Your Guide To Lifting Weights for Basketball

Your Weight Room Training Guide

You’ve got a sweet jumper and your crossover is fast and fluid, but as soon as you hit the paint, bigger, stronger defenders push you around. Your jumper is spot on when you practice, but with just a little contact from a defender, you flail out of control and miss.

Basketball technically isn’t a contact sport, in other words, the point of the sport is not to make contact with others.

Throughout the years, more and more contact has come into basketball. Post-play and even guard play has become physical.

Even with rules against this physicality, players need to lift weights for basketball. It is an inevitable fact of life.

We will help you get where you need to be, and keep others from pushing you around on the court.

Why We Lift

Lifting weights for basketball is different from bodybuilding or powerlifting. There are larger basketball players, but in general, they stay very svelte and thinly muscular.

We want to preserve speed. We want power and speed all in one package. The idea of lifting weights for speed may sound weird, but your muscles don’t really know why they are doing things.

Your muscles have a simple makeup of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. There are different ways to work both types, but as basketball players, we value the fast-twitch type almost every time.

In our routines, we will push the slow-twitch past failure until we hit those fast-twitch muscle fibers. We will also hit the fast-twitch fibers directly. The key is to create a package of speed and agility on the court while maintaining a good level of power.

Muscle Groups to Train

We want to hit all the muscle groups of the body, but there are some that are more important for the game of basketball. These muscle groups are the ones where basketball players derive their speed and power.

The muscle groups in order of importance are:

  • Legs- Including quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Core – Including the abdominals and the lower back.
  • Shoulders – Including front, lateral, and rear deltoids.
  • Back – Including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboid, and trapezius.
  • Chest – Including all the areas of the pectoral muscle and front deltoid.
  • Arms – Including the bicep and tricep muscles.

You’re probably wondering why arms are so low on this list. The reason is that most of the work in basketball is really done by the shoulders. Your arms don’t do a lot to improve your game or power.

The strength of pushing and pulling comes from your chest and back respectively.

Obviously, the legs are the most important part of the game, and for most sports that is true. Your legs generate your speed and jumping ability, and allow you to cut and play defense.

Your core enhances everything the legs do. A strong core will help stabilize the upper and lower body and even help you jump higher.

Your entire body will help with your game, but focusing on key areas in the off-season will lead to bigger gains during the season.

We want blazing speed in everything we do, so let’s look at some routines that will help get us there.

Training Routines

Here are some videos to get you accustomed to what working out for basketball means.

This video with Lebron James will even give you some bonus shooting work as well. It will give you an idea of what NBA players do to get stronger and faster.

As you can see, it takes a ton of work to get to the Pro level!

Also, here is a full workout routine using weights from

As you can see a combination of weights and body-weight movements will combine to make us more powerful on the court.

The idea is to focus on basketball-type movements and work the muscles that benefit the game the most.

We spend all of our time on our feet in basketball so we want to make sure that we spend a lot of time training that way as well.

Here are some tips on improving your workout performance:

  • Be Dynamic – Move with purpose and keep your form correct.
  • Shorter Rest Periods – This will translate to the game and help you build stamina.
  • Higher Rep Ranges – We want to mix up higher and lower rep ranges, but higher reps will help hit those fast twitch muscle fibers we desire.
  • Focus on Intensity – The higher the intensity, the more your body will get out of the workout.
  • Leave heavy Lifting for the off-season – High-intensity heavy lifting should be kept to a minimum during the season.

Lifting Schedules

Lifting weights for basketball means that we need to fit our training in with our basketball skills training. We can’t work our legs in the weight room to full exhaustion, and then practice or play a game the next day.

Use these tips to schedule your training sessions into your basketball training.

  • Work legs at least 3 days before a game or practice.
  • Give your arms at least 2 days rest before a game or practice.
  • Work your core anytime, the core can be worked daily and will recover.
  • Major muscle groups like the back and chest won’t necessarily need recovery, but the arms will before a game or practice.

A difficult strategy that we use, is training on the same day as practice. We push our bodies as far as they will go and give ourselves time to rest before a game.

Always remember that rest is almost as important as training. Without rest, your muscles do not recover stronger than they were before and a lot of your training could go to waste.

Spend time researching and finding what works best for your body. The younger you are the more you can push your limits, but you still need rest.

Other Forms of Training

Basketball players look for all kinds of training advantages that will help them get an edge on the court. The weight room isn’t the only place to gain muscle or train.

Here is a list of other activities that you can look into to give you an edge on the court.

  • Tae kwon do
  • Yoga
  • Dance(especially hip hop)
  • Rollerblading
  • Swimming
  • Track and Field

All of these could give you a competitive advantage in basketball as well. Find something when you’re not playing and practicing basketball that will eventually help your game.

Diet and Supplements

To make your training complete, you will need essential nutrients to feed those working muscles. As young players, we always forget that we are still growing and when we compound that with strength training, our diet is even more critical.

Focus on whole foods instead of pre-prepared foods. This means instead of prepackaged dinners, prepare food that is nutrient-rich and healthy.

Avoid fast foods. This may seem self-explanatory, but these foods are extremely high in sodium and sugar and can destroy the progress you have made. basketball players generally have pretty strict diets. 

Use supplements when necessary. Adding the missing pieces of your diet can help you to make new gains and expand your peak performance. A site like is a great resource of information and a great source for your supplements.

buying guide conclusion


Lifting weights for basketball can be a fun experience, but it’s a necessary one. Training is about making you better, and lifting weights and getting more powerful can only help your game.

Focus on making improvements to the muscles that best help you in basketball, then train for overall body composition.

Make body weight exercises a large part of your routine and keep your workouts intense.

Don’t let defenders push you around or beat you to a spot. Always train like you’re going to the next level!


Tell us about your workout routines and what you do to stay in basketball shape. What has lifting weights done for your game?