I have learnt from this site that weight training that involves lifting few repetitions (e.g. 6) of heavy weights will result predominantly in muscle strength increases, where as lifting many repetitions of lighter weights is useful for muscle hypertrophy.

Naturally I would think that for weight training for improving power in the sport of tennis, one would be more concerned about strength than hypertrophy and therefore perform less reps, but with greater weights.

In tennis however, muscle endurance is also important, which leads me to think perhaps more reps will provide benefit.

I wish to improve my power in tennis, should I focus on max weight and less reps, or medium weights with more reps?

  • 3
    Dave is right. To increase power and speed in your sport, do power movements such as the clean, snatch, and jerk. This is one of my favorite work capacity workouts. As Mikko Salo says, he trains first with his heavy weight, then follows up with a metcon(metabolic conditioning) session involving the same type of movement with lighter weight. I think that's a good style of training -- it focuses on power, but compliments the power with increased work capacity, so you're better able to perform the quick, short, explosive type movements for longer.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 18:01
  • Thanks guys, if you convert your comments to answers I will accept one of them.
    – Kenshin
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 0:11
  • Not the answer to your question but weighted medicine ball tosses work nicely to combine strength, speed and power needed for tennis. This particular exercise functionally targets the trunk rotators and hip muscles which are important for forehands and backhands. Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


The common approach for strength and conditioning for sport is to establish a baseline of strength and cardiovascular endurance separate from the sport, then work on sport-specific strength, endurance, and conditioning. Strength work is maintained while working on other attributes and tapered before competitions. I like Kurz' Science of Sports Training for specifics on this topic, though it may be too much detail not focused on tennis for your specific situation.

In addition to strength, you should consider the attribute of power, which is a separate quality that is derivative of strength. It is best developed by submaximal weights moved explosively. Cleans, snatches, jerks, and push presses are the most common techniques used. One should have a foundation of strength before focusing on power movements.

The first step is to take a novice resistance program such as Starting Strength. It may be necessary to modify its programming according to your sport schedule, but one to three strength workouts per week should be possible even around regular sport training. After you have a baseline level of strength--perhaps a bodyweight squat, greater than bodyweight deadlift, and the ability to do several pull-ups--it would be reasonable to look at tennis-specific strength and conditioning and power workouts. Some recommend even greater levels of strength, such as double bodyweight deadlifts and 1.5x bodyweight squats, before sport-specific movements should be incorporated.


Tennis is a very demanding sport, and as such requires a multi-pronged approach to training.

As @Dave suggested, it is always a good idea to build up a baseline of strength before you start getting into the sports-specific exercises that an intermediate or advanced athlete would focus on. The Starting Strength program would be ideal in this case, because of its focus on strength and power which translate very well into the needs of tennis.

As you said, there are different rep ranges for training hypertrophy, strength, and endurance (as well as power, which you omitted). Following the Starting Strength program will help you build power by doing explosive lifts with heavy weights and low reps.

Once you have established a baseline of strength through the program, you are ready to start fine-tuning your body for the demands of tennis. Areas to focus on include:

  1. Muscular strength and endurance training in tennis-specific areas. (sample)
  2. Flexibility training. (sample)
  3. Running form and ability training. (sample)
  4. Tennis-specific movement and conditioning training. (sample)
  5. Cardiovascular endurance training for those long bouts / matches.

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