If you can play basketball, and play it well, you’re probably already among the world’s most naturally gifted athletes. Simply possessing the explosiveness required to jump and dunk is impressive. By being able to run the court, out-jump defenders and sink shots, you possess talents that most people do not. That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad news: Too many young players rely on their natural gifts alone. They skip the weight room, they don’t do drills, and they don’t work—because, well, they’re so talented. And they take their skills for granted.
If this sounds like you, guess who’s going to lose in the end? That’s right: you. Choose to ignore training and you’ll eventually put yourself at a severe disadvantage on the court. As players get older–especially during their teenage years—those who put in time in the weight room often grow stronger and faster than those who were born talented but slacked off in their workouts. (Discover the fundamentals of basketball weightlifting.)
To reach your true potential on the court, you need to put in time at the gym. Here are five exercises that help basketball players prepare their bodies for the demands of the sport.
The Hang Clean is one of the best exercises to build lower-body power and improve your vertical jump. It teaches your muscles to fire quickly in a coordinated manner to propel you into the air. (Learn how to Master the Hang Clean in 4 Steps.)
Set/Reps: 5x5 with 3 minutes rest
This exercise develops single-leg strength in a way that closely mimics leaping up for a lay-up, dunk or rebound. Learn the Dumbbell Step-Up.
Sets/Reps: 3x10 each leg with 1 minute rest
You must be able to push players effectively in order to gain position on the court. The Dumbbell Bench improves your pushing power and ensures that you are equally strong on both sides of the body.
Sets/Reps: 3x20 with 3 minutes rest
Barbell Bent-Over Row
The Barbell Bent-Over Row builds strength in the muscles that act on the scapula (the triangular-shaped bones that look like wings in your back), which is critical for shoulder stability. Also, increased pulling strength helps you compete for rebounds and wrestle the ball away from opponents.
Sets/Reps: 4x8 with 1 minute rest
Bicep Curls and Mini-Band Shuffles
Combining a Biceps Curl with a Mini-Band Shuffle gives you a two-for-one benefit. You increase your arm strength and size while also working on your lateral glute and hip strength—key attributes for preventing knee injuries when jumping and landing.
Sets/Reps: 3x5 each with 1 minute rest