Like my “Reminders to Self” page, this constantly-updated page organizes some of the tennis-specific exercises my trainer and I incorporate into various workout routines to help improve overall strength, power, endurance, on-court movement– and to prevent common tennis injuries. Each exercise title below to see a video or description. As I outline in a post on “The Art and Science of Fitness Training for Tennis,” I vary my workouts constantly, depending on specific goals throughout the year and timing of the USTA competitive season.

To receive updates when I post new videos, just subscribe to my YouTube channel.

As an ISSA-certfied and iTPA CTPS (Certified Tennis Performance Specialist) myself, the most important advice I can give to anyone serious about their training is the following:

Every single player is different, so we all need to develop customized workout programs tailored to our individual goals, needs, athletic backgrounds, and overall health and injury profiles. Ideally, this is done under the supervision of a top-notch certified personal trainer– preferably, a trainer certified by the International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA)If you cannot afford to invest in a trainer on an ongoing basis, I strongly (strongly) urge you to invest at least in a few sessions with an iTPA-certified coach to help you chart your course in a way that safe and effective for you.

51wQeUemLcL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_If you’re eager to get going and want some guidance on building your own training routine, I strongly recommend:

USTA’s Complete Conditioning for Tennis (2d Edition) by Mark Kovacs and Todd Ellenbecker. Mark and Todd are globally recognized leaders in the science and practice of tennis-specific fitness training.

SOURCES: Sources and videos for various exercises are linked when possible or noted in parentheses. “iTPA” short for International Tennis Performance Association. “Magnus” is short for Magnus Expand Human Potential, located at CourtSense in Tenefly and Bogota NJ. “Gallegos” is short for NYC-based trainer Jay Gallegos.

If no video is linked to exercises , I haven’t found one yet but will try to post one at some point.

DYNAMIC WARM-UP EXERCISES BEFORE WORKOUTS / COURT TIME 
I am religious about doing a dynamic warm-up before workouts, on-court practices and matches. The old-school gym coach idea that you should do long, held stretches before sports has been debunked by research: today, there is broad agreement that doing dynamic movements before intense activity–whether lifting weights or playing sports–will help athletes perform better and avoid injury. Deep, static stretches should only be done AFTER your workouts; doing them before can increase risk of injury and hinder performance (see background here, here, and here).

Dynamic movements prepare the body for intense activity by elevating the heart rate, raising core body temperature to get muscles warm, and activating production of joint-protecting synovial fluids among other benefits. Below are several exercises I incorporate, mixing it up just to keep things interesting.

The most important thing to do is get your heart rate up through gentle movements that progressively expand range of motion. I recommend picking and choosing the things you like best. Aim for an absolute minimum of 5 minutes total (10 minutes preferred)– to the point of developing a “light sweat.”

Dynamic Warm-up Exercises to Choose From:

Change it up every once and a while by incorporating some of the following:

  • Knee Hug to Forward Lunge
  • Hip Dynamic Flex
  • Lunge & Twist
  • Leg Cradle
  • Alternating Side Lunges (with arms up)
  • Navy Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises (PDF)
  • Heel walk (10 reps)
  • Toe walk (10 reps)
  • Knee to Chest walk (10 reps)
  • Hamstring Handwalk (10 reps)
  • Straight Leg March (10 reps)
  • Alternating Lunges w/Upper Body Rotation (10 reps)
  • Lateral Lunge (10 reps)
  • Spiderman Crawl (10 reps)
  • Sumo Squat Walk (10 reps)
  • Cheerleaders (10 reps)
  • 10-Yard Movement Sequence (2 reps, 3 sets)

Don’t forget including some upper-body in dynamic warm-up, e.g.:

One final note: Mini tennis is NOT an adequate substitute for a good physical warm-up. However, you can make your mini-tennis more physical by following this great advice from Jeff Salzenstein: “Pump up your mini tennis warm-up.”

I. CORE STRENGTH & STABILITY

  1. Basic Plank
  2. Modified Plank with Lunge (Gallegos)
  3. Modified Plank with Perpendicular Leg Reach (Gallegos)
  4. Bosu Plank with Lateral Leg Raise (Gallegos)
  5. Single Leg Walkout with Knee In (Gallegos)
  6. 1-Legged Jump with Walkout and Plank (Gallegos)
  7. Overhead Extension with Lateral Leg Raise (Gallegos)
  8. Core Circuit (iTPA)
Rotational
  1. Chataranga with Lunge and Core Twist (Gallegos)
  2. Medicine Ball Perpendicular (Side) Throws
  3. Medicine Ball Variation (Magnus)
  4. Medicine Ball Throw on Step360 (Gallegos)
  5. Side Lunge with Upper Body Rotation (Gallegos)

II. UPPER BODY STRENGTH & STABILITY

  1. Incline Stand-Up/Sit-Down with Shoulder Stabilization (Gallegos)
  2. Cable Overhead Side Bend and Reach (Gallegos)
  3. Pullup Variation for Tennis Players (Gallegos)
  4. DB Front and Lateral Raises*  *Overhead raises are not recommended by iTPA for tennis players due to risk of injury
  5. DB Lateral Raises (on Bosu ball to add instability)
  6. Push Ups with Side Plank
  7. Bent-over Y, T, W, L Raises
  8. TRX One-Arm Reach Back (Gallegos)
  9. Cable Standing Mid-Pulley Row
  10. Bent Over Row (12 reps x 3) (iTPA)
  11. Kneeling Lunge Lat Pulldown (12 reps x 3) (iTPA)
  12. Cable Open Stance FH and BH (each side) (8 reps x 3) (iTPA)
  13. Shoulder Prehab Circuit (12 reps x 3) (iTPA)

A tennis player should be… “FAST in the feet, EXPLOSIVE in the legs, POWERFUL in the core, LOOSE in the arms & mentally STRONG in the head.”
Allistair McCaw, McCaw Method Sports Performance Training 

III. LOWER BODY STRENGTH, POWER & STABILITY

  1. Basic Squats
  2. Bosu Ball Squats
  3. Single Leg Squats
  4. Don Chu Scorpion Step Ups
  5. Crossover Dumbbell Step-Up (see #2 on linked page)
  6. Lateral Jumps onto Decline Bench (Gallegos)
  7. Pliometric Jumps from Deep Squat onto Benches (Gallegos)
  8. Dynamic Stretch and Balance with 2 Bosu Balls (Gallegos)
  9. DB squat
  10. DB Jump Shrug (iTPA)
  11. Barbell Squat (iTPA)
  12. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
  13. DB Lateral Lunge (each leg) (iTPA)
  14. Core Circuit (iTPA)
  15. Lateral hops over hurdles (Jez Green/Andy Murray variations)
  16. 1-Leg Double Lateral Bound with MB (Magnus/CourtSense)
  17. 1-Leg MB Chest Pass with Rotation (Magnus/CourtSense)

IV. MOVEMENT (Tennis-Specific Speed & Agility)

  • Split Step Training Drill (1 rep x 5 sets) (iTPA)
  • Lateral Cross-Over Drill (6 reps x 2 sets) (iTPA)
  • Resisted Forehand Drill (4 reps x 3 sets) (iTPA)
  • Resisted Backhand Drill (4 reps x 3 sets) (iTPA)
  • RH and BH Open Stance Medicine Ball Toss (5 reps x 2 sets) (iTPA)
  • 4 Cone Speed-Agility Drill (McCaw Method)
  • Stay Low Shadow Swings Around Cones (McCaw Method)
  • Lateral Shuffle with Crossover Step (iTPA)
  • Lateral Hurdle Crossover (McCaw Method)

V. INJURY PREVENTION/ “PREHAB” (I do 3x/week)

  1. Monster Walks” with tubing (iTPA)
  2. External cable rotation with tubing or cable. Hold 2 seconds at end of range of motion. 10-12 reps, 2 sets
  3. Wrist and Forearm Strengthening
  4. Ankle Mobility (helps prevent variety of problems including calf strains, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis)
  5. Calf Strengthening
    1. Single-leg calf raises on stairs or platform (without weight to warm up, with weight when warm)
    2. Occasionally build in quick up (concentric) and slow down (eccentric)
    3. Towel/box calf raises

VI. ENDURANCE

  1. Don Chu Scorpion Step Ups
  2. MK Drill (iTPA)
  3. Spider Drill (iTPA)

VII. FLEXIBILITY (Dynamic & Static)

  1. Wharton Dynamic Flexibility Movements (Download App and see Book and DVD)
  2. (Dynamic) Modified Plank with Lunge (Gallegos)
  3. (Dynamic) Pullup Variation for Tennis Players (Gallegos)
  4. STATIC (iTPA-recommended):
  • Lying Hamstring Stretch
  • Lying Knee to Chest Stretch
  • Figure 4 Stretch
  • Pretzl Stretch
  • Butterfly Stretch
  • Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Cross-Body Stretch
  • Pec Stretch
  • Sleeper Stretch
  • Posterior Shoulder Stretch

33 Comments

  1. Andrew Brown
    Apr 22, 2017 @ 16:19:32

    PJ, this is such a tremendous resource! How do I put it all together into a program or routine (Day one, Week One, ETC)? Will that USTA book give me some routines? Thanks in advance.

    Reply

  2. AmirRazi DAVOUDI
    Dec 03, 2016 @ 10:18:08

    Dear PJ

    Very delighted to know you.

    I’m 40 years old and a very amator tennis player, playing just since one and half year.
    Is there any daily workout for the players like me (considering the age, experience and …)?

    I’ll appreciate if you could provide me with a daily program of fitness.
    Thanks

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Dec 04, 2016 @ 09:52:50

      Hi Amir, great to hear from you. There’s no one-size-fits-all workout routine I can recommend, since each individual has different strengths and weaknesses, training backgrounds, goals, etc. But a great free resource with a sample workout program and a variety of different kinds of exercises is the USTA Strength and Conditioning for Tennis page. All my best, P.J.

      Reply

  3. Sean
    Aug 31, 2016 @ 14:16:18

    Hi PJ – I found your site a while back and as a fellow 4.0 aiming for 4.5, I’ve appreciated reading about your journey. I am anxious to make some significant strides in my conditioning and would like to identify an iTPA trainer to work with. I have been unable to locate any database or search tool for identifying trainers in my area (I’m based in the western suburbs of Chicago). Do you have any recommendations for trainers in my area or know of a way for me to identify iTPA certified trainers locally? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Aug 31, 2016 @ 16:21:48

      Hi Sean, let me send an email to the folks at iTPA and cc: you and ask if they have recommendations. I also know an iTPA Master in Tennis Performance who worked in Chicago for years and probably knows the scene well. P.J.

      Reply

  4. Scott
    Jul 23, 2016 @ 17:29:40

    I like what you have for training, I do many of the things you have but i can say Ive learned some new valuable exercises from your site. Im 47 been 4.5 for about 12yrs but many many calf injuries and ocatioanl ham, hip flexor, back as well have really taxed my fitness level. I return you know if you cant grind like normal you get hurt and at my age that means long rehab sessions back, just a never ending cycle. I intend to add what you do that i dont know especially your injury prevention work. Happy hitting and reaching your goals!

    Reply

  5. Ollie
    Jul 14, 2016 @ 05:14:57

    Hi,

    Really enjoyed reading this and think J can follow this in my own training. You have listed 7 areas. If J were to follow this would you suggest doing 1 every day?

    Thanks!

    Ollie

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Jul 14, 2016 @ 09:56:10

      Hi Ollie, thanks so much. The 7 categories are just listed to provide some grouping to types of exercises. Developing an effective plan that’s appropriate to you is a function of a wide range of factors. I’m guessing from your email you’re in the UK? If so, try contacting iTPA master coaches Jonny Fraser via Science in Tennis or Dom King at Maximize Athletic Performance. I’d strongly recommend hiring them even just for a few sessions (you could do virtually) to set up a plan. Also see the forthcoming new book I just posted at the top of this article by Kovacs and Ellenbecker. Keep me posted on how your’e doing! P.J.

      Reply

      • Ollie
        Jul 14, 2016 @ 13:48:14

        Hi PJ, thanks so much for your reply. I’m 19 and looking to just get a more consistent training program. I’m lookin to start a program with particular emphasis on core strength, balance and cardiovascular. Do you know where I can get a standard program for this or what you suggest? Do you make programs at all?
        Really appreciate it, thanks, Ollie

        Reply

        • P.J.
          Jul 14, 2016 @ 14:30:25

          Hey Ollie, Stack has a few downloadable sample workouts here (with videos) — a decent place to start to enhance in the areas you’re interested in… but not comprehensive enough for sound overall conditioning. I strongly recommend making an initial investment to have a certified trainer do a proper evaluation to assess your existing strengths and areas needing special attention, goals, schedule, etc., so they can customize a plan for you that you can stick to with confidence. My work keeps me too overextended otherwise I’d love to volunteer to do that for you! P.J.

          Reply

          • Ollie
            Jul 14, 2016 @ 17:59:55

            Thanks PJ, I’ll definitely take your advice. Thanks again! Ollie

  6. JC
    Jun 05, 2016 @ 19:43:02

    PJ: This is a great site and I will be looking for future tips and advice for sure. I am a 4.0 looking to go up to 4.5 and 5.0 and have been trying hard to set up a tennis training schedule (around movement, strength and fiexibility). I use a dynamic warm up set very similar to yours (only difference being I also do a few burpees).

    A humble request — would it be possible for you to send me some regular weekly workout schedules that I can set up for myself? I would love to incorporate some of the workouts you suggested above but need guidance on which ones to include and when. Appreciate your help!

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Jun 05, 2016 @ 20:10:09

      Hey, thanks so much – and great to hear you’re on the same “Road”! I’ve been meaning for ages to share some sample workouts on my blog but have just been so overextended – and I want to do it right. It’s hard to do it without context, as we all have different strengths and weaknesses. I’ll do my best to get something written in the next few weeks! PJ

      Reply

  7. Matt
    May 10, 2016 @ 14:45:38

    Great site….

    Reply

    • P.J.
      May 10, 2016 @ 14:48:54

      Thanks Matt! PJ

      Reply

  8. Thiyagarajan
    May 05, 2016 @ 08:50:33

    Thank you very much for your great work out plan.really it help me lot.

    Reply

  9. Hit The Gym To Up Your Game! - Basha Tennis | Basha Tennis
    Mar 07, 2016 @ 21:39:21

    Reply

  10. Trx Training Workouts Using Stairs - John Oliver Fitness Blog
    Feb 28, 2016 @ 19:02:26

    […] Tennis Workouts & Fitness Training – The Road to 4.5 Tennis – DYNAMIC WARM-UP EXERCISES BEFORE WORKOUTS / COURT TIME I am religious about doing a dynamic warm-up before workouts, on-court practices and matches. […]

    Reply

  11. Carl Petersen
    Jan 12, 2016 @ 20:51:20

    Hi Tenniaholics,
    I am a physical therapist /fitness coach from Canada.
    I came by your site and was impressed with your posting and recommendations.
    You may also be find some interesting info in my book Fit to Play-Tennis or some of my training DVD’s. Fit to Play & Perform.
    Regards
    Carl

    Reply

  12. Michael
    Apr 26, 2015 @ 05:46:18

    This is an awesome site! Keep up the good work!

    Reply

  13. jilani shaikh
    Mar 27, 2015 @ 23:55:14

    Hi, really nice workout plan.

    Reply

  14. Tomoko
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 19:51:56

    This content is very interesting but I see that you aren’t using the full
    earning potential of your website. You can earn pretty good promoting products related to
    health and beauty niche, don’t waste your traffic, just search in google:
    Polym’s earning ideas

    Reply

  15. sina
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 07:58:36

    hi! i suffer from lower back injury and abdominal muscle strain its because i play a lot and i am not in a good shape can you send me workout plan.i am 183cm and 62kg.

    thank you

    Reply

  16. myprotein discount
    Dec 17, 2014 @ 19:26:33

    Thanks for finally talking about >Tennis Workouts &
    Fitness Training <Liked it!

    Reply

  17. Jeremy
    Nov 24, 2014 @ 19:18:42

    Hi! Love the info here. Can you provide links for some of the content, for example, the ‘core circuit’ provided by the iTPA? I don’t see that product on their site.

    Reply

  18. yashad
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 02:15:39

    Hi
    The information you provided seems to be up to the mark. It’s great though.
    I’ve recently started playing in the ITF’s and looking forward to perform better.
    It’s good to hear about the iTPA. Does all the trainers of top pros stick to same kinda fitness schedule (the one you provided) or they do things differently??

    Reply

  19. faisal
    Jun 29, 2014 @ 20:27:54

    Dear PJ ,

    I just started the ITF circuit tour, your fitness advices and videos are amazing, can you please give me
    a whole fitness schedule for the whole week ?

    I really appreciate it.

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Jul 27, 2014 @ 10:00:21

      Hey Faisal, I’ll email you some thoughts and recommendations for some additional resources as soon as I can! PJ

      Reply

  20. liurui
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 02:49:44

    P.J.
    Very pleased to find your website! I am a tennisaholic too. I am 40 years old. Nowadays my friends play tennis for body-building, however, I’m eager to improve my tennie level. Maybe we are almost at the same level, my goal is 4.5 too.
    Come on!

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Apr 07, 2013 @ 09:20:59

      Hey there, great you found and like the site and glad to know we’re on a similar journey. Look forward to staying in touch. Come on!! :) P.J.

      Reply

  21. SD
    Mar 15, 2013 @ 11:45:59

    Thanks PJ for sharing your journey. I am a tennisaholic on an similar journey myself. Nice to see that we are doing so many things similar – tips scrapbooking, self-reminders, flexibility training, strength training, mental aspect, yoga-meditation etc. Recently I have been working on staying relaxed yet focused during practice/match play, such a powerful tool when done right. This page is my favorite- tennis workouts and fitness training.

    Thanks again for sharing and good luck. Hope you reach your goal soon.

    Reply

    • P.J.
      Mar 15, 2013 @ 14:40:51

      Thank you so much! Great to hear from another tennis soulmate. I’ve been remiss in adding new material to this page for past couple months, about to do another push to add more with my trainer. Your feedback gives me added incentive. If you’d ever like to do a guest post on the blog on your own epiphanies/ things working well for you that might help others, just let me know – would be great. P.J.

      Reply

    • Giselle Martin
      Apr 15, 2015 @ 06:50:23

      Thanks for sharing as it will help various tennis players to get aware of various injuries and their recoveries

      Reply

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