You’ve tried everything to lose weight, from dieting to running for extended periods. Little did you know that your favourite sport is already your best fat-burning ally. The movements of basketball combine to create an effective cocktail of anaerobic exercise and cardio, making playing the sport one of the best methods to cut the fat and get that warm-weather body.
You run a lot on the court, but do you know how it differs from a conventional jog? Cardio such as steady running jump starts your body’s fat-burning engine through aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping. This can only do so much, and you may eventually plateau on your way to becoming the biggest loser. But out on the court, the start-stop intensity of a game can actually do you more favours if you’re hoping to drop some pounds. Alternating a moderate jog and full-on sprints turns a basic run into an anaerobic one, which has more in common with weight lifting. This means that basketball will not only get your heart pumping as you drive down the lane, your body will continue burning calories as it repairs your newly-strengthened muscles well after the game has finished.
The more your body moves, the greater the fat-burning effect: it’s that simple. Part of why pumping iron or running aren’t as effective as a full-body sports such as basketball or swimming is that they don’t engage as many muscles, and thus burn fewer calories. It helps that basketball already creates an aerobic effect by hitting all your muscle groups at once, but couple that with explosive movement such as jumping, shooting and sprinting, and you’ll be building muscle in the process.
Easy changes to make at the gym
You can really maximize the on-court benefits of the sport by replicating the same movements at the gym (and becoming a stronger player in the process). Here are a few changes you should consider making to the conditioning regimen you already have.
- Add interval sprints As mentioned above, sprinting in short bursts—not unlike what you do on the court anyway—does wonders to boost your metabolism and heart rate. On a track or court, alternate 60 seconds of low-to-moderate running with 20-second full-on sprints. Try to keep the pace up for 8-15 minutes. Embrace the burn, and you’ve officially burned more calories than a run three times the length..
- Add movements to exercises Arms and upper body muscle exercises may lack the fat-crunching benefits of a full body or compound exercise, but why waste time? Adding some additional movements can remedy that, as in the case of dumbbell push presses. Start at a crouch while holding two dumbbells to either side of your head. To complete the exercise, extend your legs until you’re standing on your toes while pushing the weights to the ceiling. This engages your core and nearly every part of your legs while working your shoulders and triceps, adding some welcome burn.
- Start doing supersets Exercises performed in supersets raise metabolic rate and increase testosterone production, which is key to reducing the presence of cortisol (a stress hormone that makes your body hold onto fat). Chain together some basic exercises that you can easily do without resting in between sets, especially those that work in opposite directions such as bicep curls and tricep extensions. After each progression, make sure you rest up as normal. Oh, and be kind to your muscles—reach for slightly smaller weights than usual to avoid injury.