When forward Matt Harpring
came to Philadelphia last summer in an offseason trade with the Cavs, Sixers strength and conditioning coach James Lloyd didn't have to go through the process of developing a new weight training program for him. Harpring's own routine, while unconventional, covers everything he needs to maintain his strength on the court.
"Matt kind of has his own little thing and then I just throw a twist in it," Lloyd says. "So really, he came in with a workout that I liked and I just let him do his thing."
Sixers strength coach James Lloyd watches Matt Harpring's form on his pull-downs.
But Lloyd doesn't just let everyone do his own thing. Harpring's work ethic and weight training experience is unique among his NBA colleagues. He uses a regimen developed during his high school football days that works just as well for him on the basketball court.
"It all starts here in your midsection. Your core can make your legs strong, your arms strong – it makes everything strong. That will give Matt an advantage if Matt's playing a guy who's 20-30 pounds heavier than he is in his position," Lloyd says. "He can use his body weight to defend the guy or whatever he has to do. So it gives him a serious advantage over a guy coming against Matt who's six inches taller. Matt can outmuscle him because of his core strength. He's got awesome core strength."
In fact, Lloyd belives Harpring's among the top 30 percent of the league's strongest athletes. Harpring works out his upper body on practice days and then his lower body immediately AFTER games. This balance prevents the usual soreness on days between lifts and allows for full recovery time.
"The strongest I am is at the beginning of the season, obviously, because I work all offseason," Harpring says. "Then as the season goes along, people tend to get weaker, but I maintain what I have because of the way I work out."
The following Harpring's upper body workout.
NOTE: This workout is designed for a professional basketball player. Please consult your physician before embarking upon any fitness regimen.
||5 sets, 8-4 reps, 225-275 lbs.
|| Harpring: "I like to lift before I shoot because it gives me my touch. If I shot first and then lifted, I'd have a hard time finding my touch again."
||3 sets, 6-4 reps, 195 lbs.
|| Harpring: "I use a lighter weight to keep me from getting sore. If I went up to 225, I'd be sore tomorrow (game day)."
Lloyd: "The kind of lifts that Matt can do, the kind of lifts that I can do – I would never have a basketball player do those lifts. Matt can do that because he's trained for years."
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
||2 sets, 10 reps, 100-120 lbs.
||Lloyd: "You see the way his trunk is built. All those exercises, those build his trunk. And if his trunk's strong, his arms are strong, legs are strong, neck is strong, everything is strong."
||2 sets, 12 reps, 130-140 lbs.
|| Lloyd: "Matt does his pull-downs to the front. Before, people always did pull-downs behind the neck. Then we found out it was messing your rotator cuffs up so you go to the front, whereas I can still go behind because my rotator cuffs are so strong. Matt could still do it if he wanted to, but I told him to stop doing it when he got here."|
||2 sets, 15 reps, 70 lbs.
|| Harpring: "This works two muscle groups in one exercise. You work your biceps pulling up from your sides and then your shoulders pushing up over your head."
|Should Lat Raise
||2-3 sets, 15 reps, 60 lbs.
||Lloyd: "You have to keep a guy interested. You always have to change exercises. You can't just have a guy come in and do the same thing every day. It gets boring. It doesn't shock the system either. That's how you grow – you have to shock the system."
||3 sets, 15 reps, 80 lbs.
|| Harpring: "I used to work out day of games. It was always three times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday. If it was on a game day, it was on a game day and if not, it wasn't. And then, I kind of got away from that because I didn't like doing it on game days. The way I do it now really works for me."
||3 sets, 15 reps, 70 lbs.
||Harpring: "Quick, not much rest time in between. It's almost like a circuit – one then another then another. 30 seconds in between. Just go. You have about 45 minutes to an hour lift. "
||3 sets, 15 reps, 80 lbs.
||Lloyd: "I don't want him all big and bulky because of his game. He's got to be able to move, he's got to be agile still."
Harpring works his shoulders and triceps with shoulder lat raises.
Harpring completes the power clean, a rare move for a basketball player.
Harpring extends his wing span with back flys.
Harpring does his tricep-pull downs on the regular pull-down machine.
Harpring takes a brief rest in between sets of his incline dumbbell bench press.
All photos courtesy of sixers.com. Special thanks to Matt Harpring, James Lloyd and Maggie Arganbright for flexing their muscles to provide this upper body workout.