If you’re looking to get fit for basketball, you should start with bodyweight workouts. Here’s how to get stronger for basketball with calisthenics.
(The above video is an example of how being stronger can help you with defence.)
In middle school (and sadly in high school as well), I was small and skinny.
I say that it was because of my high metabolism and me being active -to boost my self-esteem- but it didn’t change the fact that I was a scrawny kid.
I was envious of the bigger and stronger kids on my basketball team because I wanted to look and be athletic like them.
So to solve my problem, I studied the best resources money can buy –men’s health and fitness magazines.
In the majority of them, they told me that if I wanted to get beastly, I basically only needed to lift heavy weights (preferably by doing bench press, squats, and curls) and drink multiple protein shakes a day.
Some even advised me to take supplements that were borderline steroids.
Obviously, I listened to these “academic” magazines and did a bunch of steroids.
I only took a little bit of performance-enhancing drugs.
Okay, I’m kidding (again)!
Jokes aside, I eventually learned that these magazines were incorrect.
I didn’t need to lift heavy weights to become more conditioned (though it may have made the process quicker).
I could just do calisthenics or bodyweight exercises to get fitter and stronger.
Also, I learned that this is the best way to condition for basketball if you’re new to strength training and/or are younger.
Why Calisthenics Is Awesome For Sports
Don’t believe me? Take a listen to what Steve Maxwell, one of the top 100 trainers in the U.S. had to say about calisthenics.
In the video, Maxwell says that form, technique, and time under tension are more important than how heavy the resistance is.
He also added that this way of conditioning is better for sports.
The reason Maxwell believes this is because, with lighter weights (or just bodyweight), you are able to use good form even at the higher rep ranges (though, you will have to increase your mental focus).
This will build muscle endurance, which is important for sports.
Additionally, doing calisthenics will teach you how to read and manage your energy. This will allow you to be more efficient on the court, for instance.
The Calisthenics Exercises for Basketball
Now that you know the effectiveness of this type of workout, here are the 6 best calisthenics exercises for basketball:
I’m sure you’ve heard of the push-up before (if you haven’t, click here to read an article I wrote on the benefits of push-ups for basketball). It’s a basic movement that pretty much every gym teacher makes their students do.
Additionally, it’s an excellent upper-body exercise that doesn’t require any equipment.
With good form, the push-up will strengthen your arms, chest, shoulders, core and a bit of your back.
And if you find the standard push-up to be too easy, try doing them as slowly as possible. You’ll burn out a lot sooner than you think.
Pull-Ups and Standing Rows
In my opinion, the pull-up (and standing row) is one of the most important exercises.
But it doesn’t get as much love as it should. Like, if you fall off of a cliff, how are you supposed to pull yourself up if you can’t do a single pull-up? Correct –you wouldn’t be able to.
But this isn’t a therapy session, so I’ll stop there.
Anywhoo, pull-ups are also a great upper-body exercise. When done right, it strengthens the arms, shoulders, back, and core.
However, (unlike the push-up) this exercise requires equipment. Unless there is a park near you or a big, strong tree, you’re going to need a pull-up bar.
There are many types that you can get, but I recommend avoiding the ones that hang off of the doorframe. The reason why is that it may scratch your wall and can potentially damage your door frame.
This, sadly, happened to me (the wall scratching).
But if you don’t care about that stuff, the door-attached ones are okay for most.
If you do care, however, I suggest you get a TRX Suspension System. It’ll cost more, but it’ll also be a much better product that’ll last longer.
Additionally, it can be used for a variety of other bodyweight exercises too (and it won’t ruin your home!).
You can click here to find one on Amazon if you’re interested.
Also, to be transparent with you, this link is an affiliate link. What this means is that if you do use this link to purchase anything on Amazon, I’ll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
Like the push-up, I’m sure you’ve heard of the squat before (if you haven’t, no worries. Click here to read an article I wrote on how to do squats for basketball). It’s one of the most popular exercises (as it should be).
The squat is the ultimate lower-body exercise (as I’ve mentioned in a previous article about resistance bands). With proper form, it will strengthen your entire lower body and your core.
This will help you run longer, and more importantly, help you stay low on defence for longer periods of time.
There are also many variations to the bodyweight squat.
So if you get bored, you can switch it up. Two of my favourites are prisoner squats and Hindu squats.
The lunge is a great complementary exercise to the squat. Rather than pushing with both legs, lunges get you to push off of one leg at a time.
This will fix or prevent muscle imbalances, which will prevent injuries.
And that’s the most important thing that it’ll do.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
The regular Romanian deadlift is a superior strength exercise. The single-legged version is not. But that doesn’t mean that this exercise is useless.
The single-leg RDL is important because it prevents muscle imbalances (like the lunge) and improves your balance.
Since you have to stand on one leg and bend over, this RDL variation will force you to tighten all of your core and stabilizer muscles and stiffen your focus on the movement so that you don’t topple over.
As a result, this will improve your balance.
This skill will translate to basketball by allowing you to stay tight and on top of things (mentally) when attacking the basket.
It’ll also improve your movement and mobility on the court because you have to often be on one leg often in the sport.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you want to jump better (which you should because you do it a lot in basketball), you have to practice jumping (ideally with the one-step box jump, which you can learn how to do here).
You have to learn the right technique and how to do it efficiently. When you do, you’ll be able to jump higher and more often with good form.
The great thing about these six exercises is that if they start to become easy, you can just do them slower to make them more difficult. You can also add repetitions.
Or you can try a different variation of the movement. There are a bunch of options.
You’re probably wondering right now how you can get started with these exercises.
There are many workouts that can be found online. But if you’re too lazy to do your own research, you can try this one from Maxwell:
Callisthenic exercises are a great way to get fit and conditioned for basketball. You’ll get a great workout in while mastering the form of the primal movements.
So, give it a try and then outplay all the other average Joes on the court.
P.S. If you’re struggling to improve in basketball, you may be training wrong.
This is why you need to check out my Old Man Game Activity Guides. They are convenient training systems that will help you work on your fundamentals and conditioning.