Do Basketball Players Lift Weights?

There are a lot of misconceptions about the correlation between excellent basketball performance and weightlifting. 

It is universally acknowledged that basketball is a physically demanding sport. Due to its tedious nature, a basketball player is expected to possess not only the skills needed for the game, but also strength, speed, and endurance. As strength is a crucial aspect of the game, many spectators and even amateur players grow to wonder if weightlifting is necessary to excel in basketball.

In this article, we will look at:

  • The importance of strength in the game of basketball.
  • How basketball players improve their strength.
  • How weightlifting plays a role in an athlete’s, specifically a basketball player’s, life.

But, if you don’t have time to read the whole article, here’s what you need to know:

Yes, bodybuilders do lift weights! It is important as it improves their performance on the court. Basketball players should usually focus on cardio, conditioning, and higher rep ranges (‘hypertrophy’) for their training. Additionally, they shouldn’t bulk up too hard, as they still need to maintain a lighter weight to keep their agility up.

Let’s cover it a bit more in-depth.

Do Basketball Players Lift Weights?
Do Basketball Players Lift Weights?

The Importance of Strength In The Game of Basketball

Characterized by high-intensity movements such as sprinting and jumping, it is no doubt that physical conditioning is crucial for players of the game to enhance their agility, speed, muscular strength, and power.

Among the reasons why building muscles and enhancing one’s strength is so important is to prevent injuries. While a player gains strength, they are also toughening up their tendons and ligaments, thereby reducing the chances of injuries.

Strength training is a cornerstone of basketball players’ physical conditioning routines. Not only does it reduce the chances of injuries, but also improves their general athleticism.

While passion for shooting, defending, and throwing the ball is important, basketball players need to put in the work to achieve a certain level of muscular strength as well. This is usually achieved by a rigid lifestyle change with strength training at its core. 

The pros of strength training can be summarized by the following:

  • Improvement of basketball technique. As with most sports, there is a kinematic link of technical movements to the central muscles. Strength training can power up these muscles, enabling coordination and stability while maintaining technical accuracy. 
  • Improving the overall body shape of basketball players. As height is crucial in the game of basketball, being tall is a critical feature of most players. But with their towering height comes the challenge of poor physical stability and at times, slow speed. Thus, strength training allows them to have better body control and stability. The improved agility also allows their overall movement to be faster, more flexible, and more coordinated. 
  • Injury prevention. With better strength training, players will be able to keep their body in balanced and safer positions in times of fierce competitions, making them less likely to fall prey to injuries. 

However, balance is crucial because while strength training is important, too many exercises focusing on strength can have negative correlations with one’s technical skills. One such con is neuromuscular fatigue. 

How Basketball Players Improve Their Strength

Now that we have established the importance of building a basketball player’s strength and the pivotal role it plays in the game, you may be wondering how exactly these players improve their strength. 

As the saying goes, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” As with all sports, training is an important ingredient to the growth and success of a basketball player. 

The kind of training basketball players do is highly dependent on their level of play, age, physiology, and more. Some even have training programs tailor-fit for them to achieve their unique, desired results.

However, there are more general training programs that most basketball players undergo that I will be enumerating today to help us better understand the preparation they do to achieve their desired strength.

  1. Strength Training. This consists of bench presses, pullups, and more. Strength is crucial not only in reducing injuries, but is crucial in getting an edge from defenders.
  2. Cardio Training. This is largely focused on making sure that the heart, lungs, and blood vessels remain in-shape.
  3. Body Weight Training. This normally includes gym-related exercises and workouts. Usually, trainers tailor-fit these exercises depending on the players’ needs and goals. Not only does physique come into play, but also their position.
  4. Conditioning. This allows players to enhance their energy capacity and teaches them on how to better perform their exercises. Some conditioning training exercises include squat jumps, burpees, and the like.

These are just some of the main ways that basketball players train. All of these training contribute to improving their overall physique, maintaining their form, and enhancing their capacities so that they can better perform the technical skills of the game. 

How Weight Training Plays A Role In Basketball

A lot of seasoned athletes have vouched about how working with weights has substantially improved their performances in their respective sports.

An appropriate weight-training program (such as the Arnold Blueprint to Mass) would, without a doubt, improve the efficiency of an athlete.

For instance, professional distance runners are known to do resistance training as it is believed that with a stronger upper body, core, and lower body, he or she can become more efficient. On the flip side, soccer players are also known to lift weights throughout their season, although not with the intention of bulking up. 

For a basketball player looking to weight train, it is recommended that they address the body as a whole. For instance, when they do upper bodyweight workouts, they should also do a lower bodyweight workout. For a basketball player, some areas of focus when weight training includes the following:

  • Mobility: Which pertains to how one’s joints move as they go through full range of motion. When a basketball player undergoes strength training, they should pay attention to their knees, hips, and ankles as these are the body parts involved when jumping. And jumping is a crucial move in basketball. 
  • Stability: Which pertains to how controlled one’s movement is. Stability allows one to be more accurate in shooting and weight lifting can thoroughly improve one’s stability.
  • Balance is a precursor to movement and in moving from one point to another, such as from one side of the court to another, balance has to be established over and over again. 
  • Posture can also be improved during basketball strength workouts. Doing bent-over rows, upright rows, and similar exercises can improve one’s posture and ensure that basketball players do not end up with a hunched over appearance

Just Don’t Bulk Up Too Hard, It Will Slow You Down

While bodybuilders generally run pretty fast. I’d advise you to not bulk up too hard, as it will slow you down generally.

Basketball is a sport about agility and quickness, and adding a ton of muscle- while for the most part is beneficial- can definitely slow you down if you start lifting for a long time.

I think a good goal for most basketball players is to get “toned”- but NOT to go above that.

What a Good Workout Routine Would Look Like For Basketball Players

For most bodybuilders, a good workout routine is going to include most standard lifts like the bench press, barbell rows, curls, etc- but also air on the side of caution to not grow TOO MUCH muscle, and at the same time, adding lots of conditioning exercises.

Sound complicated? Don’t worry, it kind of is- but bear with me here.

Think of how a normal bodybuilder or powerlifter may approach the gym. They will hog up all the weights and just focus on actual muscle growth the whole time, right? They will go and do crazy bicep/tricep-focused workouts, et cetera.

Basketball players will do the MAIN lifts to grow some muscle, but then instead of focusing on doing tons of small ‘accessory’ muscle exercises, they will do a lot of conditioning style exercises designed to build their agility, reaction time, and cardiovascular strength.

Here’s an example of a sample basketball player workout:

  • Overhead Press 5x5
  • Squat 5x5
  • Curls 3x8
  • Tricep Extensions 3x8
  • Conditioning (HIIT workouts, running, etc)
  • Basketball Specific Agility Exercises (listed in video below)

Conclusion

In a nutshell, basketball players do lift weights. Weight lifting has numerous benefits such as injury prevention, improvement of physique, strength building, and more.

However, caution has to be taken and attention to the weightlifting program a basketball player undertakes has to be considered.

This is to prevent the counter effects of lifting too much weights and negatively affecting their technical skills that are extremely important in the game of basketball- and possibly putting on too much weight that could affect their agility.

Moderation in all things, but overall- lifting is very beneficial for most basketball players, and you will see good results on the court if you put some time into the gym.

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