Today we’re talking about strength training for basketball. It’s important to focus on aspects of training such as power and hypertrophy in this dynamic and fast-moving sport. This workout will be especially helpful for those starting the off-season (your most important months of season). Any elite athlete knows that their competitive season is made during a strong off-season.
As we progress through the off-season, we’ll start adding in a bit more power. For now, the first few days are strictly upper and lower body splits. Depending on what each athlete needs, we can play around with the repetitions a bit to start applying the right adaptations.
Best Strength Training Exercises For Basketball
A lot of athletes have come to me asking about the best strength training for basketball or how often should basketball players do strength training? Most of the strength training you do for this sport should revolve around enhancing your agility, quick transition, and change of direction. That’s why this workout starts out with a few running drills before getting into absolute strength training.
Much of this will vary depending on a couple factors:
- Your age
- Skill level
- Level of play
- Desired adaptation
One aspect however isn’t negotiable… it’s essential to start each off season with foundations and build of your training as you go. You can find this in the workout for basketball players below.
In the workout I’ll share a few of my favorite strength training exercises with rep ranges for the beginning of off season. I’ll also be linking a workout session for later in the season when your focus should shift from power and hypertrophy to agility and strength.
Strength Training for Basketball (early offseason)
Every solid strength training session starts with a dynamic warm-up. Follow along here.
1.Lateral short shuffle: Set up three cones about with about 5ft in between each. Begin in an athletic stance with your feet right underneath your hips and your side facing the two cones and prepared to move laterally. With quick feet you’ll shuffle laterally all the way from cone one to cone 3, then start moving laterally back in the other direction until you hit the middle cone. Keep the feet moving the entire time.
Perform 3 rounds of 3 reps in each direction. This drill helps you work on defensive foot work and guarding technique.
2. Band resisted lateral shuffle: Keeping the same set-up as the last drill, you’ll now use a band to add a bit of resistance. Using a longer band that you can loop around your waist, have a partner or coach stand at the first cone holding onto the other end of the band. Go through the same exact footwork as before, now just fighting the resistance.
Perform 3 rounds of 3 reps in each direction.
1A. 2-Point Start: The two-point start is one of the most straight-forward speed drills you can use for any sport. It mimics the takeoff position most athletes will find themself in from a staggered position. To set up, begin with your dominant foot in front and the other foot just slightly behind you up on the toes as if you’ve got a little kickstand. The hips should be pushed back so you’re ready to drive forward with the head down and shoulders in front. As soon as you take off start swinging the arms from cheek to cheek to create momentum.
Perform 5 rounds of 1, hard run for about 10yards. This drill teaches you to get out hard. In a game like basketball, every second counts so you’ve got to hit it from the first step if you want to beat the other guy to net.
1B. Wall Sprint: Stand in front of a wall with your hands outstretched in front. Take big step back from the wall and then fall forward till your hands are supporting you. Your whole body should now be at an angle where the chest is leaning forward and hips are back. Keeping your head down, start to sprint in place at the wall. Focus on really driving the knee up to hip height and creating strong angles through the hips and knees. Practice your most efficient spring form.
Perform 5 rounds of 10 repetitions on each leg for a total of 20. You can even superset this with the previous drill so that you go one 2-point start, then go to the wall for a wall sprint.
3. Arc Running: Focus on maintaining the same technique from the previous two drills. Really work on getting your feet up and off the floor as quickly as possible so that you’re “stepping over the ankle.” Using about 2-3 cones spaced out about 5-6ft each, create an “arc” on the floor. Start at the first cone just as you did before in your 2-point start and get out quick. As you start your run, think about hugging the cones and staying tight to the arc to limit the amount of wasted run time. Lean your head and shoulder into the turn to stay as smooth as possible.
Perform about 3 rounds of 1 arc run going in each direction. This drill is awesome for basketball players who often have to run their way around defensemen on the 3-point line for a better shot. The tighter you stay to that curve, the less energy wasted and the faster you get to your destination.
Here’s a full week-long workout plan for basketball players.
1A.Trap Bar Deadlift: To perform the trap bar deadlift, set yourself up to stand within the hex bar. Feet should be underneath the hips with toes pointing forward. From standing, push your hips back slightly into a hinge so the butt sits behind the ribcage. Lower down through bending the knees until you can reach the handles. Get really solid at the bottom of the movement and drive your feet into the ground to stand.
When strength training for basketball, focus on fewer reps but heavier weight. Think about performing 5 sets of 3 reps. I love the trap bar deadlift for developing great lower body strength and improving vertical jump power.
1B. Bulgarian Split Squats: Set up a bench and grab a set of heavy dumbbells. Find the right spacing for your front and back foot, with the back foot on the bench (toes tucked or on top of the foot is fine). Set your dumbbells on the ground and bring your front foot in-between until the space is right. Drive your whole front foot into the floor and slightly hinge at the waist as you come to standing. Roll the shoulders down the back and keep the chest open.
Split squats are a tough exercise that tests your lower body strength and power. Go for 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each leg.
2A. Nordic Hamstring Curl: With a partner, come down to kneeling on a pad with the person behind you to hold onto your ankles. Push the hips forward so that your whole torso remains flat. Lean forward as far as you can feeling a stretch in the hamstrings and then using your strength return to upright.
Perform 3 rounds of 10 reps.
2B. Ab-Wheel Rollout: I always love to finish any of my basketball conditioning programs with some core work. Get into a kneeling position with an ab-wheel in hand. The body positioning is very similar to that of the previous nordic hamstring curl where the torso should remain upright as you lean forward. This time the arms will be out overhead. Keep a slight arch through the upper back as if you’re “pushing the ground away” through the furthest part of the movement.
Perform 3 rounds of 10 reps as a superset with the previous strength drill.
You can watch the full workout session with a few of my NBA players HERE:
If you’re looking for a full basketball program to train during the upcoming off-season, be sure to check out my Built 2 Ball program designed to help you improve your bounce, agility, and overall explosiveness.