A tennis player needs to develop strength for a number of reasons:
- Generate power in ground strokes and serve.
- Develop fast movement, with explosive steps, fast acceleration, rapid changes of direction and deceleration whilst maintaining stability and balance.
- The body needs to withstand the heavy loads encountered when playing tennis to avoid injuries.
Using Gym machines will increase muscle size and make the muscles stronger, but as exercises on a machine will isolate muscle groups you will not strengthen all muscles, tendons and ligaments which are used to stabilise joints, this will increase your risk of injury. The isolation of muscle groups will not develop the efficient functional movements required for Tennis.
Olympic lifts using a barbell, for example the "Clean and Jerk" and the "snatch" along with Squats will develop muscles used in Tennis particularly in the serve. The problem with using a barbell is that from an early age a Tennis players develops more strength on one side of the body, this makes correct use of a barbell a problem as the player will favour the stronger side. It may take considerable time to acquire the correct technique for using a barbell with a realistic load.
Most of the classic exercises using dumbbells isolate muscles and again functional movements are not developed. It is possible to use Dumbbells in functional movements but these are not very common.
The major advantage in using Kettlebells for a Tennis player is that Kettlebell exercises are compound exercises, a number of muscles are exercised together as a functional unit which includes loading on the tendons and ligaments. A major factor in improving stability!
The technique of performing basic Kettlebell exercises can be acquired quickly and safely provided that instruction is given.
The kettlebell swing requires special mention for Tennis players, most of the power in Tennis comes for the hips, and playing Tennis often leads to one sided muscle development. The Kettlebell swings main power movement is in the hips, this leads to equal development of the Psoas major, Illiacus, piriformis,glutes and hamstrings.
These exercises cover most of the exercises required for Tennis:
- Kettlebell swings, double and single hands
- Goblet and racked squats
- Single Leg squats
- Racked Lunges
- Single Leg Dead lift
- Military press
- Push ups
Kettlebells can be used in weight reduction programmes as the exercises triggers the condition known as "Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption" (EPOC), which means that body fat is mobilised in the blood stream with hormones released from the pituitary gland and the liver, at the same time the metabolic rate is raised. When this occurs the mobilised body fat is in the blood stream as triglycerides, the oxygen in the blood stream reacts with the triglycerides and they broken down into Carbon Dioxide and water. This effect last for 24-36 hours after exercise.
When people start using Kettlebells they frequently buy a Kettlebell for use at home as it is all the equipment required for a workout which can be performed indoors or outdoors. When the correct techniques are learnt the exercises can be performed with a Kettlebell considerably heavier than what is used at first. If people have purchased Kettlebell which is too light, the benefits are frequently not achieved and the exercises are given up. To avoid this trap Kettlebells are available for hire until the person has acquired the technique and can purchase a Kettlebell appropriate for long term use.