Ha! Do you really think I would be against strength training and getting Gainz?!?
No way! I just used that headline as clickbait to get you to read what I had to say!
I just had a conversation with my brother-in-law who is training to compete in a powerlifting meet in a few weeks and his training involves exercises that involve both arms and both legs locked onto a bar in order to create as much stiffness as possible.
When it comes to lifting a TON of weight, stiffness is key! You do NOT want a lot of mobility because you will get crushed under the weight if that was the case.
I tell you this because he was surprised that I am changing my training to more unilateral exercises in order to support my growing tennis habit.
I had to explain to him that I needed to change up my routine in order to change my skeletal structure and optimize my ability to rotate and produce power in these positions. Also, as I improve my ability to turn, I will also reduce my chance of injury and improve my performance on the court.
There are so many exercises and movements that would benefit tennis players (really any rotational athlete) but I'm going to keep it simple and look at this –
SHOULD TENNIS PLAYERS PERFORM BILATERAL OR UNILATERAL EXERCISES?
My answer to this would be BOTH……Sorta!
If I had to just pick one, it would be unilateral exercises, meaning single arm or single leg exercises. Unilateral positions allow for me to check so many boxes - that we need to check for rotational sports - its hard to go against it.
Bilateral training is excellent for those just beginning to exercise while also focusing on increasing strength, power, speed of movement and other qualities.
In general, unilateral training would be more specific to what we want to accomplish on the tennis court.
Bilateral Exercises = Promote Stiffness and improve force production
Unilateral Exercises = Promote Rotation and improve ability to absorb force
Some examples of exercises that may be helpful can be found on my YouTube Page
So, when you have to load all of your weight on one leg while aggressively rotating through a ground stroke, think about what exercise position would benefit this movement the most.
I’m not sure traditional bilateral strength movements are recognized by the central nervous system as much as the movement from unilateral strength exercises - so probably not as much carryover that you would want
I just want to say that there are no bad exercises, but there are exercises that will be more beneficial to you if you’re training to participate in a rotational sport.
If you have any questions about what exercises may benefit you the most, feel free to reach out anytime at Hunter@starkperformancept.com or call 850-912-9203.