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One Denver Nuggets superstar fights to keep the weight off. Enter the Yin: Carmelo "Melo" Anthony. Another Nuggets superstar battles to maintain his bulk. Enter the Yang: Kenyon "K-Mart" Martin. Melo, a small forward, needs explosive speed and agility to remain an offensive threat. (Watch a video of Carmelo Anthony’s strength workout for basketball).
K-mart, a power forward, requires strength to dominate the paint as a defensive force.
Melo reaches his goals using a cardiovascular training component.
K-mart achieves his through a strength training component.
Variation from one Nugget’s training goals to another doesn’t stop with these two. Earl Boykins, the shortest player in the NBA at 5′ 5", needs to maintain the strength and size gains he’s made to stay competitive on the NBA hardwood. Francisco "Sisko" Elson, a 7′ forward-center, works to pack on pounds to his stretched out frame. Looking to make his way back on the court altogether, Nene works on rehabbing a sprained left knee.
Every player has individual training goals and a unique body type, but each has one final result in mind—to be the best athlete possible. Helping each player achieve that result is Steve Hess.
Hess, Denver’s strength and conditioning coach, tailors each player’s core, flexibility, strength and nutrition program to specific training needs and body type. Even though only a one-inch height difference separates Melo and K-mart, these two are perfect examples of players who necessitate very different training programs.
Melo’s program focuses on keeping his 6′ 8", 220-pound frame lean—which can be difficult when dealing with a 20-year-old on a college student’s diet. "I love fried foods", he says. "But, I can’t eat ’em. And I can’t eat too many carbohydrates either."(Watch a video with Carmelo Anthony discussing his nutrition habits.)
To keep his heavier frame lean, Hess trains Melo in a circuit format. "Although his reps are low, if you put them all together, it’s still a high-rep routine because you’re going through it rapidly," Hess explains. "The reps add onto each other since he’s never really resting."
K-mart has the opposite challenge—keeping his lean frame heavy. "Maintaining my weight has been my biggest challenge," K-mart says. "One day, I’ll come in around 235 pounds, and the next day I’ll show up at 220."
To help him sustain is height, Hess eliminates a cardiovascular component from K-mart’s program. "We give him more rest," Hess explains. "I don’t want him to lose any weight, so I’m just trying to get to the strength component."
Flexibility also distinguishes each power player. Hess says K-mart is slightly more flexible in the hamstring, but Melo in the quadriceps. "That is why I have Kenyon do quad stuff on the power plate. I’ve had success with these specific stretching regimens in injury prevention," he says.
Following is a detailed look at just one day of Melo’s and K-mart’s core, flexibility and weight training regimens, Sisco’s game-day lifting outine, Boykins’ non-game-day lifting schedule and Nene’s rehab. Every player’s program changes day to day as well as throughout the season based on playing time, conditioning needs and injuries.
"I don’t do the same workout as Melo and Melo doesn’t do the same workout as Andre [Miller]," K-mart says. "But that’s the beauty of it."
Melo’s Core Regimen
Swiss Ball Crunch
Lie on your back on a Swiss Ball. Hold a medicine ball in your hands and perform a regular crunch.
Reverse Crunch (ball between legs)
Lie on the ground on your back. With your knees bent and a medicine ball held between your legs, raise your knees to your chest for a reverse crunch.
Lie on your back on a Swiss ball. Hold a medicine ball with both hands and crunch up to the left, and then up to the right to work on the external obliques.
Swiss Ball Side Crunch
Lie on your back on a swiss ball. Hold a medicine ball with both hands and drop your legs off to the side of the ball. then crunch upward to work internal obliques.
Swiss Ball Reverse Hyper With Bands
Lie on your stomach on a Swiss Ball. Attach a small green rubber band around your ankles. Then, raise your legs until your legs and back form a straight line nearly parallel to the ground. with your feet off the ground, spread your legs laterally against the resistance of the band and then control your legs back together. This will work on the abduction and adduction of your hips.
Start the drill on the ground lying on your stomach. Raise your chest off the ground by placing your forearms on the ground under your body. Point your toes similar to how they would be for a pushup. Then, flexing your abs and lower back, raise your hips off the ground with only your forearms and toes on the floor. Keep your body on a flat plane from head to toes.
Right or Left Side Stabilization
Start this exercise on the ground lying on your side. Put your forearm on the ground under your shoulder to raise your upper body off the ground. Your legs should be one on top of the other. Lift your hips off the ground as far as possible with only your fore-arm and one foot on the ground. Hold the position for the prescribed amount of time keeping your abs and lower back contracted.
Melo’s Flexibility Regimen
Gently pull your head toward the left shoulder using the left hand, and then toward the right shoulder using the right hand. Do not perform any stretch front to back.
- Flexion – Lean forward and then flex to come up to an upright position
- Rotation – Move your upper body in circles
- Side-Bend – Bend at the waist and lean from side to side
Swiss Ball Superman
- Lie on your stomach on a Swiss Ball so your hands and feet are on the ground. Then raise one arm and the opposite leg and hold the position. Repeat for the opposite arm and leg.
- Lie on a your back on a Swiss Ball so your shoulder blades are on the ball and your feet are flat on the ground with a straight line from knees to shoulders. Raise your arms above your chest. Then lift one foot off the ground and extend the leg. Repeat for the opposite leg.
- Stand and rotate your torso to the left and right.
Sit on the ground with one leg extended and slightly out to the side. Place the foot of the opposite leg near the knee of the extended leg. Then reach down to the toes of the extended leg to stretch the hamstrings. Repeat for the opposite leg.
Lie on your side on the ground. Pull the foot of the top leg back toward your back-side to stretch your quads.
Lie on the ground resting on your left elbow. Put your left leg over your right and then pull the leg with your right hand. Repeat with opposite leg.
- Posterior Shoulder Stretch- pull your right arm across your chest with your left hand pulling inward at the right elbow. Repeat with opposite arm.
- Inferior Shoulder Stretch- Put your right hand behind your back and grab your left elbow and pull downward. Repeat for opposite arm.
- External Rotation- Hang your hand by your side. Then extend your hand and rotate your arm to bring your hand toward your back. Use a stick to help rotate your arm further. Repeat with the opposite arm.
Move your hand forward and back for 15 reps, and then move it around in circles in either direction for 15 reps.
Specific Swiss Ball Stretch
- Ball Circles (left and right)- Sit tall on top of a Swiss Ball with your feet flat on the ground. Using your core, move the ball around in circles to the right and then to the left.
- Ball (side to side)- Start the same way as the ball circles, but move the ball side to side instead of in circles.
- Ball (forward and back)- Start the same way as the ball circles, but move the ball forward and back instead of in circles.
Melo’s Weight Lifting Regimen
Standing Lat Pull Down (With Band Above Knees)
Start standing in front of a high pulley with a straight bar attachment. Secure a band around your legs above the knees to provide resistance as you spread your legs to keep a good base during the lift. Then, pull the straight bar down toward your chest as if performing a pull-up, except move the bar toward you, rather than moving your body toward the bar.
Swiss Ball Alternating Dumbbell Press (Med Ball Between Knees)
Lie on a swiss ball holding a medicine ball in between your knees. Then, with a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand, alternate pressing the dumbbell over head. While one arm is pressing the dumbbell, the other arm should remain extended.
Power One-Arm Row (Rapid Fire)
Start with your legs spread and knees slightly bent in an athletic stance. Bend forward at the waist and place the stabilizing arm on a Swiss Ball. With the other arm, hold a dumbbell and relax your arm so the dumbbell is hanging straight down from your body. Then, perform a one-arm row by pulling the dumbbell toward your stomach and keeping your upper arm tight to your side. Bring the dumbbell back to the starting position. Repeat this motion as fast as you can through the lift.
Iso Chest Press
Using an Iso Lateral Chest Press, extend both arms. Bring one arm toward the chest and extend, followed by the same motion with the opposite arm.
Start standing in an athletic position with a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand. Lean forward, bending at the waist until your back is nearly parallel with the floor. With your thumbs facing each other and arms extended down, raise your arms out to the side until parallel with the floor. Then, lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Start in the same position as the Reverse Fly. Turn your hands so your palms face each other, then raise your arms until they are parallel with the floor. Then, lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
Start in the same position as the Straight-Arm Raise. Raise your upper arms so they are tight and in line with your abdomen. Then, hinging at the elbow, straighten your arms so the dumbbells move toward your hips. Then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with your arms at 90 degrees.
Dumbbell Curl Press (Off Pads)
Start standing on a balance pad with dumbbell of equal weight in each hand with our palms facing each other. Then, curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders and twist your hands so your palms are facing your shoulders at the top of the curl. Next, press the dumbbells over head rotating your hands again so your palms are facing away from your body. Lower the weights to the starting position.
Power Plate Squat
Stand on a power plate with a hip-shoulder width stance. With the power plate on, lower into a parallel squat position. Perform the squat using only your body weight. Do not lock your knees at any time during the lift or let your knees move past your toes. Once you reach the parallel squat position, extend at the ankles, knees and hips back to the starting position.
Power Plate Hold
Stand on a power late and hold a parallel squat position.
Power Plate Jump
Stand on a power plate and perform a partial jump extending at the ankles, knees and hips, but not allowing your toes to leave the plate.
Single-Leg Extension (Partial Range)
Using a leg extension machine, extend your leg to 180 degrees. Then lower the weight until your leg is at an angle of roughly 110-120 degrees. Repeat for opposite leg.
Swiss Ball Single-Leg Curl
Lie on the ground on your back. Place one foot on s Swiss Ball and bridge up so only your shoulders are on the ground. Use the foot that is on the ball to roll the ball toward your backside to perform a leg curl. Then, under control, roll the ball back out to the starting position.
Calf Raises (Standing)
Start standing with a slightly narrow base and a barbell on your back, as if you were going to perform a squat. Then, using only your calves, raise onto your toes. Then lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Standing Calf Jumps
Stand with your legs perfectly straight. Then, only flexing at the ankle, jump as high as you can.
K-Mart’s Core Regimen
Reverse Hyperextension With Abduction
Lie backward on a hyperextension machine, or on your stomach on top of a large box. Your legs should be hanging off the apparatus so your body is folded in half at the waist. Then, using your lower back muscles, raise your legs until they are parallel with your upper body. Perform this drill with a band around your ankles. At the top of the extension, spread your legs and work against the resistance of the band. Bring your legs back together and lower them to the starting position.
Bent Leg Lift (med ball between legs)
Lie on the ground on your back. Bend your legs and hold a med ball between them. Then bring your legs toward your chest and perform a reverse crunch. Lower your legs down to starting position.
Plyo Med Ball Crunch
Lie on the floor on your back and hold onto a med ball with your hands. Perform a regular crunch as fast as you can, and then throw med ball up as high as you can with a chest pass.
Russian Twist (with throw)
Sit on the ground with a med ball. Your knees should be bent and feet off the ground. Twist to your right and touch the med ball to the floor. Twist back to the left and throw to a partner. Have your partner throw the ball back. Repeat same motion to the right.
Side Twist Top Bottom, Bottom Top (with med ball)
Stand holding medicine ball in both hands near your waist. Raise the medicine ball overhead to the right or left. Next, bring the medicine ball back down to the start position – the left or right leg respectively.
Swiss Ball Circles
Start in an athletic stance with our legs hip-shoulder width apart. Bend forward and place your elbows on top of a Swiss Ball. Move your elbows in circle on top of the Swiss Ball stabilizing your body with your core.
K-Mart’s Flexibility Regimen
Same as Melo’s stretches.
Hamstring Off Power Plate
Keeping your right leg straight, place the heel of your right foot on the power plate. Then, standing on your left leg with slight bend on the knee, lean forward and touch the toes of your right foot. Repeat with opposite leg.
Quadriceps Off Power Plate
Get into a lunge position with your back knee on the power plate and your front foot on the floor. Reach back and grab the foot of the leg on the power plate and pull the foot toward your backside to stretch your quad. Repeat for opposite leg.
Hip Flexor Off Power Plate
Start the same as the quad stretch but step the left foot out further. Then lean back more to get a better stretch on the hip flexor and don t pull up on the back foot.
Same as Melo’s stretches.
Specific Swiss Ball Stretches
Same as Melo’s stretches but with green band above knees.
K-Mart’s Weight Lifting Regimen
External Rotation (off pads)
Stand on a pad and hold a single arm cable attachment in your right hand. Your upper arm should be at your side and your elbow should be a 90-degree angle. Rotate your arm away from your body. Repeat for opposite arm.
Start with a barbell on the floor. Hold the bar with both hands, palms facing your body. Take a grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Your feet should be hip-shoulder width apart. Squat down so your shins touch the bar, feet are flat on the floor and shoulders directly over the bar. Keep a tight lower back and core. Rise up extending at the ankles, knees and hips. At the peak of the triple extension, bring your shoulders toward your ears and shrug the bar. Bring the bar back to starting position.
Low Cable Rows
Start standing at a low cable pulley. Use a row attachment or straight bar, and pull the bar up toward your chest keeping your upper arms near your sides. Be sure to use a wide athletic stance to keep your balance during the lift.
Single-Arm incline DB Press
Lie down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in one hand near your chest. rest your free hand near your waist. Extend the opposite leg of the hand with a dumbbell. Press the dumbbell until your arm is fully extended. Repeat for the opposite arm.
Single-Arm DB Press (off 1 leg)
Stand on one leg. Hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Press the dumbbell over head and then bring it back down to the shoulder. Control the weight and focus on keeping your balance by stabilizing your core. Repeat for the opposite arm and leg.
DB Curl -Eccentric Straight Leg – Tricep Kickback – Concentric Straight Leg Complex
Start standing and perform a dumbbell curl. Once you bring the dumbbells back to the starting postion, bend forward at the waist and drive your hips back as you lean forward to stretch the hamstrings. From the bent over positiion, pull your elbows up near your sides so your upper arms are next to your sides. Then perform a tricep kickback by extending your lower arms at the elbow until they are in line with your upper arm. Bring the weight back down and stand back up for the concentric portion of the straight leg. Then repeat the complex again for rep two.
Same as Melo’s lift, but perform off a balance pad.
Single-Leg Press (rapid fire limited range)
Place one foot on the leg press with toes slightly out. Bend your knee about 20 degrees when lowering the weight. Extend the leg to drive the weight back up. Repeat this motion as fast as possible. Repeat with opposite leg.
Seated Leg Extension
Same as Melo’s lift.
Seated Leg Curl
Perform this drill using a leg curl machine. Drive your legs toward your backside and control the weight back to the starting position.
Single-Leg Calf Raises (standing)
Stand on one leg and hold dumbbell in the opposite hand. Raise up on your toes and control yourself back down to the starting position. Then repeat for the opposite leg.
EB’s Non-Game-Day Weight Lifting Regimen
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 our 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. Drive the bar straight up off of your chest until your arms are fully extended.
Use a seated row machine or mid-pulley with a seated row attachment. With your arms straight out, place your hands about shoulder-width with your palms facing each other or pointed toward the floor, depending on design of the machine or attachment. Sitting straight up, keep your core and lower back tight and shoulder blades slightly pinched together. Pull your arms back, driving your elbows past your body. Control the weight back to the starting position.
Swiss Ball Alternating Dumbbell Press
Same as Melo’s lift.
Iso Lat Pull (with bands)
Use the Iso Lat Pull machine to perform a lat pull own. Add resistance bands to the apparatus to provide additional resistance.
Same as Melo’s, but use bands around your ankles.
Single Arm Dumbbell Curl Press
Same as Melo’s but use single-arm motion.
Swiss Ball Lying Triceps Extension
Lie on your back on a Swiss Ball with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms straight out from your chest and hold a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand. Lower the dumbbells toward your head bending your arms only at the elbow. Extend your arms back to starting position.
Front-Side-Opposite Crunch-Hyperextension Complex
Perform a front crunch, a side crunch and an opposite crunch followed by a hyperextension, one after the other. Repeat.
Foot Eversion/Inversion Complex
Wrap a green band around your foot. Then rotate your foot to the left and then to the right to work on ankle strength. Repeat for the opposite foot.
Sisko’s Game-Day Weight Lifting Regimen
Standing Lat Pull
Same as Melo’s lift, but place a med ball between your legs.
Standing Cable Pull Twist
Start standing facing a pulley set at hip level. Start with your right arm extended toward the pulley and hold on to a single arm attachment. Pull your right arm back leading with your elbow so your hand is next to the right side of your hip. Then twist to the right, rotating only your torso. Return to the starting position. Repeat for the opposite side.
Swiss Ball Dumbbell Press
Same as Melo’s lift, but don’t alternate.
Iso Chest Press
Same as Melo’s lift.
Same as Melo’s lift.
Start standing in an athletic position with a barbell across your chest. Your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width with palms facing away from your body. Quickly squat down to a quarter squat position by pushing your hips back, flexing your knees and keeping your feet flat on the floor. Drive up extending at the ankles, knees and hips; drive the bar over your head. Catch the bar overhead with a slight bend in the knees.
Dumbbell Curl, Twist, Press (off core board)
Start standing on a core board or some other type of unstable surface that requires balance. Hold a dumbbell of equal weight in each hand with your palms facing the sides of your legs. Curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders and twist your wrists during the motion so your palms face the front of your shoulders. Next, twist your torso to the right, then to the left and then return to the front position. Press the dumbbells over head, rotating your wrists out during the motion so your palms face away from you.
Triceps Pull Set Extend
Start standing near a pulley with a rope attachment. Hold the attachment with one hand and pull your elbow back next to your side, as if performing a single arm row. Then, with your elbow past your back, extend your lower arm to work the triceps. Return back to the starting position. Repeat for the opposite arm.
Drop Back Lunge
Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Then step backward into a lunge position. Make sure your front knee does not move past your toes and your back knee descends until it is 1-2 inches off the floor. Drive back to the starting position and repeat for the opposite leg.
Start standing with a barbell set across your chest and shoulders. Hold the bar with a slightly wider-than-shoulder position. Your palms should face away from your body and your elbows should be pointed forward so your upper arms are nearly parallel to the floor. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Don’t let your knees move past your toes. Drive through your heels to return to the starting position.
Same as Melo’s lift, but use bands.
Swiss Ball Leg Curl
Same as Melo’s Lift, but use both legs.
Power Plate Calf Raise
Stand on a power plate with a slight bend in the knees. Raise on your toes only using your calves to move your body up.
Romanian Dead Lift (RDL)
Hold a barbell at thigh level just above the knees. Grip the bar with a slightly wider-than-shoulder grip, palms facing your body. Push your hips back and keep your core tight and feet flat on the floor. Bending only at the waist, lower the bar down the front of your legs as far as possible. Keep your lover back and core tight throughout the lift. Return to starting position.
Front/Left/Right Medicine Ball Toss
Lie on the ground with your heels digging into the ground. Have a partner throw a medicine ball directly to you. Bring the medicine ball back behind your head, Then perform a normal crunch and throw the ball back to your partner. Then have a partner throw the ball to your right side. Catch the ball, bring it behind your head to the right, and crunch up to your left side and throw the ball back. Repeat to the left side and crunch up to the right.
Nene’s Functional Rehabilitation
Treadmill (with med ball)
Jog on treadmill holding a medicine ball with both hands. Bring the med ball from side to side to work on your arm drive.
Retro Walking (on hill)
Walk backward on treadmill set at an incline.
Makoto (with green bands)
A makoto is a machine with different colored lights that blink in various patterns. The athlete has to touch each light as it illuminates. To increase the drill’s difficulty, attach bands to your arms.
Retro Walking (with band and med ball)
Walk backward on a treadmill holding a medicine ball with both hands. Bring the ball from side to side to work on your arm drive. Hands should be attached around your waist and partner should provide manual resistance.
Lateral Bounding (with med ball and bands)
Start in an athletic position and bound off your left foot as far and high as possible to your right, landing on your right foot. Then, bound as far and as high as possible back to your left off your right foot. Perform this with a medicine ball in your hands and a band around your waist for additional resistance.
Stand near the hoop facing the backboard. Have a partner stand behind you and throw up shots for you to rebound.