NBA veteran and former first-round pick Andrei Kirilenko enters his 13th NBA season looking to help bring his Brooklyn Nets back to the playoffs. The 6-foot-9 small forward has recorded impressive stats — like a league-leading 3.3 blocks per game in 04-05, and career-high .513 field goal percentage last season — but the Russian-American has also been injury prone. During the last two seasons he lost 44 games over different stretches to back spasms.
This off-season, Kirilenko added a new focus on core strength to his workouts. At an NBA Cares event on Staten Island, the versatile forward told Men's Journal the training is as much to keep him off the injured list as it is to raise his overall game.
"Basketball players are always sitting down, trying to get lower in the defensive and even offensive stance," says Kirilenko. "All those core muscles, that’s what holds you up and prevents injury."
Most of us don't have time to mimic his daily three-hour training regime, so the Brooklyn Net offered a shorter core workout that still engages your back, sides, and abdominal muscles to improve balance and strength.
Perform three rounds of the following exercises before strength workouts. Hold each move for 30 seconds, eventually working up to 45.
Wall Side Plank
Hold a side plank, elbow under your shoulder, hips lifted high and and chest square to the side, with your bottom elbow and heels flat against a wall. The wall will force you to maintain a straight front-to-back body alignment. Perform on both sides.
Medicine Ball Plank Pass
Get into plank position — forearms down, back flat, hips raised, and butt, abs, and legs tight — with a medicine ball placed an arm’s-length in front of your face. Alternate rolling the ball to the right, then to the left, with each arm, and keeping your hips as square to the floor as possible.
Med Ball Plank
Hold a straight-arm plank on top of a medicine ball, both hands directly under your chest. Keep your butt, abs, and legs tight.