Principles of Basketball Strength Training



How to effectively utilize strength training to improve your basketball performance!

What does your strength training program look like? Are your exercises mostly squats, presses, pulldowns, curls, and machine-based? If your weight training consists of the most basic exercises then you are not training to optimally boost your basketball performance levels. Sure, you may be improving your strength, but strength gains alone are not the best you can do in the weight room. The basic exercises mentioned above will develop your strength but do they improve your speed, quickness, balance and power? The simple answer is — NO!

Now, before you jump to any conclusions; yes, those are good exercises, they are necessary exercises, and I do include them in my strength training programs. However, they are not the only exercises and they are certainly not the ‘staples’ of my programs. If you want to improve your athleticism in order to become a better basketball player, then you need to be more specific to basketball in your strength training. When your workout program consists of many basketball-similar movements, your performance levels will see the most improvements.

I like to use a couple of examples to help explain what I am talking about. First, let’s take a look at squats as compared to explosive exercises. Squats are first and foremost a strength exercise. Squats will greatly develop and improve overall leg strength, but they don’t do much for speed and power. The action of performing a squat is generally moving a heavy weight up and down slowly. How often during a basketball game do you squat slowly up and down? Probably never!

Explosive lifting exercises have been proven to develop muscular speed, power and quickness. However, explosive exercises do not enhance overall strength. Explosive lifts are designed to increase your explosiveness. How often during a basketball game do you utilize explosive movements? Too often to mention!

Again, I am not against squats and other ‘strength’ exercises. I am against not including explosive lifts and other various basketball-similar exercises in your strength training program.

To discuss this further, let’s look at my second example. Remember the exercises I mentioned at the beginning of this article? The exercises such as squats, presses, pulldowns, biceps curls, leg extensions, leg curls, and machine-based exercises will help to develop your overall strength. There are an abundance of exercises that work to do one thing — improve strength. These exercises, however, will not make you a better basketball player. You may become stronger but your basketball performance levels will not be improved.

For example, curls do absolutely nothing to help you on the basketball court. They may give you a nice ‘peak’ to your biceps and help you look pretty on the beach, but that’s about it. Leg curls will improve the strength of your hamstring from a face-down position…that won’t be of much benefit on the basketball court.

Again, if you are strength training for basketball, you are probably doing so to improve your athletic abilities on the basketball court. If you want to be a better athlete, then you need to train to be a better athlete. Exercises and movements that most resemble basketball movements will more greatly improve basketball performance. If you just want added strength, tone, and muscle definition then continue to train with the same old basic exercises that will give you added strength. If you want to be a better basketball player it is imperative to train properly. If you are already motivated enough to incorporate strength training into your overall basketball workout program, then why not obtain the most benefit!

Use strength training to improve not only strength, but also power, explosiveness, speed, and quickness. Get an edge over your opponents by being a more powerful, explosive and quicker basketball player!

If you are interested in learning more about how to improve your athleticism to help boost your on-court basketball abilities, check out my book and year-round training program, “The Complete Basketball Strength and Speed Program“.