A critical phase of getting the body ready for tennis camp, tournaments, or just to excel on the tennis court is building strength — to improve the power in the muscles, but to also strengthen the “housing” around the key tennis joints. Several years ago, I had a physical trainer develop a series of weight training exercises to do specifically for tennis.
Rather than make a big production of going to a gym, I bought a pair dumbbells to more efficiently do my workouts at home in about twenty minutes. He recommended that I start with low, five pound weights and work my way up as strength increased. Doing the exercises for several years, I am now using 10, 15, and sometimes 20 pound weights.
If the objective were to build short bursts of power (like with Olympic weight lifters), you would use high weights and low repetitions. But with the objective of building muscle tone and endurance, you should use lower weights and higher repetitions.
He recommended I do 12-15 repetitions and three sets of each exercise. I have paired them off with some minor logic; and do one set of the first exercise and, while those muscles are resting, do the first set of the second exercise. Repeating that alternation, allows just enough time in between sets and makes the time of exercising shorter.
The exercises are designed to work the wrists, forearms, shoulders, and legs. I have broken them down into three different groups of six exercises in each session; and I try to do each session on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. It doesn’t always work out that way; but at least that is the goal.
In doing each exercise, I recommend doing a fast pull/push on the first movement and then a slow ‘return.’ In other words, if you were doing bicep curls: starting with the weights down, pull up hard to the shoulders; but then, rather than just dropping the weights down, you ‘lower’ them relatively slowly. I feel this gives you the ‘burst’ that will help the tennis stroke; but also gain some benefit on the ‘return’ portion of the movement.