Not all legs are created equally. Why else would we constantly strive for legs we don’t have? From lunges, to squats, to eating kale, we’re all on a quest to find the secret formula to perfectly sculpted legs.
A story from Andre Agassi’s memoir “Open” has always stuck with me. In preparation for his marriage to Brook Shields, Brook embarked on an intense exercise regimen. For inspiration, she hung a picture on her refrigerator door of her ideal image of perfect legs. The picture was of Steffi Graf, Andrew Agassi’s current wife.
Maybe this story stuck out to me because I’m a sucker for love stories, especially ones involving a combination of synchronicity and fate.
Regardless, the fact is that professional tennis players are famous for their legs – both the men and women. They’re long, lean, and muscular, allowing them to achieve the speed, agility, and strength needed to compete at such a high level.
Of course, we have to take genetics into account. We’re not all blessed with Maria Sharapova’s 6’2” frame – most of that being her legs. If you aren’t familiar with Sharapova, she’s tennis’ highest paid athlete (and the highest paid female in all sports). Of her $29 million in 2013, only $6 million was in prize money. The rest came from her lucrative endorsements. I have to think that her sponsors don’t mind using her awesome tennis legs to move some product.
But even if we weren’t lucky enough to be born with a perfect pair of pins, there are ways we can get close. Adding tennis to your workout routine is definitely one of those ways.
Why do tennis players have great legs, you ask?
Tennis is an anaerobic sport. It requires brief surges of high-intensity movement lasting a couple minutes or less, followed by short periods of recovery. Jogging, on the other hand, is an aerobic activity involving low to moderate level of exertion sustained over a longer period of time. Spending hours running outside or on a treadmill will burn fat, but it won’t build muscle.
Playing tennis will burn fat, build muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, and improve your overall flexibility.
Anaerobic exercise, like tennis, strengthens your bones and replaces fat with lean muscle, which in turn helps you burn calories more efficiently. An added benefit to building your endurance and fitness levels through anaerobic exercise is that it’s especially helpful for weight management because it burns calories all day – even when your body is resting.
How can you get the legs of a professional tennis player?
It’s certainly harder for us “mortals” to achieve their near-perfect structure and build. Instead of working on our bodies full-time, we have jobs, kids (dogs, in my case), responsibilities, and so on, that leave us limited time at the end of the day.
But there are things we can do to get close – like playing tennis!
Take a tennis lesson with a certified professional to learn the basics. A professional will teach you the proper way to hit the ball so you don’t get injured. If you’re especially interested in a good workout, tell your coach that. They’ll feed you ball after ball and move you all around the court for a challenging lesson that will whip your legs (and body) into shape. You’ll receive a great cardio workout, along with building lean muscle, particularly in your legs!
Once you have the basics down, or maybe you already do, hit up your local courts with a friend or partner. Don’t worry about playing out a match or keeping score. Just keep the ball in play and see how many times you can get it back and forth. Make it a team competition to see if you can get to 20 rallies, then increase it as you reach each goal. This will guarantee a great workout!
Don’t forget, any exercise is good for your body, but to achieve your ultimate goal of losing weight and toning your muscles, you have to watch what you eat and make healthy choices.
Whose legs are your ideal legs? Let us know on our Facebook page.