Ok so we have already had a great article on plyometric training by Ben which is a fantastic training method and has a lot of benefits for table tennis. I'd like to go a little more basic and share parts of my own training sessions.
I think one of the most important things is to have a balanced training schedule for different parts of your body and also to make sure that you have varying types of fitness. I think it is important to have gym or off table based training and also on-table or table tennis related training.
Building Cardio and Stamina: Running or lengthy fitness workouts at a medium intensity level will help you build physical endurance, they also of course keep you in shape by burning calories. I usually run for 30 minutes a day whether it is on a treadmill or outside. Remember the terrain makes it much more enduring and difficult to run outside, so if you have the option and the weather is ok or you enjoy running in the rain, then I do suggest running outdoors.
Building Explosive Leg Power: Building explosive power in the legs is very important in table tennis as the base power of the attacking strokes comes from the legs. Building explosive leg power can be achieved by multiple methods:
Squats or Frog Jumps: Squats are a conventional way of building explosive power, I find the best way to do that is to slowly squat down and then burst up. Frog jumps are also a great way as you get the squat down to the round and then a frog leap forward. I usually do squats in sets of 100 and try to do 2 sets every day during my fitness sessions.
Shuttle Sprints: Stop and start sprint exercises also help build explosive power. Doing short distance sprints to set points and then back will help establish fitness in more intense situations where your cardio really takes a pounding. The stop, turn and explosive change in direction at the set points will help build that power in your legs. Shuttle sprints are good to do after training or can be done after a run also if you wish.
Core Strength: Core strength is also very important in table tennis, especially on the forehand where turning the body to channel power is crucial. Remember there are different parts of the core which you can work on, I try to work on all of them.
The Prone Hold: The prone hold or plank is a really good standard exercise for the core. You can also do the side prone which targets the lateral abdominal muscles which are on the side of your body. Most commonly people would aim to hold each of the 3 positions for at least 2 minutes.
Above are the prone hold (top) and the side prone (bottom). A challenging exercise is to set a countdown for 8-9 minutes and try and hold a prone without touching the floor or falling out of position, however you are able to switch between the positions over the 8-9 minutes.
Hollow Rocks: Hollow rocks are a very challenging exercise and can be deceivingly difficult. Lying on the floor on your back, stretch your feet out, toes together. Now stretch your arms out straight behind your head. Raise your feet off the floor and hands a little above head level. Now start to rock back and forth. See the image below. I suggest doing sets of 20 rocks, 3 sets is a good start.
General Strenth and Basics: I like to keep a basic list of exercises in every sessions, those are pressups and usually situps. I think this is part of most players physical training regime. Pressups can target different parts, this is important to remember.
Different Types of Pressups:
- Having the arms out beside your body is a standard pressup called the wide grip, this helps build chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Bringing your hands together in a diamond under your chest is the best for building triceps, though it can put a large amount of pressure on your wrists and elbows.
- Decline pressups are perhaps my favourite and I do them most of the time. Put your feet up on a bench and hands on the floor and do your pressups like that. Tough stuff!
- One arm pressups. If you are feeling really tough. Make sure your feet are spread apart to equally distribute your weight for balance. One arm pressups are relatively difficult but if you are getting bored or want to try something new then have a go!
Table Tennis Related Training: Building exercises which help your footwork in table tennis are important too. I found when I was doing weightlifting and cross-training that I still wasn't as up to the mark as I thought I would be. General fitness and what you experience on the table can be quite different!
I outline a few exercises to help build your footwork speed in this article here:
The movements are quick and it can be extra challenging on your cardio if you are just doing running to stay fit.
These are the parts of my fitness schedule. I used to do Crossfit which involved weightlifting and gymnastic training among many other things. The variation in the exercises each session was fantastic and really helped me with my table tennis. I was doing 3 sessions of Crossfit a week, might be something you may want to look into!
As always, hope this helps some of you out and of course feel free to comment or give feedback!