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Top Basketball Exercises
So you're just looking for the top basketball exercises? You've come to the right place! There are other exercises for basketball on basketball-tips-and-training.com, but these are the top ones.
You should be doing exercises for all aspects of the game, but I've broken up these top basketball exercises into three sections.
- Top Endurance Exercises for Basketball
- Top Strength Exercises for Basketball
- Top Vertical Exercises for Basketball
I'll get to the point since you've come to this page looking for only the best basketball exercises to add to your training...
Top Basketball Exercises for Endurance
- Full-court Basketball (4-4 or 5-5)
- Suicide Drills
- Defensive Figure 8
- Interval Training
I know, it's not really basketball "training," well, it is, but not really a basketball exercise. However, what better way to build up your endurance for basketball than to play full speed, full-court basketball in which you are simulating the real deal. There aren't many other activities like basketball in which you are constantly sprinting, changing directions, and jumping a lot.
This being said, playing pick-up games won't help your endurance as much if you don't go at full game speed, so make sure you treat the pick-up game, even if it's only 4 on 4, as if it were the real thing. You've heard it before, practice at game speed!
Suicide drills have to be one of the best, if not the best basketball exercises for endurance. This is because they simulate the actions of the game with numerous change of direction sprints. I hated them in middle school and high school, but usually if you don't enjoy an exercise, it means it's working!
How to perform the suicide drill:
- Start on the baseline, facing the other end of the court.
- Sprint to the free throw line, touch it, and sprint back to the starting baseline.
- Touch the baseline, sprint to the half-court line, touch it, and sprint back.
- Touch the baseline, sprint to the opposite free throw line, touch it, and sprint back.
- Touch the baseline, sprint to the opposite baseline, touch it, and sprint back.
- Cross the baseline at full speed as if finishing a race.
This completes one "suicide". Sound like fun, right?!
Defensive Figure 8
As the suicide simulates game actions, so does this defensive basketball exercise. This time, though, you're going to be incorporating lateral defensive movements as well.
To perform the Defensive Figure 8:
Start at one baseline lined up at the right sideline.
- Sprint to the half court line.
- Defensive Slide (left) across the half court line to the left sideline.
- Sprint down to the far baseline.
- Defensive Slide (right) across the baseline to the right sideline.
- Now back peddle to the half court line
- Defensive Slide (left) across the half court line to the left sideline.
- Back peddle again now to the baseline you began on.
- Right defensive slide along the baseline to where you originally began, completing one figure eight.
The reason I've included interval training as one of the top exercises for basketball endurance is because the other top exercises require the use of a court. I'm aware, though, that sometimes you can't always get onto a court. You can, however, do interval training on another field or with training equipment at the gym.
The basic premise of interval training is that you are going to combine sprints and "jogging" in intervals, hence the term interval training. It's a way to run for a long distance without losing the benefits (and running style) of sprinting. Long distance running and sprinting, such as is done in basketball, are completely different kinds of endurance, so don't overly use long distance running, and try to make it interval training instead.
If you're on a field or track, interval training is done by sprinting for a certain distance or time, say 10 yards, then "resting" by jogging a specific distance or time before sprinting again.
If on a machine such as a treadmill or eliptical trainer, then use the "interval" cycle. Go at full speed, sprinting on the balls of your feet for the low resistance portion, then "rest" on the higher ones.
Top Strength Training Exercises for Basketball
Basketball strength is very important, it will help you play defense, rebound, and go up strong in close to the basket. So here's some strength training for basketball:
Here are the top exercises for basketball strength:
- Military Presses
- Bench Presses
Lunges are one of the best overall exercises for basketball, and overall athleticism, for that matter. Why? Because they work numerous muscles in your lower body, some core muscles, and also burns more calories than other exercises. I list them before squats because you are forced to use only one leg in lunges, so your weaker leg isn't compensated for by your stronger leg. Because of this, lunges are slightly more effective basketball exercises than squats.
Similar to squats, though, the great thing is that if you don't have any weights, it's also an effective exercise using only your body weight. For strength purposes, though, use weights whenever possible.
The primary muscles worked by the lunge are the quadriceps (front of the upper leg), hamstrings (backs of the legs), hip flexors, and calves. Core and glutius maximus (buttock) muscles are also worked to a lesser extent.
To perform lunges (preferably with dumbbell weights):
- Begin standing straight up, feet shoulder width apart, toes and head facing forward.
- Step forward with your right foot, far enough so that when you lower yourself your knee does not go past your foot
- Lower yourself straight down, bending at the right knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
Also bend your left knee to help lower yourself, but don't let it touch the ground. Also keep your left foot planted, but shift the weight to your toes to help you balance.
- Now there are 2 different things you can do here, depending on space and your preferences.
- Return to the starting position by bringing your right foot back and straightening yourself up again.
- Move into a left leg forward lunge by stepping past your right foot with your left foot into the same steps as above.
Remember to keep your back straight and head forward at all times, and balance yourself. Use your core muscles to help stabilize yourself.
Squats are also great overall basketball exercises. They are similar to the first of the top basketball exercises for strength, the lunge, in that they work virtually all of your lower body muscles as well as some core muscles. The advantage here is that you can add more weight for strength, but be careful as you don't want to get too bulky. Another advantage to squats is that they are still extremely effective if even using just your body weight, but you can also use dumbbells or a straight bar for added weight.
Squats work the primary muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutious maximus. They also work the calves and core to a lesser extent.
To perform a squat:
- Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart, toes and head facing forward. Your toes should be pointing out about 30 degrees, however. This helps to not allow your knees to point inward when performing a squat.
- If using a straight bar, make sure to use a squat rack. Otherwise, you can use your own body weight or hold dumbbells at your side.
- Keeping your core stablized and back straight, lower your body down.
The main focus here should be Hips Back, think about sitting down on a toilet.
Lower yourself down by also flexing the hips and bending your knees. You should go down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Like the lunge, your knees should not go past your toes, just over them.
- Now raise yourself up. Now extend your hips, knees, and legs up until your legs are straight again. Don't buckle the knees.
When using the Squat as one of the top exercises for basketball, a somewhat slow and always controlled movement should be used in both th upward movement and the downward movement of the lift.
Pull-ups are one of the best overall exercises for anybody, so they are one of the top basketball exercises as well. Pull-ups involve numerous muscles (13), but mainly the latissimus dorsi (large muscle on the trunk starting at about the armpit and running down to the lower back at the center). Because these work such a complex group of muscles (that are commonly underworked), this is great strength training for basketball.
To perform a pull-up:
- Use an overhand grip on a pull-up bar, stick out your chest and arch your upper back by trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Relax your grip and pull down the shoulder blades
- Pull yourself up (leading with your elbows) until your chin is above the bar/your hands.
If you are unable to perform a pull-up, the only good "substitute" is assisted pull-ups. Many gyms now have pull-up assist machines that you can use, or have a friend push you up from the legs/feet until you can complete a pull-up yourself. There is no other substitute!
The military press is one of the best upper-body exercises for basketball since it somewhat simulates bringing the ball up strong in traffic, therefore making you stronger in traffic.
The primary muscle worked is the deltiod (main shoulder muscle).
To perform the military press:
- Sit on a bench with your back straight and core stabilized.
- Using dumbbells in each hand, hold them just above your shoulders, palms facing forward
- Extend your arms straight upward above your head, fully extending your arms, but not locking the elbows.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Make sure to be controlled and avoid your head on the way down.
As with every other one of the top basketball exercises for strength, the bench press is one of the best because it incorporates numerous muscles.
The primary muscles worked are the pectorals, with the triceps and deltoids also being used (as well as a few other muscles).
I prefer the dumbbell press as opposed to the barbell press as individual weights take out the stronger side assistance factor.
To perform the bench press:
- Lay with your back down on a bench, feet flat on the floor.
- With dumbbells, start with them shoulder width apart, palms facing up, at chest level.
With a barbell, position yourself under the rack so that the bar is above your chest, not above your head or neck.
Grip the bar at shoulder width with palms facing up and lift the weight off of the rack and lower it to your chest
- Lift or "press" the weight straight up in the air, extending your arms and nearly locking the elbows.
- Lower the weight to chest level.
This should be a controlled movement in both the upward and downward motions. Also make sure to breath while performing this (and any other) exercise.
A good alternative to the bench press if you don't have access to a gym or bench is the push up. It's also a good exercise to work yourself up to bench presses if you're younger or need to strengthen the required muscles to add weight.
Push ups work the same muscles, using your own body weight, so they're a great home fitness exercise.
To perform a push up:
- Lay face down on the floor, with legs straight out and together, toes pointing down on the floor.
- Place your hands palm down, shoulder width apart, right at or just above chest level.
- Keep your back straight and stabilize your core.
- Push yourself up with your arms, so that your hands and toes are the only thing touching the ground.
Keep your butt down and back straight. Your body should make a nearly straight line when in the "up" position, not curving.
- Slowly lower yourself back down until your nose nearly touches the floor, continuing to have your hands and toes being the only points of contact with the floor.
Remember, again, to keep your back straight and butt down.
Weight Lifting Supplements
Improve your basketball strength training with weight lifting supplements.
Check out the vertical section for even more basketball exercises to increase your vertical.