The Right Exercises For Your Basketball Strength Training

April 6, 2011 by danny · Leave a Comment 

I had a new article published at iHoops today.  Even though is a basketball website, the advice applies to any lifter out there.  Check it out…

In the field of strength and conditioning, everyone wants to know what the best exercise is for X, Y, and Z.

I’ve had people ask me, “what is the best exercise to improve power?” I’ve had people ask me, “what is the best exercise for strong shoulders?” I’ve had people ask me, “what exercise is better, back squats or bulgarian split squats?” And the list goes on and on.

My answer is always the same–it depends. As much as I’d like to give these enthusiastic and inquisitive individuals a one-size-fits-all answer, I just can’t do it. There are too many factors to consider before I can even come close to giving them my opinion. For example, I’d need to know…

Keep Reading…

Are Your Knees Always Sore?

May 17, 2010 by danny · Leave a Comment 

Knee pain is a very common problem.  Especially for those that are in their 30s and 40s (although I know plenty of 20-somethings with sore knees as well).  During my last couple years of playing competitive basketball, my knees were always hurting.  And the first two or three years (especially after playing pick-up games) it was even worse.  I told myself; I know, I know, I need to stretch more.  This every once in awhile stretching thing is not good enough.  So I finally made a point to stretch every day.  But, it didn’t help!  Why?  All I would do is stretch my hamstrings because some doctor told me to do that about 10 years earlier.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people out there that need to stretch their hammies (including your truly), but this doesn’t do a whole lot to address sore knees.  Fast forward a few years (and a TON of reading later), and I now better understand how to make my (and your) knees feel better.  While I am no knee expert (I’ll leave to guys like Mike Robertson), I feel confident that if you integrate the below tips, your knees will be thanking you in a big way!

This is in no way the end-all-be-all of “knee tips” for healthy knees.  But I thought I’d include a few simple tips that you can incorporate today, to get your knee(s) feeling better.

Tips For To Make Your Knees Love You

1) Stretch Your Quads

As I mentioned above, all the hamstring stretching in the world isn’t going to do a whole lot when trying to address sore knees.  When I started stretching my quads (more specifically – my rectus femoris), I started feeling considerably better.

2) Get Your Soft Tissue Work In 

If you’ve been reading this website for awhile now, this is probably the 311th time you’ve heard my mention the importance of soft tissue work.  Foam rolling your IT-Band, and your vastus lateralis (outside part of your quads) will do wonders for your knees.  Breaking up the knots in your glutes will also help.  And if you are feeling really tough, using a lacrosse ball for your glutes and TFL is even better!

You can purchase your roller here at performbetter.  I NEVER do a leg workout or play basketball without first getting some soft tissue work in.  Make sure you do the same – this means before you go golfing; before your slow pitch softball games; before your wii bowling tourney; etc. etc. 

Oh, and rolling afterwards and on “off” days would be smart too.

3) Improve Hip Mobility/Flexibility

Mike Robertson and Eric Cressey have done a great job of teaching us about the importance of improving hip mobility.  Before each activity, make sure you do some dynamic movement that help make your hips more mobile.  A couple of good drills…


Working on flexibility of the hips/glutes is also smart.  A couple examples…

I usually perform these static stretches post-workout and on “off” days.

4) Activate Your Glutes

I mentioned above that I always perform soft tissue work before my leg workouts.  Another thing I always do, is perform some kind of “glute activation” drill.  A drill like X-Band Walks are perfect here.  Sometimes when I am demonstrating how to squat to a new client, my knees are achy just by using the 45-pound bar.  But, if I perform X-Band walks before demonstrating, the pain is completely gone.  X-Band walks will help to get the glute max and posterior fibers of the glute medius firing.  This will take tension off of the knees.

Once again, you can pick up these “Superbands” at performbetter.

Quick Story

A few months back one of my “older” (57 years old) clients walked into the gym and said; “Danny, my knees are killing me!  There is NO WAY I am going to be able to perform any lower body movements today.  Let’s just focus on upper body.”  I said, not so fast.  Let’s at least try a few “tricks” before giving in so easily.  His reply; “it’s just not going to happen, it hurts just to stand here.  But ok, I’ll humor you.”  So, I had him try a body weight squat.  He went down about 3 inches and immediately stopped; “they’re just too sore!”  I had him roll out his IT-Band and vastus lateralis on the foam roller.  And then use the lacrosse ball on his glutes and TFL.  Next I told him to stand up and try another body weight squat.  He went down a few inches – no pain.  He went deeper and deeper until he was ass-to-grass.  “Danny, what are you, like some kind of voo-doo witch doctor,” he asked?  Well, I wish I was magic, but we simply used this soft tissue work to get some of those knots out.  It is AMAZING how freely and pain free our body moves once we “untie” the knots in our body.  We then performed some mobility drills, X-Band walks, and went onto have a great, pain-free session.

If working out, whether it be weight training, pick-up basketball games, or running around with your kids, is no longer any fun because of those achy knees, you’re now 4 simple tips closer to moving around without all that pain!


Exercise of the Week

April 6, 2010 by danny · Leave a Comment 

In previous weeks, I focused on lifting for the exercise of the week.  Today, I’m going to put the focus on improving mobility.  Getting leaning, stronger, and more muscular is great.  But if you don’t work on your mobility, it will lead to problems down the line.  These problems could be; injury – if you don’t spend time getting the proper joints mobile, your body will go to another joint to get this motion.  Quite often this ends up being a joint that is designed for stability, NOT mobility.  So basically, you’re getting mobility at the wrong joint.  Another problem is a drop in performance.  This drop could show up on the athletic field, or in the weight room.  If you are trying to get the most out of each training session, this is not a good thing.  You want each training session to be as efficient as possible.

Exercise of the Week: Walking Spiderman

I picked up this exercise from a great product called Access & Correct.   This is an exercise me and my clients use pre-workout to improve the length of our hip flexors (which are tight for just about everyone out there…from all the sitting we do, day-in-day-out), and the adductors.  As described in Access & Correct;

-Take a long stride forward into a lunge position.

-Keeping the chest up and out, lower the same-side elbow to the heel of the your forward leg.

-In the bottom position, squeeze the glute of the trailing leg and drive the hip towards the ground.

-Stand up and return to the starting position.

- Maintain a neutral spine and do not allow your back to round.

-Keep the chest up and out.

-Make sure to take long strides to lengthen the adductors.