- The Miami Heat have a legendary strength and conditioning program that they call “world class”.
- A test every player must pass before training camp requires 10 sprints from baseline to baseline in less than a minute, over and over again.
- The Heat also requires players to take photos before, during and after the season to document their weight progress, and their body fat is checked weekly.
- While not all actors like the intense militaristic culture, it has undeniably paid off those who embrace it.
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The Miami Heat’s strength and conditioning program is so tough that it often takes players to levels they didn’t realize possible.
When Dion Waiters was traded to the Heat in 2017, he wrote in The Players Tribune that team president Pat Riley told him about his conditioning.
The waiters wrote he was skeptical, believing he was already in NBA form.
“After a week, my body [was] “I was about to throw up in the trash like in the movies.”
The servers were so impressed with his progress that he posted before and after photos of the Heat program.
—Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) April 20, 2017
Server documentation of his progress wasn’t unique – Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reported in 2017 that players took three photos – one before the season, one during their season, and one after – to document their progress. They have their body fat checked every Monday. This is not a common practice around the NBA.
It’s all part of The Heat’s intense strength and conditioning program, a program they repeatedly call “world class”. Over the years, the Heat program has become legendary in the NBA, bordering on folklore.
The Heat program is not too complicated
To all the praise of the team, the few anecdotes that exist on this exactly the Heat largely portrays the image of an old-fashioned militarist agenda. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported in 2016 that in LeBron James’ first season in Miami, training camp was held at a military base, and the first three days were devoted to conditioning and defense exercises only; nobody touched a basketball.
Windhorst reported in the playoffs that the Heat’s famous conditioning exercise consisted of wind sprints, court length, over and over.
“To be admitted to training camp, a player has to walk the court 10 times in less than a minute. Then two minutes of recovery. Then again. Two minutes of recovery. Then again. And again. And again,” Windhorst wrote.
Some believe this is the most difficult test in the NBA and NFL. Jimmy Butler did not pass it on during his first go-around. By the time Dwyane Wade was a Heat veteran, he “pulled the ranks” and opted out of the test every season, according to Windhorst.
In another exercise documented on Heat’s YouTube channel, players are required to run on a manual resistance treadmill and cover up to 12 miles per hour. Once there, they should maintain this speed for five 20-second intervals, with a minute of rest in between.
Former Heat guard Josh Richardson, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Butler, discussed the test and “world-class” schedule when joining the Sixers.
“They call it ‘world class conditioning’,” Richardson told reporters. “When you get to camp, they expect you at a certain body weight, a certain level of conditioning, because from day one you hit the ground running. They have a conditioning test over there which isn’t easy, so this is your first introduction to boot camp, honestly, because it’s like a week before. “
A Heat player who chose to remain anonymous told Kennedy in 2017: “They brought us in early in the offseason to prepare for training camp. We did sprints and other conditioning exercises, and we even went out to push sleds and flip tires and stuff like that. It was all getting ready for training camp. “
Things don’t get any easier in training camp or in season. According to Kennedy, the Heat are fining players $ 100 for putting their hands on their knees during a game or practice. Kennedy and Windhorst both reported that players drank detox drinks or went to the hammam to sweat pounds before the weigh-in.
While Riley has received much of the credit for creating a culture of responsibility in Miami, many also credit the father-son team of Bill and Eric Foran, who lead the strength and conditioning program.
Former Heat forward James Johnson, who lost 40 lbs and reduced his body fat percentage to 6.75% in Miami, told the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang that the Forans should get “all the compliments and every rewards “for the program.
Great driver Udonis Haslem, who has been with the team since 2003, told Chiang: “[The Forans] are determined to make guys get better. There is a science behind it. It’s not just getting into the gym and rocking the weights. There is a science behind it. So they perfected the science behind it. “
Heat’s schedule contrasts with some other NBA schedules, which focus on slow building so players can be at their peak at the end of the season. In recent years, some teams barely train during the season to allow players to get enough rest.
The Heat’s conditioning paid off in the playoffs. The Heat have made several impressive playoff returns, exemplified by their divisions in the first and second half – they’re just a +7 in the first half of the playoffs, but a +63 in the second half. time.
While the program isn’t for everyone, many NBA players love the intensity of Miami’s culture.
“They’re actually watching out for you,” Jimmy Butler told reporters at training camp in 2019. “Whether you want to look at it like that or not, they make sure you’re healthy, that you are at a weight that you can work on to help us gain, and that your body fat needs to go down, to watch what you put in your body. I like it. I’m a fan of it. “
Heat center Meyers Leonard said in October that players should be expected to be in world-class form.
“Love it,” Leonard told reporters. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Look, we’re in the biggest association in the world. We get paid millions of dollars to play basketball, which is a game we love. shouldn’t we be fit and ready to rock and roll every day? “