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HEAT Build Better Bodies in the Offseason

Nov 2 2004 3:52PM


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As the HEAT’s strength and conditioning coach for 15 seasons, Bill Foran knows exactly what it takes to craft a top-flight NBA body.

And it all starts, he says, when nobody is watching.

“The offseason is when you can get bigger and stronger,” says Foran, who has authored three books on NBA conditioning. “The regular season is basically about maintenance.”

Foran is the architect of one of the most strenuous, sophisticated and successful strength and conditioning programs in the NBA, and the meat and potatoes of his training regimen come in the summer months, well before the bright lights go on at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“It’s much more intense in the offseason,” said Foran. “They’re constantly weight training.”

In the months prior to the start of the NBA season, Foran puts the HEAT players through what he calls a “four-day-split routine,” which includes total body workouts twice a week. The majority of the strength training focuses on the legs and hips, the “core” and the upper body.

“We focus first on the muscles involved in running fast, moving quick and jumping high,” says Foran. “The legs and the hips. We’ve got to get their legs and hips strong. You get the strength, and then you get the explosiveness.”

Foran helps HEAT players build that strength and explosiveness by putting them through a series of squats, one-leg workouts like lunges, step-ups and one-legged leg presses and, finally, knee-, ankle- and hip-specific exercises to “make sure there’s good balance.”

Next, Foran focuses on the “core,” which consists of the abdominals, the lower back and the obliques.

“You’ve got to have a strong core,” Foran says. “We really hit the core hard.”

The third and final component is the upper body, which is especially vital to players who make their living beneath the basket.

“You want a strong upper body,” says Foran. “We hit it hard, with a balance between pushing movements and pulling movements.”

Of course, it isn’t all about building muscle mass. NBA players have to be in peak cardiovascular condition, and Foran makes sure to push them to the limit on the track as well as in the weight room.

This summer, there was an added focus on conditioning. HEAT players met at the outdoor track at the University of Miami on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for eight weeks throughout August and September.

And when they got there, they worked. Hard.

“This summer, we hit conditioning real hard,” says Foran. “[Players did] hard runs at 400, and once they hit their goals, then they’d move to 200s, then to 100s, then we’d get into change of directions and agility stations.

“We’d have five different drills we’d do – agility, quick movement, etc. – and I’d have the coaches handle the drills.”

And that wasn’t even the end of it. Foran would put the HEAT players through a series of basketball-specific conditioning drills on the court.

Through it all, Foran stresses proper nutrition, which is key to not only building, but also maintaining muscle mass. Mass can be particularly hard to maintain for NBA players, who do seemingly endless amounts of high-intensity running and jumping throughout the course of an 82-game season.

“They’ve got to get the calories in to maintain [muscle mass],” says Foran. “We look closely at the nutrition, to make sure that they’re eating three good meals a day, a couple snacks a day, energy drinks.

“The number one reason is energy. They’re expending so much energy. The calories they take in supply the energy on the court.”

Add it all up, and you can start to see how the HEAT routinely rank as one of the most aggressive, hard-charging and well-conditioned teams in the NBA.

“The Miami HEAT, from the very beginning, made a commitment in this area,” says Foran.