Good physical conditioning is a must in any sport, but when it comes to basketball, it is absolutelythe key to success. All the practice at shooting threes and free throws in the world won't make a difference if you don't have the stamina, flexibility, and power to use on the court. To make the shots, you must get in position first, and that often means beating other well-trained players to the basket. In short, you'll need to have the right training regimen lined up if you want to be successful.

Even if you aren't aiming to play competitively and you justwant to improve your physical fitness, the routines used by basketball professionals can help you to developyour abilities. The training you do in and out of the gym will be a majorpart of that. However, what you eat plays an important role too. Basketball players need a balanced diet that can support their bodies even during very strenuous, high energy activities. That doesn't mean loading up on junk calories, though. Between diet and exercise, the conditioning the pros go through is almost a full-time job in itself. Here's how you can work to replicate some of those efforts in your own life.

Building a basic basketball workout plan

When it comes to constructing your workout plan, you need to be ready to commit to weeks filled with exercise. Pros can afford to do little else besides focus on their diet and conditioning routine because that is literallytheir job; for those of Training and Diet of a Professional Basketball Player Leg Dayus who must work otherwise to make a living, it can be more difficult. We'll look at the broad strokes of what you need to work on to replicate a basketball player's routinebut keep in mindyou should always tailor things to suit your own needs.

The goal of your workout is to improve your body in three ways: to boost your agility; to build your strength, andto improveyour jumping ability. To accomplish these goals, you'll need to break your daily workouts down into specific areas of focus, such as dedicating a day each to your chest, back and shoulders, and of course, your legs. In the gym, you'll want to take advantage of weight equipment and some machines to get the most out of your plan. Many basketball players rely on at least two "leg days" per week, with one rest day and the weekends off to stimulate recovery.

For leg days, focus on squats, lunges, knee tucks, and leg presses. The exact proportion is up to you based on what you feel you need. When working on your chest, the bench press will be your new best friend, though you should also practice dumbbell presses and other chest-strengthening exercises. Good old bicep curls, shoulder raises, and pull-ups will round out your week when you work on your shoulders and your back. Of course, basketball players may spend a lot of time in the gym, but it's not all they do to train.

Incorporating other types of training into your routine

Training and Diet of a Professional Basketball Player CyclingYou shouldn't limit yourself to the gym when it comes to training to play basketball. As you'll read further on, many of the professional players choose to train in many ways that don't involve the gym at all. When you're looking for any edge you can get, it's worth broadening your horizons outside of the weight room. So, what else works well in this arena?

Running, especiallymedium to long distances, is very popular with players. So, too, is cycling, which can help you to develop deep reserves of endurance in your leg muscles. When you don't want to do leg presses all day, a long and hard cycling ride will do the job just as well. Even playing other sports can help set the stage for betterperformance with the ball. Playing the gameyou love so much should be a given, too. Consider reaching out to friends or others in your local basketball community to organisea practice game. It's a smart way to check on your progress while getting more time with the ball too.

What kind of diet should you eat to mimic the pros?

Basketball players can follow complexdiets, and for the average person, it would be too time-consuming and even potentially expensive to replicate it exactly. However, that doesn't mean there Training and Diet of a Professional Basketball Player Dietis a lack of things to learn from the way they eat. The number one takeaway you should consider: carefully balancing your macronutrients and avoiding all temptations to indulge in junk food. A cheat day every now and again is fine, but by and large, stay away from sugary drinks, sweets, and fast food. You'll only fight against yourself in those situations. 

Due to the constant need to keep their muscles up at fighting strength, pros consume a lot of protein. The general rule of thumb is to consume, per day, about 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight. Source this protein not from powders and shakes, but from real lean proteins such as chicken, eggs, and other similar sources. Red meat is okay, but only in moderation. Carefully monitor your carb intake so that you can time consumption of healthy complex carbs to coincide with workouts. Simple carbs are good for post-workout recovery, but again, only in moderation.

Pros don't often use supplements to modify their diet, either. Sticking to whole, real foods with as little processing as possible will ensure your body is always ready for the next challenge. You won't catch NBA superstar trying to make up for bad dietary habits by downing tonnes of supplements. If you've planned your diet appropriately, you shouldn't need them. For the most part, this diet is the same as any other high-intensity workout approach would require. Now might be a good time to start thinking seriously about having "Meal Prep Sunday" so you can stay on top of your dietary needs.

Tips and tricks from the professionals themselves

According to Kobe Bryant, stamina is one of the most important attributes you can develop as a basketball player. So how does he prepare to dig deep in the middle of a game when he feels as if he's out of energy? He runs, he says, and he Training and Diet of a Professional Basketball Player Leandro Barbosaadheres to the "no pain, no gain" philosophy — if you aren't pushing yourself to the limits of your endurance, you can't expect to improve. He also advocates for "religiously" sticking to your training plan. If you start bailing out on workout days, you're on a one-way trip to quitting the routine altogether.

Tired of the gym? Phoenix Suns player Leandro Barbosa recommends soccer when you want to develop agility. The quick feet you need to handle the ball on the field accuratelycan translate to faster footwork on the court,while serving as a good cardio workout too. In the gym, Barbosa favoursweighted clothing to give an extra layer of difficulty to the day's activities.

For Dwayne Wade, though, the gym is an afterthought — he spends his time using the basketball court for his conditioning. That means sprints, drills, and all other kinds of exercises. Handling the ball better is his primary goal, so don't forget the need to throw in some actual basketball practice in between all this physical conditioning.

Work hard and find your success on the court

The good news: you don't have to put in the same kind of hard work as Lebron James or Dwayne Wade to see improvements in your abilities and the way you feel. Nor should you feel the need to subscribe to such an intense workout; not everyone's body is suitedto that kind of heavyschedule. Instead, you should look to find what you can learn from these routines. Matching your diet to the level of exercise you do, for example, is a valuablelesson. Structuring your weeks around workouts that target specific parts of your body, mixed in with ample rest, is another. 

Of course, if you do love to shoot hoops, you'll need to find time to hit the court too! Ask your friends when they might fancy a quick pick-up game, or if they want to join you in your fitness journey. That's undoubtedlyone of the secrets to the success pros enjoy:the support of their teammates.

This article has been written for Sports Fitness. Pick up a basketball from our online store and get your training regime started.