Having optimal strength is important if you want to reach your potential on the basketball court. But it isn’t about getting ripped with bulky arms and washboard abs. The majority of muscles you should focus on are in the legs, as they will help improve speed, explosiveness and mobility. This in turn directly helps the most important aspects of basketball – rebounding, shooting, running, and defence.
For a fully immersive jumping program, view our Dunk Man Jump Program.
1. Step Ups with Dumbbells
One of the best ways to increase strength is by dumbbell step ups. This exercise is exactly how it sounds. Carrying a dumbbell in each hand, step onto a box of a fixed height, using one foot. The other foot can balance, or you can also put it down on the box. Be sure to keep your back straight. Then step backwards onto the ground. Repeat multiple times.
The step-ups will teach your body how to generate force from your legs and simulate the movement of going for a block or rebound. It is a fantastic plyometric exercise that also helps balance.
2. Romanian Deadlift
Lifting heavy weights isn’t the key to good basketball strength. But targeting specific muscle groups at lower weights is very beneficial. The Romanian Deadlift targets the hamstrings, glutes and adductors, which will help improve your speed, jumping ability and pivoting.
Start by standing upright, holding your bar/weights in your hands with your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your back straight, slowly lower the weight by slightly bending your knees. Continue to lower the bar until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings, then move your hips forward and use your hamstrings to power back up to the standing position.
Again, ensure the weight isn’t too heavy to avoid causing injury to your muscles. You should also avoid doing this exercise on back-to-back days so you don’t put excessive stress on them.
Chinups not only improve your back strength and arm strength but helps increase your metabolism. While many people find them boring, they are very easy to do, and focus on strength training as opposed to body building.
If you can do high reps of chin-ups, you are going to minimise the chance of the opposition pushing you around on the court and maximise the chance of you grabbing that contested rebound.
Learn more about how to do chin-ups here.
4. Lateral lunge
This exercise is great for opening up the muscles of the hips and groin. It involves slowly moving side to side in a way that mimics the defensive shuffling motion. Hence it is great for defense, but also mobility.
Start in the standing position, then step to the left, ensuring your toes are still pointed straight ahead. Squat on your left leg, keeping the right leg straight. Keep as low as possible, hold for 2 seconds, then return to the standing position. Repeat 10 times then switch to the other side of your body.
The above exercises are all easy to do and require only free weights, or even just yourself. Get into a regular routine and you will soon see the benefits out on the court!