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Kettlebell Combining heavy weights, Kettlebells and sport specific training

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I am wondering what the best way would be to go about combining heavy weights with kettlebell training, with sport specific training.

For example, I play basketball and run sprints to maintain athletic ability, more specifically, controlled movement running in a straight line, as well as, controlled, explosive lateral movements.

I understand that an individual's abilities come into play but, how does this affect volume in respect to barbell and KB training? These types of sports require much demand from muscles and joints, so, how can I combine these disciplines without over training while maintaining athletic integrity and soft tissue integrity?

Any insight is greatly appreciated!
Competitive basketball has been my main sport for most of my life (I'm now over 50). If you are interested in "soft tissue integrity" stop playing basketball. Basketball and soft tissue integrity are not compatible.


If you love to play basketball like I do, then you have no choice. It's just a matter of not killing yourself in your training so you can stay relatively fresh for your sport. S&S style swings (alactic/aerobic) and minimalist strength training, such as PTTP or Geoff Neupert's Strong program, plus some joint mobility/stretching/original strength is a good combination, and throwing in a couple of armor-building hypertrophy cycles each year is a good overall template. I'm especially partial to double KB front squats as a big bang for the buck exercise for basketball. So I am usually doing a lower volume for maintenance most of the time, and a higher volume/density block cycled in occasionally, especially if I am not playing frequently.

Strongfirst principles have tremendous carryover to basketball. My ability to root and generate tension allow me to hold position against bigger players while staying balanced and not not having to lean on opponents, and allows me to generally play through contact.

If you are playing a lot of basketball, I don't think you need much or anything in the way of sprints, plyometrics, or similar training. You get enough of that on the court. Use your training time for building an aerobic base, building strength and/or muscle, and maintaining mobility and flexibility.

Just don't expect your ankles, knees, back or fingers to remain healthy. Hopefully, you will avoid anything catastrophic and just suffer occasional minor injuries while your connective tissue gradually degenerates. If you are lucky, to steal a line from Ernest Hemingway, you will lose your soft tissue integrity two ways, gradually and then suddenly. If you are unlucky, only the latter.
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@Steve W. you're breaking my heart with this!

However, I have heard world renowned trainers say the same things that you're saying, "Basketball is a middle aged man's worst enemy". That quote is from Kelly Starrett, the leading voice on mobility and soft tissue. Have you heard of him or used any of his recovery methods?

I was thinking of using the bear routine as heavy weight training days on Monday and Friday (Monday being heavy squat and heavy bench press; Friday being heavy squat and heavy deadlift; 10-20 sets starting 100% max then 90% max, then finishing out at 80%). The rest of the week would consist of kettlebell training (high volume of swings with a moderate weight, windmills, side presses, squats, presses and snatches) and some ball handling and/or shooting drills and the occasional pick up game.

From your training experience for basketball, do you find it better to only use Kettlebells? For a month, I only used a TRX band and had great results with quickness, speed and control but, I needed more when playing against NCAA Division 1 and professional players.
Sure I've heard of Kelly Starrett and I use some of his recovery and mobility stuff, but I never saw that quote -- I get enough of the same from my orthopedic surgeon (and my wife). I LOVE basketball. Unfortunately it's just not very good for orthopedic health, especially over the long term.

I would not advise the bear routine while playing a lot, but it's fine for an "off season" period. I would not necessarily advise only using kettlebells. I feel like I've gotten a lot of carry over from barbell deadlifts and trap bar deadlifts. Rooting, wedging and tension skills from the DL have great carry over to basketball, as well as the hip extension power for jumping and running. I've read that Stephen Curry can trap bar DL over 400lbs, which is very respectable for a tall skinny dude (tall and skinny for a regular person -- short and skinny for an NBA player).

By TRX "band" do you mean the suspension trainer? There's certainly a lot of good stuff you can do with a TRX, although I prefer gymnastics rings or the Jungle Gym XT because of the separate mounting points. However, Jump Stretch bands (there are a million brands now, but Jump Stretch was the original) are great for basketball. Band resisted/assisted shuffle drills are very effective for developing quick feet and balance. Tie together a couple of medium to heavy bands, anchor one end to a fixed object, such as a bleacher railing, and loop the other end around your waist. Shuffle away from the mounting point against band tension. Then shuffle toward the mounting point, decelerating against the pull of the band. You can do it forwards, backwards and laterally to either side.

Although training can increase strength, quickness and agility, if you're competing against very high level athletes, you're not going to beat them with athletic ability (unless you're freaky yourself). However, skill leverages and multiplies the athletic ability you do have. For instance, if you can really shoot and have good shot fakes, your first step will be that much more effective. In many cases, an ounce of skill will beat a pound of athletic ability. Of course, if you're playing against freaky athletes with really good skills, your only chance is to compensate with dirtiness ;-).
Bobby, the book is quite thorough at explaining how to train strength for sports.

I know it's a very vague response to your posts but all your questions will be answered with a reading of Easy Strength.
Based on the passion I am getting from your post, the following come to mind. Consider locating someone who can program for you. Also, consider a coach for the technical aspects of strength. These very likely will not be the same person. Also, the programmer may very well not be someone local with the basketball component.

Tech has made the world small enough, and affordable, for even the serious hobby athlete to build a support time.

All the best as you unpack your basketball pursuit.
@Bobby, Easy Strength is one good way of getting stronger without compromising your sports performance. Another thing to keep in mind is seasonality - you may wish to train differently in and out of season - if your approach to your sport has seasons.

The idea of a coach is a very good one. An alternative is to post a lot more about yourself and your bball here.

@Bobby, Easy Strength is one good way of getting stronger without compromising your sports performance. Another thing to keep in mind is seasonality - you may wish to train differently in and out of season - if your approach to your sport has seasons.

A legit answer is beyond my scope, but I was thinking Easy Strength might be a good resource, too. More importantly though, I wanted to comment on what Steve said about seasonality. My wife had a pretty major knee procedure this summer called a Fulkerson. They saw a chunk out of the tibia and slide it over to realign the ligaments---like Jenga. The medical group we're going to is awesome. They do everything for the local University's athletic program and work with a lot of pro athletes from the Bay Area. The best thing is we're never rushed, and the surgeon and his PA love to talk training with us.

During her most recent check-up, we asked what sports they're comfortable with kids getting involved in. They said it's not so much the sport as it is variety. They said they see the most injuries when they get a kid who just does soccer year round, or baseball, or whatever, through school, club teams, etc. They train train train a few areas and others get neglected as a result, resulting in imbalances and vulnerability to injury. We probably talked about it for 20 minutes.

Really makes one think about changing things up in order to stay healthy, and makes me very happy for all the variety we have available to us in these balls of iron with handles.
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