By Tim DiFrancesco, former head strength coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.
A preseason basketball workout program should prepare your body for the movement skills of the game—jumping, landing, acceleration and deceleration.
“You need to prepare your body to be fluid and able to execute those skills with repetition,” he says. “This will prepare your bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles for those types of actions, which you’ll be doing more and more of as you get into the season.”
“A lot of players come in and are more prepared to run a marathon than to play an acceleration-, deceleration-, jump- and landing-based sport with physical contact and short-burst energy system requirements,” he adds.
Preseason Basketball Workout
DiFrancesco’s plan features three workouts per week. These workouts should be done in the four weeks leading up to your season, and can be completed if you’re currently playing fall basketball or another sport.
Each workout is broken up into two tri-sets—a tri-set is essentially a superset with three exercises. The first exercise is a lower-body strength move, which is followed by a lower-body plyometric (except for Farmer’s Walks on Day 3). The tri-sets finish with an upper-body strength or core exercise. Many of the exercises are single-arm/leg or lateral moves to prepare your body for moving in multiple directions in a game.
Here’s how to use the plan:
– You’ll notice that each exercise has four rep prescriptions separated by a forward slash (3×6/8/10/12), which indicates the number of reps you’ll perform on Week 1, 2, 3 and 4. In this instance, you’d do 3 sets of 6 reps on Week 1, 3 sets of 8 reps on Week 2 and so on.
– Perform the exercises back to back to complete a set of the tri-set. Then work your way back through the exercises for another set, and once again for a third set.
– Moving through this with minimal rest between exercises will provide an excellent conditioning effect, but make sure to rest when needed to maintain proper exercise form.
– These workouts are fairly short but that’s all you need. If you stick to the plan as written, this is more than enough to challenge your body and make you a better athlete.
– Choose a weight that allows you to complete every rep for each set with perfect form. The goal here is quality reps to build a stronger and more durable body, not to get hurt attempting to lift a weight that’s far too heavy.
– Do the workouts on non-consecutive days to allow your muscles to recover between workouts.
– Finally, stay consistent!
1A) Barbell Rack Pulls – 3×6/8/10/12
1B) Broad Jump – 3×4/6/8/10
1C) Push-Up – 3×8/10/12/15
2A) Goblet Squat – 3×6/8/10/12
2B) Squat Jump – 3×4/6/8/10
2C) Chin-Up – 3×4/6/8/10
1A) Goblet Lateral Squat – 3×4/5/6/8 each side
1B) Skater Jump – 3×10/12/16/20
1C) Dumbbell Single-Arm Row – 3×8/10/12/15 each side
2A) Kettlebell Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat – 3×5/6/8/10 each side
2B) Split Squat Jumps – 3×4/6/8/10
2C) Dumbbell Incline Bench Press – 3×8/10/12/15
1A) Dumbbell Single-Leg RDL – 3×4/5/6/8 each side
1B) Bounding – 3×10/12/16/20
1C) Band/Cable Half-Kneeling Single-Arm V Row – 3×6/8/10/12 each side
2A) Dumbbell Hip Thrust – 3×8/10/12/15
2B) Farmer’s Walk – 3x10yd/15yd/20yd/30yd
2C) Squat Stance Pallof Press – 3×8/10/12/15 each side
Todd Durkin -May 4, 2015
Improving speed should be a goal for every athlete. No matter what sport you play, being faster than your opponent can be the difference between winning and losing a championship. With that in mind, I’ve assembled a list of the 10 best speed exercises that will leave your rivals in the dust.
Although these are the best exercises for improving speed, they should not be the only exercises that you do. Be sure to have a total-body strength and conditioning program in place, as well as proper nutrition and recovery protocols, to maximize your results.
1. Power Clean or Clean Pull
To be fast, you need to be powerful. A good way to build power is by training the Power Clean (or any Olympic lift variation).
- Starting with your feet hip-width apart, grab the bar with an overhand grip.
- Keep your back flat and chest tall as you pull the bar off the floor.
- After the bar passes your knees, sweep the bar into your hips (making contact at mid-thigh/the hip crease).
- Aggressively extend your hips, knees and ankles to catapult the bar up to your shoulders.
The Squat is one of the best exercises no matter what your goal is in the gym, so it’s an obvious pick for being one of the best for improving speed. There are many squat variations that are excellent choices. We will focus on the Barbell Back Squat.
- Grab the bar with a grip that’s comfortable for your shoulders.
- Unrack the weight, brace your abs and push your hips back to descend into the squat position.
- Squat until your thighs are parallel (or slightly below parallel) to the ground or slightly below parallel.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes, chest up and back flat as you push through your heels to stand up.
Like the Squat, the Deadlift is a clear choice for this list because it increases the amount of force you can put into the ground.
- With your feet about hip-width apart, grasp the barbell with an overhand or over/under grip outside your knees.
- Keep your chest up and back straight as you pull the bar off the floor by fully extending your hips.
- Keep the bar close to your body throughout the lift.
4. Sled Push/Sprint
Incorporating sled work into your program is a great way to build strength and speed for sprinting. It’s especially valuable for accelerations because of the forward body angle. I recommend doing both heavy Sled Pushes and lighter Sled Sprints.
- For a heavy push, load a sled with a weight that’s challenging to push for 10 to 20 yards.
- Push the sled forward, keeping your elbows straight and your back flat.
- For sled sprints, lighten the load to a weight that will allow you to sprint with the sled for 10-20 yards.
- You can even pair both exercises in a contrast set.
5. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Many athletic movements take place on one leg, including sprinting, so it’s a good idea to utilize single-leg exercises in your training. There are a ton of single-leg exercises to choose from, but my particular favorite is the Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat.
- With dumbbells at your sides and your back foot elevated on a bench, squat while keeping a straight back and tall chest.
- Push through your heel to extend your front knee and hip back to the starting position.
6. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
The Single-Leg RDL is another great single-leg movement, but it focuses on your hamstrings and glutes, or your “go” muscles.
- Hold two dumbbells in front of you, and balance on one leg.
- Slightly bend the knee of the balancing leg and begin to push your hips back toward the wall behind you.
- Be sure to maintain a flat back position as the dumbbells reach knee/shin level.
- Extend your hips to go back to the starting position.
7. Broad Jump
No list of the best exercises for improving speed would be complete without some plyometrics. This move teaches your muscles to contract explosively, an essential trait of speed.
- Set yourself up with feet hip-width apart.
- Perform a quick counter movement by pushing your hips back to the wall.
- Quickly extend your hips, knees and ankles to jump forward for distance.
- Land softly in a squat position.
8. Single Leg Hurdle Jumps
Single-Leg Hurdle Jumps train quick single-leg movements and deceleration, important for multi-directional speed and quickness.
- Standing on one leg, perform a quick counter squat and immediately extend your knee and hip to jump over the hurdle.
- Land as softly as possible on the same leg.
Both the Broad Jump and Single-Leg Hurdle Jumps can be done by going into the next jump immediately after you land or by pausing yourself in between.
9. Depth Jumps
This is one of the best exercises to increase explosive power needed to sprint.
- Stand on top of a bench or plyo box.
- Step off the edge and immediately jump as you touch the ground.
- The jump performed as you land can be a vertical jump or a broad jump.
- Use a small to medium size box/bench to minimize the force that is absorbed when landing.
Sprinting takes a tremendous amount of core stability, so it makes sense to involve core stability exercises in your training.
- Set up the cable handle at chest level.
- Take a few steps away from the machine to unrack the weight.
- Press the handle away from your chest and hold it at arm’s length.
- Pause for 3-5 seconds as you squeeze your abs to stabilize your torso.
- Return the handle to your chest and repeat.
- Complete the exercise on both sides.