6-Week Basketball Training Program

Anybody is capable of improving their physical conditioning for basketball, even over a short period of time. Six weeks is the length of time between the start of the classes in the fall and the first preseason exhibition games for a college team, the end of the live period and the beginning of the school year or the first open tryouts and a training camp for a national or provincial time. There is always a chance to improve.

Getting Stronger

If basketball training consists entirely of skill development drills or pick-up games, they will not reach the intensity of competitive games in terms of heart rate, VO2 Max and acceleration. Sport-specific strength training is necessary (Montgomery, Pyne, & Minahan, 2010, p. 80). If it’s tempting to play pick-up or only work on skills, commit to a strength training schedule earlier in the day: at lunch or before stepping on the court.

Scholarship basketball players spend almost forty hours weekly on their sport, including games, practices and training sessions (O’Shaughnessy, 2011). If you want to get to that level, you must commit to what other athletes are not willing to do, including extra hours in the weight room. Professional players who make exceptional improvements and become more consistent are those who pledge to developing their bodies in the off-season (Haley, 2015).

When constructing a training program, consider the primary muscles for basic basketball activities.

  • Running: Hips, Quads, Calves, Hamstrings
  • Jumping: Hips, Glutes, Quads
  • Shooting: Triceps, Deltoids
  • Rebounding: Pectorals, Trapezius, Biceps (Cole & Panariello, 2016, pp. 7-89)

For balance and physical play, a strong and stable core (abdominals and back) is paramount.

Perform one or two sets per exercise and select a weight in order to reach fatigue within ten to twelve reps. Rest one or two minutes between sets and exercises (Stein, 2015). It’s important to progress continually. Small increases in weight from week to week can lead to a big difference at the end of a few weeks (Thom, 2013).

Getting Faster

Strength in basketball is nothing without stability and speed. Being in basketball shape is different from being in gym shape so continue sport-specific conditioning (Stein, 2015). Speed training develops power so that strength training can be effective in the intensity of the game (Cissik, 2017). Mix in speed and plyometric training with strength training.

Athletes who complete an eight-week plyometric training program (on land or in the water) experience faster sprint times. Although training programs should improvement in leg strength, the aquatic plyometric program showed a greater increase (Arazi & Asadi, 2011, p. 105). DeMar DeRozan credits his improvement before the 2016-17 season to 5:30am weight room and pool strength workouts (Postmedia Network, 2016).

LeBron James and Teammates Work Out in the Pool

Basketball players need a strong aerobic base because of the stop and start nature of the sport. One hundred to five hundred metre runs every thirty to sixty seconds can improve VO2 Max results about ten percent over a month and a half. Run at eighty-five percent to ninety percent of max heart rate. Concurrent strength and aerobic training can boost improvement even further (Stone & Kilding, 2009, p. 620).

Traditional basketball pick-up and practice situations may not raise heart-rate sufficiently to improve aerobic conditioning on its own. A combination of speed training with technical drills and game situations can simulate basketball competitions. Small-sided games in pick-up (3-on-3 and 4-on-4) can also induce sufficient heart rate intensities (more than eighty percent of peak heart rate (Stone & Kilding, 2009, p. 627).

Getting Motivated

Descriptive social norms cause us to follow what we see others doing or finding evidence of them doing (Halpern, 2015, p. 108). Work out in a group and keep a log in plain sight so team members can motivate each other. Post workouts on social media and acknowledge everyone’s efforts.

LeBron James Posts Quarantine Workouts Online

Rather than simply keeping a log of sessions completed, look ahead and plan each week. Projecting actions ahead of time makes a person more likely to follow through (Halpern, 2015, p. 199). Commit to the workouts that you will perform each week rather than deciding each day whether you feel up to it.

Goal setting can have benefits in basketball. Set targets for improvement in terms of weight lifted, sport-specific benchmarks or basketball statistics (such as rebounding, scoring inside or blocked shots. Focusing on one basketball area of improvement does not diminish results in non-targeted areas (Swain & Jones, 1995, p. 60). Make a commitment in public to your teammates and friends and it will be difficult to break (Gallagher, 2017).

Exercise Suggestions

For a list of exercises that can be completed in a basic weight room, visit the High School Weight Room Workout page.

Other Athletic Abilities

Learn more about training all of the athletic abilities needed for basketball:


  • Arazi, H., & Asadi, A. (2011). The effect of aquatic and land plyometric training on strength, sprint, and balance in young basketball players. Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal, 6 (1).
  • Cissik, M. J. (2017, April 29). Basketball Off-Season Workout: Strength and Size. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from STACK: http://www.stack.com/a/basketball-offseason-strength-workout
  • Cole, B., & Panariello, R. (2016). Basketball Anatomy. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
  • Gallagher, R. (2017, March 29). Big Returns from Thinking Small. Freakonomics Podcast. (S. F. Dubner, Interviewer)
  • Haley, A. (2015, February 12). Kyle Lowry’s 12-Week All-Star Training Program. Retrieved September 4, 2017, from STACK Magazine: http://www.stack.com/a/kyle-lowry-workout
  • Halpern, D. (2015). Inside the Nudge Unit. London: WH Allen.
  • LeBron James Polska [LeBronJamesPolska]. (2014, May 28) LeBron James day of Life 2014 Pre-Playoffs Preparation Workout 2 of 5 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fwgAhXGTI4E
  • JayPHoops [JayPHoops]. (2020, April 27). Beard LeBron James | Workout at home during Covid-19 pandemic [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/DhGKXNgsDEs
  • Montgomery, P. G., Pyne, D. B., & Minahan, C. L. (2010). The Physical and Physiological Demands of Basketball Training and Competition. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 5 (1), 75-86.
  • O’Shaughnessy, L. (2011, February 18). Do College Athletes Have Time to Be Students? Retrieved September 4, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/do-college-athletes-have-time-to-be-students
  • Postmedia Network. (2016, November 14). NBA scoring leader DeMar DeRozan reaps benefits of 5:30 a.m. workouts in Rio, ‘toughest’ summer of his life. Retrieved September 4, 2017, from The National Post:
  • http://nationalpost.com/sports/basketball/nba/nba-scoring-leader-demar-derozan-reaps-benefits-of-530-a-m-workouts-in-rio-toughest-summer-of-his-life
  • Stein, A. (2015, May 15). The Definitive 6-Week Guard Workout. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from U.S.A. Basketball: https://www.usab.com/youth/news/2012/06/the-definitive-6-week-guard-workout.aspx
  • Stone, N. M., & Kilding, A. E. (2009). Aerobic Conditioning for Team Sport Athletes. Sports Medicine, 39 (8), 615-642.
  • Swain, A., & Jones, G. (1995). Effects of Goal-Setting Interventions on Selected Basketball Skills. Research Quarterly for Exercise in Sport, 66 (1), 51-63.
  • Thom, S. (2013, October 14). Cal Basketball’s 5-Week Bodybuilding-Style Workout Program. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from STACK: http://www.stack.com/a/cal-basketball-workout

Workout Plan

The idea is to begin with a manageable training program and progress from there. Focus on form and technique, then add weight and increase the number of sets. Warm-up and cool down before each session.

Continue with your aerobic interval and sport-specific training.

Day 1

  • Upper Body Weight Training (1-2 sets x 10-12 reps)
    • Bench Press
    • Bicep Curl
    • Chest Fly
    • Front Lat Raise
    • Overhead Press
    • Pullover/Overhead Skull Crusher
    • Rear Delt Raise
    • Seated Row
    • Tricep Extension
    • Wide Grip Pull-Up
  • Lower Body Plyometric (3 sets x 10-12 jumps)
    • Box Jumps
    • Depth Jumps
    • Lateral Bounds

Day 2

  • Lower Body Weight Training (1-2 sets x 10-12 reps)
    • Calf Raise
    • Front Squat
    • Hamstring Curl
    • Hip Adduction
    • Leg Extension
    • Lower Back Extension
  • Core Exercises (3 x 30 seconds each)
    • Clamsheels (each side)
    • Fire Hydrant (each side)
    • Plank
    • Side Plank
    • Russian Twists
    • Dead Bug

Day 3: Off

Day 4

  • Upper Body Weight Training (1-2 sets x 10-12 reps)
    • Shoulder Press
    • Incline Press
    • High Row
    • Chest Press
    • Incline Row
    • Inverted Row
    • Landmine Press
    • Lat Pulldown
    • Tricep Dip
    • Upright Row
  • Lower Body Plyometric (3 sets x 10-12 jumps)
    • Alternate Leg Bounding
    • Single Leg Hops
    • Step Ups

Day 5

  • Lower Body Weight Training (1-2 sets x 10-12 reps)
    • Dumbbell Lunge
    • Glute Ham Raises
    • Hip Abduction
    • Leg Press
    • Romanian Dead Lift
    • Split Squat
  • Core/Hip Exercises (3 x 30 seconds each)
    • Clamshells (each side)
    • Fire Hydrants (each side)
    • Plank
    • Side Plank
    • Russian Twists
    • Dead Bug

Day 6 & 7: Off

For off days, consider recovery and regeneration activities, injury prevention, hip mobility and core strength and stability.

Sprint Training

Train for speed 3-4 times per week.

  • ¾ court sprints (baseline to foul line, decelearate and walk back to the starting point): 8-10 sprints x at 85% intensity, rest thirty seconds.
  • Modify sprints by adding lateral slides before sprinting
  • 17s (17 sideline-to-sideline sprints): 3-5 spring try to finish in sixty to sixty five seconds, for sixty seconds.