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From Gym to Court: 3 Essential Lifts for Basketball Players

A basketball player working out

Basketball demands a complete arsenal of physical attributes: endurance, speed, agility, strength, and explosive power. Today, we'll take a look at three of my favorite lifts for developing power, trunk control and overhead strength, stability and mobility in basketball athletes — the Push Jerk, Split Jerk, and Push Press.


Understanding The Lifts

Before we jump into the benefits, let's briefly define each of these lifts to better understand their uniqueness and the value they bring to a basketball player's training program.

Push Jerk: This lift starts with a barbell at shoulder level. With a slight dip and drive, you use your lower body to initiate momentum. As the barbell travels upward, you push yourself under the bar, to a quarter squat position, catching the weight at the top with arms extended overhead. This lift involves speed, coordination, and powerful leg drive.

Split Jerk: Very similar to the Push Jerk, the Split Jerk also involves moving the bar from the shoulder and catching it overhead. However, when you catch the bar in the Split Jerk, one foot steps forward and the other steps backward, creating a lunge (or split) position.

Push Press: The Push Press requires the lifter to start with the barbell at shoulder level, use the legs to start the press, but without dropping under the weight as in the Push Jerk. As a result, it's essentially a high powered Overhead Press that allows for a little momentum, but also requires more raw strength and is better for the development of strength vs. power.

The Benefits of Incorporating These Lifts

Incorporating these dynamic lifts into basketball training programs reaps multiple benefits that directly translate to performance on the court.

1. Boost in Explosive Power

All three exercises are power movements. They require precisely coordinated and rapid contractions of multiple muscle groups. This focus on power generation particularly benefits basketball motions like jumping, sprinting, and quick directional changes.

2. Improved Coordination and Stability

The Push Jerk and Split Jerk enhance coordination and stability. The rapid shift from the lower body to upper body motion — combined with the balance required in the catch phase — mirror the high-speed, multi-directional movements in basketball.

3. Enhanced Shoulder Strength and Mobility

Shoulder strength and mobility get a significant workout during these lifts, particularly in the Push Press, essential attributes for shooting, defending, and rebounding in basketball.

Implementing These Lifts Into Your Training

To realize the benefits of the Push Jerk, Split Jerk, and Push Press, and stay injury-free, basketball players do these three things:

  • Learn proper form first: Safety comes before impressing your friends. Ensure you have good technique before you start adding weight, and a professionally certified coach's guidance is highly recommended for technical lifts that involve high speed loaded movements.

  • Prioritize these exercises early in your workout: Since these are power movements, they require maximal effort and concentration. Incorporate them when you're fresh and alert to extract maximum benefits. In most cases I program power movements at the beginning of the lifting part of a session, directly after plyometrics or sprint training.

  • Be consistent: As with anything in life, consistency is key! Regular practice will lead to greater strength, power, coordination and success on the court.

Whether you're an aspiring, amateur, or professional basketball player, these lifts can take your game to the next level. Basketball isn't just a game of skill; it's also a game of physical prowess.

Improve your strength and power by integrating the Push Jerk, Split Jerk, and Push Press into your training routine and watch as your on-court performance hits new peaks!

Always consult with a certified coach before trying new lifts, especially those involving heavy weights and nuanced movements. Stay safe, train hard, and keep ballin'! 🏀


Are you looking to boost your athleticism, skills and potential? Schedule a free Assessment with me below and start taking it to the next level.

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