How can an obese person get in shape for basketball?
January 8, 2013 6:13 PM   Subscribe

So I'm obese, I use to play basketball in high school (I fluctuated from slightly overweight to normal weight in high school), but because of depression and anxiety, I ate my feeling and I have gotten obese. Now I'm in grad school, and on the track to losing weight, and I want to play intramural basketball. I play pickup games sometimes with some classmates and other people at the gym, but I'm so out of shape, I end up walking a lot of the game... I wasn't sure if I wanted to play intramural because I'm so out of shape it's frustrating/embarrassing not to be able to do what I use to in high school... but I decided that the only way I can get close to how I played in high school, is actually to play more. I've been doing Power 90 for the last 2 weeks, and it's helped a bit with getting me in basketball shape, but since it's not geared to get you into basketball shape, it won't get me where I want to be. Any suggestions? TIA
posted by Osakhomen to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Lift weights, run, play basketball. You'll get there.
posted by wrok at 6:53 PM on January 8, 2013

From my basketball days of yore, the biggest thing I had difficulty with (and it sounds like you are, too) was endurance. In addition to Power 90 (or as part of it; I'm not really familiar with its components), have you been doing other cardio endurance exercise like running? If you do, from what I recall and what I've read, interval training might really help you (alternating sprinting with jogging or jogging with walking).

Also, what specifically (aside from endurance) are you looking to do or do better that you struggle with now? Strength? Agility? Jumping? (Sorry for answering your question with more questions; just trying to get a better idea of what you're looking for.)

Kudos to you for getting out there! My other advice would be to stop trying to do what you remember being able to do in high school; I was in decent shape then and am actually in better shape now. I still can't do a lot of things I could do when I was 16 and other things, I can do better. C'est la vie.
posted by pitrified at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2013

I would do what my coach did to us at the beginning of the season. Run suicides. Baseline to foul line to baseline to half court to base line to far foul line back to base line to far base line and back. I would do what we called side slides. Do suicides side ways as if you are playing defense. Then do backwards suicides. If you can get a partner and have access to a court, have your partner rebound and pass to you as you keep moving quickly around the three point line and receive the pass, square to the basket and jump and shoot. Do this for 2 minute without stopping. It will help stamina and your arm strength.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do Starting Strength and cut down on carbs and thank me later.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2013

Weight loss is 80-90% diet.

Cut out carbs, lift heavy weights. It's simple, but not easy.

As long as you're getting 20 minutes worth of exercise at least every other day (basketball counts!) spend your mental energy focusing on diet, it will by far give you the best results.
posted by spatula at 7:18 PM on January 8, 2013

I'd recommend just keep playing basketball.
posted by matty at 7:20 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah I'm an obese dude that plays basketball and the main source of building my endurance was just playing basketball, even if it was shooting baskets and running around solo rather than intramural or pickup games. You could do something like Couch to 5K to build your running endurance and suicides as a b-ball specific endurance thing. Otherwise, it's just a lot of practice.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:29 PM on January 8, 2013

I'd advise you not to play basketball until you are fitter and stronger.

Basketball can be brutal on you knees. You have two and you need them both for the rest of your life. Screw up those ligaments or even worse the cartilage in there and you can be in for a lifetime of pain. You are out of shape and carrying extra weight which makes injury far more likely. Derick Rose messed himself up for at least a year and he was a super fit pro.

I'm 45 with bad knees. I have decades more to go with them. Trust me you don't want to be in my position.

Lose weight. Weight train. Get fit. First.

Then play ball for the entire rest of your life.
posted by srboisvert at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Power 90 is great, try replacing the cardio part of it with the couch to 5k program and you will see a big improvement very quickly.
posted by markblasco at 7:35 PM on January 8, 2013

I'm really just trying to get my endurance up. I still have the ability to play basketball pretty well, I just can't play for long... and of course when I'm extremely winded, I can't play very well. As far as diet, I'm good with that, I want to lose weight, but as far as basketball goes, I'm not playing to lose weight, I'm playing because it's fun, and I just want to be able to play without feeling like I'm about to die. lol.
I think I'll try doing couch to 5k and suicides (ah, the horror) lol. thanks everyone!
posted by Osakhomen at 7:42 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've got to second taking care of your knees as being a major priority. I just started playing soccer again, loving it actually. And now I've gone and torn my meniscus. And I was taking it fairly easily - except I was playing a sport notoriously difficult on the joints three days a week and ignoring the pain. So don't do as I have done.
posted by mearls at 7:56 PM on January 8, 2013

To elaborate a little bit on my previous comment, I'm also a big guy, and last summer I did the couch to 5k (or part of it, anyway), and was supplementing it with some weight training similar to Power 90. I found that the first few weeks of jogging were really tough, not so much on the knees, but more just running out of breath. After about 3 weeks, though, all of a sudden it started getting a lot easier, and I noticed that I could run short distances without getting winded. There was a definite endurance improvement in those few weeks, that continued while I was doing the couch to 5k program.

The best way for you to improve your endurance is going to be something like jogging, or swimming, or something else which requires you to keep going for a while. The key is going to be doing it in short intervals, so for example jogging for 15 seconds then walking for 60, repeat for 20 minutes. Each week you increase the length of time for the intervals.

I didn't lose much weight when I was jogging, since my nutrition was terrible, but I did manage to get to the point where I could jog for about 6-7 minutes straight in about 7 weeks, and my knees never gave me any problems.

I would suggest that if you do this, though, you take it a little easier on the leg workouts for Power 90, as you will definitely feel the burn in your lets from the jogging, and the last thing you want to do is to overtrain. You might even cut out the leg portion of strength training for the first 2 weeks, to make sure you get enough recovery time.
posted by markblasco at 8:12 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Crossfit, if you can afford it. It'll kick your ass.
posted by thank you silence at 8:15 PM on January 8, 2013

You're already working on dietary reform and you know you ought to be doing some kind of compound strength training, so moving on: The specific problem limiting your athletic performance is a lack of aerobic capacity.

Pretty much any exercise you do will have some effect on improving your aerobic energy system to some degree (as will losing weight) but for the most bang for your buck (i.e. minimising discomfort during the exercise, recovery needs after doing it, and long-term risks of plateauing and injury) you'll want to train it directly: regular 30-90 minute workouts keeping your heart rate at 120-150bpm are optimal. These sessions can take the form walking, cycling, elliptical, swimming, some kind of interval work, whatever you like.

The key with beginning conditioning work is not to push yourself too hard, too fast: everybody has been told 'cardio = pain', so they go full-throttle into anaerobic exertion and neglect to learn how to maintain a comfortable aerobic pace, which is the very thing that your body needs to get through protracted bouts of exertion such as basketball.

I urge against taking the scattershot approach of grinding yourself into the floor with sprints, P90X, burpees til you puke and other sexy metcon: that stuff buoys the ego but does little to address your actual energy system deficits of the novice trainee. If you need to develop work capacity, you should always aim to work smarter, not harder.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:36 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you're having trouble running for extended periods of time.

Couch to 5k will improve your aerobic capacity and ability to run for long periods of time without being overwhelming. (Hint: you can repeat weeks as needed). It worked very well for me, a fellow obese person. And I did it November - Feburary in Michigan, aka snow central, so that shouldn't stop you. Just buy a pair of strap on ice cleats from your local running store. Or you can always run indoors if that's an option.
posted by zug at 3:29 AM on January 9, 2013

Another vote for C25K here, from another big fat person who benefited from its gradual approach and now has way, way more endurance. Yay!

I can't speak to basketball's toll on the knees specifically, but I can tell you that I have had lots of trouble with feet and knees in the past and so was very, very mindful of any pain or negative impact on those things as I started running. With patience and over time my feet and knees had occasional complaints but now are way, way stronger. Highly recommend.
posted by Sublimity at 3:54 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hang in there. You'll build up your endurance, you'll shed some pounds and you'll be there before you know it. You're a dude and presumably still on the young side, you lucky sod! You'll see a big difference within a month.

Try being a 50 year old lady, who schleps on the treadmill 30 minutes a day, has eliminated all the fun food from her diet and who is lucky to lose 1/2 pound a week. It is what it is.

I will say, the quicker you get on this and get in shape, the better off you are. I will say, for the future, it's easier to lose 5 pounds than it is to lose 50.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:44 AM on January 9, 2013

Normally Couch-to-5K, suicides, that stuff would be great for basketball. But if you're obese you're already going to be putting a lot of stress on your knees and joints just playing on the court. Running will make it even worse. Your aerobic capacity will adapt to running far faster than your joints will, which means you may feel great running and you'll get faster and build endurance but your joints will take a beating. I'm not saying don't play basketball, because it's going to be rough on your joints don't add to the damage by trying to prepare with running and sprints.

I would pick non-weight bearing cardio activity--biking, swimming, very simple barbell or dumbbell complexes or kettlebell swings (once you know the form of course), and do a mix of interval work and longer work. The complexes and kettlebell work would be good for building your anaerobic capacity, whereas biking, swimming, or the elliptical would be good for your aerobic (though are suitable for anaerobic via interval training too).

Running and suicides would probably be the optimal training choice, since nothing gets you in shape for running like running. But yours is one of those cases where the risks outweigh the benefits, and it's not like doing the other forms of cardio aren't going to help. Especially if you see basketball as part of a long-term health, fitness, and fun plan. Better to do the "non-optimal" form of cardio, and still be able to play basketball five years down the road, than damage the joints because you blew it all on trying to prepare for it now.
posted by schroedinger at 11:58 AM on January 9, 2013

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