Best Exercises For Basketball Players

When you look at the physique of a competitive basketball player it becomes apparent which muscle groups are prioritized and which are not. Whether you’re a gym rat, weekend warrior, or you have kids trying to get better at competitive sports – here’s a list of the best exercises for basketball players.

Lower Body Exercises


Leg drive and strength is by far the most important element when it comes to resistance training for basketball. Squats work nearly every lower body muscle group to some degree, and are a must-do for almost every sport.

Calf Raises

Quick twitch explosiveness can get a boost with more powerful calves. They’re a small muscle group, but they do a lot of work during a game.

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Upper Body Exercises

Shoulder Presses

If your shoulders are reaching fatigue before the rest of your body, to the point you can barely lift your arms, add some shoulder press work.

Lat Pulldowns

If your back is hurting from leaning on other players, you can improve your strength and performance with lat work.

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Core Exercises

Endurance Exercises

High Inensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT seems tailor made for basketball players, as it mimics much of the cardio stress you’ll experience during a game.

What You Shouldn’t Do (As Much)

All forms of strength are beneficial in competitive sports, so the exercises listed aren’t bad and won’t diminish your performance but they’re not at the top of the list for how you should spend your time.

Bicep Curls
Yeah, bulging biceps look impressive but they’re not going to help much on the court. If you’re going to spend some time on your arms prioritize your forearms to improve hand, and gripping, strength.

Bench Press
If you’re in the trenches, your ability to move or get moved won’t be determined by how much you bench press. You can’t fully extend your arms, or shove people out of your way. Your leg, back, and core strength is what makes you immovable, not your max bench press.


Leg drive plays a role in deadlifts, but it’s only a supporting role. You’re placing your back in tremendous risk of injury for strength gains that won’t translate well on the court.

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