Bodyweight Exercises for Basketball

10 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Basketball Players

Incorporating bodyweight exercises into your basketball training program could just be the secret sauce to elevate your game on the court.

Basketball is a sport that demands agility, endurance, and explosive power, all of which can be developed through training with no equipment other than your own body.

Bodyweight exercises can come in especially handy for those times you find yourself away from the gym with no access to barbells or even a single dumbbell!

In this article, I’m going to give you 10 of the best bodyweight exercises for basketball players. From enhancing your vertical jump to improving your on-court agility, I’ve got it all covered.

Best Bodyweight Exercises for Basketball Players

Here they are, in no particular order, my 10 favorite bodyweight exercises for basketball players.

Stick around to the end because I put these 10 exercises into a workout circuit that you can try out right now.

Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight Squat

Why: Bodyweight Squats are excellent for building strength and stability in the lower body, which is vital for jumps and sprints during the game.

How To

  • Perform your bodyweight squat by placing feet shoulder width apart, toes straight ahead or slightly pointed out.
  • Squat down by first hinging the hips back and then bending the knees and dropping the hips straight down.
  • Chest should stay up, eyes focused straight ahead.
  • Feet should remain flat on the floor with weight evenly distributed between the heel and ball of the foot.
  • Stand tall by pushing the feet ‘through the floor’, driving the hips up and the shoulders tall.


Athlete Doing Push-Ups

Why: Push-Ups target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, enhancing the upper body strength needed for shooting and fighting for position in the post.

Push-Ups aren’t just one of my favorite bodyweight exercises, they are one of my favorite upper-body exercises for basketball players, period.

How To

  • Lie face down on the floor.
  • Pull your toes in so that you’re on the tip of your shoes.
  • Eyes should be focused straight down or slightly up.
  • Pull your hands close to about the nipple line of the chest and bring them out about 2-3 inches away.
  • Take a deep breath, engage the core and brace.
  • Push yourself up in one unit. There should be no sagging of the waist. The entire body from head to toe should move up and then back down in unison.
  • Feel your scapula upwardly rotate and make sure the antagonist muscles (Back and biceps) are fully engaging.
  • Lock out your push-up and pause.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down and get ready for the next repetition from just above the ground. Do not fully relax at the bottom of the push-up unless your program specifies.


Bottom Position of Pull-Up

Why: Pull-Ups primarily target the back, shoulder, and biceps, enhancing the upper body strength necessary for grabbing and controlling rebounds.

How To

  • Approach the pull-up bar and grab the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing away).
  • Use a bench to get to the bar if it is too high.
  • Later in the article, I will talk about variations, alternatives, and modifications where the supinated (palms facing in) grip will be discussed.
  • Squeeze the bar and engage the core muscles and do not cross your legs.
  • Engage the upper back and pull up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Pause for 1 second with your chin over the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.


Burpees in Motion

Why: Burpees improve cardiovascular endurance and build explosive power, which is essential for the dynamic movements in basketball.

How To

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides.
  • Lower your body into a squat position by bending your knees and hips. Place your hands on the ground in front of you, just outside shoulder-width apart.
  • Jump your feet back into a plank position, with your hands still on the ground and your body in a straight line.
  • Do a push-up by lowering your chest towards the ground, then pressing back up to the plank position.
  • Jump your feet back towards your hands, then stand (or jump) up and reach your arms overhead.


Bodyweight Lunge

Why: Lunges work on the quadriceps and hamstrings, aiding in a strong lower body foundation for better stability and agility on the court.

How To

  • Stand upright with feet hip-width apart, shoulders relaxed and engage your core
  • Step forward with one leg and lower your body, bending both knees at 90 degrees.
  • Front knee above ankle, not past toes. Back knee close to but not touching the ground.
  • Push off the front foot and return to the start position. Alternate legs each rep.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers with Right Knee Up

Why: Mountain Climbers enhance core strength and stability, which aids in better control and balance during the game.

How To

  • Begin in a push-up position – hands under shoulders, core engaged, body in a straight line
  • Now raise one knee toward the chest and place the ball of the foot on the ground – from this position you’re ready to begin performing reps.
  • Drive one leg up and place the foot right next to where the opposite foot just left.
  • Simultaneously extend the ‘up foot’ back to the original starting position.
  • Continue alternating back and forth until all reps are completed.


Male Athlete Doing a Plank

Why: Holding a Plank strengthens the core, which is the powerhouse for almost every movement in basketball, improving overall stability and posture.

How To

  • Start on the ground on your stomach.
  • Assume a push-up like position on your elbows and toes. Elbows should be directly under the shoulders.
  • Position your body in a straight line from the shoulders through the hips, knees and ankles.
  • Brace the core tight. (As if you’re going to be punched in the stomach)
  • Do not let the body slouch to the ground nor push the hips up high in the air.

Russian Twists

Russian Twist Bodyweight

Why: Targeting the oblique muscles, Russian Twists help in developing a strong core, crucial for sharp turns and swift movements during the game.

How To

  • Start by taking a seat on the floor and clasping your hands together.
  • Slightly bend the knees and raise your feet roughly six inches off the floor.
  • Start by rotating your torso to the left, taking your right elbow toward your left knee.
  • Now turn your shoulders and rotate your torso to the right, now taking your left elbow toward your right knee.
  • Keep legs mostly still and maintain the feet off the floor throughout the movement.
  • Continue rotating back and forth until all reps are completed.

RELATED –> My 10 Favorite Core Exercises for Basketball Players

Glute Bridges

Glute Bridge

Why: Glute Bridges strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, aiding in powerful jumps and providing stability in the lower back.

How To

  • Start by laying on your back on the ground.
  • Bend both knees to about a 90-degree angle and place both feet flat on the floor.
  • Begin the rep by driving your hips up into the air. Try to attain a straight line from the shoulders through the hips and knees.
  • Squeeze the glutes at the top of the rep and then lower back down to the starting position.

Squat Jumps

Squat Jumps (1)

Why: Incorporating an explosive movement into the traditional Squat, Squat Jumps enhance your vertical jump, a vital skill in basketball.

How To

  • First, make sure you have enough clearance to safely do Squat Jumps (no low ceilings!)
  • Start in a shoulder-width with toes either straight ahead or turned slightly out.
  • Squat down, exactly how you would with a normal Bodyweight Squat.
  • As you squat down, cock your arms back so that they are down and slightly behind the hips.
  • When you get to the bottom of the squat, explosively drive yourself up – hips and arms – into the air as high as possible.
  • Land softly by bending the hips and knees to absorb force when contacting the ground.

Bodyweight Circuit

Here’s a bodyweight circuit that you can follow to build strength and endurance utilizing the exercises above:

Circuit 13 Rounds
Push-Upsx 15
Bodyweight Squatsx 15
Burpeesx 12
Plankx 45 seconds
Circuit 23 Rounds
Mountain Climbersx 15 each leg
Squat Jumpsx 12
Russian Twistsx 15 each side
Circuit 33 Rounds
Pull-Upsx 10
Lungesx 12 each leg
Glute Bridgesx 15

Circuit Instructions

Make sure to start off with a proper warm-up. I have a few sample warmups here if you need one.

Perform each exercise in Circuit 1 one after another, with minimal rest in between, until 3 total rounds have been completed.

Rest 2 minutes.

Continue on to Circuit 2 in the same manner, resting another 2 minutes between Circuit 2 and 3.

If you want to increase the challenge, try 4 rounds of each circuit instead of 3.

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Final Thoughts

Integrating these bodyweight exercises into your training program can be a game-changer, giving you a physical advantage on the basketball court.

Leveraging the power, agility, and endurance attained from these exercises, you can aim to become an unstoppable force on the court!

Remember, consistent practice coupled with a dedication to maximizing your physical performance can pave the path to being the best player you can be.

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