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Fitness Is Ferrer's Foundation

Strength & Conditioning

David Ferrer© Getty ImagesDavid Ferrer is one of the hardest-working players on the ATP World Tour.

Men's Health Spain grills David Ferrer about his punishing fitness regimen.

Note: Story is reproduced with permission from Men's Health Spain. Read the original version in Spanish

In 2008, David Ferrer achieved the best ranking of his career: fourth in the world. His great physical strength has made him a threat for any rival, regardless of surface or tournament. His opponents know well that David will never give up, that he will run tirelessly and fight for every ball, whether winning or losing. So, what could be better than to train with him in his gym, to have him explain how he gets so much out of his 178cm, 72k frame?

We went to meet David at the Club Deportivo Saladar de Silla, a town of 20,000 near Valencia. David arrives smiling and eager to train, passing children in the street who are waving and cheering, happy to have their idol home again.


Strength Training
We are at the gym already. It is a spacious facility used by many, with many machines that have made people sweat, and with weights strewn all over the floor. The image reminds you of a "Rocky" movie, if it weren't for a group of adolescent tennis players training hard, all of them with one eye on the dumbbell and another on David, whose training they absorb down to the tiniest detail.

As he prepares the machines, David begins to reveal the secret of his strength training. "We divide all muscle groups into two sessions: one of pectoral-biceps-triceps and another one of back-shoulder-forearm," he explains.

It is a surprisingly simple and traditional routine, in keeping with his workout philosophy. "I have to develop two arms, two legs and a trunk," he says. "The great athletes of tomorrow will do the same; it is normal that the exercises are the same. The classic ones that have been around for so long continue to demonstrate their functionality."

Ferrer believes strongly in stretching.Considerable Weights
When he is in action you can appreciate the strength of his arms, medium in size but well defined and toned. It is quite clear that he trains hard and works with considerable weights.

"When we are in the pre-season we work on strength more, with series of eight repetitions. When I am competing, I do longer series of 15 repetitions, while the number of series is between four and five by exercise and a pair of exercises by muscle." He says that variety of exercise is important, so one must "vary once in a while".

Taking advantage of our presence in the gym, we continue with a stretching session. "My elasticity work is centered almost totally on my legs," Ferrer says. "I stretch a lot. When you play tennis you are frequently forced to adopt tough body postures to get some balls, so, it is better to be prepared," he says smiling

Cardio and Weights
While we stretch out, I ask him at what point does physical fitness make a difference in tennis. "Tennis is a sport with one of the highest physical fitness demands, not only because of the effort to play a match, but because in normal conditions you play a match daily in which you have to put in 100 percent if you want to play again the next day. If that is not enough, to complicate it more, you never know how long the game is going to be," he answers.

"I dedicate one and a half hours of training in the gym, in the morning, and another hour in the afternoon, minimum, to go running," he says. "I run on a track," he adds. "When I am competing in a tournament or have a match, I just have a massage and do stretches."

Ferrer hits the gym early in the day. Fartleks and Series
After a mild training session we go running on a nearby football field located at his club. "In the off season we run for 40-50 minutes at a steady pace. During the season, however, since we do not have much time, we do more fartleks and series," he says. "This is the most important part of my training. Think about it: The tournaments we all want to win imply playing seven games of five sets each, therefore, resistance is a key ingredient. Good physical preparation allows you to win more matches that become long in time and also, if you feel strong it helps you mentally when you're preparing tactics for each match."

When we ask him for advice for the readers of "Men's Health," he says without hesitation that, regardless of the level you have reached, "Your physical condition determines completely the performance. And it works the same way for a professional as for an amateur that plays only on Sundays".

Five Meals
On the way to the courts, I ask him for his diet. "I have five meals a day, with an emphasis mainly on breakfast. There are always carbohydrates in my meals, like pasta or rice, and at dinner I always include proteins and vegetables.

"In regard to supplements, I do not take any. I'd rather eat a variety of foods - I enjoy that a lot more. In any case, I take vitamin C complex, magnesium for cramps, and iron. During tournaments I sometimes eat an energy bar. Some of my teammates prefer bananas, but I do not like them that much."

We arrive at the courts and I ask him about laterality [the dominant side of the body], thinking that most tennis player have one arm more developed than the other. He says that he has solved that issue very well. "To compensate the development of the dominant arm, I always end the training session playing with my left arm for five minutes. To gain potency in both arms, I use the Basque paddles sometimes, since they weigh a lot," he adds.

We do not want to say goodbye without asking about his future, and more specifically, about the possibility of becoming No. 1. But David Ferrer makes a face and answers humbly, "The truth is, with those three monsters [Nadal, Federer and Djokovic] from another planet it is hard to achieve." Instead of speculating, David prefers to go step by step.


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