Basketball is a game that requires mastery of different skills. And to acquire a semblance of decency in any of these skills– shooting, ballhandling, rebounding, defense, etc.– you need to approach training the right way. Of course, repetition is vital, but other aspects are equally important. Weight training, for example, could be your edge over the competition. Wait, do basketball players lift weights? Or should they? This article will answer these questions and more.
What Does Weightlifting Have to Do With Basketball?
Many people have mostly negative preconceptions about weight training. Some think lifting heavy affects their jump shot or that they don’t need leg training because basketball already involves a lot of running. Does lifting weights affect shooting basketball? No, of course not! Do you seriously think Ray Allen or Steph Curry did not lift weights? Or that Kobe Bryant did not do leg-strengthening exercises?
As a matter of fact, weightlifting does a lot for any serious basketball player. A basketball training plan can significantly improve your basketball game by increasing your strength, flexibility, and even endurance when done correctly. A properly-structured basketball weightlifting routine may mean the difference between you playing or sitting down during games.
What Type of Weightlifting Do Professional Basketball Players Do?
Professional basketball players do the standard weightlifting stuff such as the bench press, curls, squats, deadlifts, and incline press. However, depending on a player’s position and goals, he may take it a level higher and do more.
For example, players may do two to three resistance training sessions every week. Resistance training may include the use of dumbbells, medicine balls, resistance bands, and others. Some also do plyometrics and other exercises.
Benefits of Strength Training for Basketball Players
The importance of strength training for basketball players could not be emphasized enough. Let’s talk about the benefits of strength training in more detail.
1. Injury Protection
Weight training can help you build strength, which can help reduce your chances of getting injured on the court. Strength training not only improves flexibility, but also allows your body to move in ways that help you prevent injury. On top of that, it also builds up muscles around your joints that serve another layer of injury protection.
Furthermore, cardio exercises like running, especially over long distances, place a lot of impact and stress on the body and knees. This may result in injuries. You can reduce your risk of injury both on and off the court by reducing your high-impact cardio and substituting it with strength training.
2. Fat Loss
There is a reason why the Miami Heat requires a minimum body fat percentage for players. While fat is helpful for certain bodily functions, having an excess amount can be detrimental to athletes, especially basketball players.
Gaining muscle will make you stronger, faster, and leaner, and your metabolism will work harder. Weight training has also been shown to enhance lean muscle growth and a healthy BMI. It is also linked to lower cholesterol levels, more energy and endurance, healthier blood pressure, and weight — mainly when the habit of weight training is formed early in life.
3. Improved Balance and Coordination
There are improved bodily functions that weight training can give that simple exercises couldn’t. Weight training allows you to improve your balance and coordination, agility, and flexibility while also becoming more strong physically.
4. Gaining Speed and Quickness
Basketball is a fast-paced sport, and athletes who are lagging behind may find it challenging to improve their game. Weight training will help you improve your speed. By building more muscle in your body, you will have a higher power output, which translates to better speed.
Nothing boosts confidence when you feel great and look great. That’s the most significant benefit that weight training can give you. Not only will you have more energy, but after several weeks of weight training, you’ll notice new muscles on your body that weren’t previously visible.
Your new, toned, and defined physique will boost your self-esteem, which will benefit you both in life and on the basketball court. You’ll have a significant edge over your opponents during a tough game if you know you’re physically strong.
As you can see, serious basketball players need strength training to improve their performance; it’s no longer a matter of choice. If you want to take it to the next level, weight training is the answer. A strength training program’s primary goal is to reduce the incidence and extent of the injury. Basketball is a physically demanding sport. Making your body’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons stronger will reduce an injury’s likelihood and/or severity. If you’re injury-free, you’re in a better position to help your team.
It’s also important to note that strength is an attribute that recedes over time. Throughout a season, players who are not as serious in their weight training may tire out faster. This is why championship contenders are teams with the least injuries.
How to Approach Strength Training
Strength training is not a magic pill that takes away all your problems. Lifting weights will improve your skills and attributes, but it should be done correctly.
Here’s the main issue. More and more basketball weight training plans and programs do not start with the fundamentals. They dive right into plyometrics, agility, power, and speed. They don’t start with coordination or movement efficiency. Programs like these frequently lead to muscle instabilities and injuries down the road.
The right approach to basketball weight training is to focus on the entire body. This means that if you’d do an upper body workout, also do a basketball leg workout. Whatever muscles you exercise, work on the opposing muscle groups as well.
Like learning basketball, you must try to understand fundamentals. These include stability, coordination, technique, and form. If you’re not moving efficiently, you’re setting yourself up for injury and pain later on.
Furthermore, basketball weight training should not be limited to movements performed on the court. It should also concentrate on the muscles and joints that support those movements and how efficient they are.
Regarding coordination and movement efficiency, you should ideally start with mobility, body position, balance, and stability exercises before progressing to more challenging activities. Build your foundation first, and you’ll be able to succeed in more relevant movements and exercises later.
How Often Do NBA Players Lift Weights?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight training, especially for NBA players. Some may work on muscles and movements relevant to their positions, and some may want to work on all muscle groups and areas.
It would seem like every player has an individual program from the training staff. And this approach makes the most sense. For instance, younger guys coming in probably lack muscle, so their training should predominantly involve bulking up. Veterans have more leeway and may be permitted to work out on their own after finishing their program with the staff.
Most of the intense training workouts occur in the offseason. It gives the players a chance to work on their weaknesses, the chinks in their armor, so to speak. This is when fans see body transformations that are often posted by the players’ social media accounts.
By the time the season rolls around, the idea is to maintain the strength that they have built in the offseason. If the training remains as intense, players burn out quickly and may succumb to fatigue over an 82-game season. Also, it is generally accepted that maintaining strength is easier to do than building it up.
With that being said, it wouldn’t be a surprise if NBA players lift weights at least three times a week to maintain strength.
Should Basketball Players Lift Heavy or Light?
The only way you can benefit from a basketball weight training plan is if you do it right. If not, it will end up hampering your development and hurt your game. So, as a basketball player, should you lift heavy or light?
The answer is it depends on your objective. If you play competitive basketball, you may stand to gain from lifting light weights because it will enable you to jump higher and make quick movements. However, if you want to include muscle growth in your training regimen, going heavy is more recommended.
But then again, professional basketball players often mix up their routine, spending more days on stuff they need to work on. Whether you lift heavy or not, always remember these tips:
- Upper body workouts require light lifting, while lower body programs should involve heavy lifting.
- Heavy weights must only be up to 12 repetitions per set, while you can go as over 15 reps for light lifting.
- If you can do more than 15 reps with a given weight, you should use a lighter one.
A common question in basketball is, ”does lifting weights affect shooting basketball?” The answer is a definite NO. It won’t directly affect shooting unless you sustain an injury and mess up your mechanics. Other than that, it won’t have a negative impact on shooting.
Lifting before basketball is generally recommended because it gives you more energy for your workout. If you are lifting at home or another location without a weight room, it is best to lift after playing to avoid wasting energy on the court.
7 Best Weight Training for Basketball Players
If you’re a newbie, you can set the stage for the next level of weight lifting by doing simple exercises such as push-ups. It doesn’t need any special equipment; just your body, guts, and drive. If you have mastered the push-ups along with other basic core exercises, you will do better with the more hardcore weight training exercises.
Deadlifts are among the best lifts for basketball players if you want to improve your overall strength. It targets the hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles, which are responsible for speed and power. It also strengthens your grip, core, and quads. You can also do sumo deadlifts and conventional deadlifts. However, the trap bar deadlift is the simplest to learn and master, so you should probably start there.
Squats are an excellent exercise! They work the quads and, if you go deep enough with correct posture, the hamstrings and glutes as well. It will also aid in the strengthening of your core. Begin with the goblet squat before progressing to some of the bigger-boy squat options.
What makes the squat so simple yet so effective? When you hold the weight in front of your body, your core automatically fires. This will make you more stable, allowing you to squat deeper and grove the proper squat sequence.
A good jump shot involves a full extension of the laterals, back, shoulders, and wrist. A proper pull-up mimics such movement while also building important all-around back strength.
5. Dumbbell Rows
Rows are an excellent upper-body exercise. They help to build your back, biceps, and gripping muscles. Proper posture is essential for improving your physique and strength, preventing injuries, and improving performance. And rows are ideal for assisting you in standing upright. How about that? Not only does it helps you gain strength, but it also gets rid of your slouched posture!
Chin Ups are an excellent indicator of relative strength because being able to fully control your body weight is essential. Chin-ups work the muscles in the back and biceps while also developing grip strength.
7. Vertical Chest Pass
Do you want to improve the zing on your passes, all while improving body coordination? The vertical chest pass is the answer. This is an intense medicine ball throwing exercise that increases the power of your passes and improves your jumping ability with a significant level of force development.
Wrapping Things Up: Do Basketball Players Lift Weights?
A basketball player’s movements involve many muscle groups from the lower back down to the calves. Putting so much strain on those muscles could lead to injuries. An effective way to prevent these is doing a basketball weightlifting routine or basketball weight training plan.
Wait, what does weight lifting have to do with basketball? Do basketball players lift weights? Weight training does a lot to improve basketball skills and attributes. That is why, yes, basketball players incorporate lifting weights in their exercises. When you do weight training, it will strengthen different muscle groups in your body, including the glutes, back, and laterals. As a result, it will help prevent injuries and make you a more explosive athlete.
Did you find this helpful? Then also check out other basketball FAQ articles here.
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