Basketball Weight Training
for Young Athletes

child lifting barbell

Learn the pros and cons of basketball weight training for kids.

Strength training is an important part of conditioning, and it's an vehicle for for improving overall muscular fitness by building...


There are a variety of exercise methods for building strength.

One very effective and popular method of strength training is with the use of weight lifting equipment. Weight training can be done with free weights, like barbells and dumbbells, or weight machines which use pulleys and cables to lift stacks of weights.

So, how much should you lift?

weightlifter Smurf

Well, it depends which fitness component you want to work on.

A basketball weight training routine for increasing muscular strength is a whole lot different than one used for improving muscle endurance.

For some help selecting the right amount of weight, repetitions, and sets you need, here are some standard lifting recommendations.

It's also important to have a well-balanced weight program.

Anytime you exercise one muscle group, you need to exercise the muscles that work in opposition to it. For example, if you lift weights for your biceps, you need to lift for your triceps as well. If you strengthen your quads, don't forget to lift for your hamstrings also.

Here are some good weight lifting exercises for the major muscle groups. There are plenty here to add variety to your workout.

Not sure where to begin?

Youth Strength Training
basketball weight training
Kids' Weightlifting
Total Training for Young Champions

First, you might want to check out the following links to better understand the benefits of weight lifting for basketball players; some concerns for the youngest players; and some basic principles that have to be followed if you expect to see any results.

Benefits of Basketball Weight Training

Concerns for the Youth Basketball Player

3 Principles of Weight Training



You may not realize it, but basketball is a contact sport. At the young ages, youth basketball rules really try to limit contact, but as the players get older, the physical contact really increases.

Strength Training Anatomy

Weight lifting increases muscle strength, which can really help out a player's performance on the court.

As athletes get stronger, they aren't pushed around as much, they can post up underneath the basket a lot stronger, take the ball to the basket harder, hang on to the ball in tie ball situations, and increase their shooting range.

Basketball weight training also strengthens joints, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, which also helps prevent injury.


Basketball doesn't require the brute force of football, so building massive amounts of muscle isn't the main goal. But, increasing muscle endurance is a huge goal of weight lifting for basketball.

Players need to have the stamina to play as strong in the final minutes of the game as they do at the beginning. Once your muscles start to fatigue, it's difficult to perform the basic skills well.


Jumping for rebounds, pushing off the floor for a basketball cut, going up for a jump shot all require muscular power.

Specific types of weight lifting help increase the ability of the athlete to perform explosive-type movements.


An important part of lifting weights is putting your exercising muscle through a full range of motion. This movement increases the tendon's ability to stretch and to return to its normal shape, which prevents it from tearing during hard exercise.

Burn Fat

pound of fat

The more muscle you build in your body, the higher your metabolic rate goes.

This means that your body starts to work overtime producing the energy your muscles need, and it does this by burning fat.

And the cool thing is, your body continues to burn fat long after you've finished exercising!


Though there are some excellent benefits to basketball weight training, you need to exercise caution when it comes to weight lifting for your young player.

The most important thing to remember about kids is that their bodies are still growing.

Children have growth plates at the end of their bones that are still developing, and they are susceptible to serious injury; the kind that could detrimentally affect them for their entire lives.

The benefits of lifting weights at a very young age are just not worth the risk involved.

Consider the stages of training that athletes pass through as they grow up.

Shaun T's Fit Kids Club

The focus of basketball training is very different for players in the following age brackets:

6-10 years

11-13 years

14-18 years

18 years+

The type and intensity of basketball drills depends on the age, maturity, and physiological readiness of the athlete.

What may be a perfect exercise for a high school basketball player may be totally inappropriate for an 8-year old.

Basketball weight training is a perfect example.

Before puberty, kid's bodies are not prepared to handle heavy lifting.

And though building strength is important for all athletes, there are other strength training exercises young players can do that don't require the use of weights.

While it's true everyone develops at a different rate, puberty is a pretty good measuring stick of when it's a good idea to start serious basketball weight training.

At this stage, the body is prepared to withstand the stress and reap significant benefits from a weight program.

Weight training is helpful, but only if done properly.

If done improperly, the weight training itself could cause injury.

Using proper form when lifting is extremely important to avoid injury. When athletes aren't able to perform a lift properly it's usually because the weight is too heavy.

Many kids try to be too competitive in the weight room.

Youngsters have to understand that lifting weights is an individual activity. Kids are not competing with anyone but themselves. They should only lift weights that are appropriate for them.

Kids should never lift weights alone.

This is dangerous. Especially when using free weights, lifters should always have a spotter.


Basketball weight training produces great results when it follows these 3 principles:

1. Principle of Overload

For the body to show any major improvements, the muscles have to be challenged with a bigger stress than they faced during the previous workout.

Weider Junior 25 lb cast iron weight set

This can mean increasing the amount of weight you lift, increasing the number of times you lift the weight, or increasing the frequency of your workouts each week.

The only way you make a muscle stronger or increase its endurance level is to make it work harder than it did before.

You can't rush this step.

Start slowly and increase a little bit each workout. Maybe add 5-10 pounds or do a few more repetitions.

2. Principle of Individuality

Everyone is different, and every weight program should be designed with that in mind. It doesn't matter what anyone else is lifting because you are not competing with anyone else.

3. Principle of Specificity

You need to do exercises that target the specific muscles that you need in your sport.

In youth basketball, players need to build up muscles that help them jump, shoot, pass, and stay down in a defensive stance, just to name a few.

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