Weights and rubber bands are different exercises with different purposes. As a pro athlete, she should do both. Especially someone who relies on a power game. She was probably not doing anything like that, which is why she has started with rubber bands, especially during competition. She needs to add some muscles if she wants some power back into her shots though, so she will have to do bench pressing at some point.
An interesting discussion. There are many ways of becoming stronger, including resistance bands. However, for pro athletes, as Bel points out, rubber bands are usually used as an assistance exercise, rather than as a base for building real strength.
The main reason is measurability. Weights give you the ability to measure your improvement and make sure you are actually progressing.
Why stretching some bands? A couple of push-ups and pull-ups and she'll be like terminator. Anchinator.
I actually agree that, especially as a woman, Ana can become quite strong through bodyweight exercises. Let's say she was able to train herself to do, say, 10 dips, 5 pull ups, 25 push ups. She would be decently strong for a woman, not amazing, but decent.
For the lower body it gets more difficult without weight, but she could learn to do single leg pistol squats (or work up to it). It's easier to train legs if you have weights though, then her target could be to squat between 1 to 1.5 times her bodyweight within a year. Deadlift over 1.5 times bodyweight. I wonder if asking her to try a glute-ham raise is unrealistic?
It's not about being a terminator, it's about being strong. I used to work with weights and I had some muscles and I thought I was strong, but when I started stretching those bands I realized how weak I was.
Because the bands provide WAY more resistance than the weights do
If I tried to do a pull up, I'd die. I think I actually passed out a little when I attempted one
It's not as simple as it sounds...
When lifting weights you have to remind yourself to tense and work against gravity; the bands do that for you
It's nice to know so many users on this forum work out. I would say that if you found the weights easier than the bands then you were probably using weights that were too light for you and not challenging yourself enough. This was probably because weights are more scary, so you didn't push your limit, while bands are user friendly, so you were able to push yourself harder. Either that or your form might not have been good (people often don't use very strict form and end up not working the muscles effectively.) Also, as Tennislover points out, there is definitely more technique required when using free weights. You have to understand the technique of squatting, deadlifting etc. But there are benefits if you master the exercises. A pro tennis player should master them.
So, for people who aren't super strong yet and used to heavy weights, bands are indeed very useful. Good for rehab, I agree. By the way, you can use the bands to assist you when you try pull ups if you can't do them yet. Wrap the band around the pull up bar and around your shoulders (you may have to double up the band). It will lighten your bodyweight and make the exercise easier. Or, you can try flexed hangs for time (hold yourself at the top of a pull up position for 30 sec- you can use a chair to get up to the top) or partial range chin ups. There are ways to build up to a pull up.
Overall, I would give Ana a little leeway if she feels she is coming back from an injury, but sooner or later she will need to strength train seriously if she wants to reach her potential. She doesn't necessarily have to bench press, but I would like her to be able to do 10-15 full range dips. Even better if she can do the dips with weight attached to her. (Weighted dips work a very similar set of muscles to bench press, and someone like Ana might find bench press scary, with the weight up above her- although this shouldn't be a problem if she has a spotter or a power cage with safety bars.) I wonder how many dips/pull ups the current Ana can actually do?
It's a long term process too. Losing weight and getting to a low bodyfat level actually puts Ana in a good position to gain some muscle and get stronger. She should set herself some strength targets to reach by the end of the year. Not really sure she will though...