Tennis specific strengthing

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Bergboy123, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

    Jul 27, 2011
    So I've been hitting the gym hard these past few weeks, doing intensive and high weight chest/shoulder/arm/leg workouts in the hopes of seeing results translate into my tennis game. But I've been reading up and it seems like high weight loads aren't good for tennis. I read that it should be low weight with high reps (opposite of what I was doing..) and/or resistance bands.

    Anybody have experience here? Should I change my workouts? Are there things that have high priority that I should always do? Tennis-specific workouts are something that have always confused me, in that I don't know what to do.
  2. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

    Aug 13, 2012
    WA State
    Do both. Go a month with heavy low rep weights, then the next month high rep lighter weight.

    You hit both quick and slow twitch muscles, don't see how that can hurt.

    PS: Don't listen to those who say "Oh you'll get musclebound", that's nonsense. Do remember that bigger muscles equal more fatigue.
  3. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

    Aug 12, 2004
    The only highly specific stuff that most tennis players need to do is the anti-injury stuff, IMHO. For me that would include little exercises like rotator cuff work and y's and t's.

    I don't agree that 'high loads' are an issue. You want loads high enough to facilitate strength gains via multi-joint movements. (Outside of the pre-hab stuff I mentioned) So this would be minimum 3-12 reps to failure.

    Your goal with regards to lifting in the gym should be to actually get stronger. You should be seeing all your lifts increase. You should be choosing lifts that you can load safely to avoid injury. (For example you might choose a chest supported dumblell row over a barbell row to lower the lower back work)

    If you are working out more then 4x a week in the gym and have progressed to fairly intense upper/lower body splits.. You can consider doing speed and agility work on your 5th and 6th days. This would include plyometrics, footwork drills, sprinting drills and so on.

    This of course more tennis specific BUT rec players would be better served with more court time and court drills especially if they are doing this without guidance IMHO. SO this hardly comes up - except for pro/serious players who are getting alot of court work already.

    I think the real problem is people think that doing a bit of off court work will make them into a monster hard hitter on the court and are disappointed that the lifts don't 'translate.' But you will learn to tap into your strength gains via practice on the court rather then mimic tennis mechanics carefully off court..

    Take a powerlifter and have him play tennis and he won't hit all his shots with the strength of Djokovic. But the problem isn't that said powerlifter isn't strong. It's that he hasn't played enough tennis and doesn't have the muscle memory to be able to fire his muscles to maximize the use of the strength that he does have.

    THis is why most of the time a 99lbs girl can outhit a full grown man provided the girl is semi pro. Less muscle - a ton less but they know how to use it.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  4. gregor.b

    gregor.b Professional

    Aug 9, 2009
    Well said. 2 extra drill sessions will improve footwork and timing without having to be stronger. That said, you then need to safeguard against injury to accommodate the extra hitting.
  5. mr_fro2000

    mr_fro2000 Rookie

    Sep 26, 2012
    In terms of gaining 'powerful strokes' you are much better served refining your swing rather than building strength in a gym. I'll also say that regarding injury prevention, having good fundamental strokes and movement is also just as (if not more) important than building strength.

    regarding the 'things you heard' regarding weight training, the basic understanding is this:

    low reps (1-6)= strength training
    medium reps (6-15)= hypertrophy (ie. muscles getting bigger)
    high rep (>15)= endurance

    basically there's nothing wrong w/ lifting heavy. you will get stronger. This is esp pertinent in the lower body... as you gain lower body strength you will be quicker and more explosive.
  6. heartattack

    heartattack Semi-Pro

    Oct 20, 2011
    Worlds coldest place!
    what is heavy weight for a 155lbs guy would lift? vice versa.
  7. Itagaki

    Itagaki Semi-Pro

    Sep 16, 2009
    Heavy is very relative to the individual's level of strength
  8. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    How hard and how long are you looking to work to get ready for your tennis season?

    If you have the time, try to go through three phases to get ready.

    The first phase is to prepare your your muscles to lift the heavier weights to get stronger.

    The second phase is to actually increase your strength with heavier weights.

    The final phase is to use your increased strength to build explosive power.

    Read more, and how to do it, at this site:

    The Elite Approach to Tennis Strength Training

    Some samples:

    "Phase 1 - Foundational Tennis Strength Training
    The objective of this 6 week phase is to build a solid base on which you build more intense, more tennis-specific fitness later.

    Like all competitive sports, tennis places uneven demands on the body. You swing with one arm and one side of the body. Certain muscle groups are overworked while others are neglected.

    Infamous over-use injuries like tennis elbow and damage to the rotator cuff muscles are less likely to occur in a balanced physique.

    So our goal during this first phase is to prepare the ligaments, tendons and connective tissue for more strenuous activity to follow.

    Here are the parameters for phase 1 of the tennis strength training routine:

    •Duration: 6-8 weeks

    •No. sessions: 2x week

    •No. exercises: 10-12

    •Resistance: 40-50% 1 Rep Max

    •Repetitions: 12-15

    •Rest between exercises: 90 secs

    •Rest between circuits: 2-3 mins"

    •Speed of lifts: Smooth and controlled"

    •Sets: 2-3

    •Repetitions: 12-15

    •Load: 40-50% 1 repetition maximum

    •Rest Interval: 90 seconds

    Dumbbell Squats or Lying Leg Presses (legs, glutes)

    Dumbbell/Barbell Bench Presses or Push Ups (chest, triceps)

    Back Extensions on Stability Ball (lower back)

    Dumbbell Lunges (legs, glutes)

    Single Arm Dumbbell Rows (upper back, biceps)

    Crunches with Twist (abdominals)

    Dumbbell Shoulder Presses or Machine Shoulder Presses (shoulders, triceps)

    Standing Barbell Curls (biceps)

    Standing Machine Calf Raises (calves)

    Barbell Upright Rows (shoulders, trapezius)

    You should also perform a rotator cuff and forearm program with light weights 2-3 days a week. This can be done easily at home and should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. Try to complete the program on separate days to your weight training sessions."
  9. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

    Jul 27, 2011
    CharlieFederer, I actually went through two of those phases about a year ago. I didn't really like it, but I feel like I could have tried harder on the strengthing part. I just felt like nothing was getting stronger though, which is why I decided more recently to start heavy lifting.
  10. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

    Mar 14, 2006
    New research suggests lighter loads can be just as effective, but with lower risk of injury than heavy loads.

    Personally, my experience agrees with the results of the study. I find that the secret to building muscle is to lift on a regular basis. The amount of weight doesn't matter so much.
  11. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    That's great.

    I often recommend the Sports Fitness Advisor web site because it seems to have good explanations for those new to weight training.

    If you are trained in the techniques of how to do a proper bench press, squat and dead lift with barbells, these exercises would form the foundation for your strengthening program.

    Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book and video are great references, even if you are getting local instruction.

    Pull ups are another great exercise, but at first many have trouble doing them. So lat pull downs are a reasonable substitute.

    Bent over dumbell rows and dumbell shoulder presses are fine complementary exercises.

    The program is similar to that in the following site:
    Tennis Weight Training - Exercises of Weight Training for Tennis

    Because the serve puts lots of stress on the shoulder, read the following about avoiding or modifying certain exercises to avoid shoulder trouble:
    What Exercises Cause Shoulder Impingement?

    If you notice, the above program is pretty similar to the phase 2- Maximal Strength Program from Sports Fitness Advisor.

    And I definitely agree with the Sports Fitness Advisor advice that you keep up with a rotator cuff and forearm program. The thrower's ten exercises are the best set I know:

    Depending on your time, doing lunges can also be valuable.

    Where it gets trickier as your season approaches would be adding in plyometric exercises, as well as High Intensity Interval Training and Agility drills to take advantage of your strength gains.

    The best resource I have found with specific sets and blocks combining all of these elements is Power Tennis Training by Donald A. Chu.

    [If you want a great overall book for reference, even though it doesn't break down blocks as well as Chu's check out:
    Tennis Training: Enhancing On-court Performance by Mark Kovacs PhD, W. Britt Chandler MS and T. Jeff Chandler EdD]
  12. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Jun 16, 2004
    Lifting heavy weights won't translate into a faster swing, but being strong is always nice.
  13. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

    Jul 27, 2011
    I know, I'm not expecting to go out there and hit Gonzalez forehands or anything, but I can't believe that serve speed is based 100% on form! Plus being stronger will just give a more solid base, for those awkward positions where you're maybe full stretch and need to block, or other times like that
  14. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Jun 22, 2007
    But that study says you need to lift to failure. If you're the guy I see at the gym doing exercises with 5lb dumbbells, you're going to have to spend a lot more time training to go to failure than the guy who is using an amount that makes more sense for his strength level.

    On the other hand, you don't have to lift really heavy all the time to gain strength.

    For tennis, I've added pull-ups and deadlifting to my throwers' ten. I believe I had a muscular imbalance from too much forward movement (swinging fast) and not enough back strength offsetting it.
  15. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

    May 10, 2012
    I think the most important thing is to correct for muscle imbalances and to build general strength to prevent injury.

    Hitting a monster forehand isn't about being able to lift huge weights. It's about how quickly and efficiently you can complete the kinetic chain.
  16. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    I totally agree with you.
  17. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

    Jul 13, 2009
    Bingo. Tennis players needn't have great musculature. What you need to have is the musculature to let you do what you need to. Explosive calves and quads to sprint, flexy hamstrings and ad(ab)ductors for quick lateral movements, strong abdominals and hip flexors to build everything on top of, solid back (especially lower) muscles and traps for stability on serves, etc. Notice I'm not saying larger or being able to move more weight with these muscles. On the contrary. As you already said, simply adding mass just makes you slower. Build these muscle groups using useful movements. Although you might look a bit of a burk, on-court medicine ball training cannot be understated.
  18. 3fees

    3fees Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2010
    Tennis specific strengthing: # 1-Strengthen your Mental Game


Share This Page