Tennis Strength Training

Even as we age (or, especially as we age), we need to work on keeping our muscles strong for tennis – and for life in general. But there are some conflicting philosophies on “how much and what kind.”

I have been told (and have been using for several years): the best way for tennis players to use weight training is… low weights and high repetitions (and done slowly).

For me that usually means various wrist, arm, shoulder exercises using 10-15 lb dumbbells and doing three sets of 15 reps for each exercise. This, I was told, would build the kind of “endurance strength” that we need for long tennis matches.

But tennis friend Dean Bacon gave me an article from the Friday, March 23rd issue of the Wall Street Journal that focuses on Andy Murray’s effort to move up from being #4 for the last 4 years. And in that article, they detail some of his training principles.

According to the article, “Tennis players don’t lift weights like they once did, with light weights and a lot of reps. ‘It’s more Olympic-style, heavier weights and moving them fast,’ Mr. Green (Murray’s physical trainer) says. ‘That builds explosiveness.’”

When I was a teenager, I used to be an Olympic-style lifter; and even at a body weight of just 165 lbs, was the strongest kid in my very large NY high school. And when it came to arm wrestling. NOBODY could beat me – because I had such explosive strength from lifting.

So, do tennis players need endurance or explosive strength and what is the best way to train for tennis?

2 thoughts on “Tennis Strength Training

  1. I like the idea of weight training….go lift a 16 or 32 oz beer instead of a 6oz…….and repeat quickly as often as you can.

    Mike – but do you move the glass to your mouth quickly (for explosive results) or slowly (for greater endurance)?! george

  2. First of all – lower body exercises are actually the key to building power in the tennis player or any “throwing sport” athlete. Therefore, Olympic lifts would be indicated but proper form is very important, which needs to be closely supervised. Initially low wts/high reps in off-season, higher wt/low reps during competitive season. Upper body exercises should concentrate on the scapular stabilizers, rotator cuff, and core muscles. Most important muscles for the tennis player are the decelerators – infra/supraspinatus, rhomboids, traps, erector spinae and multifidi. These small intrinsic muscles only require 3-5 lbs, 3 sets of 15 reps. PS – I would recommend any Australian beer – it seemed to work very well for Davis Cups bloats!

    Larry – thanks for your professional trainer advice! I will talk more with you at Camp. george

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