Basketball fans across the country are gearing up for the big college basketball championship tournament. But you don’t have to be a competitive athlete to get out on the court — basketball is a great form of exercise for increasing stamina, strength and hand-eye coordination.
Basketball is an intense game that requires high levels of cardiovascular endurance. Sprinting back and forth from one end of the court to the other keeps the heart rate up and can easily help build cardio stamina. Quick movements, passing the ball and playing defense require agility and strength. Controlling the basketball and making shots requires a player to have keen hand-eye coordination.
Grab some friends and hit the court for a game of basketball. For the best workout, push yourself to keep the intensity up throughout the game. If you don’t have access to basketball, or are working out solo, here are some ways you can get the same benefit of a basketball workout without playing the game.
Do regular cardio exercise. Three to four days a week, pick a workout that includes an hour of intense cardiovascular exercise. Jogging, rowing, cycling and swimming are great for a cardio workout. Get into a rhythm and pace that will allow you to push yourself for 30 minutes without stopping to rest.
Focus on your heart rate. During a cardio workout, your heart rate should reach 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To find your max, subtract your age from 220. For a 30-year-old man, the target heart rate is 133-162 bpm. Adjust the intensity of your heart rate to keep it in this range for 30 to 60 minutes.
Build endurance with intervals. Interval training is one of the best things you can do during a workout to increase stamina. Start with 30 minutes of interval training: five minutes of light-intensity exercise followed by five minutes of high-intensity exercise. Intervals may include sprinting, running stairs/bleachers or running hills. These exercises will also help improve your speed.
Develop agility and strength with plyometrics. Plyometric training helps improve an athlete’s explosive power while developing core strength. Examples of plyometric exercises include box jumps, stair hops and jumping rope.
Increase hand-eye coordination. Grab a friend and a ball (any size will do) for a game of catch. Play catch on your own by bouncing a ball off a wall and catching it. Tennis balls work great for this. Increase difficulty by using multiple balls at once. Throw them one after another and work on catching them as they return to you. Juggling is another activity that can help improve your hand-eye coordination.
Strength train. Include strength training in your workout routine two to three times per week. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises (pushups, squats, lunges, etc), building muscular strength is an important element of every basketball player’s fitness regimen.
Don’t pass up an opportunity to play a game of basketball, whether at the gym or on the street with your kids. Basketball will build your cardio endurance, develop muscular strength and improve your hand-eye skills.