Beginning as early as age 30 we lose 1% of our muscle mass every year. To stay strong and competitive on the court, we need exercises that train both our fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers.
For sports and everyday activities, we rely on our slow-twitch muscles for strength and endurance and fast-twitch muscles to give us powerful bursts to react and move quickly.
I play tennis twice a week, and here are a few simple and effective exercises I use to develop both types of muscles. These workouts also help prevent injury while improving your game.
Cardio – 30 minutes, 3x week Choose your favorite cardio activity and aim for a heart rate of around 130 to 145 beats per minute. Check with your doctor before starting a new cardio exercise program.
Jump rope – 3 to 5 minutes, 3x a week Wakes up your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Increases your ability to accelerate, make stop-and-go and lateral maneuvers. This is easy to do at home and it also improves your cardiovascular fitness.
Lunges – 3 sets of 12 reps on each side, 2x a week Good for balance, coordination, strength and overall tennis fitness. Also improves quickness for better court mobility, as well as helping to avoid leg and low back strain.
How to Stand tall, step left foot straight behind you about 2 feet. Keep your back and left leg straight, with your left heel lifted. Make sure right knee is above your right foot, and apply pressure toward your heel. Square your hips to the front and gradually lower yourself into a squat. Slowly stand and return to start. Repeat, stepping back on the right foot.
At first, do the lunges without weights, adding 5-lb. weights as you gain balance and strength. Work up to 10-lb. weights.
Lateral lunges – 3 sets of 12 reps on each side, 2x a week Increases lateral speed and mobility and helps avoid calf strain, quadriceps strain, low back pain, knee pain.
How to Standing with feet together, take one step to the side with your left foot. Lower your hips by squatting back and down while bending your left leg and keeping your right leg straight. Return to standing by straightening your left leg. Switch sides and repeat the movement.
I wish you many happy hours on the courts! And if you end up with a muscle strain or repetitive stress injury, come on in and I'll help you get back to your game.