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Weight Training for Sports

Ever know a guy who could shoot the lights out during warm-ups, or win any game of H-O-R-S-E, but could barely score a point during the game? How about the player who excels early in the game, but whose jump shot always hits the front of the rim as the game goes on? Sure you need to be able to shoot the ball, but if you don't have the physical ability to run up and down the court, and establish your position in the paint, all the skill in the world won't do you any good.

Watch an NBA basketball game, and you can't help but marvel at the incredible athleticism exhibited on the court. Speed, strength, and flexibility are all necessary physical attributes of a successful player. You may not be playing in the pros any time soon, but to excel at the weekend pickup game at the Y requires those same physical abilities.

Strong legs are essential to establishing position in the low post and jumping. Upper body strength can help your jumping as well, and is necessary when shooting and boxing out for a rebound.

In the injury prevention realm, anterior cruciate ligament tears are an all too common injury among basketball players (especially women, in part due to the width of their hips) Once again, increased quadriceps strength can help prevent or minimize such injuries.

These exercises should help fortify you on and off the court.


Body Part Exercises
Legs and hips Squat or leg press
Leg extension
Leg curl
Standing calf raise
Seated calf raise
Back Lat pull-down
Chest Bench press
Shoulders Military press
Arms Seated biceps curl
Triceps pushdown
Midsection Reverse crunches
Oblique crunches
Back raise

Swimming fast requires a tremendous amount of skill and strength. The chiseled physique and V-shaped taper of an elite swimmer should leave little doubt about that. The muscles used vary from stroke to stroke, but it's safe to say that swimmers need good chest, shoulder, and back strength as well as abdominal strength for stability when rotating to breathe. Leg strength for the kick is also essential.

Swimmers, especially elite swimmers, are extremely flexible, which affords them enormous range of motion (ROM) while they propel themselves through the water. This flexibility, coupled with overdevelopment of the muscles of the front of their upper body (pecs and anterior delts), puts swimmers at risk for rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis, muscle tears, and shoulder dislocations. A weight-training routine that emphasizes strengthening the upper back muscles and the posterior deltoid muscles will decrease the muscle imbalance often associated with these aquatic types. Strengthening the rotator cuff muscles will decrease the risk of the shoulder injuries so common to hard-core swimmers.

The thing that all athletes should keep in mind – especially those whose sport depends on a greater-than-average range of motion – is that strength training does not inhibit flexibility as long as you lift through a full range of motion. Strength training will decrease that risk without decreasing your flexibility.

Here's a regimen that should make Summer Sanders proud.


Body Part Exercises
Legs and hips Leg press
Leg curl
Back Lat pull-down
Upright row
Chest Bench press
Shoulders Military press
Lateral raise
Reverse flye
Front raise
Internal rotation
External rotation
Arms Seated biceps curl
Triceps kickback
Midsection Reverse crunch
Rotary torso
Back raise


Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.


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