Develop Strong Core even Outside of Gym


Strong Core—the base to performance and beauty 🙂

 

We all love to improve our tennis game but there are times that the process slows down or becomes stagnant completely. If you improve your fitness, you will see huge improvements in your tennis game. Especially focusing on the core will bring great results.

The core is connecting the lower and upper body to transfer the forces from the ground up to your arm and ultimately to your racket. If your core is weak, you will lose a lot of power, and you risk future overuse injuries.

I have been doing an experiment for the past 7 weeks. I promised myself to do at least 500 abs movements every day. Yes, EVERY day. It’s been hard in the beginning, but I got used to it. Some days I feel like an overachiever and I do up to 1,000 abs. After the initial soreness wore off—or actually I think I got used to it, it is still there, every day—I started to feel really good in my midsection. Tight. Sunken in. I don’t need to suck in my abs if I want to look fit, ha ha. Different lines start slowly showing. I love the results and that drives me.

Maybe decide a little routine, or a challenge for yourself. Something that will take you out of your comfort zone a little bit. Would it be 300 abs a day? Or 100 if you don’t do any right now? Figure out what is doable, a little out of your reach so you get pushed, but also something that will improve you. Join me, like many others have already done and let’s develop a super strong core.

Your tennis game will definitely thank you as well.

The following are just an example. Add any other movements you wish, on the ball, BOSU, bench… anything. The different variations make it more interesting.

 

Plain Plank

Strong supporting muscles around the spine will decrease the risk of lower back pain or injury. One of the simplest methods to test the core strength is the plank. The plank improves your lower and upper body in strength and muscular endurance.

Get down on the ground on your elbows and toes, with your body completely straight. Have your elbows directly underneath the shoulders and hands inline with the elbows. Hold the plank for 1 minute without dropping your hips. The sign of a strong core is if you can hold the plank for 2 minutes or more with a good form. Another variation of plank is supporting yourself on your hands instead of the elbows. Keep practicing the plank and see how a strong core will improve your tennis game.

strong core with a plain plank

 

Advanced Plank with Arm and Leg Lift

Get down on the ground on your hands and toes, shoulders aligned over the hands. Keep the body straight like a plank. Don’t let your hips sink. Slowly lift your left arm and right leg at the same time and keep them straight and parallel with the ground. Hold the top position for 1–2 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat 20 times.

strong core with a plank with arm and leg lift

Plank with Hip Twists

The earlier outlined plain plank is a good test for the core strength, but the plank with hip twists adds an important element for tennis players: the rotational power and strength.

Get into a plain plank position on the elbows, and never let your hips sink. Twist your hips to the left and gently touch the ground. Make sure that both your elbows remain on the ground at all times. Return to the middle position, hold the perfectly straight alignment, and twist to the other side. Repeat 20 times.

strong core with a plank with hip twists

Side Plank for Strong Obliques and Hips

Think how many times you bend and twist during your normal day, and how many times you coil and uncoil on the tennis court. The muscles responsible for the motion are obliques, located on the sides of your core and often forgotten about.

Get down on the ground on your left side. Stack your feet on each other and support yourself on your left hand, with the shoulder above the hand. Lift the hips up so they are in one line with your feet and shoulders like a plank. Keep your body straight from the above view as well. Raise your right arm vertically toward the sky. This will stretch your chest and add more difficulty. Hold the plank for 1 minute on each side.
To add extra difficulty, lift the top leg. Keep the knee straigh and lead with the heel. Hold the top contraction for one second before you slowly return to the start position. Repeat 15–20 times.

stron core with a Side Plank     strong core with a Side Plank with Leg Lift

Bicycle — a Silent Abs Torture

Lie on your back with straight legs and hands supporting your head. Lift your feet slightly off the ground and keep them in the air during the entire set. Bend the left leg and bring the knee toward your chest, while crunching and twisting your upper body to bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Touch them together, while extending your right leg forward, close to the ground (but not touching). Hold the contraction for one second. Then switch sides to touch the right knee and left elbow. Perform the movement slow and controlled. Always push the lower back into the ground. Start with 20 repetitions, and work yourself up to 100, if you can.

strong core with a bicycle

Reverse Crunch

Lie on your back, bend your legs, and bring your knees to your chest. Try to keep your feet close to your glutes during the entire exercise. Lift your hips off the ground and bring the knees to your chest. Your back should be nicely round. Reverse the movement and slowly return to the starting position. Make sure not to swing with your legs to help the movement. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

strong core with a reverse crunch

Leg Windshield Wiper

This is a great core exercise for every tennis player, strengthening the obliques, abs, hip flexors, and at the same time stretching the lower back, IT-band, and chest. Lie on the ground on your back, spread out your arms to the sides pushing your palms to the ground, and lift your legs straight up toward the sky. Keep the 90-degree angle in your hips at all times and your knees straight.

Now, let the legs slowly drop to the right side until you reach the ground. The legs should be parallel with your arms. Don’t relax completely, just gently touch the ground and reverse the movement without kicking but rather pulling with your core. Your feet should stay together and both shoulders and arms on the ground at all times. Perform up to 20 repetitions. An esier variation is to bend your knees slightly. ???

strong core with a windshield wiper

strong core with a windshield wiper

 

If you decide to join me in this little challenge, feel free to email me or comment with your results and how you feel. Or if you need words of inspiration or motivation, write me! And find more out of gym exercise to develop an excellent tennis fitness in Tennis Fitness for the Love of it book.

 

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About Suzanna McGee

A former Ms. Natural Olympia Bodybuilding champion, currently performance coach, injury prevention specialist, plant-based nutrition coach, author, speaker and raw vegan athlete. Loves to help others by sharing her knowledge, and to hang out with her favorite chocolate Labrador Zuzi. Find Suzanna on , Facebook and Amazon.