Can Playing Basketball Build Muscle? A Quick Guide



Playing basketball is a great way to have fun and stay in shape. Many people believe that basketball can build muscle as its a physical sport and your muscles are often exhausted after playing. Although basketball can help you lose fat its a different story when it comes to building muscle.

Can Basketball Build Muscle? No, basketball does not build muscle. Basketball is more of a cardio workout that tones muscles and helps burn fat. Muscle is built by applying tension to it over time while eating a healthy diet and resting enough to recover and repair the muscle fibers. Improper diet and too much basketball can decrease muscle size

Basketball may build a base level of strength if you have never played much sports before. But keep in mind that the strength you do build will level off at some point especially if you have stopped growing. You will have to start lifting challenging weights to increase the baseline strength you have acquired from basketball.

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Basketball and Muscle

Most basketball players have great physiques, many don’t work out with weights and they look as if they do.Playing basketball consistently will help you get in shape, it involves a lot of running, jumping, and lateral movements. You can go from jogging to sprinting, jumping once to twice in a row to get a rebound, lateral shuffle on defense to a full-court sprint to recover if your defender blows by you.

Basketball can be a fun and intense game and by default, you are getting a good workout and not even realizing it. Although you may feel your leg are tired and you got a good workout from playing ball, You’re not actually building a larger muscle. What is happening is you are strengthening and toning the leg muscles used instead.

To build muscle you need to get on a weight program or routine and lift heavy enough weights that exhaust the muscle at the end of your rep range for that set. For example, If I am doing 3 sets of 10 on the bench press. My 8, 9, and 10th rep I should be using a weight that challenges me without sacrificing my form. I have now damaged the muscle from working out, the following day I feel soreness in the muscle group. I am eating healthy and resting properly so that I can recover for my next workout for the same muscle groups. Rinse and repeat.

This is why it is difficult to gain muscle while playing basketball, there isn’t enough tension in a single movement while playing to get the same effect. Unless you ask the center if you can bench press him down on the block a few times each quarter, then you’re out of luck.

Although basketball does not build muscle it still provides a lot of value to the body both physically and mentally.


Benefits of Playing Basketball

          Basketball is one of the best sports that provides a lot of physical and mental benefits to the body, here a few:

    • Burns fat
    • Burns calories
    • Promotes healthy organs
    • Improves motor skills
    • Improves hand-eye coordination
    • Improves spatial awareness
    • Improves teamwork
    • Improves general strength levels
    • Improves endurance
    • Boost immune system
    • Improves confidence
    • It improves mental toughness.


The list goes on, although not on this list is Increase size of a muscle. There is a misconception that because basketball players that are generally slim to muscular build that may appear that playing basketball actually builds muscle. It’s more than likely the athletes that you are looking at are not only playing basketball but working out with weights also. On top of that, it helps to have good genetics.

Building Muscle for Basketball

Playing basketball in my teens, one of the things I wish I could have done differently is a weight lifting workout and have a goal in mind of what I wanted to accomplish. Basketball training during that time was known and encouraged by coaches but only scratched the surface of what today’s sports science has discovered about training.

There are a number of factors to consider as you are trying to build muscle, its important to note genetics plays a huge role in how big or strong you can be. After high school, I decided I wanted to put on some muscle and mass. It was very easy for me to do so especially when I was able to eat whatever I want.

As long as I cut basketball down to a couple of times a week instead of every day then I was on my way to an extra 10 pounds of mass that made me look good in a T-shirt.

A friend of mine, not the case, was skinny working out and getting bigger never came easy for him. He was the only guy I knew that creatine did not work for. He worked all through high school and years after that, he probably still works out today. ( I lost touch with him).

My friend was the most committed guy I had ever met when it came to working out, he worked out for years with very poor results. That did not deter him from staying on the path to his goals. If I was as committed as he was to working out I would be going places with basketball. He had what I wanted and I had what he wanted.

I can remember after my bulk phase he would look me up in down after a few weeks of not seeing each other and say “HOW”, and would just be disappointed with himself. Genetics plays a huge factor and for him, he hated it.

I won’t give you the boring science of how to build muscle but here some factors that come into play.

    • Genetics = how big and strong you can be.
    • Weight Training program – Periodization.
    • Consistency.
    • Clean Diet.

Building Muscle is not bulking up by gaining fat, but by adding 1 to 2 lbs of muscle a month is a really good goal. Anything more and you may be putting on mass otherwise known as bulk.

Proper diet and rest is crucial, you don’t grow in the gym while you are working out. You grow when you are resting and eating a healthy diet. Healthy eating habits include supplements that provide nutrients to help repair broken down muscle, provide energy, and helps maintain a healthy weight.


Can Muscle Strength Improve Playing Basketball?

If your someone who feels like your base level is strong, you can do 20 push-ups easy, you can pull yourself up on a pull-up bar a few times and you can do 20 squat jumps before feeling tired. This would be a good indicator that you have a good base level of strength.

If your someone who struggles with the above strength movements, then playing basketball can help to improve strength along with any other sport.

There will come to a point where your strength levels off and you will need to hit the weights to get stronger. When I was in high school playing basketball I was known as a shooter and as a shooter, I didn’t get any stronger shooting at the three-point line after thousands of shots practicing. It wasn’t until I hit the weights and brought up my strength to the point I felt all I had to do was just aim. It felt that easy and my shot was more consistent.

Most basketball players that are serious about the game are usually playing ball and working out at the same time to get the edge over there competition. Making the next level, you have to have a certain level of strength and explosiveness. A basketball workout with weights and plyometric exercises is essential and the key to becoming an elite player.

Can I Build Muscle By Working Out And Playing Basketball at The Same Time?

If your playing basketball 5 days a week or your in-season I recommend trying to maintain the muscle and strength you have now while focusing on the season till it’s over. During the season make sure you are getting enough calories as it’s not uncommon to lose 5 to 10 lbs at the end of the season.

Now that the season is over, and you have decided to focus on gaining some muscle you are going to need to increase your calorie intake. A good starting point would be 400 to 500 calories extra day while on a training regimen.

If you are still playing basketball keep in mind it will be difficult to gain the muscle size you want the more basketball you are playing. Keep basketball down to two times a week if you are working out and up your calorie intake to compensate for the loss of calories from playing.

Remember the more you play the harder it will get while working out as you may risk overtraining while trying to increase muscle mass.


Can Playing Basketball Make You Lose Muscle?

Yes. But only if you are playing a lot of basketball will it deplete your muscles, especially if you are not working out with weights. Basketball involves a lot of running, but if you are working out and eating enough in your diet to compensate for the calories lost while playing you should be okay. If you are working out while playing you should be able to maintain your muscle with the few adjustments above.


This concludes the article, there are a lot of great programs online you can find for free if you are interested in a workout routine. Just remember sometimes more is not better to listen to your body to prevent fatigue and injury.


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