Some senior tennis players just go out and play tennis. Others (like me) try to do some off-court activities to improve their physical condition and, hopefully, help prevent future injury. So if you do strengthening exercises, is it better to use free weights, machines, or bands?
A Lifetime of Weights
When I was just 15 years old, my older brother dragged me out to our family garage to start lifting weights. We had a full set of Olympic weights that he and his friends had bought; and I became addicted … and became the strongest kid in my large NY high school.
So, I became a lifelong believer in the power of pumping iron; and continued using free weight dumbbells (10 and 20 lbs. each) up until last year. I used the weights to strengthen my forearms, upper arms, and shoulders; but also used bands for the classic rotator cuff exercises (see an earlier post on that subject).
The Benefits of Bands
It was reading Tom Brady’s book that first got me thinking about switching to total use of bands. While I question many of his basic food and drink premises, the concept of using bands seemed to make more sense.
I like the bands for these reasons…
- Continual resistance: when you pull on the band there is resistance; but there is also
constant resistance on the slow release back, which I believe provides a
- Muscle isolation: it appears to me that you can do an even better job of isolating
tennis-related movements (serve motion, backhands, etc.) than with weights.
- Variable tension: while using a 20 lb. dumbbell, you have a constant weight and can
reduce the workout when tiring by just reducing the number of reps. But with the bands, you can just move closer
to the source and reduce the tension to complete the set.
- Portable: while you can cart the weights with you on a trip, sticking the bands in your suitcase is easy to do.
While I still value the use of weights over not doing anything, for me, the bands seem to work. And, I do not have any real experience using machines in a gym to give any worthwhile opinion.
How about YOU… if you do strengthening, what do you believe in?
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