Lifting like a King is as easy as “DUPS: Daily Undulation of Periodization.”
It sounds as complex as the triangle offense, but just like so many NBA ballers, you too can master this variable training regimen, implemented by Sacramento Kings’ head strength and conditioning coach Al Biancani.
Biancani, whose relationship with the perennial NBA title contenders dates back to 1988, also owns a private training and rehabilitation center in his native Sacramento, where he has coached more than 100 high-school All-City athletes, 100 college All-Americans and some 150 pros.
“Mike Bibby, when he got here,” Biancani recalls, “he had trouble doing 195 [pounds] for 4 [repetitions] on bench.. Now, he can do 245 for 4. Chris Webber was at 255 [on bench press] when he got here. Now, he can do 340.”
Based on his belief that alterations in training routines build muscle more effectively, Biancani adjusts the reps and sets of his players’ workouts every two weeks. This constant variation goes on throughout the off-season and even continues during in-season training.
“I find you make better gains [changing every two weeks] then doing the same thing month after month,” he says..
In a typical workout cycle, Biancani has a player perform three sets of 15 reps for two weeks; a four-set pyramid of 10 -8 -6 -4 reps the next two weeks; and three sets of 20 repetitions the following two weeks. He says the constant adjustment stimulates muscles in new ways at each interval, maximizing the results of a play-er’s weight training efforts and preventing him or her from getting “stuck in a rut.”
As for the time to rest in between sets, Biancani’s general rule is to take about a minute-long rest when working with lighter weights, and up to two or three minutes when working with heavier weights. So when performing three sets of 20, only take about a minute of rest.
But, when performing the 10 – 8 – 6 – 4 pyramid, one can take up to three minutes of rest in between sets.
When asked about the weight selection, Biancani is a firm believer in working with specific percentages of an athlete’s maximum. “For the three sets of 15, I like [the Sacramento Kings players] working with 50-55 percent of their rep max,” he says. “For the 10-8-6-4 pyramid, we use 50 percent for the 10, 60 percent for 8, 65 percent for 6 and then maybe 70 percent for the 4.”
Biancani has percentages for all the rep/set routines he uses, and they are included in the sample workout on page 25.
Within the two-week cycle of his workouts, Biancani also structures the upper-body regimen around a “push-pull split.” In other words,, his workouts aren’t broken up into specific body parts like a chest day and a shoulder day, but are based on the type of motion used during a lift.
“Push” days include lifts that require a pushing motion, such as Bench Press, Peck Deck and Tricep Press. “Pull” days include lifts that require a pulling motion such as Lat Pull Downs, Seated Rows and Curls.
Push and Pull days should alternate throughout the week. So, Monday, Wednesday and Friday of week 1 should be Push days, and Tuesday and Thursday should be Pull days. Then, in week 2, Tuesday and Thursday would be the Push days, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday, should be Pull days.
And Biancani has found that certain push and pull lifts directly improve a basketball player’s on-court performance.
“I think lat pulls are important because that’s like grabbing the ball and bringing it down [for a rebound],” he says.. “I think a rear deltoid is important, because that’s similar to when you’re hooking someone or when your elbows are out so people can’t get around you.
“I think some kind of pushing lift like a bench is important for when you have a hold of someone and you’re pushing them away,” Biancani continues.. “I think a triceps press is important because that’s like shooting the ball.”
In addition to these key upper-body lifts, the foundation of a great basketball strength training program revolves around the foundation of your own body, the hips and legs. Biancani has his players train their legs on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The structure of Monday and Friday workouts include lifts that require using double leg and single leg movements. Wednesdays are solely single leg days. Actual exercises that Biancani’s athletes use in their workouts are included in the chart on this page.
In order to further train the hips, Hang Cleans can be added to Tuesday and Thursday workouts. When performing Hang Cleans, the reps and sets will always be three sets of 6 repetitions.
For both upper-body and lower-body exercises, there are key core lifts and other auxiliary lifts. The core lifts will strictly follow the various reps, sets and weight percentages spelled out in the DUPS training program. As for the auxiliary lifts, the reps and sets for these lifts will also change every two weeks, but will have a slightly different pattern. For example, during the 10-8-6-4 pyramid all core lifts will follow this rep set format, but the auxiliary lifts will have three sets of 10 repetitions. For a complete breakdown of the core and auxiliary lifts, as well as the rep set patterns refer to the chart on page 25.
Of course, there is no guarantee that DUPS: Daily Undulation of Periodization will get you boxing out like Brad Miller or nailing jumpers a la Bobby Jackson. But carefully following Biancani’s training course will produce a workout out for a king, faster than you can say “Peja Stojakovic.”
Editor’s note: Several weeks after this interview with Al Biancani was completed, Chris Webber was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, on the eve of the NBA trade deadline.
Lie down on a bench on your back. Grip a barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. Lower the bar to your chest. The bar should touch slightly below the end of your pectorals at the base of your sternum. At this point, if you have taken the proper grip width, your hands should be directly above your elbows. Then, drive the bar, straight up, off of your chest until your arms are fully extended.
Lat Pull Downs
Seated with a slight backwards lean, take a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip on a straight bar attached to an upper pulley. Make sure your palms are facing away from your body. Keeping your shoulder blades slightly pinched and core tight, pull down on the bar until the bar passes your chin. Be sure to lead with the elbows and use your back to pull down on the bar. Make sure not to overly-lean back as this will work a different muscle group of your back. Then control the weight back up to the starting position.
Standing, take a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand. Slightly bend your knees and lean forward bending at the waist until your back is nearly parallel with the ground. Your arms should hang straight down from your body with your palms facing your thighs and your shoulder blades slightly pinched together. Then, using your rear deltoids, drive your elbows up and out, keeping your arms bent. Your elbows should be lifted until they are at the same height as your shoulders. Then, lower the weight to the original starting position.
Lie down on a bench on your back. With your arms fully extended at a 90-degree angle to your body, grip a barbell or curl bar with your hands no more than 6-8 inches apart. Keeping your arms locked at the shoulder, lower the bar toward your head bending only at the elbow. Keep your elbows in tight and pointed down toward your toes. The bar should be lowered until it nearly touches your head in between the eyes and the top of your forehead. Then, using only your triceps, drive the bar back to the starting position, again only moving your arms at the elbow and locked at the shoulder.
Using a leg curl machine, drive the weight toward your butt. Then control the weight back to the starting position. Focus on isolating the hamstrings to move the weight.
(S) Leg Curls
Same as Leg Curls, but performed with just one leg.
Start standing with a barbell on your back as if you were going to perform a squat, or hold a dumbbell in each hand. Next, raise up on your toes. Pause for a brief moment and then lower your heels back down to the ground.
(S) Calf Raise
Same as the Calf Raise, but performed standing on one leg.
Using a leg press machine, lower the weight until the top of your quads and your abdomen form a 90 degree angle. Then drive the weight back to the starting position.
(S) Leg Press
Same as the leg press but performed with just one leg.
Start with a barbell in a squat rack. Position yourself underneath the bar so the bar sits on your traps slightly below the base of your neck. Set your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Point your toes slightly out, but not overly exaggerated. Place your hands on the bar wide enough to easily control and balance the weight. Make sure to look straight ahead during the entire lift. Take the bar off the rack and start to squat down, always making sure to control the weight. Keep your core and lower-back tight. Push your hips back as you lower the weight. Make sure your knees do not move past the front of your toes as you descend. Lower the weight until the top of your thighs are parallel with the ground. Then, drive the weight up to the starting position, pushing through your heels.
(S) Leg Squat
Same as the Squat but performed standing on one leg. The leg that is not on the ground should be bent at the knee and the leg should be extended slightly backward. The foot of the up leg should be placed on a bench or chair behind the athlete to help with balance.
Use a Hack Squat machine to perform this lift.
Place a barbell on your back, slightly below the base of your neck, resting on your traps. Place your hands on the bar wide enough to easily control and balance the weight. Standing with your feet 8-12 inches apart, step forward with your right foot. Try to step out as far as possible with out losing control of the weight or your balance. Then, lower your body down until your left knee nearly touches the ground. Make sure your right knee does not go past the tips of the toes on your right foot. Keep your core and lower back tight during the lift. Lean slightly forward when lowering your body to help work your hamstrings. Then, driving off your right foot, push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat the same motion, stepping out with the left foot first, to train the left leg.
Ball Leg Curls
Start lying on the ground on your back. Place the back of your ankles on top of a physioball. Keep your abs and low back tight so your body is in a straight line from your feet to shoulders. Your butt should be off the ground. Next, bend at the knees to bring your feet back toward your butt while rolling the physioball back toward your body. Your hips should elevate as the ball gets closer to you. Then, using just your legs and feet, roll the physioball back out to the starting position constant-ly keeping your butt off the ground.
Place a barbell on your back as if you were going to perform a squat, or hold a dumbbell in each hand. Place one foot on top of a box or bench roughly 16-24 inches high. The other foot should be placed on the ground and you should have a slight body lean forward. Then, using the leg of the foot that is on the box, drive down through the box to raise yourself up as if taking the first step up a flight of stairs. Make sure to not push off of the foot that is on the ground. As you raise yourself up, continue to bring the down leg up to a high knee position. The action should be similar to the movement of your leg when taking a lay-up.
Stand with a barbell at thigh-level. With your arms straight down, grip the bar at hip-width with your palms facing toward your body. Slightly bend your knees and push your hips back. Keep your low back and abs tight and lean forward so your chest and shoulders are directly over the bar. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground. Then, explode up extending at the ankle, hip and knee as if you were jumping. Now, keeping your arms straight at first, pull on the bar with a shrug of the shoulders. Next, begin to bend your arms and continue to pull on the bar similar to an upright row. Lastly, drop your hips and catch the bar across your shoulders and chest in a 1/4 squat position. Make sure to drive your elbows forward so they point away from your body to help keep the bar on your chest and shoulders. Finally, drive up from the 1/4 squat position until you are standing straight up.
Use a seated row machine or mid-pulley with a seated row attachment. With your arms straight out, place your hands at about shoulder width with your palms facing each other or pointed toward the ground depending on design of the machine or attachment. Sitting straight up, keep your core and lower back tight and your shoulder blades slightly pinched together. Pull your arms back, driving your elbows back passed your body. Then, control the weight back to the starting position.
Stand with a barbell or curl bar at thigh-level. Place your hands on the bar 6-8 inches apart with your palms facing toward your body. Pull the bar up toward your chin, leading with your elbows. Keep the bar as close to your body as possible. Then lower the bar back to the starting position.
Stand with a barbell at thigh-level and take a slightly wider than hip width grip. Your palms should be facing away from your body. With your arms slightly forward so the barbell is away from your thighs, curl the bar up to your chest. Be sure to only move your arm from the elbow down and to lock the upper-arm in place. Then, lower the bar back down to the starting position.
Stand with a barbell at thigh-level. Then lean forward keeping the low back and abs tight and pushing the hips back. Lean forward until your back is nearly parallel with the ground. Your arms should hang straight down with the bar directly beneath your shoulders. Then, pull the bar up toward you chest. Keep the elbows in tight and focus on keeping the shoulder blades pulled back and down.
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Then lean forward keeping the low back and abs tight and pushing the hips back. Lean forward until your back is nearly parallel with the ground. Your arms should hang straight down with your palms facing each other. The dumbbells should be directly beneath your shoulders. Then, bring the dumbbells out to the side in a motion similar to opening a door. Be sure to keep the shoulder blades pulled back and down throughout the lift.
Stand with a barbell at thigh-level. With your arms straight down, grip the bar at hip-width with your palms facing toward your body. Slightly bend your knees and push your hips back. Keep your low back and abs tight and lean forward so your chest and shoulders are directly over the bar. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground. Then, explode up extending at the ankle, hip and knee as if you were jumping. Now, keeping your arms straight at first, pull on the bar with a shrug of the shoulders. Lastly, begin to bend your arms and continue to pull on the bar similar to an upright row. Try to bring the bar up past your chest to near chin level.
Lie down on an incline bench on your back. Grip a barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. Lower the bar to your chest. The bar should touch your chest near the bottom half of your pectoral. At this point, if you have taken the proper grip width, your hands should be directly above your elbows. Then drive the bar, straight up, off of your chest until your arms are fully extended.
Use a Pec Deck machine to perform this lift.
Stand with your arms straight down and a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand. With your palms facing each other and keeping your arms perfectly straight, raise your hands out to the sides of your body. Keep your shoulder blades slightly pinched together and do not raise your arms past 90 degrees. Then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Stand with a barbell at thigh-level. Grip the bar at hip-width with your palms facing toward your body. Keeping your arms straight and elbows locked, lift up on the bar by shrugging your shoulders up toward your ears. Keep your abs and lower-back tight and your shoulder blades slightly pinched together. Then, lower the bar back down to the starting position.