The Ultimate Tennis Workout: How to Get a Grand-Slam Body (Without Lifting a Racquet)

Andre Agassi was famous for his (faux) hair, Pete Sampras for his bushy eyebrows, but the current crop of tennis stars—like Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic—are making headlines for their ripped muscles. Want to net your own head-turning physique? We serve up their exercise secrets.

From left: Novak Djokovic; Rafael Nadal

From top: Getty Images (3); photo courtesy of Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club.

From left: Novak Djokovic; Rafael Nadal

After he defeated Rafael Nadal in a marathon match that lasted nearly six hours to clinch his third straight Australian Open title last year, Novak Djokovic celebrated by ripping his shirt off. Even before the 25-year-old Serb had a chance to raise a post-match glass of champagne, his chiseled abs had gone viral and the world was acknowledging an unlikely reality: Tennis boasts some of the sickest bodies in professional sports. "Players have gotten stronger over the last 10 to 15 years," says Jez Green, a fitness coach to Britain's Andy Murray (pictured, below), the reigning U.S. Open and Olympic champ and owner of one such enviable physique. "The fitter you get in the gym, the faster you're going to be on the court." And the game itself is a killer workout too—on par with an intense session of half-court basketball—combining fat-burning and endurance-building cardio bursts with built-in strength moves like lunges and squats, which provide that desired toning payoff. "The players coming through today are becoming complete athletes," Green says. "The standards have changed, the game's gotten quicker. They have to be ready or be left behind." It's time to get off the sidelines.

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Exercise Like a Pro

No one expects you to work out as hard as the pros, who clock up to two hours per gym session as often as four times a week. But adding some of their favorite exercises to your regular routine will get you slimmer and stronger fast, says Chang-Ho Lee, a strength-and-conditioning coach for Athletes' Performance in Los Angeles, who trains ATP-tour pros like Argentine star Juan Monaco. Tackle these sculptors, direct from tennis's top trainers, two or three times each week. For moves requiring weights and medicine balls, choose a weight that allows you to complete the number of reps required—if you can easily add more, increase the weight; if you can't complete the reps without sacrificing form, drop to a lower weight.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 08: Andy Murray of Great Britain serves during practice ahead of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 8, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

From top: Getty Images (3); photo courtesy of Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club.

For Strong Arms

Wrist and Forearm Curls

Sit on a bench, holding a light barbell with both hands, hands shoulder-width apart, palms up, elbows on thighs, wrists just above knees. Flex wrists up, then down. Do 10 reps. Turn palms down on bar and repeat, flexing wrists up, then down. Do 10 reps.

Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press

Lie face-up on a bench, with knees bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand, hands lifted toward ceiling. Bend right elbow down to shoulder level, lowering dumbbell toward chest; lift up. Repeat on left. Do 20 reps, alternating sides each time.

For Powerful Legs

Clock Lunges

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a medicine ball in front of your chest with both hands. Lunge forward with your right leg, bending right knee 90 degrees. If you were standing in the center of a clock face, this would be 12 o'clock; push back up to standing. Repeat, facing forward but lunging diagonally to 2 o'clock, then 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, and lunging in reverse to 6 o'clock. Reverse pattern back to start. Switch legs and repeat the series on your left side, going in a counterclockwise direction.

Single-Leg Dead Lift

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in both hands. Lift right foot slightly behind you. Keeping left knee relatively straight and back flat, hinge forward from hips, lowering weight down toward the floor in front of you. Slowly rise to stand. Do 10 reps. Switch legs and repeat.

For a Solid Core

Russian Twist

Sit on the floor, with knees bent and feet flat, holding a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest. Lean back slightly and lift feet off floor. Keeping knees as still as possible, rotate your torso from side to side, tapping weight on floor beside you each time. Do 20 total reps (tapping 10 times on each side).

Medicine-Ball Slams

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a non-bouncing medicine ball (a "dead" ball) overhead. Pivot to the right and bend knees as you slam the ball down to the floor. Squat down to pick up the ball, bring ball back overhead, and repeat slam to left. Do 20 reps total (10 on each side).

Sources: Adidas coach Gil Reyes; Satoshi Ochi, head strength-and-conditioning coach for the United States Tennis Association (USTA); Rory Cordial, strength-and-conditioning coach to James Blake; Jez Green; Chang-Ho Lee

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5 Luxurious Tennis Clubs

A spate of tasteful new establishments are putting a chic spin on the sport—think young, cool, and free of sweater-vests.

From top: Getty Images (3); photo courtesy of Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club.

Toluca Lake Tennis Club

Midtown Athletic Club


The renowned cardio-tennis program—along with pickup basketball and full-size pools—attracts visitors like the Obamas.

Galleria Tennis Athletic Club


Train with Roger Federer's former coach, run on the outdoor track, or take a yoga, Pilates, or spin class.

Central Park Tennis Club

Kirkland, Washington

Includes 12 indoor and 6 outdoor courts, massage rooms, boot-camp workouts—and the option of hosting poolside parties for your fellow Seattle-based tennis lovers.

CityView Racquet Club

Long Island City, New York

Offers popular tennis and squash clinics, a sun deck, a sauna, steam rooms, and a rooftop bar.

Toluca Lake Tennis Club

Los Angeles

The lap pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant, and boxing classes (as well as the proximity to the Warner Bros. studios) draw a celeb clientele.

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