Ever wonder how you can put on the muscle necessary to be a force to be reckoned with under the basket? Inspired by a regimen performed by Russian powerlifters, this simple workout does away with exercises that target individual muscle groups (so-called “assistance” exercises), instead opting for three basic lifts that hit every part of your body and build mass without wasting your time. In the end, you will be performing one set of deadlifts and two sets of bench presses and squats weekly, for a total of five days at the gym—never doubling up. After each quick workout, a static stretching session comes highly recommended: it can increase your strength by up to 10 per cent, which translates into a harder workout next time and more mass-building opportunities. Oh, and one more thing—eat up.
Deadlifts: Day 1
The deadlift is the only exercise that is performed once a week, and with good reason: the back muscles you crush during this exercise are also heavily relied on by the other lifts. Aside from activating your core and leg muscles, much of the weight is also taken on by the biceps, shoulders and neck, leading to muscle growth across the board. Because this exercises uses so many muscle groups at once, including the inner thighs, quads and hamstrings, it’s also preferable to perform it before the others. The keys to an ideal deadlift are keeping your back perfectly straight, not locking your knees and taking your time to go through the motion—it decreases the chance you’ll hurt your back.
Squats: Days 2 and 4
As with all the exercises in this regimen, you should be performing five sets of five repetitions at a weight that brings you to temporary muscle failure. If you’re having an easy time, add 10 pounds the next time you attempt the exercise. The muscle exhaustion a low-rep, high-weight squat promotes is the key to building explosive jumping power in your legs, and your midsection will also be tangentially strengthened by the squat (if you don’t feel it there, you’re not doing it right). The additional core strength will ultimately help you stand your ground as an opponent charges the hoop or if you’re running defence on another player. During your second squat day, lower the weight to 80 per cent of your usual rack and reduce your efforts by one rep—this day is for perfecting your technique.
Bench Press: Days 3 and 5
Although leg exercises are the best way to put on meaningful mass and induce testosterone creation, the bench press evens things out by engaging your upper body. A good bench press session will crush physically larger muscles in your chest, arms and even your front deltoids—the shoulder muscles responsible for a longer shot. As with the squat, you should perform a second bench press workout that’s 80 per cent lighter later in the week to work on your form.