During the 2007-2008 season, Dahntay Jones bounced from the Boston Celtics to the Sacramento Kings before finishing the year with the NBA Development League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Fast forward to the 2009 NBA Playoffs: the only mad creatures were opposing scorers facing a certain guard/forward for the Denver Nuggets.
Confused? To replay: Jones went from the D-League to lockdown defender for the Nuggets during the 2008-09 season. He stepped into the role after Denver parted ways with Allen Iverson just three games into the season. In the opening round of the playoffs, Jones held New Orleans Hornets PG Chris Paul to 16 ppg, seven under his season average. Against Dallas in round two, he did double duty, covering both Josh Howard and Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Nuggets for the Western Conference title in six games, but not before Jones created an uproar with his hard-nosed defensive play against Kobe Bryant.
About making it back to the NBA, Jones says, “My mindset was that I was going to make this work. I was going to try fill in a gap that the team needed.”
Helping Jones solidify his spot with the Nuggets was team strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess.
“You’ve got this genetic beast with a 43-inch vert and two percent body fat who is receptive to change; he wants to work on new things,” Hess says.
The new thing this year was the TRX Suspension Training system, a functional tool for building strength and endurance.
“The TRX is so flexible that you get a different workout every time,” says Jones. “You’re [using] the same muscle groups, but doing a little different exercise. It helps me with my core, with my overall body composition and [to] stay lean rather than getting bulky and not functional.”
Hess says, “He’s physically unbelievable, but he knows he can get better. He doesn’t think he can, he knows he can.”
Hess used the TRX to improve Jones’ lateral movement, enhance his ability to explode off one leg and strengthen his shoulders. Since the TRX uses your body weight as resistance, you’re not just working muscles in isolation. Try the following mini routine to strengthen your upper body and core.
Note: Hess incorporates lateral resistance into Jones’ TRX training. These are advanced movements. Start by performing the basic movements and build your strength before progressing to the advanced exercises.
• Assume Push-Up position with dumbbells in hands facing each other; secure feet into TRX handles
• Perform Push-Up, then pull knees to chest at top of movement for specified reps
• Finish by performing six Push-Ups without leg action
Sets/Reps: 3×6+6 (6 Push-Ups with leg action + 6 Push-Ups)
Coaching Points: Don’t let body sink // Maintain plank position // Don’t allow dumbbells to roll out
• Assume Push-Up position with hands on handles of TRX straps
• Perform slow Push-Ups for specified reps
• Finish by performing fast Push-Ups
Sets/Reps: 4×6+6 (6 slow reps, 6 fast reps)
Coaching Points: Don’t allow body to sink // Avoid fully extending arms // Keep core tight // Maintain plank position // Adjust height of TRX straps based on strength level // On slow reps, lower for 6 counts and drive up for 2 counts // On fast reps, turn hands to face each other
Inverted Wall Pull-Up (can be performed on Physioball)
• Hold onto straps and climb feet up wall, making sure body is in straight line (or place heels on top of Physioball)
• Pull body up until chest is even with hands
• Lower body until arms are fully extended
• Perform slow Pull-Ups for specified reps
• Finish by performing fast Pull-Ups
• Repeat for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3×6+6 (6 slow reps, 6 fast reps)
Coaching Points: Engage core muscles // Maintain plank position // On slow reps, lower for 6 counts and pull up for 2 counts // On fast reps, bring elbows in tight and turn hands to face each other