Can bodybuilding hinder your potential in tennis?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by ramseszerg, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. ramseszerg

    ramseszerg Professional

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    I am on about 2 months of starting strength, and after this, I want to move to a bodybuilding program. If I lift just to look good and add muscle just for the sake of having muscle, could it be a limiting factor in how good I can get in tennis? Or would I be okay as long as I stretch and maintain my flexibility and range of motion. I don't really have a theoretical basis to ask this question but I just can't see a very bulky person gracefully crushing a forehand. (I am not asking about the ability to move around the court) I guess I am talking theoretically since this is assuming I can actually succeed in bodybuilding. Thanks!

    Edit: I know Nadal is fairly big but I get the feeling he didn't get that way doing hypertrophy training in the gym. (the makeup of the muscle is different?)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
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  2. T1000

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    Don't switch over until your lifts stall. Also if you want to switch to a hypertrophy based program you're not gonna look like Arnold after lifting for three weeks so you'll be fine. I went from 130-190 in a little under a year, and I wasn't that big at 190. I played tennis at both weights and was fine, actually played better at 190. I'm 6'1 btw

    edit: Nadal isn't big dude. He's actually really small
     
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  3. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Being a serious bodybuilder will probably limit your tennis, but not particularly because muscle limits flexibility, which it doesn't. As you know, the extra muscle mass is unnecessary and will put more stress on your body because of extra weight - just because you don't need 20" arms in order to hit a tennis ball.

    The other reason is that bodybuilding will take a lot of time and effort that could be put into tennis practice.

    Federer doesn't look like a bodybuilder and neither does Nadal, because the extra bodyweight would be harder on joints and provide no corresponding benefit. But for an amateur, the main difference is that you'll just have less time to practice. A lot of those bodybuilders are more flexible than I am, and I have a body type about like Murray or Djokovic.
     
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  4. Andyroddickfan

    Andyroddickfan Rookie

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    Lets be real here. Nadal may not be big, but he definitely is not small. He may be small compared to a bodybuilder. He is not small to many people.
     
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  5. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    yes. too much muscle will destroy your flexibility and ability to hit tennis balls expecially in low position.
     
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  6. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Absolutely. Although it's become a mockery of its former self, the FO edition of Tennis magazine had a feature on I believe the head of fitness at the USTA center in Flushing. There is a list of Dos and Don'ts, the final Don't being not to bulk up when training. It suggests being lean and fit rather than muscular and I agree with that. How much muscle mass you have really has little bearing on how hard you can hit the ball. If it did, Guga would not have been successful and both Nadal and Tsonga would not have improved having lost a lot of muscle.
     
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  7. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Somehow I can't imagine this guy having a great deal of flexibility, looseness or good reactions required of a tennis player.

    http://www.learn-bodybuilding.com/images/bb/kev3.jpg

    It should be obvious that the physique of a tennis is nothing like that of a body builder.
     
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  8. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    WV is correct, but conceptually you are. Physically, muscle mass really doesn't affect your flexibility. After a certain point, however, you're just fighting physics as far as what you can do. If you need to move a lot of bulk, that requires either an immense amount of energy, or more time to get it moving. Since the former really isn't possible and the latter is just undesirable, it makes little sense to have great reactions, but a slower response. Hence, athetes in explosive sports like boxing, tennis, wrestling and swimming tend to have great flexibility, and enough mass to get them going as quickly as possible.
     
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  9. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Muscle mass required for body building is an aesthetic muscle mass, not an athletic muscle mass comprising of alot of fast twitch muscles. Large muscle mass is also not good for endurance as its fatigues more quickly (they require more oxygen, blood supply and generate more lactic acid). The muscle definition for body building also doesn't tend to stretch the muscle over their entire length which is needed for tennis and also to prevent injury and tears. It's shortened muscles which bodybuilders want for definition and aesthetics - that's the opposite of what a tennis player wants.

    The likes of Djokovic, Federer, Isner, Murray and co are lean for good reason. Even Nadal is lean and toned rather than having hulking big muscle mass:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbi...rt-Maria-Francisca--winning-Mexican-Open.html

    Tsonga's probably the most 'muscly' of the top player and everyone knows that his movement and stamina is not that great.
     
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  10. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Again, you need to be careful. First of all, bodybuilders wouldn't be all pumped up when playing tennis. I've seen some professional bodybuilders stretching and many are freakishly flexible. They may not be able to touch a shoulder because the bicept is too big, but I've seen them do splits and grab their hands together behind reaching behind the back and over the shoulder. I've seen guys grab heels while sitting on the floor, etc.

    I'm not nearly that flexible, but being in the low 180lbs and about Djokovic's height makes a lot more sense for my tennis as I don't need to move much mass around the court.
     
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  11. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Not much good for the racquet drop when serving then.

    At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. If people want to bulk up, then bulk up. It's not like anyone here's playing competitive tennis for their livelihood.
     
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  12. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    You do realize that I agreed with you, right? :)
     
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  13. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Incorrect. The racket drop isn't a touching the shoulder movement; it is a reaching behind the back movement, and as I've said, I've seen huge guys with freakish flexibility in that regard.

    This argument is sort of silly. I agree with you that huge muscles aren't optimal for tennis but the issue isn't flexibility, it is pure mass and bulk. Being built like a bodybuilder isn't optimal in tennis for the same reason it isn't optimal for a soccer player: it puts a lot of stress on the joints because of the extra body weight without any corresponding benefit.
     
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  14. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    ^^^ That's really all there is to it.
     
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  15. Relinquis

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    being too muscular is not as bad as being fat...

    what i see a lot from my gym attending friends is guys with huge upper bodies, but skinny or average legs... all they care about is the "V" shape... whereas even skinny guys like Federer and Berdych have very powerful legs... on par with pro soccer player imo.

    if you are carrying additional weight you will need to focus on having strong legs for support. don't neglect this.

    still... unless you are going to get very big it won't be that bad to your ability to enjoy tennis. you just probably won't be ideal for playing 5 setters on a regular basis.

    just focus on not getting injured or aggravating something like shoulder impingement or such. i had a minor issue* with that when i was doing too many weights exercises and playing squash regularly. poor shoulder press form and not enough rest being contributing factors.


    * my condition wasn't serious at all. solved with a few weeks rest and one session of physio with regular exercises performed at home afterwards
     
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  16. boramiNYC

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    I echo general sentiment here that it hinders. large muscles makes it almost impossible to completely rework coordination. and coordination is at the core of a skill like tennis. and the more muscles harder it is to correct posture problems which are closely related to coordination. just don't do it. sounds crazy but try losing as much muscles as possible while trying to play better tennis. then you'll start to understand what coordination is. only then adding muscles becomes meaningful. and at the end you should look more and more like pro tennis players. strong but lean as hell.
     
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  17. BMC9670

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    Missing the big picture here, if you body build for size, it inevitably turns to fat as you age (I'm assuming you're young or you wouldn't be considering this) and life, work, age make it hard to maintain.

    There is no reason to body build other than ego, but it backfires. I see many 40-50 year old guys that were once huge that are now just overweight. Get ripped and stay lean, my friend.

    I've seen Nadal practice without a shirt from 10 ft away. He's not huge. He's ripped and lean. He looks bigger-muscled than many because of this body type and skin tone. That's genetics, not body building.
     
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  18. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    That's because those guys you mentioned are only doing it for the looks. If they actually cared about athleticism and fitness, they would have worked their lower body as well. But no, you just see guys doing hours of bench, curls and abs and think that's being fit.
     
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  19. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    No, muscle doesn't turn to fat.:???:

    I've known both fat former bodybuilders and fat former distance runners. They got fat because they continued eating large quantities of food even after they stopped high levels of physical activity.

    I've met other former bodybuilders who look like average thin people because they watched what they ate.
     
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  20. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I'd like to understand exactly how muscle turns to fat

    As to the rest of the converstaion, let me get this straight. We are talking about non-PED (steroids, HGH, etc) athletes and we are worried about building TOO MUCH muscle? I think "true natural" bodybuilders wish they had that problem.

    I think people would be surprised how "small" natural bodybuilders are in reality. But when most people think of "bodybuilders" they think of the PED athletes (Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, Arnie, etc), and not guys like Dave Goodin

    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/insidethelife18.htm
     
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  21. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Ok, ok... sheesh. Maybe muscle doesn't "turn" to fat, but it certainly is harder to maintain a body builder body as you age. More often than not, big muscle bound guys are overweight when they get older. An opinion/observation? Yes. My point to the OP was don't go big but stay lean and ripped.
     
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  22. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Big guys are overweight period (old or young)..........unless they are regular "users".
     
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  23. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    It irks me when people say that. There isn't even a modicum of truth to it. BMC's observation is pretty spot on though, and for the reason you listed. When you keep bulking and not working out, you're just going to become a blob.
     
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  24. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Bacon users?:)
     
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  25. T1000

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    I stood next to Nadal when I was 190. He is pretty small.
     
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  26. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    It's not that he's small, he's just not as big as you'd expect from what he looks like on TV. Many times when you meet someone you normally only see on TV, they seem smaller than you expect.

    The only time this didn't hold true for me was when I met Shaq. Dude was huge!!! I shook his hand and it was like me shaking a 7 year olds hand.
     
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  27. wy2sl0

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    All the guys at the top level are lean for a few reasons.

    1) They are burning a lot of calories in there training, especially since the offseason in tennis is so small (2-3 months max)

    2) Your body can only store so much glycogen to fuel your muscles. If you bulk too much, your body cannot fuel itself for extended periods (4-5 hour matches, every second day, sometimes weeks on end).

    3) Longevity. The sports with the largest strength requirements are generally the ones with the shortest careers, I.E football (US). Sports like Hockey where players strike a delicate balance between muscle and endurance can play for 20 years at a very high level. Excessive weight lifting does age you, period. Your body is constantly under a high level of stress and therefore cortisol and your requirements for anti oxidants (natural, system made not supplements) are very high.

    4) Time. The amount of time one spends to lift, eat, sleep to get very big cuts back significantly on the quality of ones training sessions since they would be constantly tired and performing at a moderate-low level.

    Tennis players have learned to grow there legs extensively while maintaining a lean upper body to give them the ability to move at a world class level while conserving upper body energy. It also helps that the majority of power in tennis comes from the legs.
     
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  28. Itagaki

    Itagaki Semi-Pro

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    To be fair though, more muscle means more potential glycogen storage
     
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  29. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

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    I competed in many natural-bodybuilding contests many years ago. I was also in a soccer team playing during training/contest preparation (didn't pick up tennis until about 5 years ago).

    It was hell!!!

    I didn't have any hinder in soccer as far as speed, flexibility and movements but suffered in my conditioning. I was dragging ***** all the time. I was in the light weight class and didn't take any drugs so I didn't have a whole lot of muscle mass. I was just so lean (too lean for any sports). Just didn't have enough in the tank for bodybuilding and other sports at the same time. You need to be careful not to overtrain and end up with injuries.

    Any ex-bodybuilders or any bodybuilders on here that playing tennis for cardio? How about some pictures?
     
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  30. Thepowerofchoice

    Thepowerofchoice Semi-Pro

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    Yes and more muscle means it will suck up all your glycogen in no time.
     
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  31. wy2sl0

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    This is what I mean I apologize. I was referring to the liver's ability to provide glycogen under heavy stress. Your liver doesn't enlarge with weight lifting, thus you have the same finite potential.
     
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  32. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    People don't seem to understand this. They assume that more muscle = more endurance. Sure, you can store more initially. But if you have more mass on you, you will (unless you have absolutely superb conditioning) use it up just like you would if you were leaner. Once it's gone, it takes more to get going and you can't just boost your liver. In the main tips forum, someone was going about having huge legs = huge speed. Perhaps if you're a sprinter, but tennis players don't need to have explosiveness for 9 seconds. They need it for a minimum of 90 minutes.
     
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  33. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

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    Then how do we explain Serena??

    Losing to Henin not withstanding, she's dominating the tour playing in essentially a football player's body.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that, but her physique seems to contradict many of the valid points made in this thread. (which I tend to agree with)
     
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  34. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Serena is simply an exception to all rules. She came back bloated and fat and in denim, and swept the USO having not trained for months. No other player would have been able to do that. She's simply better, and her physique has very little to do with it. She is simply a specimen among athletes. Remember, Venus can/could hit just as hard, but isn't bulky like Serena.
     
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  35. GuyClinch

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    I think people DO understand this. If you got to the US open and see some of the guys in the outer courts - sometimes they will walk right next to you.

    Pro tennis players are lean but they are exceptionally muscular - not even compared to an everyday gym rat. The reason why they look so muscular in pictures and on TV is just that they are so lean.

    The perfect body for a male pro tennis player is in fact what most male players look like - a version of Novak Djokovic.

    Anyway recreational bodybuilding - even a hypertrophy machine based program wouldn't hurt your tennis much directly. But the opportunity cost of such a program would of course hurt it.

    Anytime you spend worrying about bodybuilding or recovering from bodybuilding would take away from your tennis game. The diet needed is not ideal either for tennis players..

    But provided you don't get "Into" bodybuilding (The drug culture - the insane workout programs - the extreme diet cycling) its not really going to kill your game.

    it's not like fundamentally incompatible with it. I remember as a kid some people would try to tell you weight lifting would screw up your hoops game - nonsense..

    But don't think benching 300lbs is going to make your forehand amazing either..
     
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  36. morten

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    Korda ruined his backhand for a while as he lifted weights too much.
     
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  37. GuyClinch

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    I will add that most 'serious' bodybuilders go through a 'bulking stage' in which they will eat to actually get fat.

    There is a science to this as believe it or not Sumo Wrestlers have the most lean muscle mass - as it turns out its easier to gain muscle while taking in vastly too many calories.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajhb.1310060509/abstract

    So if you were to actually follow they bulking/cutting stages you would have a hard time playing tennis at high levels. You would however achieve better results while bodybuilding.

    Others will say its 'impossible' to gain muscle and not get fatter. I don't buy that - but its certainly slower and beyond a certain level likely very difficult.
     
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  38. dman72

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    This is pretty much all that needs to be said. If being bulky and jacked helped in tennis, then the pros would be bulky. They're not.

    So, to the OP, if you want your potential to be very high level, ie Division one or higher, then I would seriously avoid body building.

    At the lower levels, I've seen all types...tall and skinny, short and fat, muscles, no muscles, etc, and body type has about 0% correlation to who wins. The top 2 guys in my 3.5-4.0 league are a 5'10 pushing 50 junk baller guy who is 30+lbs overweight, and a 19 year old 6' kid who's about 175lbs and serves approaching 110 mph and hits big, but makes a lot of errors.
     
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  39. superdave3

    superdave3 Rookie

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    I have had assorted injuries via tennis most of my life. I had done weightlifting for years, but a recent article I read in Men's Health stated that men are better off to just do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, pullups, dips, squats, forward and reverse lunges, etc. The theory behind this is that when you use weights or machines, you are not doing natural body movements you do during a typical day, and predisposing yourself to injury. I was surprised to read that the special forces do not use weights or machines for this reason (this is what MH said anyway). That being said, if you have a weakness in one part of your body due to overuse, such as a weak rotator cuff from serving, specific weight training can help you rehab.
     
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  40. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    All the special forces guys I know use weights.
     
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  41. Larrysümmers

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    Worst thing for a tennis player is man boobs, that includes muscled up pecs.
     
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  42. the cat petter

    the cat petter New User

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  43. Aedan

    Aedan New User

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    Federer doesn't look like a muscle builder and neither does rafael nadal, because the additional body weight would be more complicated on joint parts and offer no corresponding advantage.....
     
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  44. Aedan

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    Naperville gyms
     
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  45. McVlaga

    McVlaga New User

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    All of you here talking about how extra weight is bad, but what if my height is 6-4 and my weight is 160 lbs? If you look at Berdych, you will see that he has got 200 lbs and also 6-4. Thus, I am lacking 40 lbs! I do not really think i have fat at all, only muscles, and i am lean naturally. I am so-called ectomorph. This makes me miserable with the idea how i could be playing if my body would be "appropriate" as i have a great touch. I am 18 y.o. btw.
     
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  46. GuyClinch

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    The pros lift some weights and do some resistance training. That's different from actual bodybuilding. Bodybuilding shouldn't be confused with generic weightlifting. Bodybuilders follow an exhaustive 5 day split (minimum) with tons of volume and generally use large amounts of pharmaceutical drugs.

    I think almost any sport could benefit from 2 - 3x week full body training (weightlifting) and a sensible eating plan. Athletes OTOH train for strength and explosiveness - not size. Unless necessary for the sport they don't worry about packing on weight - just getting stronger. They generally use multi-joint exercises..

    http://chadwaterbury.com/full-body-training-part-1/

    You might read that to get started..

    As he explains you might start off with just say
    Chinups/deadlifts/Dips..
     
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  47. SuperDuy

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    #47
  48. Overdrive

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    ^ That's disgusting.
     
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  49. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    But he's so muscle bound that he doesn't have any flexibility!:twisted:

    I'm built like a tennis player and I'm not nearly that flexible.
     
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  50. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I worked with a guy that used to play defensive line for the Utah Utes. He's 6' 7" and weighed over 320 when he played and he said that he could do the splits during his playing days.

    You are flexible if you work on flexibility.
     
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