Training Session: Front Lunges

Final Four Fitness

Ed Ryan Ed Ryan, USOC Sports Medicine staff (NBAE/Getty Images)

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are down to the Final Four, so there is plenty of great action to watch this weekend.

But you’ve still got to keep active and well conditioned for when it’s your time to hit the court. So here’s another installment of the USA Basketball “Training Session,” with a tip on how to stay in shape while you’re in front of the television watching the games.

We caught up with veteran athletic trainer Ed Ryan, who has spent more than 20 years as a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Medicine staff, to get some ideas. 

Earlier during March Madness, Ryan told us about the benefits of full body squats. This week, Ryan explains how to do front lunges – and why it will help.

“Lunges are really important in a strength and conditioning session to do toward the end of the session,” said Ryan, who also was the athletic trainer for the USA Basketball Women's National Team from 2007-2012. “It’s very critical for a player to control his or her own body weight in basketball.” 

Front lunges

Benefits: “The significance is that the lunge action is integral in things like cutting in basketball, acceleration while running and deceleration while running, as well as improving strength from things like landing from a jump.”

Reps: 5 for each leg

Sets: 5

Rest: 1 minute between reps

Instructions: From standing position, point feet straight ahead – if you look down they should look like the number 11 … Take a giant step out with your right foot … The correct distance for that giant step is so that your left knee touches the ground, while the lower half of your right leg is straight up and down over your foot – not bent forward over your toes or bent backwards at a negative angle… Reach your arms out over your head like they’re reaching out for a ball – if you have a ball you can hold it over your head… Then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Lunges are good to do any time. Ryan said they would normally be done toward the end of a workout.

“Earlier in a strength and conditioning session, they might do things with weights and other resistance,” he said. “But the critical thing, since you only play basketball with your body weight, particularly when you’re fatigued, is to have that ability to control your body weight.”

Snack Time

There’s never a bad time to drink water, but how about seltzer? Is there a difference, health-wise?

“As far as hydration is concerned, there’s no difference,” said Ryan. “If you’re talking about seltzer, not club soda – club soda contains some sodium in it and seltzer does not. With regard to comfort, seltzer as a carbonated drink might not be that comfortable when someone is active – gas, burping, things like that. But from my perspective, after activity I really emphasize that players need to be drinking, need to be hydrating.”

Whether it’s water or seltzer, Ryan noted the importance of hydrating before a workout.

“Everybody thinks, ‘If I’m sweating a lot when I’m playing, then I need to drink,” he said. “That’s true. But what you drink when you’re not on the court, when you’re not playing, is as critical if not more important than what you drink during the activity. That’s what allows the hydration, allowing your body to recover from exercise. And it’s in that recovery phase that you make big gains, benefit from the training you just did.”

All set? Enjoy the games!


A 21-year accomplished member of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Medicine staff, Ed Ryan began his tenure with the USOC in 1985 as the Head Athletic Trainer at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Marquette, Mich. By 2000, he was promoted to Director of Sports Medicine, where he led all aspects of the USOC's sports medicine department through 2006.

Ryan has served as the Medical Director and head athletic trainer for numerous national and international events. In addition to his USOC duties, Ryan has worked closely with USA Basketball, USA Team Handball and U.S. Track & Field at various international competitions. The Medical Coordinator for the historical 1995-96 USA Basketball Women's National Team, Ryan oversaw the medical staff assigned to the U.S. teamand often traveled with the squad as the athletic trainer. He has been involved with USA Basketball teams for over two decades.

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