Core training has evolved tremendously in recent years. Gone are the days when a few sets of Crunches and Leg Lifts would suffice. Instead, today's athletes know they need to train by creating and resisting a wide variety of forces with their core muscles.
Nowhere is this more evident than in a sport like basketball, where players routinely bang bodies under the boards and work to maintain balance while driving to the hoop.
To meet these specific demands, you should perform your basketball core workout in predominantly upright positions. When you're lying down, it's pretty tough to mimic the act of engaging an opponent or shooting the ball.
Basketball core workouts should also feature lots of movements that incorporate large muscle groups firing at different rates. That way, players can work on developing and resisting force, while simultaneously improving knee, hip, ankle and even scapular stability.
The movements featured below do a great job of torching the core, while also addressing all of these needs. Try sprinkling some of them into your existing program or string them together as a challenging core circuit workout.
Benefits: Trains anti-rotation, with lateral hip strength and deceleration mechanics
Grab the handle of a cable station set to about chest height. With the weight stack at your side, assume an athletic position and bring the handle to the center of your chest. Once in position, press the weight out in front of you until your arms are straight as you simultaneously step out laterally. As you bring your trail leg toward you, bring your arms back toward your chest and repeat the sequence. Go three strides out and three strides back for 4 rounds each side.
Unilateral Med Ball Slams
Benefits: Trains core and upper-body power while improving ankle, knee and hip stability
Stand balanced on one leg holding a medicine ball in your hands. Without allowing your non-working leg to hit the floor, quickly lift the ball overhead and then slam it down just outside your foot. Gather the ball back and repeat until you've done 6-8 reps per side.
Learn how you can add more core power with Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws.
Defensive Position Reverse Fly Holds
Benefits: Improves lower body and core endurance while improving scapular stability
Stand in between a cable crossover (or facing a functional cable station) and grab the pulley opposite your hand on both sides so that the cable forms an "X" in front of you. Adopt a low, defensive-ready position and perform a reverse fly movement by bringing your shoulder blades together, so that the cable "X" is now just in front of your chest. Once there, maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you raise your arms a few inches above and then a few inches below your shoulders, staying in your defensive stance and never allowing your shoulder blades to come apart. Perform 10-12 reps.
Low Cable "Takeaways"
Benefits: Trains rotational strength while also strengthening the upper back and improving pivot leg stability
Stand facing a low cable pulley in an athletic stance. Holding the cable handle with both hands and elbows flared out, step out to one side as you pull the handle away from the start position by rotating your torso. In the finish position, your torso should be rotated away from the support leg with one elbow pointed up and behind you. The support leg should also remain in the same position as it was to start the drill—i.e., don't allow the knee to pinch inward as you stride to the opposing side. Perform 8-10 reps per side.
Dumbbell Waiters Walk
Benefits: Trains core and shoulder stability
Grab a dumbbell and press it overhead until your arm is completely straight and your bicep is right next to your ear. Hold the dumbbell steady in this position as you walk for a set distance (15-20 yards), maintaining a straight elbow and not allowing the shoulder of your overhead arm to "jam up" toward your ear. Also make sure that your rib cage doesn't jut out to the side of your carrying arm.
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