With this exercise, Durant strengthens his stabilizer muscles, ligaments and joints to improve durability and be more explosive.
Kevin Durant is one of the most feared basketball players in the NBA. At 6’9”, 235 lb., Durant has freakish length and agility and can score at will. So what does this guy do to establish his dominance? Let’s take a look.
Dwight Daub, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Director of Athletic Performance, has guided Durant with a series of strength training exercises that focus on building muscle and maintaining strength and agility that Durant needs to play basketball as a dominant forward. In an exercise referred to as the single-leg dumbbell curl-to-press, Durant has to balance on one leg while holding dumbbells at his sides with his palms facing forward. While balancing, he has to curl the dumbbells to his shoulders and then raise his hands vertically while rotating his palms so that they are facing outward. The exercise is completed when Durant lowers the dumbbells following the same pattern that he raised them. This is repeated for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps while switching legs between each set. This exercise is beneficial for numerous reasons. It allows practice for Durant with maintaining balance, but also for lifting weight above his head (whether this weight emulates a basketball, or an opponent who needs to be boxed out). The combination of a bicep curl and shoulder press is also very useful. “Combo exercises allow us to get our training done in less time,” says Daub, the Thunder’s trainer. The exercise also works on core stabilization.
Durant also does this alternating renegade row to put some emphasis on his shoulders and to work on the stabilizer muscles
The emphasis on upper body strength in Durant’s training was definitely not an overlooked point. In the walking dumbbell push-up-to-row, Durant assumes the push-up position with light dumbbells in his hands touching the floor. With his legs spread out a bit further than shoulder width, Durant walks the left dumbbell out a few inches and then the right dumbbell. Fully extended, he drags his feet forward a bit, then does a push-up. After returning to the prone position, Durant walks the left dumbbell forward, then the right, and repeats the motion for 2-4 sets of 3-8 reps. This is an exercise that not only builds strength, but works with core stabilization and shoulder extension. Having to walk his hands out to their maximum limits, Durant becomes acclimated to full extension – a tactic that he can use in a game for pulling down a rebound, or tipping in a bank shot.
The legs are the first source of power for any athlete who is jumping, lunging, squating, etc. Daub knows this and incorporates a useful leg workout into the athlete’s ensemble of exercises. The medicine ball multi-planar lunge utilizes a Core Board which is a stabilized board about the size of a Bosu ball, but completely flat and elevated. Holding the medicine ball in front of him, Durant steps at a 45 degree angle onto the Core Board with his right leg. He lowers into lunge position with his back knee almost touching the floor. Durant then pushes off from his right heel off of the core board and into starting position. From here, he will step straight onto the core board and lunge back the way he did in the first rep. After this, he will follow the sequence, but doing so with his left leg. Durant will engage in 2-4 sets of 9-12 reps for each leg. This workout is beneficial to Durant in building his leg strength and having to deal with recovering and stepping from awkward positions into comfortable, ready positions. Stepping from the core board back onto level ground also strengthens his glute muscles, hamstrings, and quads. These muscles are the drivers in regards to leg strength and jumping strength.
Durant also trains on sand, running uphill sprints and doing a running drill known as suicides. He trains a lot with this good friend and teammate Russell Westbrook. Sand training is effective at building quickness and explosiveness. Working out on sand provides many benefits such as building more strength in the legs and core. Since sand shifts beneath you as you run, more of your leg muscles are engaged and targeted. In addition, sand training improves balance because the uneven sand surface activates nearly all the muscles in the body, which will result in more strength and fluidity of motion. You develop less impact on the joints and muscles as the feet hit the sand. Running on dry sand requires 1.6 times more energy than running on stable surfaces so you are working yourself even more on sand.
NOTE: This is only part of Kevin Durant’s workout routine, in which we offer some additional commentary to his regimen. To see the whole routine and to go more in-depth with athlete workouts, be sure to check out STACK Magazine