Tennis is a sport that requires a high level of endurance, speed, power and core strength.
In this workout, we will look to develop power and strength, so that players can accelerate faster, change direction quicker, serve faster and jump higher.
For informational purposes only. Train with a supervised professional etc.
Always warm up to mitigate the risk of injury
Cool down to optimise recovery
Ideally, have a program for the off-season and a different program for the tennis season
This program doesn’t include agility of footwork drills
Barbell Bench Press*
Plyometric Press Ups
Medicine Ball Overhead Throws
Medicine Ball Slams
10 (or max)
Rotating Plyo Jumps
Band resisted backwards walks
*If you have any shoulder issues, consider replacing the standard barbell bench press with a floor press either with a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.
Barbell Front Squat
Barbell Glute Bridges
One arm Row
10 per arm
Cable wood chops
10 per side
Hanging Leg Raises
Band Assisted Lunges
Band resisted sideways walks
15 seconds each direction
Hex Bar Jumps
Medicine Ball Slams
Medicine Ball Oblique throws
8 a side
Nordic Hamstring Curls
Rotator Cuff Exercises
With all the strain on the shoulders, it’s important to mitigate the risk of injury, with appropriate rest, stretching and rotator cuff exercises:
If you are training hard and playing tennis several times per week, you should stretch. I like to warm up with some steady state cardio before I stretch, to get a bit of a sweat on. I sometimes do some basic stretches in the bath, but that’s another story!
If you are stuck for time, “The World’s Greatest” stretch is a good all-rounder, as you’d expect considering the name.
Alongside plyometrics, Olympic lifts such as cleans and snatches are excellent for increasing hip extension speed and general power.
In this program I’ve only included high-pulls, as these are relatively simple to learn and carry a relatively low risk of injury compared to, for example, snatches.
Trap bar weighted jumps are also excellent for power generation, although they will place some strain on the discs in your back – so don’t go too heavy or too frequent with these.
Exercises in the Program
Some of the lesser well-known exercises in the program are shown below.
Get hench, jump higher, and move quicker on the basketball court, with this weight training program for basketball.
Ideally, you’re strength and conditioning should be periodised, with a different pre-season training program, for example, compared to in-season. The program shown here is a general one and should be modified according to other activity levels and your own strengths and weaknesses.
Try and increase your body temperature to avoid injuries. Start with 5 to 10 minutes of steady state, low-impact cardio and then add some dynamic stretches and mobility exercises.
Before each set, perform 2 or 3 warm-up sets with a light weight before working up to your “working sets”.
Plyometrics are an excellent form of exercise for sports like basketball. They do however carry a relatively high risk of injury. So make sure your body is warm and you are well rested the day before, before attempting this type of explosive exercise.
Along with plyometrics, Olympic lifts such as clean and presses and snatches are excellent for developing power. They are highly technical however and also carry a high risk of injury. Instead, hex bar/trap bar jump and high pulls have been included as they are relatively simple to perform, yet highly effective.
Rotator Cuff Exercises
Rotator cuff exercises can help prevent shoulder injuries by strengthening the muscles that help keep the shoulder joint in place. This is important for injury prevention when playing basketball and when lifting weights.
Look to change the volume up during the off-season and reduce it slightly, perhaps training just 2 days a week during the season.
You can easily vary the exercises by using kettlebells for high pulls, adding some resistance band exercises and changing up the reps and weights. I like to keep the first exercise the same for extended periods, to monitor progression and have some kind of progressive resistance.
I would also suggest, stretching every day.
If you are stuck for time, “The World’s Greatest” stretch is a good all-rounder
Some of the exercises in the program, are shown in the videos below:
Dumbell Floor Press
If you prefer barbell and barbell or dumbbell bench press, then feel free to replace the floor press. The only thing I don’t like about full or normal bench press, is the stress is can place on your shoulders, especially if your form is a bit off. I personally like kettlebell floor press, because it’s easier to grap the handle, which is already elevated off the floor slightly – it can be tricky with a dumbbell.
Medicine Ball Slams
Band Assisted Lunges
This is for improving deceleration – you’re ability to slow down quickly and change direction. I can’t find a video, but you want to attach a band to a point in front of you so that the band pulls you in the direction of the lunge, and you have to control the descent before pushing back to the starting position.
Another great exercise for deceleration and change of direction speed.
Vertical Overhead Medicine Ball Throw
If you can do this standing next to a wall, it’s easier to catch it. This is what I do (my weird functional workout on Instagram is shown here)
This exercise wants to be done at speed. Drive with the legs and then drive again with the hips and pull up with the arms/hands.
Optimizing metabolic circuits for health and performance requires getting sufficient amounts of good-quality sleep of sufficient duration, as well as experiencing all phases of sleep, including slow wave and REM. Study participants who changed their routine from “night owl” to “morning person” experienced significant improvements in mood, stress, and grip strength (among other outcomes) when done properly (i.e., sleeping and waking at roughly the same time, bright light exposure in the morning, dim lights in the evening, etc.).
Fats are a macronutrient, made up of 3 fatty acids combined with a molectule of glycerol
Fats can be divided into:
Saturated Fats – fatty acids with no double bonds – found in oils and meat – they are saturated with carbon atoms – they are straight and normally solid at room temperature
Unsaturated Fats – Have at least one double-bond in their chain. They are not as dense as saturated fats and are liquid at room temperature.
Monosaturated Fats – have one double bond. For exampel oleic acid found in olive oil
Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFA) – have more than one double bound.
What are Omega Fats?
Omega fats are PUFA fats.
Omega Fats can also be classified by where the double bond occurs.
If the double bond occurs at the 3rd carbon atom at the end of the ‘chain’ – it is called an Omega 3 fatty acid
If the double carbon bond is at the 6th carbon atom at the end of the ‘chain’ – it’s an Omega 6 fatty acid.
People can’t make some fatty acids within their body, within consuming them directly. This is why some fats are coined “essential fats”.
Linoleic Acid, and Alpha Linoleic Acid are deemed “essential”.
However ALA needs to be converted to make it more bioavailable.
ALA is converted to a long chain fatty acid known as “Eicosapentaenoic acid” (EPA) and another one called Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Mackerel is the best source of omega 3 in terms of the amount per 100g.
You can get all the omega 3 / essential fats you need, by consuming 1 to 3g per day of a high quality fish oil supplement.
Make sure that it is in a natural triglyceride form and not the cheaper ethyl-ester form. More info and research here.
The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.
Omega 3 reduces inflammation, may help with joint pain, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular health and the reduction of plasma triglyercides.
Fish oil reduces triglycerides by reducing the production of VLDL in the liver.
Fish oil also increases fatty acid uptake and oxidation.
At a cellular level – every cell has a cell membrane. Cell membranes are composed of phospholipids. Omega 3 fats can change the cell membrane function and rigidity in a beneficial manner.
What is the Omega 3/6 Ratio?
Some nutritionists believe that a high level of omega 6 fat intake and a relatively low level of omega 3 can lead to a variety of inflammatory diseases. Ideally the ratio of 6 to 3, should be less than 4 to 1.
The typical western diet has a ratio of 15 to 1, so most people in the western world may wish to consider reducing omega 6 intake, and/or increasing omega 3.
Phospholipid Omega 3
Krill oil and some fish eggs, have a more bioavailable form of omega 3.
There is some evidence, that some people are susceptible to degenerative brain conditions such as dementia, have this predisposition because DHA, found in omega 3, has difficulty passing the blood brain barrier (BBB) into the brain*
Phospholipid Omega 3 may be able to overcome this issue, and has therefore Phospholipid Omega 3 supplementation, has been touted by some as a potential means to offset the development of degenerative brain conditions.
*These individuals tend to have a “polymorphism” known as APOE4.
Vegan Omega 3
Fish and fish oil supplements are usually touted as the best source of omega 3. If you’re a vegan, you can get omega 3, including EPA from algae supplements. You can get DHA from chia seeds, sunflower seeds and flax.
Omega 3 for Dogs
Dogs can have issues with their joints. Omega 3 supplements are popular with dog owners, as it is thought that high EPA omega 3 can help alleviate the pain and stiffness from arthritis.
Vegan Omega 3 for Dogs
You can buy Algae Oil for dogs, if you have a, erm, vegan dog!
As a self-confessed space cadet, this is one podcast I was keen to listen to.
Notes I made from the podcast are listed below:
How to Improve Focus & Memory
If you want to improve your focus and ability to learn, then the foundation involves 4 things:
Exercise – aim for 30-45 minutes per day
Good quality sleep – aim for 8 hours each night
Meditation – aim for 12 minutes per day
Cold exposure – have a cold shower after your warm shower
In terms of exercise, just aim to do 30-45 minutes per day of some type of activity that raises your heart rate significantly.
Aim for 12 minutes per day of mindful meditation.
Cold exposure can also help us become more alert and more focused. For example, take a cold shower. Cold exposure is one way to increase dopamine and adrenaline levels for a sustained period of hours. Dopamine normally peaks and then drops below baseline, which is why any substance that increases dopamine levels is highly addictive – from coke to social media – they’re all addictive and bad for mental health. Studies on cold exposure however, show that dopamine levels are significantly increased for several hours after a cold shower or outdoors swim etc.
How to Remember Specific Things Like People’s Names
To remember a specific thing, you can improve your chances of recalling the thing, like an event or piece of knowledge by:
Adding novelty – make things weird
Repeating the thing to remember
Associate the thing to remember with an event, person or something deep-rooted in your memory*
*For example, I remember people’s names by associating them with someone or something that I already know, or that I’ve already remembered. For example, when I met Kieron whilst working the warehouse for my employer, I remembered this name by thinking “Oh, that’s the name of my therapist” and I remembered Craig by remembering Craig Johnston – Liverpool player who designed Predator football boots.
Novel situations are easier to remember. It can be tricky to add novelty but you can notice something weird or new about the situation. E.g. if you are writing down your times table to remember something, add a weird character to the bottom of the page, or draw the numbers elaborately.
In Derren Brown’s book he talks about making things as specific and as vivid as possible in order to remember them. So with the times table example, make the character as detailed as possible, and have him/her/it holding a number for example, if you want to remember 7 x 7 = 49, then have a gnome, in a skirt, with a grenade in one hand and the numbers 49 in the other hand. You could also put 7 on each of his thigs, and “X” on his skirt. How can you forget that image?!
Adding emotion is a tricky one. If you want your kids to remember something important, you can shout at them! This causes a cortisol release which helps with memory – as it’s often important to remember stressful/dangerous things. You don’t want to do this all the time and cause anxious and traumatised kids/people obviously though!
From personal experience (this wasn’t in the podcast) – The supplements Acetyl-L-Carnitine, citicholine and PQQ vastly improve my focus and alertness.
Use supplements at your own risk however!
There’s also a good Ted Talk about psychic bandwidth – this explains that you should put things to remember like tasks into some type of a system. This then allows you to focus more in the present moment.
A “system” might be a To-Do list next to the calendar at home, that you and your wife use, or a project management tool in work.
I was always shouted at for forgetting things at home, until we started using a To-Do list. It’s hard to filter out the important, actionable information from my wife, from the waffle about work etc!
Arguably works a bit better with Thai Boxing, “dust drills” involve 2 fighters/boxers taking turns to throw combinations
Boxer 1 – Throws a 2, 3 or 4 punch combination Boxer 2 – Stays in range and blocks and parries each punch
Once boxer 1 has thrown his combination, Boxer 2 throws his combination.
Combinations can be pre-determined, to drill a set defensive technique(s) and counters, or can be thrown at random.
Boxers can thrown feints/dummies before executing their combination.
Boxer Vs Stalker
Boxer 1 has to constantly push forwards, looking to land a jab and body shots only.
Boxer 2 must attempt to keep just out of range and throw jab counters by side-stepping etc.
Boxer 1 is ultimately looking to pin boxer 2 in the corner of the ring.
Boxer 2 is aiming to throw counter shots and control the outside of the ring and the range.
Try this for 3 x 3 minute rounds.
Defender vs Attacker Sparring
Boxer 1 is the defender – he or she is only allowed to parry, block and use head and foot movement to avoid punches
Boxer 2 – very lightly throws punches at boxer 1.
Try this for 3 x 2 minute rounds
Jabs Only Sparring
As you’d expect, jabs only sparring involves 2 boxers sparring, but only with jabs.
You can take this up a level, with jabs only to the head plus any body shots
Body Only Sparring
Sparring, but only with body shots.
Keep your hands high to keep the defence and general stance/guard realistic
Boxing Fitness Drills
Using the pads for a set number of rounds is one of the best ways to build specific fitness for boxing.
Tabata Intervals on the bag or pads are also excellent.
Tabata Intervals consist of 4 minute rounds, divided into 8 x 20 second bouts of 100% effort exercise, interspersed with 10 seconds rest.
You can use an app, or just find a Tabata interval timer on YouTube:
If you are in good shape, then you can try and complete 3 or 4 Tabata Intervals.
If you’re new to boxing, start with 1 or 2 intervals. Take a minute’s rest in between each 4 minute bout.
You can use predetermined combinations e.g.
First 20 seconds – Jab, Cross, Hook, Cross (throw as many punches as possible in 20 seconds) Second 20 Seconds – Hook, Cross, Hook Third 20 Seconds – Left hook, right hook, left hook Fourth 20 Seconds – Jab, Casting Punch
For the final 4 intervals, do the same combination but in the opposite stance.
You can also freestyle the combinations, and throw combinations at random if you prefer.
Solo Boxing Drills
Bob & Weave Drills
Bobbing & Weaving takes some getting used to, but it basically involves walking fowards and squatting down with your hands up.
A great way to practice bobbing & weaving is by using a washing-line.
Walk down the length of the washing line, ducking side to side.
To bob: – Adopt a boxing stance – Keep your guard/hands high – Bend your knees (NOT at the waist) – Shuffle forwards
There are lots of technical drills you can do on your own as well, including
Fade away hooks
Jabs for speed
Parry and jab counter
*Skip steps are a highly effective, yet under-utilised technique for bridging distance. Works well when you keep your head off centreline/to the side, so you don’t walk into a jab
Like all contact sports, MMA comes with a relatively high risk of injury. It’s unlikely that you’ll compete in MMA for a year for example, without sustaining some type of injury in training or a fight.
There is some research to suggest that MMA is less dangerous than boxing.
Researchers at the U of A’s Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic reviewed a decade’s worth of data from medical examinations following mixed martial arts and boxing matches and found that MMA fighters face a slightly higher risk of minor injuries. Boxers, however, are more likely to experience serious harm from concussions and other head trauma, loss of consciousness, eye injuries, smashed noses and broken bones.
The best way to reduce the risk of injury, is to find a ‘good’ and ‘sensible’ gym to train at. Gyms that focus on technique, fitness and a good attitude, are much less likely to see injured fighters during training sessions, than gyms which are more ‘gung ho’ with hard sparring, and less strict with fighters general behaviour.
Do you wear wraps under MMA gloves?
When fighting, yes – you should wear hand wraps under MMA gloves. The wrists should also be wrapped. Many fighters damage there hands even when they have a professional wrap their hands, so the damage would likely but much worse if fighters were to wear just gloves, and no wraps.
Does MMA training build muscle?
Whether or not MMA training will build muscle, depends a lot on your baseline or starting level of muscle and how much exercise you are doing. If you are in your 20s and have a completely sedentary job and lifestyle, then doing MMA, particularly grappling, will likely result in your body adapting and building muscle, as well as strength. However, you will begin to level off and plateau relatively quickly in terms of muscle gains if you are not eating adequate calories and protein. If you want to add serious amounts of muscle, you should also look to add some resistance training to your weekly exercise program/programme.
How to become an MMA referee?
There are various ways to become an MMA referee, but a typical route would include:
Gaining experience as a referee on a voluntary basis at local shows
Are MMA gloves good for punching bags?
MMA gloves, meant for professional fights, are not ideal for hitting a heavy bag as they are only 4oz and don’t provide much protection for the wrist and knuckles – especially without hand wraps. For hitting heavy bags, it’s best to start with gloves that are 12oz and use hand wraps. If you are looking to condition and harden your fists, you may wish to use thinner gloves, but there’s definitely a risk of injury with 4oz MMA gloves.
Can you do MMA with braces?
You can train in MMA with braces, as long as you have a custom fitted mouthguard. You’ll typically also need to speak to your dentist first to make sure that it’s safe.
Do MMA fighters take creatine?
A large percentage of MMA fighters use creatine. Creatine is one of the most effective sports supplements for power and strength, according to research. When fighters are cutting weight however, many stop taking creatine due to the high levels of dehydration. For more information on taking creatine for MMA and BJJ, see our article.
Do MMA fighters train everyday?
Most professional MMA fighters will train 5 or 6 days per week. Some fighters will train twice on some days, with for example wrestling training in the morning and Muay Thai in the evening of the same day. Other days could involve a morning BJJ session and strength & conditioning in the evening or afternoon. There is a very real risk of overtraining and injury when training so frequently. It’s important that pro fighters have coaches and physiologists to monitor levels of blood lactate, inflammation and stress hormones such as cortisol. Resting heart rate and heart rate recovery is also an important metric to monitor to mitigate the risk of overtraining and burnout.
How to become an MMA fighter?
The best way to become an MMA fighter is to build a good base of fitness, power and flexibility. There are many fighters who train for many years, but are limited by poor flexibility and relatively low levels of explosive power and cardiovascular fitness. Find a good local gym, ideally one that acts as a feeder to local and major MMA shows. Train diligently for several years, compete in grappling competitions and then compete in a local MMA event. From there, build up a record and you can enhance your chances of getting on a big show like the UFC. Bear in mind that MMA is poorly paid, unless you’re a top 10 fighter for your weight division in the world.
How do MMA fighters cut weight?
Cutting weight is very dangerous and requires professional supervision. MMA fighters will reduce carbohydrate intake and water-load to make weight.
– 1 gram of carbs, stores an additional 3 grams of water, so carbs need to be reduced – Sodium/salt makes the body retain water (so don’t have any) – Drinking lots of water, according to Martin Rooney, makes the body trigger hormones, which in turn, cause the body to excrete more water than normal. So by drinking 2 gallons, and tapering it down to no water at all, the body will lose more water weight. – Ensure you have a complete rehydration plan for after the weigh-in. This can include cool baths with salts and glycerol.
Getting adequate protein is important for recovery, and adaptation to exercise. Adequate protein intake is also important for the general health and function of the body:
Protein powders are not required by everyone, but if you’re an MMA fighter, it’s something to consider using, especially if you are doing lots of resistance training and HIIT.
In theory, a quality protein powder will help you to recover from training sessions – but only if you are deficient in protein to begin with. Some studies also show that consuming protein stops you from craving snacks as much.
The infographic shown below, outlines how much food (in tins of tuna) you’d need to eat, in order to get the optimal amount of protein as an MMA fighter:
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein powder is easy to digest and extremely high in protein. It is a by-product of cheese production, so it’s source is basically dairy, similar to casein in that respect.
Whey protein is very high in the BCAA called Leucine which is known to promote protein synthesis – PubMed study here.
A few studies have shown that whey protein, might be more effective at promoting muscle protein synthesis than casein (study here). Disclaimer – I’ve not read the full study; lots of them have blatant conflict of interests and poor designs etc.
There’s also some evidence that whey protein may help reduce inflammation – which is very handy when it comes to MMA recovery.
You can read more about whey protein in my complete guide here.
Whey protein tends to score highest on all the “protein metrics” such as “Biological Value” and “Net Protein Utilization”.
“Biological value (BV) is a measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a food which becomes incorporated into the proteins of the organism’s body. It captures how readily the digested protein can be used in protein synthesis in the cells of the organism”
I can’t find any information on biological value etc of hemp protein powder. Perhaps this reflects the relatively low amount of research surrounding the product compared to whey protein. It could be argued that some whey protein studies however, do pose a “conflict of interest” issue, with some studies funded by dairy consortiums.
One study on rice protein and whey protein – found they had similar results. See the study here. Again, this should be taken with a pinch of salt, “one study means feck all”, as my friend once put it.
I was unable to find PDCAAS info about whey protein powder, but looking at hemp nuts and seeds, it should be at least 0.50.
Hemp Protein Vs Whey Protein
The table below looks at some of the pros and cons of hemp and whey protein powders:
Component of Dairy
Conc. – 70%Isolate – 90%+
2lbs hemp protein – £20-£30
2lbs of whey concentrate £20-£30
Bland if unflavoured
Lots of research
Contains omega 3 fats
High in BCAAs
Keep in mind, that whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate are quite different. Whey isolate is easier to digest and doesn’t give you the horrible “protein farts” that come with concentrate – usually, depends on your lactose tolerance etc.
Casein Protein Powder
standard casein protein is “micellar” – which basically means it forms a clump. This makes it slow to digest when compared to whey. This is why lots of bodybuilders will choose to taken casein before bedtime, to get a slow release of protein over 8 hours whilst they are asleep.
One study compared whey protein and casein protein – the whey protein caused a spike in blood amino acid content, whereas casein resulted in a small initial spike, then are more sustained blood amino acid content – study here.
Casein Hydrolysate is not micellar, or particularly slow to digest, as it is pre-digested and therefore more quickly digested and assimilated.
Casein has all essential amino acids and has other “bioactive compounds” which are beneficial to health (study here).
As casein has a high leucine content – it’s indigestion results in an increase in protein synthesis, which in turn is important for muscle growth and recovery.
In one study casein hydrolysate was more effective at increasing some measures of strength compared to whey protein, and much more effective than a placebo. Study here
“Mean increase in strength for chest, shoulder and legs was 59 +/- 9% for casein and 29 +/- 9% for whey, a significant group difference. This significant difference in body composition and strength is likely due to improved nitrogen retention and overall anticatabolic effects caused by the peptide components of the casein hydrolysate.”
However, most studies do suggest that whey protein is better for building muscle than casein.
This is thought to be because whey protein contains more branch chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine. Studies on whey protein vs casein here, here and here.
“We conclude that ingestion of isolated whey protein supports greater rates of MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis) than micellar casein both at rest and after resistance exercise in healthy elderly men. This result is probably related to a greater hyperaminoacidaemia or leucinaemia with whey ingestion.”
Your best bet, is to opt for whey protein as an MMA fighter. Whey protein has the most research behind it. Although some argue a lot of the research is funded by dairy consortiums. Even so, there is such a vast amount of research it does seem highly likely that whey protein is a very effective and safe form of protein for MMA fighters looking to recover and adapt to training sessions.
All three words or phrases described here, are taken from/recorded within The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Dharnaa, is a sankskript word meaning “focus” or “concentration”. It has different translations and different yogis tend to teach the concept slightly differently.
Some say it relates to the focus on what you want to attain, and what you want to be. Dharnaa practice, involves concentrating on the specific subject or matter you want to focus on and become. For example, a guru might give a student a specific mantra to use, that has a specific meaning.
You can also practice Dharnaa by focusing on a single object, like a candle’s flame. You can also focus on the breath, or eyebrow centre.
Dharnaa; the ability to focus, is thought to be a fundamental skill, so you can go on to attain higher levels of focus and personal development along the yogic path (well, most paths). It’s hard to meditate for example, if you are unable to focus. Dharnaa should be the first goal, or practice before any other form of meditation.
Dhyāna means contemplation, or sometimes it is used to describe the practice of meditation. It is regarded as an important element of the “self-knowledge process”.
Vivekananda explains Dhyana in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:
“When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called Dhyana”
Dhyana is also said to be the seventh limb of Astanga Yoga. It is a continuation, or next level up from Dharnaa.
Samadhi, is ultimately the goal of meditation and yoga. Although, “desire is a trap”, so you can’t really yearn or aim for this goal as it will paradoxically impede your development.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes “samprajñata samadhi” / Samadhi with higher knowledge and “asamprajñata samadhi” / “beyond higher knowledge”. There’s a great article on YogaInternational.com here.
“The other kind of samadhi is asamprajñata samadhi, and has no object in which attention is absorbed, where only latent impressions [samskaras] remain; attainment of this state is preceded by the constant practice of allowing all of the gross and subtle fluctuations of mind [vrittis] to recede back back into the field from which they arose.”