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10 Best Upper Body Exercises For Basketball Players

Upper Body strength can be a big factor in your game depending on what type of player you are.

Upper body strength can allow you to initiate contact, post up , and make shooting two motions shots much more effective and easier.

In this article, I will be going over the best upper body strength exercises as well as the best exercises depending on the type of player you are.


Over the years there has been a lot of misconception on how weight lifting can affect basketball players and their shooting.

The truth of the matter is that weight lifting should be different depending on what type of game you have as a player.

For example, players who play a more physical style of game like Lebron, or Shaq, should have training similar to that.

But if you are a player whose game revolves more around skill and touch your training should reflect that as well.

So with all these exercises and lifts, I will be giving you a breakdown of who this might be best for and how you should go about it.

For a great explanation of this concept check out the video below

1. Push Up

Why You Should Do It

The push-up is one of the best exercises for improving your functional strength as a player.

As an athlete while it is great to have sport-specific exercises incorporated into your workouts. You also need to have a basic functioning level of strength to be effective.

Not to mention the push up is a great exercise for your triceps, chest, and back which are crucial muscles when shooting a basketball.

How To Do It

-To do a push-up start with your palms and hands on the floor.

-Next, you need to bend your elbow and get your body down to the floor while keeping your back and body relatively straight.

-Proceed to then lift yourself back to the same position and repeat.

Pro Tip: With This Exercise, You can add a lot of variations to this.

2. Dumbell Bench

Why You Should Do It

The dumbell bench is one of the best exercises for your chest in basketball.

I like this exercise so much because it allows you to get a full range of motion while also working on both sides more evenly.

How To Do It

-To do a dumbell bench you need to first start by getting a good pair of dumbells followed by a bench.

- Next, you need to then lift the weight down and really make sure you get the full range of motion on your lift.

- With this lift, I also recommend you use this on different levels of incline to work each part of your pectoral muscle.

3. Medicine Ball Slams

Why You Should Do It

The medicine ball slam is a great sport-specific exercise that works on your explosive strength and core.

How To Do It

-To do this exercise you first need to start with a medicine ball that is a good weight for you.

- You then need to put the medicine ball over your head and slam it into the ground. Almost like your body slamming the medicine ball.

- Repeat and do reps of around 6-8

4. Medicine Ball Twists

Why You Should Do It

This is very similar to the medicine ball slams. But with this workout, you are working your hips, mobility, and oblique muscles.

While also improving your explosive strength in the process.

How To Do It

-The medicine ball twist involves having both a medicine ball and a wall you can throw it on.

- Next you will then need to stand parallel to the wall and twist to throw your medicine ball off the wall.

5. Pull Up/ Chin-Up

Why You Should Do It

Again the pull-up and chin-up are some of the best exercises to improve your functional strength as a whole.

While also giving you the ability to really work on basketball-related muscle groups.

How To Do It

- To do a pull-up or chin-up you first need to find a bar you can do this on.

- Next, I recommend grabbing onto the bar and crossing your feet so you focus the workout on your upper body.

- Next, you then need to lift up your body using your arms and try and get your chin above the bar.

Pro Tip: I also highly recommend if the pull-up is too hard at first you can use bands that will help guide you up to complete it easier.

6. Planks

Why You Should Do It

A lot of basketball players' power and stability come from their core. But with a lot of other core exercises, they do not work on the stabilizing factor which is key for basketball.

But with planks, this exercise really focuses and enhances the stability of your core and body as a whole.

How To Do It

-To do a plank you first need to have your forearms and toes on the ground while your body is parallel to the ground.

- You then need to hold that position while flexing your core and marking sure your body and back stay straight.

7. Dumbell Snatch

Why You Should Do It

The dumbell snatch is a compound exercise that works on your explosive strength while also incorporating your whole body in the movement.

How To Do It

- To do a dumbell snatch you first need to start in an athletic stance with a dumbell just below your knees and your head facing the floor.

- next, you need to then explode and lift the dumbell over your head while keeping your arm relatively straight.

8. Side Raises

Why You Should Do It

Side raises are a great workout for developing your shoulders and deltoids and can be done effectively with both bands and even dumbells.

How To Do It

-To do a side raise you to need to start off with a good weight or band on the side of your body.

- Next, you then want to lift your arms up to your side and extend them to about your shoulder height.

Pro Tip: make sure you keep your arms and body straight while doing this.

9. Dumbell T Push Up

Why You Should Do It

The dumbell T push-up is a great exercise to work on both your core, shoulders, and chest.

How To Do It

10. Burpees

Why You Should Do It

I cannot think of a better exercise that can work on both your conditioning, functional strength, upper body, and explosiveness than a burpee.

While it might not seem like a purely focused upper body workout, it has the ability to put a lot of workload on your upper body as well as your cardiovascular system.

How To Do It

-To-Do a Burpee you first need to start off by getting into an athletic position and performing a jump squat.

- After you reach the peak of your jump you then want to dive down and do a push-up and repeat back up to a jump squat.

Pro Tip: Make sure your reps and intensity match the things you want to be working on.

For example, if you are looking to improve your explosiveness do this exercise at lower reps with higher intensity, and if you are working on your conditioning do higher reps with lower intensity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will getting stronger affect my shot in basketball?

Answer: I think this depends on two factors, what exercises are you doing, and how quickly you are putting on muscle.

A big reason I do not always recommend bodybuilder type of workouts for athletes is that it can affect your shot and skills as a whole.

So as a player If you're looking to build a little muscle while also keeping your skill, then you should focus on slowly building muscle and weight while focusing on more bodyweight and compound lift kinds of exercises.

Should basketball players do full-body workouts?

Answer: Yes they should.

This is just something I always recommend and have even seen studies showing that 3 times per week full body is best for hypertrophy.

But also from a more logical standpoint, I have noticed even with myself that my body just works together better when I do work out all my muscles at the same time.

I think the body gets used to working the muscles altogether, which if you think about it is something you want in basketball.

Pro Tip: When I say full body splits I only mean weight room. I still think every player should be out on the court working on their skills as much as possible.


The upper body is a vital part of the game in terms of shooting and finishing down low.

Remember with any of these exercises do the ones that you feel comfortable with and are most likely to stick to.

Thank you for reading, and as always keep hooping my friends

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1 Comment

Aug 19, 2021

Good tip with different weight training for different positions.

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