LeBron James is nothing short of an incredible athlete. At 37-years-old, he continues to play at the very top of his game and proves age is just a number when it comes to fitness. We’d argue that Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović are the only other sportsmen who come close to LeBron’s calibre of fitness.
Just how does LeBron stay in such incredible shape? Well, a recent workout he posted on his Instagram account gives us a pretty good idea. Posting three clips showing different exercises (and a whole lot more considering he’s only wearing a pair of compression pants) LeBron reveals how he maintains serious upper body strength.
Swiss ball oblique crunch
The first clip shows him performing a Swiss ball oblique crunch, which helps to build a strong core. For this exercise, you need a Swiss ball (otherwise known as an exercise ball or yoga ball), which you then lay on with your hips. You can anchor your feet by pushing them against a wall if you wish, but if you’re able to perform this exercise without the aid of an anchor, then you will be recruiting your core muscles a great deal more to maintain stability.
Raise your arms out to the sides or, as in LeBron’s case, raise your hands to your ears, slowly raise and lower your torso, ensuring your keep your back straight. You will need to extend your torso so that your elbow gets close to the ground, but don’t allow your back to arch backwards or forwards or allow your hips to rotate.
Repeat this motion for 12-15 reps on both sides of the body.
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The behind-the-neck press is often on the receiving end of its fair share of controversy in the fitness industry, because it has a much greater chance of causing injury if not performed correctly, compared to a standard overhead press. So, while LeBron may be able to perform it, it’s not one that’s recommended for everyone, especially beginner lifters.
If you wish to attempt it but you’re new to the exercise, it’s best to begin by performing it in a seated position, before moving to a standing position. Also make sure you use a relatively light weight as not only will your shoulders become fatigued quickly, but it also lessens the chance of injury.
The behind-the-neck press, like the overhead press, primarily targets the shoulder muscles and upper back muscles. If performing in a standing position, start with the barbell at around chest height on a squat rack so that you enough stabilisation in the body to lift the bar above your head.
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LeBron chooses to perform using a very wide grip, but a grip just wider than shoulder-width will suffice. With the grip sorted, lift the bar above your head and make sure your feet are around shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, lock your shoulder blades down and exhale before slowly lowering the bar just behind your head. Make sure to not lower the back all the way down the back of your head to the base of your neck, as this will place too much strain on your rotator cuff.
Pause for a moment in this position before inhaling to press the bar back up to the starting position. Start with just one set of the behind-the-neck press with 12-15 reps for the set.
Standing cable chest press
The cable machine is an incredibly popular piece of gym equipment, since the cables provide resistance to the muscles throughout the duration of any movement you perform and that you can target a variety of muscle groups simply by adjusting the height of the cable or the attachment grip.
LeBron shows us how he performs a standing cable chest press, although we must say, his stance appears to be a little unorthodox. For a conventional cable chest press, you would want to stand either in a split stance, with one leg in front of the other to provide stability, or in a regular standing position with feet shoulder-width apart.
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In LeBron’s case, he elects to lean forward, with his feet behind him. In doing so, we suspect he is having to engage his core muscle a lot more than you would in the other standing positions, although it doesn’t look like the most comfortable of positions.
LeBron has his cables set high and shoulder-width apart. With his hands placed through some regular grip attachments, he then presses both cables forward, before returning to the starting position. This exercise will be working his chest muscles and, to an extent, his shoulder muscles too.
We’d certainly suggest performing a conventional cable chest press first, especially if you’re new to the movement, before attempting LeBron’s variation.