Do Tennis Players Lift Weights?

There is a lot of interest in tennis players’ training routines, and especially if they do any kind of weight lifting. As you may have seen, most tennis players are pretty skinny, but are they really not lifting any weights?

Do tennis players lift weights? Tennis players lift weights, but they don’t do as much weight lifting as you may think. Big muscles don’t make a tennis player perform better on the court. But, most tennis players do some kind of weight lifting to prevent injuries.

Why Are Tennis Players Not Lifting Weights?

First of all, they are lifting weights. But they don’t go to the gym to lift heavy weights with the intention to get a muscular body.

The reason why tennis players don’t need big muscles is that the benefits are very limited. Tennis is a very physical sport where players need to have good endurance, and the ability to move side-to-side quickly. With players having big muscles, it will only harm your ability to move fast on the court.

You may assume that tennis players should go and lift weights to be able to hit more powerful strokes. But that is certainly not the case, bigger muscles don’t mean more powerful strokes. The power comes from a players technical ability and if there are any psychical trait that equals to more powerful strokes, then that is height, not muscles.

Of course, they do lift weights, but that is mainly to prevent injuries, not because it will make them better tennis players. Most tennis players have a pretty heavy playing schedule and for them, the most important thing is to maintain healthy during the season. The best way to achieve that is to do injury prevention exercises at the gym.

Why Tennis Players Aren’t Muscular

Lateral Speed

The majority of movement on a tennis court is side-to-side, short bursts of movement that require explosiveness and quick reflexes.

It is fairly simple science that tells us, the more mass your body has, the more energy you have to expend to get it to move.

The less mass you have to move, the easier it is for your body to move it in a quicker fashion. In other sports, they require longer runs. This means that having more muscles in these sports is an advantage because it will lead to an increase in the force with which you move as you run longer distances. 


Tennis can be a very long and physically grueling game. Whether you are playing best of 3 sets in a women’s match or the best of 5 in a men’s contest, they regularly last 2 hours or more.

This is a long time to be doing anything physically active, but when you add in the outdoor conditions you have to deal with, the sun, the heat, the wind, the rain, it has to be one of the most physically taxing sports.

Now, you might say that tennis players are skinny because the sport is so aerobically demanding but it goes both ways. The more fit you are and the less weight you carry, the more endurance you tend to have. 

Reduced Injury Risk

With that much movement, using all parts of your body, carrying extra weight is extremely detrimental. It puts much more stress on your legs and your joints and makes it much more likely that those things will break down over time.

In tennis, injuries to players, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles are all very common which is why being as skinny as possible is best, to help minimize these sorts of injuries.

Bulk Hurts Fluidity

Tennis is all about the fluidity of movement. Being able to glide from side to side on the court and being able to smoothly transfer energy from your whole body through the ball are both abilities that top tennis players need to succeed.

Too much muscle will make your movements more herky-jerky and less fluid. This will hurt your tennis technique and make it more difficult to improve your game to a greater level. 

You can read more about why tennis players aren’t muscular in this post.

Tennis Players Do Lift Weights

Most tennis players may not lift heavy weights to build big muscles, but they do a lot of weight training to prevent injuries. There are a lot of injuries in tennis, and players are spending more and more time in the gym to prevent them.

Tennis is a sport that is very one side heavy, your muscles will develop on your playing side while your other side of the body will become weaker since your not putting as much pressure on that side when playing.

Therefore, a lot of players use weight lifting to compensate for that distortion. If you don’t compensate for the hours on the tennis court with gym training, you will eventually get injured. That is not just extremely important for tennis players, but for all racquet sports.

There is no correlation between strength and powerful shots. One of the strongest hitters in tennis is John Isner. He is super skinny, but he is very tall (6´7). If you look at his upper body, he basically has no visible muscles, and he is still having one of the most powerful strokes in the world. Nadal is one of the most muscular tennis players right now, but he doesn’t hit harder than anyone else on the professional tour.

You can read more about the benefits of being a skinny tennis player here.

Legs More Important Than Upper Body

The most important muscle for tennis players in the legs. They need strong legs to not get exhausted on the tennis court and also, to hit more powerful shots.

As I said before, big muscles don’t equal powerful shots. But the legs are the part of the body where you absorb the most power from in tennis and many players do have some kind of leg training in their gym routine.

The upper body isn’t as important for tennis players. Just look at the world No.1 Novak Djokovic, there is close to no visible muscles on his upper body. But, his legs are pretty big compared to his upper body.

The less you weigh, the easier it will be to move quickly on the court, and if there is no need for players to have muscular upper bodies, why even bother? It’s better to be a few pounds lighter with no muscles than heavier with muscles.

That is not the case with Djokovic, if you look at the players on tv, you will immediately notice that they have pretty skinny upper bodies, but more muscular legs. Although the strong legs don’t only come from gym sessions, they are actually training them every day running around on the tennis court.

Final Thoughts

At first, you may think that tennis players don’t lift weight and therefore don’t have any muscles. That is certainly not the case, they have a ton of muscles, but not the most visible ones. Tennis players try to stay as lean as possible, and the consequence of that is that it will look like they don’t have any muscles on their bodies.

Even though there is no indication that bigger muscles will help you to become a better tennis player. It’s still super important that you spend at least an hour in the gym for every hour on the tennis court, to compensate for the distortion that occurs when playing tennis.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *