View Full Version : Weights Question: Do you recommend the shoulder press

05-12-2004, 07:12 AM
The USTA's Book on conditioning for Tennis says not to do them, but I was training with a guy who was on the tour for awhile and he does them religiously. Then another buddy of mine dislocated his shoulder doing them (or course he was using 50 lb dumbells...) What do you guys think ?

05-12-2004, 08:29 AM
I don't recommend the shoulder press for tennis for very simple reason. It can shorten your full range of motion. What I do recommend is all type of dumbells shoulder excercises with light weight 10-15 lb and full range of motion. Steady controlled motion with 10/15 reps per set, 3 sets each for lateral raises, front raises and bent-over lateral raises. Keep in mind that negative part of your motion is as importent as positive part therfore when you lift up count "one" but when you go down hold it for a second and lower down under tension counting "one-two-three"

05-12-2004, 09:05 AM
I used to do the shoulder press and military press from the old days. My shoulder had been giving me problems for a long time. Serving made it sore. Then I read somewhere from one of the trainers of a tour pro that you shouldn't lift anything in that motion above the shoulders. I stopped those exercises and started simple shoulder raises - like front raises and side raises. W/in a month of the change, my shoulder pain went away and my range of motion for the shoulder increased.

Stopping the shoulder press has been the single most effective way to improve my serve. Just say NO.

05-12-2004, 09:47 AM
I don't recommend the shoulder press for tennis for very simple reason. It will shorten your full range of motion. What you can do is all type of dumbells shoulder excercises with light weight 5-15 lb.

05-13-2004, 10:38 AM
The worst exercise for the shoulder is any movement requiring you to lift weight over your head. It will eventually cause major shoulder problems. Any knowledgable PT, doctor or trainer will tell you to stay away from the military and shoulder press because it will cause impingement syndrome sooner or later.

tennis*bill is right. Do lateral raises, front raises and bent over shoulder raises with dumbbells. Never raise the weight above parallel with your shoulders. All of these strengthen the shoulder without causing impingement. Your deltoids (the major muscles you see around the shoulder area) are also recruited in most upper body compound movements like lat pulldowns, bench presses, pushups, dips, etc. So they will get a good workout if you do a complete upper body routine.

Good luck.

05-13-2004, 02:46 PM
I think it's a great compound exercise for the upper body if you pay attention to your technique. Using a controlled rep speed, lifting the bar in front of your head instead of behind, and doing the lift seated at an inclined angle (about 80 degrees) instead of perfectly vertical will significantly reduce the chances of injury.

I can't really comment on how beneficial this exercise is for tennis, but I disagree with it reducing your range of motion. Stretching should resolve that, which should be part of everyone's tennis program anyway.

If you're into weightlifting and looking to get strong irregardless of tennis, then I'd say look into this exercise more. If you're only interested in gaining some strength to improve your tennis, then you might want to give it more of a second thought.


05-13-2004, 08:50 PM
you can do shoulder presses but do them with pretty light dumb bells. you can strenthen the shoulder area and rotator cuff by some pretty simple exercises that don't require a lot of weight, just a lot of repetitions.
athletes that have overhead arm movements (i.e. tennis serves and baseball pitchers) need to be really careful about raising weights directly overhead. i know MLB pitchers like Roger Clemens never lift any dumbell heavier than 25 pounds over head.

Tim Tennis
05-20-2004, 04:33 AM
Yikes! I go a 60 lbs. set of weights when I was in the 8th grade and did military presses for years with the barbell. Yes, as I got older I added weight. Now I use the dumbbells and do one armed military presses using from 50 to 60 lbs. three sets, anywhere from 8 to 10 reps. I even hold my non lifting arm up like on the ball toss to try to mimic the service motion to some extent. Sometimes I will hold the weight at full extension and just rotate my hand some to make my lower back muscles adjust to balance the weight. No doubt, you have to be careful and build up gradually. Yes, you can get the shoulder muscles too tight. I can tell when they cramp up at night I need to back off. I was surprised to read about not lifting the weights over your head. That does not make sense to me. My gosh, the serve puts tremendous stress on the lower back. It seems to me that anything you could do to strengthen these muscles would help. I am 59 and I seem to be the only one in our group that does not have some kind of back problem. I can't help but think that the over the head exercises have really helped. Maybe I have just been real lucky.

You got to love the game.

05-20-2004, 04:47 AM
Tim Tennis,

You have been real lucky. I can't even begin to count the number of blown out shoulders I've seen on guys who lift heavy on shoulder work. Some of it is genetics due to collarbone shape and muscle motion, some is cumulative stress from years of playing football, baseball, tennis, etc. aggravated by lifting and some of it is just plain stupidity. Like any weight lifting exercise, the key is know your limits and not over do it. Shoulders tend to fail spectacularly, i.e. one day you are fine and the next day it hurts to lift your arm. Or worse something goes POP! and the real pain starts.

The shoulder takes enough stress day to day. There are so many exercises for the shoulder that don't place unnatural stress on the joint, the shoulder press can be avoided.

Tim Tennis
05-20-2004, 05:37 AM
Hi Netman,

I am sure you are absolutely correct. I have been very lucky. After this post I am going to work out and go practice some serves. I will stay away from the shoulder presses. Years ago I played a old guy in Mobile AL, he told me he used to coach the Univ. of Miami tennis team. He told me that if you hang from a door way every day for about the count of 10 or more you would never have any shoulder problems. AT the "Y" they have a chin-up bar and I will stretch out on it and then do a whole series of chin-ups.. What is you take on chin-ups as a exercise for tennis?

You got to love the game.

05-20-2004, 06:01 AM

Chin ups are a great test of upper body strength. Even better are wide grip pull ups. While chin ups tend to target the arms more, wide grips pullups recruit all the upper body muscles, particularly the lats and delts. Both are pulling (as opposed to pushing) exercises, which places almost no stress on the low back. Wide grip pullups can aggravate shoulders though, so you have to be careful not to overdue do it.. If you do wide grip pullups, push ups and dips, you can get an awesome upper body workout with no weight involved.

There are a lot of exercises that strengthen the stabilizing muscles in and around the shoulder (rotator cuff for example) that you can do with 2-3 lbs dumbbells while watching TV. (You don't use more weight than that because they can't handle it). Search on the web to find some good routines. A lot of folks think its when muscles get out of balance that you have problems. If you have pumped up your lats and delts while neglectng the stabilizers, eventually the stabilizers get overwhelmed and they tear or fail. Or the ligaments and tendons get stressed and they tear or fail. Keeping things in balance is just as important as strength.


Tim Tennis
05-20-2004, 06:23 AM

Thanks for the great information. Happy to hear that I am not ruining my tennis game by doing chin-ups.

If my serve drops down below 120 MPH because I quit doing the shoulder presses you will be the first to know. LOL

Thanks for the advice.

You got to love the game.

05-20-2004, 06:38 AM

Hope your serve doesn't lose speed. I don't think Sampras was much of a weight lifter and he could sure blast it. Who knows, you might gain some more speed with a change in routine. :D

FYI, I just finished a paper that stated that sport-specific exercises were the key to really improving performance. Their premises was, for example, that while doing chin ups will make you a great chin up performer, it won't help your serve as much as doing exercises that mimic the motion you are trying to strengthen. They measured strength gains of 20-25% more in the sport specific group as opposed to the control group that performed regular weight exercises. And the sport specific group was using lower weights. I'm going to have investigate this one some more, it looks interesting.


Tim Tennis
05-20-2004, 07:27 AM

You can't be serious. Hell, Sampras used a dumbbell to serve with. LOL

Actually every exercise I do I think of how it will help my tennis game. I will even try to duplicate my swing path for my Semi-Western forehand using a 25 lb. weight. I will actually rotate my shoulders and attempt to bring them around in slow motion in sinc with pulling the weight up.

Thanks for your interest. Ed

05-23-2004, 08:31 AM
I would say:
Do shoulder press if you are getting stronger from it.
If you feel pain, don't do it!