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Interval Training For Tennis

Authored By Ken MacDonald 0 Comment(s)

A tennis match is characterized by intermittent bouts of high intensity point exchanges usually lasting from 4 – 10 seconds, and short recovery bouts between points, usually lasting 10 to 20 seconds.  Players are allowed 25 seconds between points and 90 seconds on a changeover.  With this in mind, designing a cardiovascular training program should be specific to the parameters above.  Jogging for the sake of keeping your conditioning up for the sport, may in fact actually be somewhat detrimental.   

The goal of this article is to show you how to get more out of your workout by putting in less time on the treadmill, bike or elliptical. 

Recent research has shed light on the dark days of long steady state cardiovascular training.  As you have probably read in fitness magazines by now, the recent trend towards HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)conditioning is beginning to replace the old school thought of spending long hours on the treadmill.  Essentially HIIT means doing shorts bursts of higher intensity exercise followed by larger break periods.  A typical work to rest ratio is about 1:3.  An example of this would be sprinting on a treadmill for 15 seconds and then jumping off and resting for about 45 seconds before repeating again.  This would typically last for about 8 rounds equaling 2 minutes of intense all out running.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but the benefits can be even better than what are attained through a steady dose of jogging for a half hour.  Of course for most of you sprinting is not an option but this type of training can be done on a stationary bike, the Cybex Arc Trainer or even walking on an incline. 

The key is to make sure the intensity for the 15 seconds is high, but that it also matches your fitness level.  This means that the workout is going to be hard, harder than what you are used to, but it takes less than half the time.

Research has been done comparing long steady state cardiovascular training with HIIT and the results are surprising.

In a case study done in Canada at McMaster University researchers compared the effects of 20 minutes of high intensity interval training (30 second sprints followed by 4 minute resting periods) with 90-120 minutes long steady state training in the heart rate zone.  Subjects got the same results in oxygen utilization in both programs but the amazing thing is the interval training group actually only did 2 minutes and 30 seconds of actual work.
In a more famous study known as the Tabata study, researchers found that by using an interval of 20 seconds of high intensity work and a rest period of 10 seconds for a total of 4 minutes participants were able to achieve higher V02max(aerobic capacity) and a faster heart rate recovery when compared to the group who did moderate intensity endurance training.

In summary, HIIT has been shown to improve the following better than long steady state training:

  • V02max
  • Anaerobic Threshold
  • Heart Rate Recovery
  • Stroke Volume
  • Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (increases caloric burn at rest)
  • Fat Loss

If you are a beginner to this type of training you may want to start with LIIT (Low Intensity Interval Training) or you may become nauseated…same idea just keep the intensity a little lower.

HIIT Recommendations:

  • Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat about 1.5 hours before you do it. 
  • Perform the interval training after you do your strength training or you may be too tired to lift.
  • Only do this type of training 2x’s a week as it can be strenuous.

Here is an example of a progression we use with our treadmills and bikes:                                       

Day

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
1

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 5

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 6

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 7

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 8

2

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 5

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 6

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 7

2 min warm up:

15/45 x 8

 

Day Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
1

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 6

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 7

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 8

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 9

2

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 6

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 7

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 8

2 min warm up:

20/40 x 9

 

  • *In Week 1-4 the 15 is the amount of seconds you work…the 45 is the amount of seconds you come to a complete rest. 
  • Same idea for weeks 5-8 except we increased the work time to 20 seconds and decreased the recovery time to 40 seconds. 
  • The speed of the treadmill varies from 8mph to 12mph depending on the fitness level of the client. 
  • We like the incline set to 5%.

If you already play tennis at a high level, you probably get a great deal of your conditioning work done while practicing and playing.   If this is the case, you may want to follow the above progression as it does not put you at risk of overtraining.  Don’t mistake this as meaning you won’t work as hard.  To be effective you must work all out for your fitness level during the working interval. If you only play a few days a week and want to make sure your conditioning and heart rate recovery stay at an optimal level check out the program below.

Training Options:

1. 2 min. warm-up
2. 30 seconds on – hard
3. 30 seconds off – very light
4. 30 seconds on – hard
5. 45 seconds off – very light
6. 30 seconds on – hard
7. 1 min. off – very light
8. 30 seconds on – hard
9. 1:15 seconds off – very light 
10. 30 seconds on – hard                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
11. 1:30 off – very light
12. 30 seconds on – hard
13. 1:45 seconds off – very light
14. 30 seconds on – hard
15. 2:00 minutes – off

As you can see, the rest intervals increase by 15 seconds as you progress through the rounds.  Total of 3.5 minutes of hard work and 9 minutes of very light work equal 12.5 minutes of work. 

Please understand that this may be a difficult workout so start easy.  For you, jogging may be a high intensity workout so you don’t need to put the speed on the treadmill up to high levels for your work interval.  If you have a history of cardiovascular disease in your family or you have had heart complications in the past, make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

 



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