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Basketball Strength Training Programs

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Basketball Off-Season and Preseason Strength Training Programs

It is a good idea to set your off-season and preseason training in specific phases so that you can measure your improvement. Your foundation strength and muscle is vitally important and will depend on whether you are new to weight training or you are coming off a season of weights. Building foundation strength means utilizing a program that works all the major muscle groups of the body.

Less-experienced weight trainers will need to start with lighter weights and fewer sets and work up to heavier weights with more sets. Start early in the season buildup to get used to this phase if you have not used weights previously.

Repetitive sports activities can strengthen one side of the body at the expense of the other, or emphasize one or two major muscle groups with similar effect. The problem is that the weak areas can be susceptible to injury and can perform poorly.

This is not to say that your non-dominant arm or side has to be as good as your skill-dominant side. But it does mean that you need to allocate sufficient training resources so that you achieve functional foundation strength in all areas including opposing muscles and left and right sides of all major muscle group areas like back, buttocks, legs, arms, shoulders, chest and abdominals.

In the early pre-season, the foundation program encompasses a mix of endurance, strength and hypertrophy objectives, which means that the weights are not too heavy and the sets and repetitions are in the range 2 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

In this phase, you build some strength, and some muscle size and endurance. Guards and perhaps small forwards need to be careful not to exchange agility and speed for bulk and muscle, although in all cases, strength will be important.

Duration: 4 to 6 weeks
Days per week: 2 to 3, with at least one rest day between sessions and a lighter week in week 4 to promote recovery and progression.
Reps: 12 to 15
Sets: 2 to 4
Rest between sets: 30 to 60 seconds

Phase 1 Exercises

Barbell squat, dumbbell squat or sled hack squat
Dumbbell incline bench press
Romanian deadlift
Dumbbell biceps arm curl
Dumbbell triceps extension or machine pushdown
Seated cable row
Lat pulldown to the front with wide grip
Reverse crunch

By trial and error you should find a weight that represents a taxing lift for the last few reps of each set. If you're unsure, start with a light weight and increase it as you get stronger within the training period so that the perceived effort remains similar.

Don't lift too heavy in this phase. The last few reps in a set should be taxing yet without extreme effort to "failure," especially for the arm and shoulder exercises. You want the arm and shoulder prepared for work but not overtaxed.

Do front squats or dumbbell or sled hack squats if the rotation required to position a barbell on the shoulders for the traditional back squat stresses the shoulder joint to the point of discomfort.

Shoulder joint protection is important at this and subsequent stages.

Circuit training, running training and plyometrics such as bounds and jumps should be added to this gym program to suit your schedule.

Stop immediately if acute pain is noticed during or after an exercise, and seek medical and training advice if it persists.

Phase 2 - Mid Pre-Season

Strength Development

In this phase, you will build strength and muscle. The fast and agile players should be careful not to bulk up too much. "Long, lean, strong and quick" is the prescription. You have a good foundation from early pre-season workouts, and now the emphasis is on lifting heavier weights in order to train the nervous system in conjunction with the muscle fibers to move bigger loads. Hypertrophy, which is building muscle size, does not necessarily imply strength. However, in the foundation phase and in this phase, hypertrophy will serve you well for strength development.

Strength will be the foundation for the next phase, which is power development. Power is the ability to move the heaviest loads in the shortest time. Power is essentially a product of strength and speed.

Time of year: Mid pre-season
Duration: 4 to 6 weeks
Days per week: 2 to 3, with at least one day between sessions
Reps: 3 to 6. The players relying most on speed and agility should do the lowest number of reps.
Sets: 3 to 5
Rest in between sets: 3 to 4 minutes

Phase 2 Exercises

Barbell squat or sled hack squat
Barbell bench press
Romanian deadlift
Lat pulldown to front with wide grip
Pull ups - 3x6 repetitions - adjust to suit ability.

Adjust the weight so that the final few repetitions are taxing but not to complete failure. The fewer reps mean that you will be lifting heavier in this phase.

Get sufficient rest between sets. You need your muscles recovered so that you can complete a heavy lifting session. If you are unable to recover from a session with only one rest day in between, reschedule this program to two sessions each week rather than three. Strength training can be physically and mentally demanding.

You will be sore in the muscles after these sessions. Muscle soreness or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is normal; joint pain is not. Be sure to monitor your arm and shoulder reactions to this phase. Back off when you feel any joint pain or discomfort.

Phase 3 - Late Pre-season to In Season

Conversion to Power

In this phase, you build on the strength developed in phase 2 with training that will increase your ability to move a load at high velocity. Power is the combination of strength and speed. Power training requires that you lift lighter weights than you did in the strength phase, yet with explosive intent. You need to rest adequately between repetitions and sets so that each movement is done as fast as possible. The number of sets can be less. There is no point to training like this when you're fatigued.

Time of year: late pre-season
Duration: 4 weeks ongoing
Days per week: 2 to 3
Reps: 8 to 10
Sets: 2 to 3
Rest between repetitions: 10 to 15 seconds
Rest between sets: at least 1 minute or until recovery


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