How Can I Improve For Basketball?

Question: I am a 14-year-old basketball player. My coach recently told me to bulk up after the season. My main goal is to increase my abdominal strength and my chest to bump defenders off me and drive to the hole.
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How Can I Improve For Basketball?

I am a 14-year-old freshman basketball (point guard 5-foot-6, 130 pounds) player in the Bronx, New York. My coach recently told me to bulk up after the season, but he is not in contact since he left for a family emergency. In my school there is a gym. I have been told that weightlifting can stunt growth. My main goal is to increase my abdominal strength and my chest to bump defenders off me and drive to the hole with greater strength. My own routine now consists of:

  • 10 dips
  • 25 pushups
  • 20 curls (light weights)
  • 15 chin-ups and push-ups
  • 10 leg raises
  • 25 situps
  • 25 crunches

All these exercises are one set of each.

I'm trying to figure out what routine would have a greater impact. Would the bench press help me on this? What could I do non-weight wise that I can use for chest and abdominal strength?

I have a soft place in my heart for basketball players. I was a competitive basketball player for 13 years. I played on every level except professional, just didn't have the genes. That is why I really want to help many basketball players avoid the common pitfalls of training. First, training with weights will NOT stunt your growth. If you get on a sensible training program that allows you to slowly increase load, you will have no problems. Unfortunately this myth about stunting growth will not die. There is no research to support it and countries outside of the United States have used weight training for centuries without producing dwarfs as athletes.

You are close in your assumption on how to keep defenders off you and "bang" inside the paint. In actuality, it is the legs that are so crucial to being strong. A great example is Yao Ming. Obviously he is very tall, but looks relatively thin in his upper body. He is able to hold his own by having a very strong lower body. Your lower-body work should involve exercises like deadlifts, squats, Olympic lifts, one-legged exercises and minimize the use of machines.

As far as your abdominals, yes these would be helpful as well as getting a strong low back (which can be done indirectly with the above mentioned exercises). I suggest you take a look at my "Mighty Abs" series which depicts exercises that load the abdominal area, which is something most athletes and trainers forget to do!

Don't forget, strength training is just one part of the equation. You still need to perform your drills, conditioning work (jump rope drills and unweighted exercises in my "Getting In Shape" series), flexibility work, and agility drills. Your know you have a good coach if they cover all these aspects in a well-planned program.

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