11 Essential Upper Body Exercises & Workouts for Basketball Players

By Cody Roberts
Home > Player > Athletic Development > 11 Essential Upper Body Exercises & Workouts for Basketball Players

The upper body is involved in various movements in basketball. For instance, all areas of the shoulder require strength and coordination to shoot, pass, or dribble. The upper body is further used to block shots, bring down rebounds, drive through traffic, and protect the ball.

Ideally, basketball strength training should focus on developing the legs and the core, as well as the chest, shoulders, and back. So, what are the best upper body exercises for basketball players?

Note: Before beginning any strengthening exercises, ensure you perform a proper warm-up, such as 5-10 minutes of activity to break a light sweat and improve muscle function.


1. Barbell Row

The Barbell Row works the postural muscles of the entire back and shoulders. This exercise utilizes the posterior chain, improving core strength and posture. It also helps with muscle gain in the upper back and posterior shoulder, which contribute to strength and dominance around the rim.


2. Bench Press

The Bench Press is the ultimate developer for your chest, shoulders, and triceps. This lift involves the entire body as your feet should be anchored to the floor and the athlete engages their glutes to drive the bar up off the chest. Keep it under control, however, respect the movement and donít worry about how much weight is on the bar. Stay balanced and controlled through your torso and shoulders.


3. Chin Ups

Chin Ups are a great measure of relative strength, as being able to control your bodyweight is important. Chin ups target the muscles through the back and biceps, as well as develop grip strength. Not to mention, this is a great way to introduce an overhead position, working through a full range of motion at the bottom.


4. Overhead Press

This exercise is essential for shoulder strength and a solid overhead position. Perform it standing or half kneeling to further engage the glute and torso for great posture. This exercise will leave you with more control in your jump shot, as well as helping you go up strong for two hand rebounds.


5. Push-Ups

With Push-Ups, ensure you always lead with the chest. Itís all about control and accessing your full range of motion with a flat and stable torso. When this movement gets easier, start focusing on the eccentric phase. This means going slowly toward the floor, then pushing back up.


6. Back Extension

Back extension exercises, like this one, focus on engaging that posterior chain. This helps improve core strength and posture. By developing and engaging these muscles, you reduce the risk of injuries to the hip, knee, and lower back.


7. Vertical Chest Pass

The Vertical Chest Pass is an explosive medicine ball throw that coordinates the entire body. It not only adds power to your passes but improves your jumping ability as well with a high rate of force development.


8. Shoulder Raise

This exercise moves in the frontal plane with the shoulder. Also referred to as a lateral raise, it helps isolate the shoulder and upper trap. This exercise adds the size, strength, and stability needed in all areas of basketball.


9. Bicep Curl

The bicep curl isolates the bicep muscles. Yet, depending on your grip strength, you can also target the forearms and grip. During the curl, place your palms down, or actively rotate a dumbbell. This will add size and strength to your arm, helping you with ball handling skills.


10. Tricep Extension

The arm is made up primarily of the triceps muscle. Just as we did with the shoulder, isolating it helps to maximize its growth and development. Strengthening this muscle will improve not only the size of the arm but also the strength and control needed in knocking down shots behind the arc.


11. Tall Kneeling Halo

This exercise targets the shoulders and forearms, all of which are essential for ball handling. This movement pattern creates strength and stability for blocking and rebounding as well. Similar to exercises above, this exercise may reduce your risk of injury and prevent time spent on the sidelines.

Improve Your Basketball Game With The Right Exercises

The right combination and gradual progression of exercises can significantly improve your basketball game. It comes down to knowing what to do and when. In the 12 Week Athletic Development Program for Basketball Players, you are given a step-by-step plan on how to do this. Starting with coordination and movement efficiency, you learn the basics before moving onto more complex movements involving force production and strength, and speed and explosiveness.





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