Can Tennis Help You Lose Weight?

All sports are good for us in one way or another. Yoga is excellent for improving flexibility. Long-distance cycling is a fantastic choice for cardiovascular endurance.

Tennis is a good choice to improve your agility and coordination. It also is good for strengthening muscles. Especially muscles in the legs.

But what about in terms of weight loss. Can tennis help you lose weight?

Tennis can help you lose weight. Tennis is one of the best sports for people looking to lose weight. Its high-intensity interval-based nature allows you to efficiently burn calories. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.

You could always do interval training in the gym but let’s face it, it’s not as fun.

In this article I will be discussing:

  • If you can lose weight playing tennis
  • How many calories you can burn in a match
  • If tennis can help you build muscles

If you’re keen to lose weight and want to learn how tennis can help you, read on!

Can You Lose Weight Playing Tennis?

lady playing tennis

Weight loss, scientifically speaking, is simple. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight.

Yes, starving yourself will lead to you losing weight but not in a healthy way. To lose weight safely, it should be done gradually over time.

A figure used often to represent healthy weight loss is 1-2 (0.45-0.9 kg) pounds per week.

Rapid weight loss can lead to gallstones, skin sag, and loss of energy levels, amongst other things.

Unfortunately, playing tennis doesn’t guarantee you will lose weight. As I have learned from past experience, playing an hour of tennis doesn’t give you the right to stuff down a 1500 calorie pizza.

No matter how much tennis you play, you will not lose weight if you continue to consume more calories than you burn on the court.

If you’re going to eat high-calorie meals, it is, of course, better to play tennis than not play. At least that way, it ensures that your weight is maintained.

Or if you are eating an enormous amount, your weight doesn’t increase by as much as it would have without training.

The sad reality is that you are what you eat. If you are consuming 3000-4000 calories per day, there will (for most of us) not be enough hours available in the day to burn it all off.

If you are someone with a lot of free time, you might be able to indulge yourself more. This is only true if you can commit to burning it all off.

Before his retirement, American swimmer Michael Phelps admitted to consuming 8,000-10,000 calories per day.

Phelps’ full-time job was as an athlete. He thus has the time to spend most of his day in the swimming pool burning off that mammoth of a diet.

The fastest way to lose weight is by exercising regularly and reducing excess calorie intake.

How Many Calories Do You Burn During The Tennis Match?

dominos pizza calorie info

The range of calories that can be burned playing tennis varies hugely.

If you are a grumpy 5-year-old who just stands on the court begrudgingly hitting balls, you are not going to burn much. If, on the other hand, you are high performance, competitive singles player, you are going to burn them much faster.

There are several variables that need to be considered when assessing how many calories can be burned playing tennis. Some of these are:

  • Weight
  • Intensity
  • Whether I am playing singles or doubles
  • Heart rate

Intensity and heart rate are directly linked. If you are playing longer rallies at a higher intensity, your heart rate will rise.

The reason bulky people burn more calories is that they require more energy. A calorie is a unit for measuring energy.

As larger people require more energy to train and move their bodies, they burn more.

I’ve attached two tables below. These show the number of calories you can expect to burn per hour in a game of singles or doubles based on your weight.

This is just a guideline. I can’t guarantee that if you weigh 175lbs that you’re going to burn exactly 654 calories.

Weight Average calories burned per hour (Singles)
132lbs (60kg) 472
154lbs (70kg) 563
175lbs (80kg) 654
198lbs (90kg) 745


Weight Average calories burned per hour (Doubles)
132lbs (60kg) 354
154lbs (70kg) 422
175lbs (80kg) 490
198lbs (90kg) 558

I wear a Fitbit Charge 4 (Amazon) when I play. I usually burn around 850 calories per hour when playing singles. That’s if you trust the figures that come through the Fitbit.

The smartwatches make an estimate based on your heart rate and your activity.

How many calories do you burn per hour when playing? According to your smartwatch.

Perhaps you’re not interested in losing weight on the whole, but you’re keen to burn off a takeaway. Let’s imagine you have just been to McDonald’s.

You’ve had a medium-big mac meal with Coca-Cola. That comes out as 1080 calories.

If you weigh 175lbs and play doubles, it will take you over 2 hours to burn off that meal. If I ever have fast food, I rarely consider how long it will take to burn off the calories.

If you are someone who eats more than they should, this visualisation is a good technique. How long will it take you to burn off that kebab, pizza, or burger?

Related: Can Tennis Make You Taller?

Does Playing Tennis Helps Build Muscles?

fake muscles on the board

I’ve spoken a lot about how tennis can help you lose weight, but what about muscles. Can playing tennis help you build muscles?

It absolutely can. Next time you watch a tennis match, see how low to the ground the players are. Being so low requires the substantial use of the legs, especially the quadriceps.

Most people think the legs are the muscles used most in tennis.

Start focusing more on the legs if you want to start hitting with more power.

Tennis players require strong leg muscles. As they spend more time moving on the court, holding themselves lower to the ground, their muscles will strengthen.

Legs are not the only muscles that will get stronger from playing tennis.

Other areas that you use a lot in tennis are the glutes, upper back, core, and arms. Every serious professional tennis player will train regularly in the gym.

Some of their muscles will be built up from this, but it combines on-court and off-court training.

Playing tennis will not lead to you getting a buff rugby player’s physique. But it will help you tone up and strengthen.

Also read: Do Tennis Players Jog?

Final Words

Tennis is such a great sport because it trains so many different areas simultaneously. Watch a tennis match and see how many muscles a player uses during a point.

Beyond the physical benefits tennis brings, there are psychological bonuses as well.

What has been the most effective way for you to lose weight? Perhaps it’s not been through actively targeting a sport but just reducing calorie intake.

Whatever sport you do, if your goal is to lose weight, it is simple. Burn more than you take in.