Monday, November 24, 2008

Basketball Fitness

So I’ve been away for awhile now, but I'm back for now. I don’t expect to write too many more basketball-only pieces, if any, maybe some Rockets’ game notes or stuff like that. This article though is mainly about fitness and health, but it still is applicable to basketball. Fitness is my field, so it’s something I’m more passionate about when it comes to writing and tying it to basketball makes it that much better. I know there’s a possibility some of you guys reading this still play ball, and whether you’re a YMCA regular or a teenager looking to play in the NBA one day, this information should be of some value. I’ve included a little bit of everything, from tips and workouts directly from the pros, to some more general advice that is helpful to anyone, even the non-hoopers.
I think the biggest question out there is how to gather information. Obviously not everyone has the time and money to hire Kobe Bryant’s trainer or Carmelo Anthony’s chef. The best advice I can give you is to look it up yourself. There’s nothing better than researching it on your own because not only are you learning as you go along, but you’re making sure all the information is from a credible source, and not from your best friend’s cousin, who got it from a co-worker, who thought he heard it from a trainer at his gym, who use to train either Kevin Willis or Bruce Willis, but he can’t remember which. So google away and learn as much as you can, just remember to check it twice and not believe just any blog you run into because you never know who’s writing it. So make sure they have some credibility. “I workout on my own” or “I played ball when I was younger” is NOT credibility. An ex-college athlete may know how to train for that sport since he’s done it before, but may not necessarily know about nutrition. A lot of these ex-athletes also don’t keep up with the latest research or workouts, so that’s a problem also. If you can’t figure out if someone truly knows what they are talking about, check other sources and see if his info checks out. That being said, I’ve done some research for you already.

To start with, these are clips I found online of different basketball related workouts/tips, with some comments:

Amare has some good points in this one. He mentions how in high school you basically pick up the ball and play. That’s the workout. I’m sure most schools are already doing some type of cardio and weight training, but lately there are more and more high schools doing what the pros do. That includes using resistance bands, balance boards, various forms of stretching, and weight training that targets basketball movements. It’s not just your typical bench, squat and pull-up anymore. If you want to keep up with the best, train like’em. Another good point is adjusting your diet. You may be lean and in good shape due to how much ball you play, but eating well makes your body efficient and keeps it running smoothly. Do you want your body to be occupied with fighting off and adjusting to all the bad stuff you consume, or do you want it to concentrate on keeping your body charged and your muscles strong? Changing up a life-long diet can be difficult, but at least try to change little things here and there, like opting for chicken instead of beef, wheat/whole grain bread instead of white bread, water instead of sugary drinks, etc. You don’t necessarily need to start eating grass and flowers or anything crazy like that.

A lot of people seem to think Dwight is some kind of bodybuilding freak. I always hear people write or speak about how huge or muscular he is, but like Dwight said, he’s not trying to be a bodybuilder. His muscles actually aren’t as big as people think. He just has wide shoulders naturally, which didn’t come from lifting. Now that doesn’t mean he’s not a strong guy. Notice how all of the exercises he is doing don’t involve bars that force you to use both limbs at once. He’s working out each limb individually, giving each its own amount of weight to work out. This is great because it keeps both sides even, there’s no way one side can do more work than the other, so both benefit equally. That’s a great advantage in basketball when you have to be able to use either arm to create space or either leg to jump off. Just like you don’t want opponents thinking you can’t go left or right, you don’t want them thinking you’re physically weaker on one side. Training each side individually not only gives you this balance, but also forces your body to use the smaller muscles (which Dwight talks about) since they don’t have the other leg/arm to help out. Instead of just one main muscle doing all the work and benefiting from it, the smaller surrounding muscles also pitch in. This is in part how Dwight can become a lot stronger without needing larger and bulkier muscles.

I’m sure some of you have seen this one by now, T-Mac’s workout. This isn’t all good folks. Compare this workout to Dwight’s. Howard’s movements are more controlled and don’t use momentum, while many of T-Mac’s movements are forced and use momentum. T-Mac also uses a lot more bars and exercises like the leg press and leg extension, in which you use both legs to lift the same weight, and not individually like Dwight’s. Let me point out that this does not mean using bars is always bad and doesn’t work. They can be beneficial, but there’s always the risk of muscle imbalances. Notice how Tracy’s bar leans to one side on the bench press. McGrady’s movements are also very quick and use momentum to lift the weight. Quick reps aren’t bad though. Sometimes it’s good to be able to move weight quickly. Especially when you need explosive power like he does. However, the weight he’s using is too heavy because he can’t move it without using momentum. He should drop the weight, keep the speed fast, but always be in control of the weights and not let momentum take over. The other stuff he does without weights looks good to me.

Kobe’s Team USA workout, good stuff.

Here’s part of Wade’s workout. I was very impressed at how explosive and quick he looked in the Olympics. He also seemed a lot stronger and I guess this is why. The guy he’s working out is Tim Grover, who is best known for being MJ’s trainer. Notice how Wade and others not only workout with weights, but also use only their own body weight for some exercises. It’s important to workout using movements you’re likely to use during the game. For football players, size and strength are a lot more important to their movements since they need to push guys around or keep them away. In basketball, there really isn’t a need to move more than your own body and the ball. So the best thing to do is master moving your own body weight in different directions, learn to balance it and control it.

Finally, remember to get a complete physical and medical examination prior to starting a workout plan. If you have insurance coverage through an employer take advantage of it and get a full physical. For you young ones use your parents’ family plan if available. It is better to be safe now than sorry later, especially nowadays with so many kids discovering they have life-threatening heart conditions.

Let me know if this was helpful or informative at all, if there’s a positive response I may make it a weekly thing. Questions or subjects you would like to be discussed are also welcomed.


Hursty said...

RV that was a great video regarding Dwight. The follow up was also very good.
The contrast (as we've said before) on Dwight and Tracy is almost astounding.
I really appreciate the effort you've put in to making this post.
At the beginning, you mention not doing any/many basketball related posts anymore.
Why is that?

Hursty said...

Medicine ball exercises (imo) aren't utilised enough. Neither are free weights. I prefer to do a slightly inclined bench press with, say, 25kg dumbells over a 60kg bench press (with a bar).
Although, when I am trying to got for an 85% to max session I'll use the bar (for safety reasons haha).
If I'm doing a bulk/strength cycle (2-3 months) I'll use both in a chest session.

Moose said...

I'm going to the NBA (someday)! I gotta get on this, man. Thanks, RV.

Ryne Nelson said...

Don't forget this:

the baconator said...

Love this article RV; very helpful

I got a question for ya though. My team doesn't do any weight training during the season. Our only conditioning comes sprints and drills in practice. How should I keep building/maintaining upper body strength? There's not enough time after practice cuz of homework, dinner, etc. Thanks!

Hursty said...

Pushups, sit ups, good food baconator. Small dumb bell weights in core holding positions, stretches (yes stretches).
I cant speak for RV, but those have always worked well for me, even before games.
For conditioning, walk quickly everywhere to class, at lunch etc.
You can always run to school, the bus stop, back home. Stuff works. For real.

RV said...

Baconator, you might want to mention it to your coach first. Perhaps he'll realize he's missing out on something and give y'all some lifting time? For high schoolers, i don't recommend lifting too much or too heavy. I'm guessing you'll be doing this alone and without supervision from a coach/trainer, so it's best to go easy and safe. Consider purchasing some resistance bands from a sporting goods store. they have single ones, but some sell small kits composed of 3 or 4. They're easier on your joints than weights, which is good since your body is still developing. You don't need a spotter and you don't risk dropping a dumbell/barbell either. Body weight exercises like Pushups and pull ups are great as well, so don't forget those, but with the resistance bands you can pretty much workout your whole body and they're cheap (about 25 bucks for a kit). Best of all, you'll have access to them whenever you want, so you can always find time to workout. I don't recommend lifting after practice since you're likely to be tired/drained. if you practice all week, you can split the resistance training into two days (sat/sun) and work upper body one day and lower body the next. Let me know if you have more questions.

awundrin said...

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If you are interested, just email me what title you want me to use for your blog link and I will put up your link right away if you are willing to do the same back for me.

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