Luol Deng Pre-Season Strength and Flexibility Workout

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Find out how Chicago Bulls stalwart Luol Deng prepares for the upcoming NBA season. 

"A lot of the stuff we do is called 'preventative maintenance,'" said Elias Karras, EFT Sports Performance founder [Highland Park, Ill.]. "It's just to make sure we protect [Luol's] joints and the smaller muscle groups."

When working with Deng, Karras uses a training philosophy that focuses on improving strength, speed work, agility drills and a prehab/maintenance phase to get his body ready for a long NBA season.

Karras and Deng advocate developing basketball-specific lower body strength. "[I] try to work on my first step so I can be a more explosive and quicker athlete," Deng says. In addition to strengthening the lower body for first-step quickness, training also adds muscle to withstand the rigors of working the paint 82+ games a year.

"The stronger your lower body is, the more hits you can take," says the former Duke All-American. "You can drive to the lane stronger or post up stronger, and that's really important for your game."

For descriptions and Coaching Points for each exercise or drill, click on the links below and watch videos of Deng ripping through a training session.

Watch video of Luol Deng's basketball off-season training.

Exercise Sets/Reps Notes
Foam Rolling As desired
Barefoot Leg Swings on Airex Pad 2-3x10-12
Hurdle Duck Unders 2x20
Hurdle Step Overs 2x20
Resistance Band TKE 3x20 each leg
One-Legged Trampoline Jumps 1-3x5-20 each leg
Single-Arm/Single-Leg Med Ball Taps 2x10 each hand or each leg
Med Ball Wall Clock Taps 2x5-10
Alternating Inverted Strap Pull-Up 1-3x10-12
Inverted Strap Scarecrow 1-2x8-12
Inverted Strap Bicep Curls 1-2x8-12
Inverted Strap Push-Up 1-3x10-20
Landmines 1-2x15-20
Slide Board Splits 1-2x15-20

Key Program Points:
Karras believes that a basketball player needs to work on five keys to take his game to the next level: mobility/flexibility, strength/conditioning, speed/agility, nutrition and recovery/maintenance. This specific workout targets all five areas and places greater emphasis on the recovery/maintenance phase since the workout was conducted a few days before training camp.

A proper dynamic warm-up, which includes Barefoot Leg Swings on Airex Pad, will increase mobility and flexibility required to improve jumping ability. Karras warns that athletes shouldn't neglect proper stretching, which can decrease injury potential.

Luol performs Foam Rolling to alleviate tendonitis issues. Since he's an advanced athlete, he uses a hard, dense PVC tube to work on his soft tissue.

Hurdle Step Overs and Duck Unders work on Luol's range of motion by improving hip and glute flexibility, which can increase a player's vert.

Perform Resistance Band Terminal Knee Extension (TKE) as a prehab or rehab exercise to prevent tendonitis. Karras incorporates this quick and efficient stretch for all of his "jumping athletes" to aid in recovery for "jumper's knees."

To mimic jumping off of one leg on the court and to activate the muscles used to propel hops, perform One-Legged Trampoline Jumps. It's a great dynamic movement that activates fast-twitch muscles required to improve a player's vertical jump.

Single-Arm/Single-Leg Med Ball Taps is a true "bang-for-your-buck" exercise, because it simultaneously works the core, hip flexors and the ankle/foot. To strengthen the muscles surrounding the foot and ankle, Deng balances barefoot on a pad.

Med Ball Wall Clock Taps simulate an athlete going up for a rebound during a game by developing core strength and stability while standing up.

Landmines engage obliques, abdominals and the lower back simultaneously. This is a difficult exercise, but very beneficial because it develops core strength and stability.

Karras uses Inverted Straps to vary resistance and range of motion, which creates a different challenge for Scarecrows, Bicep Curls and Alternating Pull-Ups. Proper form is essential when using Inverted Strap exercises, so check out each respective video to learn the perfect technique.

Finish the workout with Slide Board Splits to strengthen and lengthen groin muscles for increased range of motion on the court.

Click to check out a full Basketball Workout 
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Watch an exclusive video interview of Luol Deng's basketball training advice.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock