Post 8 – Top Bodyweight Strength Exercises for Basketball Players
OK, we’ve already shared our “top: overall strength exercises for basketball players. See: https://progressiveperformance.ca/top-strength-exercises-for-basketball-players/
But, that really works if you have access to essentially all equipment a high-end training studio would have. Obviously that’s not a reality for many basketball players – some of you may have access to a fully equipped gym when you are with your teams, or trainer, and some of you never have access to such a gym – which seemed to be even more common during the many COVID lockdowns. Either way, you will need exercises to do with NO equipment at times.
Honestly, no equipment is not ideal as to get really strong in many of the exercise categories you need loads that can only be achieved by weight. That said, we have to make the most of what we’ve got and sometimes that will be nothing. We have a choice – 1) sit around and wait until we are in a fully equipped gym again OR b) do the best we can with what we’ve got. I’d go with option B!
With that said, below are the exercises we would focus on in this situation:
Top Bodyweight Strength Exercises for Basketball Players
If we were limited to only bodyweight exercises (like REALLY no equipment – i.e. not even a suspension trainer, resistance bands, sliders, etc.) then below is what I would pick in each exercise category to challenge and progress with time. I would recommend getting a sturdy backpack and a pack of water bottles. You will be able to use this to progressively add load to the exercises over time and to continue to see gains even with these “basic” exercises. If you take any of the exercise categories below to the highest level and need further challenge you can accentuate various phases of the lift to further challenge yourself – i.e. 3-5s in the eccentric or isometric phase.
The push category is really one of the best ones to do and progress with no equipment. We can easily challenge an athlete for a long time in this category before requiring other equipment. I would start with regular push-ups. Regress to incline push-ups if these are too hard. Gradually decrease the incline until you reach the floor for regular push-ups. Then one those are easy progress to decline push-ups. For the incline and decline push-ups use a sturdy chair or bench as I’m going to assume you don’t have a barbell and power rack for the incline or boxes for the decline.
That should challenge you for a while, before you may want to look at purchasing equipment such as a set of resistance bands.
Pull is probably the hardest exercise category to really challenge yourself with NO equipment. That said, this is what I would do. I would use these two exercise options and load them with light water bottles, or cans in my hands to progress:
Hinge Position Y-W-T-A
To challenge the squat pattern with NO equipment I would focus on unilateral squat variations starting with Bodyweight Split Squats. Once I master those I would progress to Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats. I would then start to load those with a backpack placed on my front or held in goblet position and filled with water bottles. Add more water bottles as you progress. As this becomes too easy with the maximum load available I would then progress to Single Leg Squat to Box and start loading those to progress in a similar fashion:
Bodyweight Split Squat:
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS):
Since this is a no equipment option, then instead of the RFESS stand shown in the video below you will need to find a sturdy chair or bench to do this exercise.
Single Leg Squat to Box:
The weights held in the video are very light and are just as a counter-weight. You obviously won’t have dumbbells since this is a no equipment option but you could find something like cans that weight a couple pounds each and that should help.
Similar to pull, I find that hinge is the next category I would really like to have weights to progress to other exercises. That said, without equipment I would focus on Glute Bridge Raise Variations. You could further progress these by loading your hips with the back-pack filled with water bottles. Start with regular glute bridge raises on the floor. Progress to Feet Elevated and then move to Single Leg Feet Elevated GBRs.
Glute Bridge Raise
Feet Elevated GBR
Feet Elevated Single Leg GBR
For core, with no equipment I would focus on the Anti-Extension and Anti-lateral Flexion categories. For anti-extension I would start with basic Front Planks and progress to things like RKC planks, shoulder touch planks, and plank reaches. For anti-lateral flexion I would start with basic lateral planks and then add movement through variations like Lateral Plank + leg lift, or elbow to knee, or reach throughs, or Coppenhagen variations.
(this looks like a normal plank but it’s not…read the exercise cues in the video!)
Shoulder Touch Plank
Lateral Plank Plus Reach Through
Lateral Plank Plus Leg Lift
I hope that helps! Remember, while it would be ideal to have weights, don’t wait until things are perfect. Start now with what you’ve got…even with no equipment you can make some really good progress in your strength.
You can also download our free Bodyweight Strength Program for Basketball Players here: https://progressiveperformance.ca/ppt-free-bodyweight-program-for-basketball-players/