Wimbledo’s And Wimbledon’ts

Watching the tennis and wondering how to get in Wimbledon elite shape like the champions? We’ve put together a few dos and don’ts on exercise and nutrition as part of a lifestyle that will get you looking (though maybe not playing) like the tennis pros.

The tennis skills are down to you, but by borrowing elements of the game – the shuttle runs, short sprints, core work, arm strength and agility you can build a workout programme that matches the same physique. Well, none of them are exactly slobs, are they? So if’s an aesthetic goal that you have as opposed to swinging rackets on the court, here are a few suggestions to bear in mind.

doubles tennis


Get Your Cardio In


Those leaner than lean muscle physiques will require regular cardiovascular exercise in varying speeds and durations. Tennis requires the endurance of long-distance running and the explosive high-intensity speeds of squash players. High-intensity interval training should take care of this and could also mirror the stop-start high-velocity nature. Set up a circuit involving sprints with a timer so that you run full throttle for forty seconds (or a realistic duration based on your recovery capabilities) followed by a low-intensity jog for forty seconds, then a forty-second brisk walk. Then build it up in reverse, from fast to slow and repeat for fifteen minutes.

Do Get The Reps In


Just don’t go too heavy. You’re not trying to pump up your arms and legs to look good in your tennis outfit, you’re developing strength and lean muscles. But which exercises are best? Well, a good swing involves a strong core and shoulders, with power coming from the legs, so try the following:



✓ Lateral raises
✓ Front raises
✓ Standing shoulder press


Core work

✓ Crunches
✓ Medicine ball twist
✓ Front and side planks



✓ Weighted lunges
✓ Box jumps
✓ Squats

how to get better at tennis


Don’t Lift Heavy


The pros didn’t get that size by sitting around or bodybuilding. If you’re going to hit the weights rack you need to keep it light and up the reps. Bodybuilding is a relative term and tennis players build their strength to meet their requirements. No part of the game calls for the same muscle as a rugby player, but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t have the strength. The difference is that all the superfluous muscle of a mass muscle gainer would be cumbersome and unnecessary. For the right kind of weight training, see the above list of dos.

Avoid Bulking


The next don’t is on a similar note: you don’t need to be carb-loading and mass gaining with your meals. We’re talking about nutrition, not dieting. This is a way of eating what you need to maintain, not a four-week fat burn. Your hefty workout will burn excessive calories as it is. You need to make sure you have the fuel to meet your aims. That lean, low body fat look is a matter of balance between the energy you put into your body and the exercise that burns it all off.

Sticking To The 2:1 Protein Ratio


It’s essential that you get your protein and carbs after working out, but as you’re not looking to bulk, stick to whey protein isolates and varieties that are low in carbs. (Remember, you still need carbs for your strength and recovery).

When it comes to carbs and fats, they’re not the enemy, but there are a few kinds that you should limit, including trans-fats, saturated fats and refined carbs. Refined carbs are an empty fuel that will leave you feeling hungry without a lot of nutritional value to them. Find their healthy equivalents, such as whole grains and sweet potatoes instead of white bread and chips.

Do Your Own Thing


Just as importantly, think mental health. Aspirations are positive, along with a competitive streak to match the pros, but the Wimbledon champs got there by hard work and dedication. It’s important to set your own goals. Take the elements of a tennis pro’s workout that work for you; if it’s the calorie burning you’re after, pick out the parts of the cardio workout that appeal; if it’s a bit of toning you’re after, see how you can work that into a programme that you can stick to in the long run.



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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here:

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