Thanks to Title IX, basketball is one of the most popular women’s high school and collegiate sports. After graduation, many women continue to play hoops to stay in shape or cross train. Basketball strength training and conditioning workouts require different loads, volumes and intensities, so creating specific plans for each will help you maximize your benefits so you can play your best.
Strength vs. Conditioning
Strength training builds larger muscles that can do more work at one time. Conditioning refers to your ability to work at high intensities for long periods. For example, making a fast break and recovering your breath so you can get back on defense requires anaerobic fitness. Cardio stamina and muscular endurance are both necessary to run up and down the court for more than an hour. Strength training uses more resistance, fewer repetitions and a lower intensity than endurance workouts and interval training.
During the off-season, build your muscles using a low-load, high-rep workout. Use roughly 60 percent of the maximum weight you can lift to perform eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise. Take a two-minute break, then repeat the set, performing a total of three sets. After a three- to five-minute break, perform three sets of a new exercise. To work your lower body, include deadlifts, squats, lunges and heel raises. Work your arms with biceps curls, triceps extensions, lateral arm raises, flyes and kickbacks. Pay special attention to your triceps and biceps to help with shooting and your quads, calves and hamstrings to help build muscles for jumping.
While basketball requires anaerobic fitness to help you quickly recover after repeated, high-intensity plays, you also need an aerobic base. Build your base during the offseason with jogging, cycling, swimming or other aerobic activities. Stop approximately two months before your season starts and focus on high-intensity interval training. Continuing aerobic workouts will emphasize your slow-twitch muscle fibers, recruit more fat than glycogen to perform the exercise and will not train your ability to recover. (See Reference 2)
Emphasize interval training during the months leading up to your season to maximize your cardio fitness. Start by running fast for 30 seconds, then walking to recover for two minutes. Repeat the sprint and continue this training for 10 minutes. As you build your anaerobic conditioning, create longer intervals, adding 15 seconds each week, until you can run or perform a high-intensity sprint or other activity for 90 seconds.
Include plenty of footwork exercises in your training to maximize your balance, agility and vertical leap. Perform box jumps, depth jumps, reactive squats, jump squats and other exercises that create a down-and-up movement with your legs. Use a rope ladder, run zig zags through cones, use plyo boxes for low-platform jumping and run over low hurdles spaced at different intervals to make you vary your footwork and raise your knees.
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