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Strength Training For Tennis


To maximize your potential as a tennis player, it's recommended that you add tennis-specific weight training to your overall conditioning program.

Here are main benefits of strength training for tennis players:

1. Hit the ball harder. As you strengthen your body, you will be able to hit harder due to your gains in strength and explosiveness. The amount of power you generate is a function of strength + speed. A proper tennis-specific workout plan will increase both your strength and explosiveness.

What a lot of people don't know, is that explosiveness can be improved by lifting weights that are at 60%-100% of your 1 rep max (RM). This type of heavy training develops your fast-twitch muscle fibers (aka "white" or "type 2" muscle fibers), which are the fibers that make you faster and more explosive.

Developing upper body strength make it easier to control your racket and make it do what you want. For example, I know a couple players that wanted to play with a one-handed backhand but can't because they lack the required upperbody strength to do so. It requires a lot of strength to play at the elite level of tennis as a one-handed backhander. It's not easy returning high topspin serves or groundstrokes with a one-handed backhand. This is why I believe there are not many "short" tennis players with one-handed backhands. Two-handed backhand is just so much easier because you have the help of your non-dominate hand.

Developing lower body strength and explosivness will help you pack more power behind your serve and groundstrokes, most of the power orginates from your legs. This is especially true in today's game, which is characterized by open-stance forehands and backhands.

Weight training will also help improve your rackethead speed, which translate into even more power gains.

2. Improve your court speed. Lower body strength training with weights greater than 60% 1 RM will make you faster. Your speed will improve as your explosivness improves. Improving your on-court quickness is an extremely valuable asset for a competitive tennis player. Tennis plyometrics can also improve your speed and explosiveness.

3. Improve muscle endurance. Weight training with rest periods between 2 to 3 minutes improves tennis muscle endurance. Training in the fashon utilizes the same metabolic energy system used in a tennis match [adenosine triphosphate-phosphocreatine (ATP-PC)].

Additionally, weight training improves muscle endurance by making the muscles more energy efficient. Energy efficiency of the muscles is when the muscle fibers require less muscle fibers to contract or "fire" against resistance.

4. Improve coordination and balance. Ever improving racket technology has made the game incredibly fast, it's this reason that the majority of tennis shots are made off-balance. Strengthening the lower body will help stabilize you while making these off-balance shots.

5. Prevent tennis injuries. Weight training strengthens your muscles, tendons and ligaments, which can help prevent acute injuries (e.g., ankle sprains) as well as chronic (overuse) injuries, such as tennis elbow (aka tendonitis or lateral epicondylitis). A good tennis-specific weight program should strengthen the common injury areas for tennis players, such as the elbow, shoulder and lower back. Glaring muscle imbalances can also result in injuries, so this should be addressed as well.


Complete Weight Training Program For Tennis

These workouts are created to maximize your strength, explosiveness and muscle endurance. You can customize these workouts to fit your individual needs. For example, lets pretend your dominate forearm is larger than the non-dominate (common among tennis players). To correct this muscle imbalance, during the off-season you could add a few more sets of wrist curls for your non-dominate forearm.

Off-Season Tennis Weight Training Program

Frequency: 3 days per week
Comment: Tennis doesn't really have a regular off-season, so the following weight training workout should be performed when you don't have any competitive match play for preferably at least a month.

Off-Season Weight Training Tennis Routine
Day 1
Exercise Sets Repetitions Rest
Dumbbell Bench Press (flat bench) 2 75% RM * 2 mins
Bent-over Barbell Rows 2 10 reps 1 min
Back Extensions 2 to failure 1.5 mins
Bicep Curls 2 60% RM 1 min
Squats 2 75% RM 2.5 mins
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses 2 75% RM 2 mins
Machine Leg Curls 2 75% RM 1.5 mins
Dips (bodyweight) 2 to failure 1.5 mins
Calf Raises 2 60% RM 2 mins
Ab Crunches 2 failure 1 min
Barbell Wrist curl 2 10 reps 1 min
*This is read as "70% of your one rep max."


Off-Season Weight Training Tennis Routine
Day 2
Exercise Sets Repetitions Rest
Barbell Bench Press (flat bench) 2 65% RM * 2 mins
Seated Rows 2 10 reps 1 min
Back Extensions 2 to failure 1.5 mins
Squats 2 65% RM 2.5 mins
Military Press 2 65% RM 2 mins
Machine Leg Curls 2 65% RM 1.5 mins
Tricep Extensions  2 65% 1 min
Calf Raises 2 75% RM 2 mins
Ab Crunch on stability ball 2 failure 1 min
Oblique V-Up 2 failure 1 min
Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls 2 10 reps 1 min



Off-Season Weight Training Tennis Routine
Day 3
Exercise Sets Repetitions Rest
Dumbbell Bench Press (incline bench) 2 70% RM * 2 mins
Lat Pull-Downs 2 10 reps 1 min
Back Extensions 2 to failure 1.5 mins
Hammer Curls 2 60% RM 1 min
Squats 2 70% RM 2.5 mins
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses 2 70% RM 2 mins
Machine Leg Curls 2 70% RM 1.5 mins
Tricep Extensions 2 10 reps 1.5 mins
Donkey Calf Raises 2 60% RM 2 mins
Ab Crunches 2 failure 1 min
Barbell Wrist curl 2 10 reps 1 min



In-Season Tennis Weight Training Program

Frequency: 1 day per week
Comment: The goal of the in-season routine is to simply maintain the gains made during the off-season.

In-Season Weight Training Tennis Routine
Exercise Sets Repetitions Rest
Bench Press (flat bench) 2 10-12 reps 1.5 mins
Seated Rows 2 10-12 reps 1.5 min
Back Extensions 2 to failure 1.5 mins
Barbell Bicep Curls 2 10 reps 1.5 mins
Squats 2 10 reps 2 mins
Military Press 2 10-12 reps 1.5 mins
Machine Leg Curls 2 10-12 reps 1.5 mins
Tricep Extensions  2 10-12 reps 1 min
Calf Raises 2 10-12 reps 1 mins
Ab Crunch  2 failure 1 min
Dumbbell Wrist Curls 1 15 reps 1 min
Reverse Dumbbell Wrist Curls 15 reps -






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