How NBA Star James Harden Trains to Boost His Athleticism | Men's Health Magazine Australia

How NBA Star James Harden Trains to Boost His Athleticism

The NBA hasn’t quite seen anything like James Harden before. No, that’s not just because of his signature beard.

The Houston Rockets shooting guard is one of the most dominant players in the league, dropping points in torrents and racking up accolades. The Beard has been either runner-up (2014-15, 2016-17, 2018-19) or won (2017-18) the MVP award in four of the last five seasons, with a stylistic flair that few other athletes in any sport can match.

But Harden hasn’t always been the first option on his successful teams—for the first part of his career, he came off the bench for a stacked Oklahoma City Thunder squad that also featured superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (who will soon be Harden’s new running mate in Houston after a blockbuster trade). All superstars work hard, but Harden has had to prove his skills more than most, winning Sixth Man of the Year in 2011-12. All of that effort starts away from the court in offseason workouts, where players hone their bodies to be ready for the big stage.

See the workout below.

For the past four years, performance specialist Paul Fabritz has helped Harden to become the dominant, undeniable star player he is today. Fabritz’s company, PJF Performance, also boasts other pro basketball standouts as clients, like Joel Embiid, Mo Bamba, and works with prospects ahead of the NBA combine to develop their vertical leaping ability.

“[Harden] plays 82-plus games every year, so we’ve got to keep him durable, resilient, and healthy,” Fabritz said when the Men’s Health crew visited him in Anaheim, California, to check out a typical workout. “It’s not just about health—it’s about explosiveness. It’s about his movements on the court.”

Most of the exercises Fabritz demonstrated are pretty straightforward, and you can take them on in a normal gym if you don’t have access to a court. But you probably don’t have a force plate handy, which the Fabritz uses to assess Harden’s jumps, so don’t worry about skipping that drill for the workout.

Even so, this routine should help you in the areas Fabritz wants to optimise—if you perform it properly with maximum effort. “Whether it’s James Harden working out, trying to become the MVP, or just you trying to get to the next level and be the best version of you, we’ve got to work hard, we’ve got to work smart, we’ve got to work consistently,” he said. “Take care of your nutrition, take care of your sleep, you’re going to see some good results.”

Dynamic Warmup

There are four components to the warmup, according to Fabritz.

  • Increase body heat
  • Stretch muscles
  • Get activated
  • Warm up the nervous system

Take on each move for 2 rounds, from the endline to midcourt.

  • High Skips
  • Over-Unders (Carioca)
  • Walking Hamstring Stretch
  • Quad Stretch with Lean
  • Frankenstein Kicks
  • Adductor Stretch
  • Hip Flexor Stretch

Mobility Drills

Take on each move for 2 rounds, from the endline to midcourt.

  • High Skip into Deep Squat
  • Quickline into Stick

Core Activation and Full Body Stability

  • Eurostep Stability Drill
  • 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps per side
  • Da Vinci Plank
  • 3 sets of 30 second holds per side

High Intensity Work

  • Weighted Jumps
  • 4 sets of 3 to 5 reps
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Press
  • 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps per side
  • Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat
  • 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps per side
  • Inverted Row
  • 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps


  • Active Hamstring Stretch
  • 10 reps per side
  • Samson Stretch
  • 3 to 5 reps per side
  • 90-90 Get-Ups
  • 3 to 5 reps per side
  • Kneeling Ankle Mobility
  • 8 to 12 reps per side

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health

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