The Question: I play tennis every summer, but I haven’t played all winter. Are there exercises I can do to prepare?
The Answer: Absolutely! I was just tweaking my own workout regime in anticipation of tennis season so I will share a few of my personal favourites.
Goalpost rotations: Place your stomach on a stability ball, feet against a wall, holding a weight in each hand with your palms facing the wall. Use your upper back muscles to draw your elbows up to the ceiling so they form a 90-degree angle, reminiscent of goal posts. Keep your arms in their ‘goalpost’ formation and rotate your arms so your forearms come parallel with the floor. Repeat 12 to 15 times. Finish by straightening your arms down to the ground. (This exercise works the small stabilizing muscles of the shoulder. Don’t try to use heavy weights. Focus on form.)
To train your legs, try variations on the lunge.
Walking lunges: Take a big step forward with your right leg. Bend both knees so your body lowers towards the floor. Use your right leg to stand up. Without letting your left toe touch the ground, step your back leg forward into a lunge. Alternate forward walking lunges for 12 to 20 reps.
Backwards lunges: Make sure there is space behind you. Step your right leg backwards and perform a lunge. Push through the left leg to stand up, then step the left leg backwards into a lunge. Alternate backwards lunges for 12 to 20 reps.
Side Lunges: Step your right leg out to the side. Keep your left leg straight as you bend your right knee and sit your bum over your right heel. Use your right leg to stand. Repeat 10 to 15 times without letting your right foot touch the floor in-between reps. Switch and continue on your left leg.
Trainer’s Tip: To prevent injury, progressively build back up to your previous practice length. Try the 50 /10 rule. Start with 50 per cent of your previous workout time. So, if you used to practice for an hour, start with 30 minutes. Then, increase the length you practice by roughly 10 per cent until you are back to your previous practice length – in this example you would start with three minutes initially.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.
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