Recent reports have surfaced claiming that the Indiana Pacers’ newest player, Andrew Bynum, not only likes to keep his workout a secret, but also bases his non-gym regimen on esoteric ninja techniques. Atlanta Hawks assistant coach Darvin Ham told the Indiana Star of the workout, stopping just short of divulging further details, having been “sworn to secrecy”—we’re guessing on threat of an untimely demise at the hands of a shadowy assassin. Adding to the mystery, Bynum denied any additional workouts in a separate interview days later. As strange as a ninja workout sounds, martial arts training actually does incorporate techniques that can improve your basketball game. Here’s what we think Bynum’s workout might look like, based on real ninjutsu drills.
Rope climbing can build stronger forearms and grip (which translates into enhanced levels of ball control on the move), while stronger shoulders can add accuracy to your shots. What more, rope climbing can also increase your upper body endurance. Start your climb with a light push off the ground to maximize your climbing distance. Heading up, use your legs only to maintain balance on the rope, not to propel yourself upwards. On your way down, make an effort to descend slowly so you don’t burn your hands. Three times is usually enough to get great results. To increase the challenge, use a wider rope.
Hindu push ups
These hit several parts of your body, including your rotator cuffs, a tendon group in your shoulders that can become stressed by repetitive overhead activities—just ask Anthony Bennett. Start on all fours with your hands and feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Walk your hands toward your feet until you form an upside-down V with your hips in the air. Slowly lower your body into normal push up position, bending your elbows and threading your head between your arms. At the bottom of the movement, shift your weight to your arms and lift your trunk upright while leaving your legs near the floor. To complete the movement, use your core muscles to seamlessly return to the original position. These are tough, so start with three sets of 10 repetitions focusing on good form.
The basic jump squat was used in conjunction with footfall training to give martial artists a stealthy, controlled approach. What it will do for you is making sure you don’t roll any ankles after an awry dunk, not to mention help you play above the rim in the first place. Starting with your feet at shoulders’ width, crouch down into a squat stopping just above the 90-degree mark. From there, use your arms to balance your body as you launch yourself straight up to your maximum vertical jump height. Keep your body aligned and your eyes forward as you return to your original position, focusing on creating little to no noise. For added challenge, jump onto a box platform. Perform three sets of 20-30, depending on your fitness level.
Although not an exercise technique per se, practitioners of ninjutsu famously kept their minds and bodies in balance in order to meet any challenge. Emotion clouds your better judgement in stressful situations, the thinking goes: fear and anger cause you to see only the origin of those emotions (your immediate opponent) so you lose sight of everything else that’s going on around you. After your workout, spend a good 15-20 minutes clearing your mind and meditating, taking deep, slow breaths. Over time, you’ll find yourself constantly in a positive state of mind and more focused on the court as a result.