The Best Exercises for Female Basketball Players

STACK Expert Bill Hogue prescribes six exercises for female basketball players who want to get bigger, stronger, faster and jump higher.

Women's Basketball
The differences between male and female basketball strength training are minimal. Both guys and gals must get bigger, stronger and faster and be able to jump higher. If they want to compete on the court, female athletes must increasingly train harder, which necessitates a well thought-out training program.

Below are sample exercises that are very effective for female athletes. On first impression, they may seem more appropriate for your male counterparts. However, worry not; all female basketball players should perform them to get better on the court.

Sets and reps for these exercises depend on your goal:

  • Size, 2-3x8-12
  • Strength, 3-5x2-6
  • Power, 3-5x2-5

Power Cleans

The Power Clean is one of the easiest and most effective Olympic lifts you can learn and perform. The exercise works the entire body, increasing the amount of power you can put into the ground—which is the key to jumping higher and running faster.

  • Starting with bar on floor, grip it slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Keeping low back tight and flat, move chest over bar and push hips back
  • Explode upward by forcefully shrugging and fully extending hips, knees and ankles
  • Pull bar up, keeping it close to chest
  • Drop under bar with bent knees, catching bar in front of shoulders with elbows forward
  • Powerfully extend at the knees and hips to upright stance
  • Lower to start position and pause for 10-15 seconds before next rep
  • Repeat for specified reps

Use a PVC pipe or broomstick to perfect your form before adding weight. Watch a video of the Power Clean.

Front Squats

The Front Squat is my recommended version of the Squat for female athletes looking to build lower-body strength. It places less stress on the back than the Back Squat, and the bar can easily be dumped forward if you sense a failed rep. You won't be able to lift as much weight, but this will not affect your results. (Learn more about the Front Squat.)

  • Assume athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Rest bar across front of shoulders with "Power Clean catch" grip
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat position until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Explode up by driving through heels and extending knees and hips to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Dumbbell Squat Press

The lower- to upper-body movement pattern of the Dumbbell Squat Press mimics a jump shot or rebound, helping you maintain technique during a 3-point shot or beat an opponent to a loose ball.

  • Assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than hip-width, holding dumbbells at shoulders with palms facing together
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat position until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Extend hips and knees to drive up out of squat position while pressing dumbbells overhead
  • Lower dumbbells to shoulders
  • Repeat for specified reps
Watch NFL RB Trent Richardson perform this exercise.

Sternum Lateral Pulldowns

Back strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of on-court performance. This exercise will help you battle opponents for the ball and fight through screens.

  • Sit on Lat Pulldown machine and grip bar overhead, slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Lean back slightly and slowly pull bar down to chest for four counts
  • Allow bar to slowly rise back to start position for three counts until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Jacob's Jumps

If you want to increase your vertical, you have to get more powerful. This exercise eliminates the countermovement of a jump (the lowering phase), forcing you to jump up as high as possible without any assistance from the stretch-shortening cycle.

  • Sit on 24-inch box so hips and knees form 90-degree angles
  • Forcefully extend hips, knees and ankles to jump onto 12-inch box positioned two to three feet in front
  • Land softly with bent knees
  • Step off box and repeat for specified reps

Wide Stance, Close-Grip RDL

This variation of the RDL puts more focus on glute strength. The more powerful this muscle group, the higher you will jump. It also works the hamstrings to help prevent injury from landing and decelerating.

  • Assume slightly-wider-than-shoulder-width stance holding bar at waist with narrow grip
  • Keeping legs slightly flexed, push hips back and bend hips to lower bar until it is two to three inches below knees
  • Keep back straight, chest up and bar close to shins
  • Forcefully extend hips to stand up
  • Squeeze glutes to complete movement
  • Repeat for specified reps

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