ELEVATE YOUR GAME
HEALTH & FITNESS - Courtney Smith
This month we're focusing on proper meal plans and workouts to increase your vertical. Here's what you need to know.
With repeated sprinting and jumping and short periods of rest, basketball is a strenuous sport. While physical training and practice are an important part of game preparation, so is your diet. If you want to run faster and jump higher, you need to feed your muscles right. A basketball player's meal plan should include a wide variety of nutritious foods that helps meet your heavy carb needs while providing enough protein to build and maintain muscle.
A basketball player's diet is high in carbs and low in fat. Most carbs should come from healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk to maximize vitamin and mineral intake. Lean red meat, skinless poultry, seafood or beans can help you meet your daily protein needs. For heart health, include healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Aim to eat five to seven times throughout the day.
Morning Meals and Snacks
When you're training hard and heavy, it's important to stay fueled throughout the day. A healthy high-carb breakfast meal to start the day right might include a whole-wheat bagel with scrambled eggs, with a banana and a cup of low-fat milk. To keep energy levels up for your hard-working muscles, eat a snack a few hours after breakfast, such as a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk or a cup of low-fat yogurt with an orange.
Afternoon Meals and Snacks
If you're game or practice is three to four hours away, eat a lunch meal that is high in carbs and includes some protein. For example, try whole-wheat pasta mixed with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and shrimp with low-fat Parmesan cheese and a cup of orange juice. One to two hours before practice or a game, eat a low-fat, high-carb snack to get you through, such as whole-wheat bread with jam or a banana with low-fat milk.
Dinner: Eating for Recovery
What you eat after games and practice is as important as what you eat before. To promote muscle healing and recovery, eat a snack that contains carbs, protein and fat within 30 minutes of finishing up, such as an apple with peanut butter or a cup of low-fat chocolate milk. Eat a healthy dinner meal three to four hours later to continue to replenish energy stores and build and repair muscle. A healthy dinner meal for a basketball player might include grilled chicken with a large baked potato, peas, tossed salad and a glass of low-fat milk.
TAKE YOUR VERTICAL TO NEW HEIGHTS
1. Depth Jumps
A Depth Jump is a common technique to increase vertical jump performance. This exercise, performed by jumping off a box at roughly your vertical jump limit, then immediately jumping up again as soon as your feet touch the ground, trains your body to maintain and use elastic energy to propel yourself quickly and with power.
To do a proper Depth Jump, stand on a firm surface between 1 and 2 feet tall. Step off with one foot, land with your knees bent slightly and jump back up immediately. Perform 1 or 2 sets of 5 to 8 reps, depending on your strength and experience.
This exercise can be modified by adding hurdles or repetitive jumps, or by steadily increasing the height of the box.
2. Jump Squats
Jump Squats use your body weight for resistance training and to build muscle memory for launching your body from a bent position. They can also be used as a strength training exercise with the addition of weights, which will train your legs to power you up.
Perform a regular Squat with proper technique, including keeping your knees over your toes and your back straight. Once you are low to the ground, jump as high as possible. Repeat 5 or 6 reps over 1 or 2 sets.
The training effect is similar to what you experience with a vertical shock workout. Jump Squats should help you develop the critical technique of explosive movement, which combines power and speed to unleash force at a shockingly intense rate.
3. Toe Raises
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Rise up on your toes and the balls of your feet.
- Hold this position for a couple of seconds, then slowly lower yourself back to your starting position.
- This exercise builds up your calf muscles which generate a lot of the force that a vertical jump requires. Once you feel you’ve strengthened these muscles, you can add reps and hold dumbbells at your sides to increase the resistance.