Tennis is a great game for staying in shape. The fitness you develop from a tennis game has an added bonus: It carries over into the rest of your life. By playing tennis, you also improve your functional fitness or your ability to do ordinary things, like carry a sack of groceries in from the car or climb a flight of stairs. The better your functional fitness, the better you can get through all the usual activities of your typical day with ease—and with energy left over for tennis.
Exercises to build functional fitness aim to mimic the activities of daily living by working several muscle groups at once. They’re designed to improve your strength, flexibility, endurance, range of motion, and balance, because you need all those abilities every time you do something like pick up a toddler, or reach for something on a high shelf, or carry a briefcase. Because they build overall fitness, they’re also great for your tennis game!
Exercises for functional fitness
Functional fitness exercises focus on building a strong core and then working several major muscles groups of the body at once. The five exercises I suggest here are a good basic workout that doesn’t require any special equipment—you’re going to use just your body weight. Plenty of other exercises also build functional fitness, so once you’ve mastered these, change up your routine by swapping some other exercises in and out.
This most fundamental of exercises is key to a strong core—it engages your abs, lower back, hips, and arms. This is the one functional fitness exercise that should always be part of your workout routine, because your core muscles are continually engaged when you play tennis.
Two-Legged SquatThis is a great functional fitness exercise for building up and coordinating your leg muscles, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves—the muscles that control your knees and hips. By doing this regularly, you improve your ability to get up and down from chairs, pick things up off the ground, and climb steps. For your tennis game, strong legs give you a strong foundation for your strokes and improve your ability to transfer your weight.
The plain old push-up is one of those basic exercises we tend to overlook, but it’s great for strengthening your core, your gluteus maximus and the chest, shoulder and arm muscles. You’ll notice the difference when you’re lifting or carrying something heavy or reaching up to get something in or out of a cabinet. You’ll also see a difference in your strokes—strong arms and shoulders are key to good control.
Bird dogs, also known as pointers, are great for the muscles of the lower back and thighs and the upper arms. If you do these, you’ll notice the difference in anything you do that requires lifting or bending. You’ll find that you’re more flexible on the tennis court.
About Robert SilvermanRobert G. Silverman, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, MS, CCN, CNS, CSCS, CIISN, CKTP, CES, HKC, FAKTR is a chiropractic doctor, clinical nutritionist and author of Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body, an Amazon number-one bestseller in 2016. The ACA Sports Council named Dr. Silverman “Sports Chiropractor of the Year” in 2015. He also maintains a busy private practice as founder of Westchester Integrative Health Center, which specializes in the treatment of joint pain using functional nutrition along with cutting-edge, science-based, nonsurgical approaches. Dr. Silverman is a seasoned health and wellness expert on both the speaking circuits and within the media. He has appeared on FOX News Channel, FOX, NBC, CBS, CW affiliates as well as The Wall Street Journal and NewsMax, to name a few. He was invited as a guest speaker on “Talks at Google” to discuss his current book. As a frequent published author for Dynamic Chiropractic, JACA, ACA News, Chiropractic Economics, The Original Internist and Holistic Primary Care journals, Dr. Silverman is a thought leader in his field and practice.
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