Does tennis make you lose weight?

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Tennis is a racquet sport that offers a unique combination of physical and psychological benefits. This well-known sport combines endurance, muscle strengthening, strategy and toning. But Does it really help you achieve your slimming goals? ? And how often should you play to promote weight loss? We take stock with Dr Anne Gires, national coordinating doctor of the French Tennis Federation (FFT).

How does tennis promote energy expenditure?

Tennis is a sport very complete which involves constant movements, stimulates metabolism and promotes energy expenditure in several ways:

  • It involves periods of intense effort interspersed with periods of active recovery, which stimulates the cardiovascular system. Rapid exchanges of balls and movements on the court require good cardiorespiratory endurance!
  • Tennis players perform a wide variety of movements, including sprints, jumps and rapid changes of direction. This uses different muscle groups and increases energy expenditure.
  • Tennis requires a certain amount of muscular strength to hit the ball with precision and power, but also to perform rapid movements and changes of direction. The muscles in the legs, arms, back and core strengthen, which can promote daily energy expenditure.
  • It requires good balance and coordinationprecise to hit the ball efficiently and to move quickly around the court. Improving these skills requires some physical effort and increases energy expenditure.

Which muscles work the most?

Tennis requires harmonious coordination between many muscle groups to effectively move and execute explosive and technical movements while meeting the tactical demands of the game:

  • The muscles of the lower limbs: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves are in high demand. Their continued engagement is essential for maintaining balance and stability during lateral movements and sudden changes of direction.
  • The trunk muscles: abdominal musclesincluding the obliques and rectus abdominis muscles, as well as back muscles, like the erector spinae muscles. As a reminder, a strong core is essential to maximize power while maintaining proper posture to prevent injury.
  • The muscles of the upper limbs: the muscles of the arm, in particular biceps and triceps used during hitting movements (serves, backhands, forehands, etc.). Without forgetting the shoulder muscles, such as the deltoids and rotators of the shouldermobilized to stabilize the shoulder joint and allow fluid and precise movements.
  • The muscles of the forearms and wrists are also essential for maintaining a firm grip on the racket and generating power and precision in shots.

Good to know: at the risk of surprising you, gaining muscle mass promotes weight loss. Indeed, muscle consumes more calories than fat, even when resting! In other words, the more you strengthen your muscles, the more calories you burn, even when you're not exercising.

How many calories can you lose per workout?

Difficult to answer this question… Indeed, the number of calories burned per match or training varies depending on the duration and intensity of the game, but also depending on individual factors like weight, body composition, genetics, metabolism, etc. Please note: the wall tapping sessionsTHE fast movement exercises where the cardio tennis sessionscan particularly help with fat burning.

A fun sport that encourages long-term sporting practice

Contrary to what one might think, tennis is a racket sport that adapts to everyone, regardless of age, state of health, level or sporting background. “It is possible to limit movement and slow down the game by using only part of the court and suitable equipment with smaller and lighter rackets, larger and slower balls thus ensuring pleasure and success“, specifies Dr. Anne Gires, national coordinating doctor of the FFT. Elderly people can therefore play tennis with the right adaptations, just like pregnant women!

Whether you are new to tennis or have experience, it is possible to find playing partners suited to your level. This sport can also be played in singles or doubles, on clay, on grass or on synthetic carpet, offering a variety of options for training while having fun. Hit the ball, compete with an opponent and land difficult shots provides immediate satisfaction and pleasure which encourages most players to continue their practice!

Tennis has the advantage of being a fun sport: it allows you to play with friends, as part of supervised group sessions, or to participate in various competitions, which can motivate many players, improve their self-confidence, develop their social ties and promote their practice in the long term. Dr Anne Gires, national coordinating doctor of the FFT.

Playing tennis – even regularly – is not enough to lose weight!

Although tennis is a great way to burn calories and build muscle, its sole practice cannot be considered an effective solution for weight loss… “Sport, whatever it is, does not make you lose weight!”, insists Dr. Anne Gires. And the expert specifies: “Tennis allows you to sculpt your silhouette and replace fat cells with muscle cells which are the key to our health, but this does not mean that we lose weight on the scale.

Furthermore, no physical activity can compensate for an unbalanced diet or too inactive lifestyle. To slim down and lose weight effectively and sustainably, it is essential to combine regular physical activity with a diversified and balanced diet. “To be effective, physical activity must be an integral part of your lifestyle. This is why it is essential to find a sport you love and that motivates you to move,” emphasizes Dr. Gires.

Important: Remember that body composition is more important than weight itself. Even if you don't lose a lot of weight through tennis, you can achieve a more toned body by gradually building muscle.

Does playing tennis make you lose belly fat?

You will have understood that playing tennis allows you to burn a certain number of calories, accelerate your metabolism and strengthen your muscles – including your abdominal muscles. It can therefore help reduce belly fat. But to say that tennis specifically targets abdominal fat…

As we explained to you in a dedicated article, it is difficult – if not impossible – to target fat loss… Indeed, our body tends to overall reduce the amount of body fat rather than targeting it in specific areas. Not to mention that body fat loss varies from person to person depending on many criteria like gender, genetics, medical history, sleep, stress level, etc.

How to optimize weight loss through tennis?

  • Try to play regularly : once or twice a week, if possible. The more often you play, the more calories you will burn and the more long-term results you will see.
  • Alternate between moderate training sessions and more intense sessions. Competitive matches and workouts that include cardiovascular exercises like sprints and jumping help burn more calories.
  • Supplement your practice by focusing on other forms of exercise, such as walking, strength training, yoga or swimming. This will strengthen your muscles, improve your overall fitness.
  • Daily, adopt a diet in reasonable quantities, balanced and varied. Make sure you're eating enough protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats to support your activity level while promoting weight loss.
  • Drink enough water before, during and after your tennis sessions to avoid dehydration!
  • Tune in enough rest between your workouts to allow your body to recover and limit the risk of injury.

Tennis can become an effective tool to optimize your health and support your weight loss goals while allowing you to have fun and stay active, concludes Dr. Gires.

In video: “Does sport make you lose weight? » – Response from Father Martine Duclos

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