Basketball Fitness: What You Need to Know as a Basketball Player

Basketball Exercises


Get ready to take your game to the next level with ‘Basketball Fitness: What You Need to Know as a Basketball Player.’ In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the essential components of physical conditioning specifically tailored for basketball athletes. Whether you’re striving for peak performance on the court or aiming to enhance your overall athleticism, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and strategies to optimize your fitness regimen. From strength and agility training to injury prevention and recovery techniques, join us on a journey to unlock your full potential and dominate the game with unmatched athleticism and endurance.


5 Exercises Basketball Players Should be Using to Develop Strength


This article was written by Jake Willhoite from


Strength in basketball isn’t all about a massive body mass or ripped muscles.

In the game of basketball, the bulk of strength a player needs would come from the legs. If you’ve heard the saying “Athletes are built from the ground up,” you might catch the drift.

In essence, you need explosiveness. For most guys, this means having the bounce to posterize opponents. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Explosive strength unlocks other necessary abilities, like rebounds and blocks, quick change of direction, and speed.

If you look closely, elite defenders like Anthony Davis, or shooters like Steph Curry aren’t the strongest but are explosive on defense and when attacking the ball.

Of course, you can also throw in talent or skill into the mix. But today, I’ll show you some overlooked exercises that will make you stronger in the low post with consistency, form, and the right technique.



1. The Good Old Squat

Ever had a coach or trainer who told you squats don’t work for tall players?

Well, some trainers say tall players shouldn’t do squats because they won’t have the right range of motion. 

First, that’s not totally true. The squat exercise remains the #1 movement for basketball players to build strength, in my opinion. It is a great overall compound exercise

As long as you’re able to dip into a 90-degree angle during back squats, it’d hit the right muscles. You don’t necessarily have to bend all the way down. In fact, you shouldn’t go much deeper below the knees with heavy weights.

Besides, there are other effective variations of squats you can perform like front squats, goblet squats, or even bodyweight squats. Also, a good power rack is a necessary piece of reliable equipment to protect you from injury at failure and also help with form and technique.

Squatting increases the velocity of force, which in turn means you can jump higher, run faster, and change direction faster. This shows you aren’t only going to dominate under the bucket, but will also see results out of the paint.

Hint: Squeeze the glutes and quads on your way back up to develop extra explosiveness.



2. Romanian Deadlift

Being strong on the court isn’t about benching a ton of weight, or building biceps as big as Karl Malone’s. 

You’re not a bodybuilder.

The posterior chain is one of the essential muscle groups to train to get stronger as a player. Not only does it increase jump, speed, and pivoting, but it also prevents severe injuries like tearing your ACL.

And of the best exercises to work this group of muscles is the Romanian Deadlift. It targets the glutes, hamstrings, and adductors.

The single-leg variation builds strength and core even better. The movement increases balance, which helps during landing, edging out in post battles, and finishing strong at the rim.

Also, the single-leg Romanian deadlift with barbells corrects irregularity in strength from the left to the right leg. Many players say they leap stronger off one foot than the other, which is normal, but they should be trained to be symmetric as possible.

If done correctly, the Romanian deadlift is sure to help you build the core strength needed to dominate on the court. On a final note, it’s even more effective than the conventional deadlift



3. Chin-Ups

Yes, Chin Ups.

Most young athletes want to bench or do barbell curls, which is alright. However, the underlying reason is for the aesthetics of a buffed body and not strength training in any way.

The thing is, pulling movements are more important than pushing in basketball. The chin-up strengthens the upper back and biceps that help to clear the boards and battle in the paint.

Before you say it’s boring, understand that you need to have the right amount of relative body strength to gain massive vertical leap. And not just lifting or squatting heavy weights in the weight room or in your own home gym.

So, if you find it hard to do high reps of chin-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups, it’s almost impossible to see a significant increase to your bounce or explosiveness.

Actually, you need to build this aspect of your workout routine to really see the results of force-focused exercises like squats and deadlifts.

It’s not a coincidence that small athletes like Nate Robinson and so many more are fast, explosive, and have an off-the-chart vertical leap.



4. Dumbbell Step Ups

For guys that have a noticeable imbalance between their right and left legs, this is important.

Like the single-leg Romanian deadlift, not only does it balance strength in both legs but also your body. Plus, it’s a great plyometric exercise that would boost your one-leg vertical leap.

Also, by driving your foot into the box during step-ups, you’ll learn to generate force into the ground. This gives you a simulation of how you should plant when you go for a dunk or block. And if you are unable to get to the gym, you can use a sturdy piece of outdoor furniture like a bench to do these step-ups at home (just make sure whatever you are using is very sturdy). 

Tip: Try to keep your chest out and hold up your knee at the top for about 2-3 seconds. This is when the effect of the step-up on balance manifests.



5. Clean Pull

Last but not least, the clean pull is one of the most underutilized exercises for building explosive power. Surprisingly, it’s easy to pull off, which makes it a hidden gem.

The clean pull targets the hips, knees, and ankles in an explosive shrug movement. Its technique is easier to master than the full/power clean and still makes an impressive impact on force production. Nevertheless, you can progress to a power clean once you perfect the clean pull.

Daniel Payseur at Stack believes it’s the king of power exercises for athletes. He also explains how to perform this Olympic lift properly.



Bonus Exercise: Dumbbell Curls with Press

I’d be a bore if I didn’t at least recommend an exercise that’ll make you “feel good” while you do it.

Because, there’s no denying it, confidence gives you the boost to do more when you’re on the floor. So, while you’re training your biceps, add an overhead press into the mix. This gives you that ripped physique in your jersey by also training your shoulders.



Wrap Up

These strength exercises can help you dominate in (and out of) the paint with perfect technique and hard work.

It is also critical that you are supplying your body with the needed nutrients to grow as well. After executing these different exercises, make sure that you are fueling your muscles with the needed supplements and diet. This will make sure that you are seeing maximum results in your strength development. 

Another critical key to success in the weight room is consistency and setting realistic and achievable goals. So along with locking in on these different exercises, make sure that you come up with a game plan and have a workout planner to execute them regularly, and then give yourself a goal to shoot for.

One last thing, you should also learn proper footwork to utilize your newly built strength to its fullest potential.



Basketball Performance: 15 Health Laws You Need to Embrace Now!


This article is written by Rusty Gregory of Forte Fitness. Rusty has been an Austin personal trainer for 25 years after earning his Master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Michigan. Rusty also serves as a highly valued consultant to Austin basketball trainer (and Basketball HQ co-owner) Chris Corbett.  He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and a Certified Wellness Coach.  Rusty is also the author of the following books: Self-Care Reform & Living Wheat-Free For Dummies.



Many people believe that to be the best basketball player, you can be is as simple as mastering the skills of the game. Although this is true, to a point, there is so much more to becoming your best.

Always question what you could be doing to improve and seek out experts to help you find your groove to develop that edge you are seeking. Ask yourself, “What is going to separate me from the pack?” and “What can I do right now, on and off the court, to get better?” can help you define your plan of action.

Other factors ultimately influence how successful you will become on the basketball court. These factors, or lifestyle behaviors, consider your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and will determine how far you progress. Attention to each lifestyle behavior can separate the greats from everyone else. So how bad do you want it?

The perceived healthiness of certain lifestyle behaviors will strongly influence the decision to participate in other lifestyle behaviors of equal magnitude. For example, if you are committed to a regular exercise program, you are more likely to have a healthy diet. Lifestyle behaviors work synergistically to produce a greater level of health. The same is true as they relate to your game.


Combine these lifestyle practices with your basketball training to catapult your game to a whole new level and give you that slight edge you need to become your best. Any of these not optimized will reflect potential not realized.


1. Ditch the Processed Foods from Your Diet (Sugar, All Grains, and Vegetable Oils)

When you remove these foods from your diet, your energy level, health, and how you feel will improve dramatically. Expect to see an increase in your recovery time, explosiveness, and quickness when you add nutrient-dense real food, such as pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed beef, organic green, yellow and red vegetables, and dark chocolate with 85%+ cacao to your diet.

Not only will your health benefit from these changes, but your fans will appreciate it as well. A great way to help with this would be with a healthy meal kit delivery that can make sure you are getting the nutrition you need to perform your best.


2. Moving during the Day Matters… Even for Basketball Players

This probably goes without being said, but I’m going to say it anyway, “Get up and move.” Even though you are playing basketball an hour or two a day, sitting the rest of the day can have dire consequences, especially as you age. Movement helps rev up your metabolism, prevents developing poor posture due to sitting, and speeds recovery after a tough basketball workout at the gym.


3. Practice Stress Management For Your Game and Life

The pressure to perform your best on the court and in the classroom and keep parents, administrators, and alums happy tends to send your stress level into orbit. This will affect your level of play on the court, both physically and mentally, and your health over time. Try these stress relievers to stay calm when demands mount:

  • Take a hot bath and add Epsom salts
  • Schedule a massage
  • Practice deep breathing exercises
  • Meditate
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Listen to calming music
  • Plan a relaxing vacation
  • Exercise


4. Get Enough Sleep / Rest to Recover From Basketball Training

Sleep is not optional when performing at your optimal level on the court or studying for the big exam. If you are using an alarm clock to rise in the morning, you will probably not meet your body’s sleep needs. Studies show the majority of us need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. A sleep deficit can cause an inability to focus and concentrate and keep you from performing at your highest level on the court.

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. So, turn off all lights, computers, televisions, and cell phones to maximize your sleep. Also, overtraining, not fully recovering from your workouts can lead to injury, excessive fatigue, poor performance, depression, and lack of focus.

5. Take These Supplements To Optimize Basketball Performance

The greatest diet in the world may be lacking important elements for optimal performance. The following supplements are essential to having your body perform its best and separating yourself from your competition.

  • Magnesium helps lower blood pressure, regulates blood glucose levels, and increases blood flow.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. This helps to prevent many diseases where inflammation is the underlining cause.
  • Cod liver oil is anti-inflammatory and improves heart efficiency. This potent trio of vitamins A, D, and K2 creates greater energy on the court.
  • Probiotics increase your gut’s good bacteria and helps your body perform at its best. Delicious probiotic fermented drinks/foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.


6. Add Fermented Foods to Your Basketball Diet

Consuming fermented foods will improve your gut health and strengthen your immune system by increasing the number of healthy bacteria in your gut. Not only will you feel less bloated and gassy, but you will also reduce your risk of developing an autoimmune disease or chronic illness. Sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha are all good examples of fermented foods. A healthy immune system should never be underestimated. Staying healthy during cold and flu season is crucial to your team’s success.


7. Eat Healthy Fat To Fuel Basketball Energy and Brain Function

Healthy dietary fats control various hormonal functions, transfer vitamins A, D, E and K and assist in strong nerve, cell, and brain functioning. This translates into a higher level of performance due to overall improved efficiency. Make hormones work for you on the court by eating healthy fats (saturated, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.), not against you with unhealthy fats (trans fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, etc.). Some foods that contain healthy fats are avocados, wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel.


8. Give Your Relationships the Attention They Deserve – On and Off the Court

Relationship issues with your girlfriend/boyfriend, teammate, roommate, or family member can not only create depression, anxiety, and psychological distress, but it can also weaken your health and ruin your game. Who wants any of that when basketball requires tremendous focus, attention, and optimal health to be at your very best? Relationship skills such as an attitude of service, expressing gratitude, and laughing together can go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships.


9. Be Mindful – Play & Live Present

Take your game to the highest level possible by becoming more mindful, non-judgmental, and having an in-the-moment approach to the game. This practice creates an attention to detail that increases appreciation and love for the game. Phil Jackson, former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach, taught this discipline to his players. Mindfulness can also improve and maintain a positive outlook, attitude, and confidence that are crucial in the game of basketball.


10. Make Time for Your Daily Spiritual Practice

Do your game and your life a huge favor, and attend to your spiritual life. Having your spiritual life in check will enable you to handle the adversities of life better. When a sense of meaning and purpose is realized, hope and optimism flourish, leading to a more positive outlook on life. This outlook will enrich your entire life, even on the hardwood.


11. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can not only have a devastating effect on your in-game energy level but your health as well. Staying on top of your water intake is not just important; it’s essential. If you reach the point of thirst, you are slightly dehydrated. Stave off the desire for water by drinking it throughout the day and also by potentially considering an electrolyte powder to even better help with hydration.


12. Supplement Your Basketball Training

Enhancing your game with cross-training exercises is not only a good idea; it is of the utmost importance. When you cross-train basketball energy systems, train functional movements, and strength train large muscle groups, you improve your power, strength, and explosiveness. This will prevent muscular imbalances, not to mention reduce your risk of injury. Be careful not to overdo it. Too much ballistic training, jumping, and other plyometric work without enough rest will lead to injury. A stretching program can also go a long way in keeping you out of the trainer’s office and on the court.


13. Keep Your Vitamin D Level Up 

Eating foods rich in vitamin D (wild-caught salmon, cod liver oil, and swordfish), taking vitamin D3 supplements, and getting enough sunlight is essential to reaching optimal health. With a heavy dose of school and basketball practice dominating your schedule, sunlight can become a real challenge to obtain. Vitamin D from sunlight strengthens your immune system, warding off various diseases, and helps reduce the risk of depression.


14. Check Your Inflammatory Markers – Critical For Basketball Players

Chronic, low-grade inflammation is a recipe for disaster to a basketball player’s career. Inflammation begins in fat cells and “grows” as fat increases. This is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes. Eating non-inflammatory foods, maintaining healthy gut flora, and staying infection-free will go a long way in keeping inflammation down. Have these markers checked regularly to ascertain your inflammation level.

  • Elevated High-Sensitivity c-Reactive Protein (HS-CRP)
  • Elevated Blood Glucose
  • High Homocysteine Levels (an amino acid used by the body to make proteins)
  • Elevated Ferritin (a protein that stores iron)


15. Eat Your Veggies To Sustain Performance Levels

A diet rich in vegetables creates a sustainable energy level essential for competing at the highest basketball level. Carbohydrates from vegetables are slowly released into the bloodstream due to the presence of fiber. This slow entry produces an extended energy effect. Easily digestible carbohydrates from sugary, processed junk food quickly raise blood sugar and insulin, causing a sugar crash and a plummet in energy levels.

Vegetables also provide many health benefits, such as:

  • Help reduce heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia, stroke, and arthritis;
  • Help reduce bloating in healthy guts (healthy gut bacteria), not in unhealthy ones; and
  • Reduce the risk of premature death of any cause.


Have any of you embraced some of these health laws and seen a positive impact on your basketball performance? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.  Should you find value in this article, I want to thank all of you who take the time to share this article with your family, team, and colleagues.  Visit me at or on Facebook.


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Note: The content in this article should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs. may receive some small Amazon affiliate commission for sharing my book at no extra cost to you.  



More than Conditioning – An Open Letter to Basketball Players


This article was written by Basketball HQ co-founder Kyle Ohman.


Dear Current Basketball Players,

Looking back at my playing career in high school, college, and professionally I can pretty easily link most of the worst times in practice around the simple phrase, “everyone on the line.” Every basketball player knows exactly what that means, and almost immediately, the tone in practice shifts to, “well, let’s just get this over with.”

If you are in shape, it is really more of an inconvenience than anything, and if you aren’t in shape… well, let’s just say it is not going to be a fun rest of practice. This is pretty much the mindset that I had during my entire playing career.

It wasn’t until I became a basketball coach myself that I fully grasped what was happening all those times we lined up in practice to run. We weren’t just working on our conditioning, being punished, and so on. Yes, these were an underlying part of it sometimes, but they were not the primary purpose.

If you think about it, you run up and down throughout basically the entire practice. If a coach wants to, they can easily work in enough conditioning during different basketball drills that you wouldn’t need to line up and run. So what gives?

When a coach tells you to line up at the end of practice or you are scheduled to do some conditioning, it is more than just running; it is really about developing your mental toughness on an individual level and as a team. Coaches want to put you in situations that push and challenge you to get out of your comfort zone.

They want to see if you have what it takes or if you are going to drop your head and shut down. They want to know if you will isolate yourself and just get through it, or if you are going to help pick up and encourage a struggling teammate.

It is tough to simulate game-like stress and pressure, but a great way to come close to this is high-stress conditioning situations that force players to give everything they have individually and work together to get it done.

So next time your coach yells, “line up,” or you have already been running for what seems like forever, be the player that; is picking everyone else up, is bringing energy, doesn’t miss a line, can execute, and is a leader that brings everyone else with them.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it is “just” conditioning.


Sincerely, Kyle Ohman


Basketball Strength Training for Beginners


Great basketball players dedicate time to improving their skills and athleticism. A great way to take your game to the next level is by adding strength training to your workout regimen. Basketball strength training will help you become faster, jump higher, be more explosive, etc.

Along with those things, it will also help stabilize your muscles and help to prevent injuries to your body. Whether you are a beginner or you have used strength training in the past and are looking for a refresher, these strength training tips for beginners will take you to improve your game.


Rules for Basketball Strength Training


More Hip Dominant exercises vs. Knee Dominate Exercises (Hamstring vs. quad)

  • Knee pain and many lower-body injuries are correlated with excessively strong quads and weak hamstrings. Eliminate risk by including more hip dominant exercises vs. knee dominant exercises. I suggest a 3:2 ratio.


More Pulls vs. Push exercise (Back vs. chest)

  • Most athletes overuse pushing exercises such as bench press, push-ups, chest flys, and shoulder press vs. pull exercises such as back and lat exercises, etc. This will lead to shoulder imbalances, which can lead to shoulder pain and injuries.


Start Slowly

  • Slowly progress your exercises from bodyweight to weighted exercises. Perform each motion slowly until it is mastered. Master the basics, then progress to more advanced movements.


General Notes

  • Basketball-related Training instead of Bodybuilding Training. Bodybuilding goals are to increase muscle mass for looks, while basketball-specific training aims to increase movement efficiency for the sport.
  • Train at least 2 days per week.
  • Alternate movement patterns (body parts) to prevent overtraining. Do not train the same movements on back to back days.
  • Be willing to mix it up. Staying engaged and challenged in your workouts is going to be critical. So be willing to try out different exercises or substitute a dumbbell exercise for a kettlebell exercise. The more you can keep things fresh and challenging, the more your body will be pushed.

Developing a Basketball Workout Plan

Developing a proper strength training regimen requires understanding the 3 phases of strength training: before, during, and after Training.



“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”  –Colin Powell

Preparation will allow you to focus and not waste time during the training. Use these tips to prepare for your workout.

  • Focus: What is your goal for the workout? Consider what you wish to focus on. This may include strength, mobility, or power. Never go into a workout without a focus. The same way you would select different basketball drills for an on-court workout is how you need to plan out your workout in the weight room.
  • Plan your workout: Do not walk into your training area without a written plan. This will allow you to change your workout based on how you feel that day. You want to stay focused on your ultimate goal and not how you feel at the moment. Have you ever walked into your training facility, and your motivation was not as high? Without a plan, it is easy for you to change your workout to make it easier.



“Winners are those people who make a habit of doing the things losers are uncomfortable doing.”  –Ed Foreman

  • Walk into your training area mentally prepared. Mental preparation includes:
  • Eliminate all outside distractions.
  • Know your daily focus and long term goals
  • Imagine what type of team/player you want.

Organize your workout space

  • If you can pre-organize your training area, do so. Hooking up your cords and organizing your weights will allow for efficient transitions from one exercise to another.

Quick access to water

  • Dehydration limits your performance on the court and while training. Make sure you have access to water.



Post Recovery Meal

  • Your goal is to ingest protein within 20-30 minutes of the end of your workout. This will allow your body to recover and build muscle.

Muscle Recovery

  • Use tennis balls and foam rollers to mimic a massage; this will relax you and decrease stiffness.

Sleep Well

  • Your body recovers while sleeping. To optimize recovery, get quality, and consistent sleep. A lack of sleep will limit your muscle, strength, and performance gains while lowering your immune system.

For more Strength training tips, check out Coach Campbell at and sign up for his newsletter.



The Importance of Stretching in Basketball



Basketball players today, especially younger players, do not take advantage of stretching as much as they should. Some athletes are willing to spend hours in the gym and weight room training to be stronger, faster, and more athletic, but they neglect the importance of stretching.

When you don’t stretch, you risk injury, and you are limiting your athletic potential. It is important to realize that you will jump higher, run faster, and be more explosive by simply stretching.



Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching

There are two types of stretching that you can do. The first is called dynamic stretching, and you use this before you are going to work out. Dynamic stretching requires you to move while you are stretching.

The second is called static stretching, and this is when you hold a specific stretch for 20-30 seconds. Both are important, but I want to talk about the importance of static stretching.



Personal Experience

As a basketball player myself, I never really stretched besides what we did as a team before practice, or if I was going to go for a jog or something. I didn’t start taking stretching seriously till I was a sophomore in college, and now I try to stretch for at least 15 minutes a day. Stretching has made me more athletic than I have ever been in my life.

I could always dunk pretty well, but once I started stretching regularly, my vertical went way up, as well as my speed and explosiveness. The athletic gains are from basketball exercises and training, but I wouldn’t be where I am now without stretching.

For only putting in around 15 minutes of stretching a day, the pay-offs are pretty big. The results will not be the same for everyone, but it won’t hurt anyone, and there are other benefits of stretching as well.



How Does Stretching Work?

Stretching allows you to jump higher and be more explosive because it opens up your hips, allowing you to jump and run from a more natural stance. Think of a coiled spring; the farther you push that spring down, the higher it will bounce once you release it.

Opening up your hips and leg muscles allows you to load and then be more explosive. Another big part of the game that stretching helps is your change of direction speed. If your core and hips are tight, you will not be able to plant and change directions as quickly.



Stretching for Recovery

If you workout at a high level daily, stretching is a must. Stretching will allow you to put more hours in the gym because it helps prevent soreness and helps your muscle recovery. If you want to continually push your body, you need to put the time into taking care of it.



Using Stretching to Minimize Injury Risk

Besides helping prevent tightness, stretching helps prevent injuries, especially when your muscles begin to get fatigued. Injuries can put players out for days, weeks, months, and even years, and all though stretching is not guaranteed to prevent injury, it will help protect your muscles.



The Importance of Stretching in Basketball Conclusion

After seeing all the benefits of stretching, I think it is safe to say that stretching is important. Don’t spend hours in the gym and then not be willing to put 10-15 minutes into stretching. I recommend that you at least stretch before and after a workout, and then again sometime during the day for about 10-15 minutes.

You can do even do your stretching while you are watching your favorite TV show if you want. If you talk to any of the pros that are serious about their bodies, they will tell you how important stretching is. So make yourself a better basketball player and commit to stretching every day.





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