How to Not Lose Muscle Playing Basketball

Basketball player with ball, portrait

Basketball requires a combination of strength, endurance and agility. Running up and down the court, making 3-point shots from afar and jumping for rebounds takes a lot of muscle. Maintaining the muscle you have worked hard to strengthen is a key factor in keeping fit throughout the basketball season. Adjusting your workouts and meal plans can help you to not lose muscle while playing basketball.

Use your own body weight and gravity to strengthen and tone muscles in your hips, thighs and buttocks. Put a fitness ball, also called a stability ball, against a wall and lean against the ball with your back. Your tailbone and small of your back should be in contact with the ball. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be at least 6 inches in front of your midsection. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, and place your palms on your thighs. Hold the squat position for several seconds before standing upright again.

Maintain muscle in your upper body through weight training. You can do bench presses at the gym, but if you do not have access, work out at home. Hold a hand weight in each hand with your arms at your sides and your closed palms facing your body. The amount of weight will depend on your fitness level. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle so the weights are at waist level. Continue to lift the weights up toward your shoulders. Slowly straighten your arms to return to the original position.

Rest in between weight-training sessions. Better Basketball Coaching recommends doing circuit training in the weight room two or three days weekly with two rest days in between to maintain muscle strength without overdoing it.

Eat properly after a basketball game to give your muscles appropriate recovery and rebuilding time. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, you need two to four times as much protein as carbohydrates after a game. Eat lean proteins such as fish, chicken or whey protein supplements. Choose complex carbs such as brown rice, whole grain pasta or potatoes. Refrain from greasy carbs such as French fries or fat-laden baked goods that can upset your stomach and lead to delayed digestion. Sports drinks can also replenish carbs and electrolytes without slowing digestion time.

Consume several nutritious small meals throughout the day during the basketball season to build muscle. Instead of three large meals, aim for five or six smaller meals that do not use as much energy to digest.

Hydrate well after each basketball game and practice to keep your entire body healthy, including your muscles. Weigh yourself before and after you play. Drink 24 ounces of water or sports drinks for each pound you have lost during your workout.


Warm up before basketball practice or strength-training sessions to prevent injuries that keep you on the bench. Jumping jacks, jumping rope, jogging or riding a stationary bike will raise your core temperature and loosen tight muscles.