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There are different points of view with regards to physical conditioning for tennis players. Some people believe there should be no weight lifting involved because that makes the athlete bulky. Others believe that a tennis player only should use light weights when working out because using heavy weights makes the athlete move slower on the court.

The Purpose of “Weight Lifting” for Tennis Players

First of all, the purpose of “weight lifting” is to make the athlete very balanced with their strength so that the joints function properly by enhancing range of motion (ROM)/flexibility. Most coaches just want to focus on resistance or speed but if one makes something faster or one makes something stronger but it’s already imbalanced then one will increase the imbalance, which will then commonly lead to injury and hence the coach did nothing that was beneficial. In other words, the training program was ineffective and the coach wasted the athlete’s time…this is the most common error committed by coaches! Prime example is Andrea Petkovic and the coaches she is working with.

Weight Lifting Doesn’t Mean Body Building

Second of all, weight lifting is not body building. For example, the athlete can use free-weight exercises (e.g. Front Squat), where the athlete’s body needs to stabilize the action, which emulates the physical demands required during a tennis match (the athlete needs to stabilize his/her body during stroke production). On the other hand, body building often involves machine-based training where muscle groups are being isolated and stabilization occurs via the machine. Therefore, weight lifting is beneficial to a tennis player whereas body building is not.

Optimizing Kinetic Chain – And Transfer of Energy Efficiency

According to Newton’s 2nd law of motion, which describes the relationship between a force acting upon a body (object) and the motion that body (object) experiences due to that force, a force (F) can be expressed as mass (m) of an object times its acceleration (a) or F = m * a.

With regards to exercise, a force can be thought of as a muscular pushing or pulling action that controls movement, causes movement, or inhibits movement of the entire body or a body segment. In order to exert force, muscles require energy and efficient transfer of energy is required in order to transfer the maximum amount of force. Since power can be expressed as force x distance over time (power = force x distance/time), efficient force transfer, and hence energy transfer, will have a positive effect on maximum power output.

Therefore, optimizing energy transfer is crucial for optimizing overall performance on the court and energy transfer can be enhanced by using free-weight exercises since they enhance stabilizer capabilities, which means less energy is “lost”.

Now, according to the aforementioned, how can one become powerful if the mass of the object (m) being used is light?

Does that mean one needs to lift super heavy weights (e.g. squat 400 lbs)?

No. The purpose is to enhance athletic conditioning. It means that one needs to optimize athletic capabilities so that the tennis player can perform well on the court, which implies that managing one’s body becomes more important than the total amount of weight being lifted.

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