Three Ways to Get in Shape

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Training to get in basketball shape means working on the ability to quickly change direction and explode. That could be on offense, where you cut to an open spot on the court, or on defense, where you smother a tough scorer. But as explosive as basketball players need to be, it’s also important to have a certain amount of endurance.

Through lifting weights, training for specific situations and running, an athlete can get in basketball shape and dominate on the court.

Lifting Weights
Having a strong base level of conditioning is key at the college level. One way to get that is with barbell complexes, a series of exercises done one after another without rest. [Learn about the benefits of complexes.] Since you don’t rest until an entire set is complete, the pace of complexes keeps your heart elevated through the set. This mimics the way a game affects the body.

Jonas Sahratian is the UNC Tarheels strength and conditioning coordinator, and although he knows how effective a barbell complex can be, he admits it isn’t exactly a team favorite. ”The guys absolutely hate it,” he says.

Try the complex below to train—and dominate—like the Tarheels.

For these exercises, use a barbell weight that’s around 50 percent of your bodyweight.

High Pull or Upright Row
Muscle Snatch
Squat to Press
Bent-Over Row

Sets/Reps/Rest: 4-5×6 each exercise in off-season, 1-2×6 each exercise in-season; rest 90 seconds after each complex

Game Specifics
Most NBA players already have a high level of conditioning, so they’re able to focus more on individual game situations. For example, the video below shows Indiana Pacers G/F Danny Granger training his defensive stance by backpedaling on a treadmill. By moving his body with resistance as it moves through a backpedal, Granger strengthens the muscles that are called upon during games. He’s then able to push through space more explosively.

“We’re recruiting these muscles in a very sport-specific fashion, and we’re recruiting them two to three times harder and faster than we would if we were doing it on solid ground,” says Shawn Dassie of Total Performance Enhancement. That helps Granger get stronger and perform better when backpedaling in game situations.

Danny Granger Backwards Treadmill

  • Perform backpedal on a treadmill in a low stance with a slight forward lean
  • Step backward as far as possible
  • Increase incline by 2.5 percent after each set

Sets/Duration: 6x 45-60 seconds

Besides lifting weights regularly and training for specific game situations, pure running or sprinting is another way to improve your conditioning level and get ready for the season.

The Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team does the following conditioning test before the season starts. But once they’re in the flow of games that count, this workout is too intense.

The Pre-Season 22s conditioning test prepares the players for the up and down pace of major college basketball. It’s important that the Jayhawks be able to cover a large amount of the court quickly, especially late in games when they’re tired. When games get tough, it’s valuable for the players to know that they’ve trained for those specific situations.

Kansas Basketball’s Pre-Season 22s Conditioning Test

  • Start at baseline
  • Sprint to opposite baseline
  • Sprint back to starting baseline
  • Sprint back to opposite baseline again
  • Sprint back toward starting baseline, but just sprint through second foul line
  • Finish entire pattern in 22 seconds

Sets/Reps/Rest: 1×20; rest 22 seconds in between reps

Mix up all three types of training to ensure a high level of conditioning before taking the court. Lift weights regularly, train for specific game situations and increase your cardiovascular endurance. Doing all three will maximize your on-court potential.