Basketball players need to be nimble and agile, and while you may think that gaining weight would be a disadvantage, the opposite could be true. Being heavier as a basketball player not only makes you stronger and more powerful, but can increase your sprint speed and make you better at blocking and defending. The key to gaining weight and increasing performance is to gain muscle, not just add non-functional body fat.
Massive Meals, More Often
The key to gaining weight as an athlete is to eat larger meals more frequently, writes sports nutritionist Nancy Clark in "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5E." Many athletes claim they eat a large number of calories at meal times, which may be the case, but they're probably only eating a couple of times per day, Clark adds. To combat this, she suggests eating extra snacks, such as a large peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk before bed or nuts, seeds, yogurt, cereals, bran muffins and even leftovers at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Bumping Up the Calories
It takes an excess of 3,500 to gain 1 pound, and the average active 19 to 24-year-old male weighing 165 pounds needs around 3,000 calories each day just to maintain weight, according to Jenn Van Ness of Burlington County College. Dietitian Becci Twombley of the University of Southern California adds that most players looking to gain weight need between 4,000 and 5,000 calories daily. Rather than looking purely at calories though, Van Ness advises aiming to get 50 to 60 percent of your calories from carbs, 10 to 30 percent from protein and 20 to 30 percent from fats.
It might be tempting to load up on junk food and fast food to get those calories in, but this isn't ideal. These calories are non-functional, notes Twombley -- they won't help your performance. Lakers center and forward Dwight Howard attests to a healthy diet, noting that a change in his approach to eating, lowering his sugar intake and focusing on healthy whole-foods during the 2013 NBA season helped to raise his game dramatically.
Hit the Weights
Eating plenty of calories is a great start, but weight training is also important. Your weights program should be based around compound moves, such as step-ups, dumbbell presses, rows and Olympic lifts like the hang clean, advises strength coach Alessandro Brazzit. Aim to gradually increase your strength from workout to workout and consult with your coaches to design a program tailored to your own specific needs.
- Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 5E; Nancy Clark; p. 292
- Purdue University: Bulking Up: Helping Clients Gain Weight Healthfully
- Burlington County College: Gaining Weight for Athletes
- USA Basketball: Healthy Weight Gain Tips for Basketball Players
- BioHealthScience.org: Dwight Howard Saves His Season By Changing His Diet
- Stack: The Basics of Basketball Strength Training