds. Strengthens entire core. Progression: Side Planks: 10-20 repetitions each side
- Downward Dog: 10-20 repetitions. Strengthens arms, shoulders, back & legs. Progression: Inchworms, 8-16 repetitions each side.
- Side Lunges: 8-16 repetitions each side. Works quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, adductors (inner thighs) & abductors (outer thighs). Progression: add weight by holding free weights, medicine ball or containers filled with water while performing. Start with lighter weights, 1-5 lbs, until you can easily perform 20+ lunges in a set before progressing to heavier weights.
- Push-Ups on Knees: 8-16 repetitions. Works arms, chest and upper back. Progression: perform on toes
- Bird-dog: 10-20 repetitions each side. Works core (abs & back), balance and glutes. Progression: Bear Crawl: 8-16 repetitions each side
- After performing each exercise once, rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat the circuit (planks through bird-dog) for a second set of each exercise. After performing the circuit twice, perform the flexibility workout.
Flexibility Workout: Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds
- Standing Chest Stretch: exercise provides progression for deeper stretch
- Overhead Triceps Stretch: stretches arms & shoulders
- Seated Butterfly Stretch: stretches inner thighs, glutes & lower back
- Seated Saddle with Side Reaches: stretches core, outer thighs & opens hips
- Childs Pose: targets core and provides instant relaxation to end your workout
The keys to safe and effective strength training are the same regardless of gender or age – proper warm-up, form, breathing, load, progressions and stretching. The cues for these exercises provided by ACE Fitness (via my links) are excellent and, if followed, anyone can perform this workout safely, even a novice. It’s important to focus on your own body’s feedback and listen to the cues your body is providing you. Adults are much better at reading those cues than children. For this reason, if any of these exercises are new to your child, I recommend having a professional (such as your child’s coach, gym teacher or sports trainer) review the proper form for each of these exercises with your student athlete.
Enjoy the workout and be prepared to be on the winning side when it’s game, set, match!
Author’s Note: Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Click on the link to view previous Activity-Specific Workouts of the Month: Hockey & Cross-Country Skiing, Snowboarding & Figure Skating, Golf & Softball, Distance Running, Racquet Sports, Swimming, Waterskiing & Surfing, Cycling, Rowing & Desk Jockeys, Track, Field & Court Sports, Throwing & Pitching, Dancing, Downhill Skiing