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Train Like an NBA Player — With Tips from the Atlanta Hawks’ Kent Bazemore

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The NBA season is 82 games long, spread over eight months. Add a month of preseason, plus another month for the postseason (and half the league makes the playoffs), and you’ve got 10 grueling months for a body to endure. That doesn’t factor in the travel schedule, or the reality that, in the 21st century, players are literally million-dollar assets, risking their careers with every jump shot, hard foul and awkward landing.

It’s why we love to watch, and it’s why the players are some of the fittest, most inspiring athletes out there. We asked Kent Bazemore — who, over the past six seasons worked his way from an undrafted rookie to a key member of the Atlanta Hawks’ starting lineup — and former Los Angeles Lakers trainer Tim DiFrancesco how they do it. Here’s what they told us, in the form of six tips on how to train like an NBA player:

TIP #1: REMEMBER YOU’RE NOT AN NBA PLAYER

We mean this in two ways. First, you’re probably not built like an NBA player — that is to say, you’re probably not extra-tall with especially long limbs. That affects how you work out. As DiFrancesco points out, he’ll teach a player to do side planks with their legs bent, just to avoid putting excessive impact on their long-levered bodies. (For you, even if you’re not 6-foot-9, this can be a way to go easier on your body when recovering from an injury.)

 

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Second, your lifestyle, while busy with work, family and relationships, it probably differs from that of the average NBA player. Consider that aforementioned travel schedule. “When you shut off the TV at 10:30 p.m. when the game is over, the players are hitting the showers and then getting on the plane to get to the next city,” DeFrancesco says. “So it’s another three-hour minimum before a player will even think about going to bed.” (And, as Bazemore points out, flying is dehydrating.) The next day, a player will likely be up by 8 a.m. for a shootaround or practice.

Rest when — and where — you can. “I’ll fall asleep on planes, on buses, it doesn’t matter to me,” Bazemore says, adding he’s a nap enthusiast on game day. “I love sleep. It’s very vital for me. When I get tired, I get grumpy. And I hate getting grumpy.”

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One other thing: Remember NBA players aren’t all alike — just like we’re not all alike. DiFrancesco creates custom programs for each player he trains, and Bazemore prefers to keep his body in shape with Pilates, rather than the yoga some of his teammates prefer. So, by all means, train like an NBA player, but remember that your training may vary.

TIP #2: SET YOUR GOALS AND PLAN ACCORDINGLY

Simply put, every NBA player has the same goal: winning the NBA championship. So as soon as last season’s NBA Finals ended in June 2017, each player began training with an eye on the next Finals in June 2018. For Bazemore, that means devoting the offseason to building strength. “Deadlifts. Kettlebell goblet squats. More total body,” as he puts it. And then during the season, they’re careful not to push too hard, lest they use up valuable energy needed for the game itself. As Bazemore puts it, “I wouldn’t go and do 3 sets of 8 bench presses and 12 squats two days before a game if I feel like my legs are dead.”

For you, maybe the goal is running a half-marathon. Or winning the championship in your rec league. Or just beating your buddies in a round of golf. Whatever it is, make a plan to get your body into shape and maintain that shape once you’re there — including, yes, giving yourself permission to rest when your body demands it.

TIP #3: START WITH AN ASSESSMENT, AND THEN CHECK IN

As you’d probably expect, each NBA team has state-of-the-art technology at its disposal. But sometimes, analog works best. On the Hawks, Bazemore fills out a survey every day where he rates his soreness and fatigue on a scale of 1–5. After practices, he rates how hard the practice was on a scale of 1–10. All of this is designed to adjudicate his overall wellness on a day-to-day basis. (DiFrancesco did something similar during his Lakers days.) These check-ins guide a player as he endures a game, a season and a career — and so he knows taking it easy during an early season workout helps ensure he’s fresh for the playoffs.

For you, such check-ins (in tandem with using a fitness tracking app like ours) can keep you on the right path and help you connect actions and consequences. (Bad workout? Maybe you didn’t eat or sleep well the night before.)

These check-ins can also reveal when you’re pushing yourself too hard. Bazemore advises, “Learn when to rest. Learn when enough is enough. We’re all competitors at the end of the day, we all want a little bit more, to squeeze a little bit more out. But you gotta learn when enough is enough, and get your mind ready to get back after it. You don’t want to burn yourself out.”

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TIP #4: DO THESE WORKOUTS

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So what does an NBA player do to get and stay in shape? We’ll turn it over to Mr. Bazemore: “Over the summer is where you put in a ton of leg work and have the longer weight-room sessions — an hour and a half, two hours sometimes. Building the foundation. Cardio. Maybe two workouts a day. Three workouts a day. Not really touching a basketball as much. Maybe some spot shooting, some ballhandling.

<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-version=”7″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div><p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”><a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BWiCC70l6eS/” style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;” target=”_blank”>A post shared by Kent Bazemore (@24baze)</a> on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2017-07-14T15:18:58+00:00″>Jul 14, 2017 at 8:18am PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async defer src=”//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js”></script>

A post shared by Kent Bazemore (@24baze) on Jul 14, 2017 at 8:18am PDT

“Then the season rolls around. You’re always about working on what works for you. For me, that’s mobility. I go to SculptHouse here in Atlanta, which is Pilates.”

For those of us who can’t afford the time or energy to work out this intensely, DiFrancesco puts it in a relatable context. “When you break the body down into its core building blocks — bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles — what you’re talking about is preparing those building blocks for an incredible pace and intensity of schedule. For a basketball player, what you need to think about is starting from the feet up.” In other words, lifting weights might help you grow big muscles, but if the underlying structure isn’t strong, you’re not going to be able to endure a long season — whether you’re in the NBA or training for a marathon.

For an NBA player, this approach means working on the mobility of the lower legs and doing anything that keeps the hips strong and mobile as well as keeping the core strong. Bazemore mentions his love of planks and side planks, which can impact the entire body. Both men mention goblet squats, which are basically a deep squat executed while holding a kettlebell. Both mention deadlifts (with DiFrancesco pointing out that quality of execution is more important than lifting a lot of weight). DiFrancesco also mentioned landmine exercises, which combine weightlifting with mobility and, for a long-levered NBA player, means reducing the impact of deep squats during weightlifting. (Lowering your body when you have long legs is harder than it is for the rest of us.)

TIP #5: AIM TO RECOVER AND SLEEP LIKE AN NBA PLAYER, TOO (TOYS CAN HELP)

“I’m a very active person,” says Bazemore, referring to his off-court life. “I love doing things. Golf. Basketball. Walking the puppies. There was a time I was on my feet too much, and I was just so tired [all the time]. I try to shut down my night at 8:30 p.m. now, get in bed, try to get a good night’s sleep.” He knows it’s not easy, but emphasizes finding something to focus on. “It sucks sometimes, but I find things to do. I read. I let go with an old childhood toy of mine: Legos.”

“I love sleep. It’s very vital for me. When I get tired, I get grumpy. And I hate getting grumpy.”

Bazemore has another trick up his sleeve: Tom Brady’s line of Athlete Recovery Sleepwear for Under Armour. “I got it all, so I’ve definitely bought into Tom Brady’s movement. To be as good as he is, to play at his level, any athlete that does it that well, you gotta take note.” Thanks for noticing, Kent.

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TIP #6: HAVE SOME FUN

Here’s an understatement: Professional basketball players play a lot of basketball. To stay fit, many turn to another form of physical activity, including other sports. For Bazemore, hitting the links leaves him feeling energized — physically and mentally. “Golf challenges my perspective. It keeps me sharp, it’s not as impactful on the body [as basketball]. Nothing like hitting a good golf shot — it raises every aspect of your life. You come home to your wife with a big smile on your face.”

Speaking of, Bazemore has another way of unwinding. It’s his famous Baze Gaze — in which Bazemore videobombs his teammates’ postgame interviews by sneaking up on them and staring into the camera. Is it the end result of vigorous training? Yes and no. “It’s all about timing and the element of surprise,” Bazemore says. “It’s definitely instinctive. You gotta feel your way.” In other words, it’s about that moment where preparation meets opportunity. Which, in a way, is what training is all about.

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Exercise at Home

10 Moves That Feel Amazing for Tech Neck

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Spending hours every day looking down at your phone and laptop might get you caught up on work and social media, but it can be so tough on your neck and shoulders that it's prompted the rise of a new term: Tech neck.

The phrase describes that slight forward tilt to your head that becomes problematic when you're in that position for too long, according to Carol Mack, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist and strength coach at CLE Sports PT & Performance in Cleveland. The neck muscles lengthen in the back, creating strain, while shortening in the front, causing your shoulders to round, creating a hunch or “lump” in the area where the top of the back meets the neck.

“That position, in particular, can cause decreased shoulder and neck mobility, sometimes to a significant degree,” she tells SELF. “At some point, range of motion can become limited, to the point where dynamic movement is challenging.”

If that happens, even a beneficial activity like strength training can exacerbate the issue, she adds, because the smaller range of motion will keep your shoulders rounded and your neck jutting forward. If you're doing work targeting muscles on the frontside of the body, like your chest or pectoral muscles, you could be worsening the strain on the upper back, neck, and shoulders.

Plus, no matter what your activity, you'll likely experience pain along with the stiffness and decreased mobility. In a 2019 study published in PLoS One, researchers found a strong association between time spent on a smartphone and duration and severity of neck pain. There can be a ripple effect as well, including more tension in the upper back, numbness in the hands, recurring headaches, and rotator cuff tendonitis, according to Mack.

One long-term fix is to change your positioning so your computer is at eye level, she suggests, and to be sure to take breaks frequently so you're not stuck in the same position for an extended period of time. As for devices like tablets and cell phones that you tend to hold in your lap or at your chest, ideally the best option is to sit in a chair or on a couch where you can rest your head on the back of it, and bring your phone or tablet up to eye level. If that's not feasible (or if you find yourself reverting to your initial, head-down position), pencil in regular move breaks to make sure you're changing up your position.

Those are all ways to prevent tech neck, but what about if it's already reared up? The good news is, there are some things you can do to alleviate the tightness and discomfort.

And stretching is a major one—the right stretches can feel amazing for easing that tension. Tech neck stretches can help in a variety of ways, such as by gently lengthening the muscles in the front of the neck or providing some relief for overstretched muscles in the back of the neck. Because your neck muscles also attach to those in your shoulders, chest, and upper back, stretching those related muscles can be beneficial, too.

Here are 10 stretches Mack suggests for getting back into alignment. Pick three to four, and start out by holding each for 30 seconds, though you can try to hold them for up to a minute for additional relief. (Of course, if you're experiencing shooting pain, have severe headaches you think are related to neck tension, or stretches like these aren't helping, be sure to see a physical therapist or doctor.)

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Yoga Exercises For Beginners

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The following article will discuss the different poses that beginners can practice. These include Cow Face, Fish Pose, and Plank Pose. You will also learn how to breathe through challenging poses like Utkatasana. These poses are perfect for beginners to practice opening the body and breathing through challenging positions. For more information, check out the article. And stay tuned for more articles about yoga poses for beginners! Enjoy! Here's a quick overview of the most popular poses.

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The following article will discuss the different poses that beginners can practice. These include Cow Face, Fish Pose, and Plank Pose. You will also learn how to breathe through challenging poses like Utkatasana. These poses are perfect for beginners to practice opening the body and breathing through challenging positions. For more information, check out the article. And stay tuned for more articles about yoga poses for beginners! Enjoy! Here's a quick overview of the most popular poses.

Fish Pose

If you have limited neck strength or mobility, you may need a head support while in the Fish Pose. A thick, folded blanket placed under the head will help keep it from collapsing and straining. Another option for a beginner is to keep the head upright and stretch the neck, not the shoulders. You can also modify the pose by lowering the chest and lifting the arms away from the body. Then, slowly lower the head.

Cow Face

If you have not tried Cow Face Yoga Exercises yet, now is a good time to do so. This pose stretches the shoulders and stimulates good posture. Especially good for people who spend much time sitting in front of a computer, Cow Face is a great way to release tension in your shoulders, upper back, and middle back. To begin this yoga exercise, start by bending your elbows. Next, extend your right arm and left elbow over your head. Your hands should be clasped together in between your shoulder blades.

Plank Pose

If you're looking for an easy yoga exercise for beginners, plank pose might be the right one for you. This pose works the entire body, not just your legs. As with any yoga exercise, plank pose requires a lot of focus and positive self-talk in order to succeed. In fact, a man who held the world record for the longest time in plank is Daniel Scali. He held the pose for nine hours, thirty minutes and one second in 2021. Even a minute in a plank can be hard, but the longer you hold it the more likely you are to become strong and fitter.

Utkatasana

This backbend poses gently stretches the spine and arms while the torso remains stable. It is a good yoga exercise for beginners because it requires a shift in weight from front to back. You also have to lift your chin and lengthen your ribcage, which are essential to achieve the correct alignment. Try this yoga exercise for beginners and you'll soon feel the benefits! Once you have mastered this yoga exercise, you can advance to more challenging versions of this classic pose.

Trikonasana

One of the most basic poses in yoga is the trikonasana. It can be a good warm-up exercise. It strengthens the chest, hips, and lower back. It can also relieve lower back pain. You should hold this posture for twenty to twenty-five seconds before releasing. This yoga exercise is beneficial for beginners and experienced yoga practitioners alike. To learn how to perform this pose, follow these instructions.

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8 Reasons to Try Indoor Rowing

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As outdoor workouts become relegated to the weekend and your body requires a reprieve from repeated long rides or runs, a fresh training method could become a welcome change to your training schedule. Enter: indoor rowing.

As the heir apparent to the reigning king of group fitness classes, indoor cycling, indoor rowing is poised to become the country’s newest workout obsession, as rowing studios continue to pop up throughout the country.

If you’re looking to supplement your training regime, consider this full-body workout. Here are eight reasons you should try indoor rowing:

1. It Burns a High Amount of Calories

Harvard Medical School states that a 155-pound person rowing at a vigorous pace can burn more than 600 calories per hour. This is on par with mountain and BMX biking.

2. Rowing Removes Muscular Failings

“Endurance runners and cyclists tend to have many muscular deficiencies that lead to repetitive stress injuries,” says Richard Butler, a UCanRow2 Concept2 indoor rowing coach at Mecka Fitness in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He believes rowing can offset this propensity. “When we row, we use more than 86% of our muscles. [It’s] tough to have deficient muscles using that many muscles.”

3. Rowing Circumvents Compensation

“While running and cycling, it is also very easy to become quad-dominant (overusing your anterior muscles),” says Dustin Hogue, interval studio director of Studio Three in Chicago. “Rowing counteracts this by engaging the posterior muscles of your body: the hamstrings, glutes and back. This helps avoid compensations.”

4. It Burns Fat

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In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, which compared fat oxidation in rowing to cycling across a range of variables — including exercise intensity, mode and recruited muscle mass — rowing beat out cycling. This was specifically due to the greater recruitment of larger muscle mass on the ergometer.

5. It’s a Two-For-One Workout

Rowing works both the upper and lower extremities in synchronicity. “It’s one of the true full-body workouts,” says Butler. He says when done properly, in one continuous movement, athletes use their back, arms, legs and core.

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6. There’s a Meditative Component

According to UCanRow2, an organization with a mission to bring rowing to people across the U.S., rowing indoors keeps the mind centered and helps relieve stress as you get into a rhythm with each stroke.  

7. Classes Teach You Proper Technique

Most people have either never rowed or row with incorrect, gawky posture — curtailing rowing’s proper returns. But participating in indoor rowing classes diminishes the inelegance and instructors help you perfect your position. “That awkward feeling of not knowing how to do a move is minimized,” says Butler.

8. It Decreases the Risk of Injuries

For those who recently suffered an injury and feel a little apprehensive getting back into high-impact sports (like running), but feel ready to get back into cardiovascular shape, rowing is a favorable alternative. “Running causes a great deal of stress on the leg joints, so rowing is perfect for avoiding injury while endurance training,” says Butler.

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As with any group fitness class, rowing classes vary by studio and instructor. “A typical rowing class at Studio Three pairs bursts of short, anaerobic exercises, with active recovery periods and weighted resistance training,” says Hogue. “Athletes perform a series, or distance or timed pushes on the rower along with multi-joint strength movements off of the rower.” At ROWFit by Mecka Fitness, Butler teaches authentic, crew rowing techniques to increase endurance and train all major muscles. At the popular Row House NYC in New York City instructors encourage participants to row in sync with each other, simulating a real crew team.  

Whatever class you choose, all indoor rowing classes focus on providing low-impact, high-energy workouts, helping you elevate your heart rate and building strength as a complement to any endurance training regime.    

If you’re interested in indoor rowing, you can find a certified instructor at UCanRow2 and even become certified yourself.  

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