We all have a dominant hand, and for tennis players who hold the racquet in this dominant hand, it can result in a pretty significant strength discrepancy from side to side. Typically, this strength difference not only affects the upper extremities but also the core and the lower extremities due to the total body effort of most sports.
Many physiotherapists consider a strength difference of 10% or more between the left and right side a risk factor for injury. Often, is it is not possible to completely balance out the left and right side. However, it is important to MINIMIZE this strength difference, by constantly performing a higher volume of or intensity of training for the weaker arm.
In the video above, strength and conditioning coach Karsten Jensen demonstrates a simple technique on the TRX Suspension Trainer that works to balance the left and right side.
TRX Single Arm Row (Alternating)
- Set up for a standard TRX Row. The single handle mode shown above is slightly different from the standard single handle mode. Simply grab both handles and both cradles with one arm.
- Determine a number of reps per set to match your training goal. For example, 12-20 reps per set helps to develop strength endurance.
- Perform the exercise in a unilateral fashion, by alternating between the left and right arm. To address the strength imbalance, perform two reps on your non dominant arm. For example, if your left arm is weaker, perform two reps with the left arm for each rep with the right arm; this counts as one repetition. (That means, to perform a set of 12 reps, you are performing 24 reps with your left arm and 12 reps with your right arm.)
- To increase the training stimulus on the left arm, as you alternate back and forth between the left and right arm, grab the foot cradles with the left arm and the handles with the right arm. This change has the obvious effect that your body angle is steeper when you row with your left arm, thus increasing intensity of the row on the left side.
Regardless of whether you play tennis or some other racquet sport, if you have a left-to-right imbalance, you should always incorporate some form of training to minimize a strength discrepancy. Make the most of your offseason by incorporating this simple exercise into your training, and for more great TRX exercises for tennis, check out the TRX Performance: Tennis DVD, an all-in-one cardio, strength training and coordination-building workout. Trainers, coaches and players will all benefit.
Karsten Jensen has been a strength and conditioning coach for 15 years (www.yestostrength.com). He has a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and is a Chek Practitioner Level 2 and a Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. Karsten worked for the Danish National Elite Sports Institution from 2000 to 2007, rendering his service to nationally and internationally ranked athletes from various sports. He is currently based in Mississauga, Ontario.