Flexibility Is The Key To NBA Longevity, See How One Of The NBA’s Oldest Players Keeps Going

The Atlanta Hawks may have recently had their asses handed to them by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals, but that doesn’t take away an accomplishment from one of their veteran players. Elton Brand completed his 16th NBA season and has come a long way since being the first overall selection by the Chicago Bulls in the 1999 NBA Draft.

Devastating injuries nearly derailed his career early on (with the ‘bust’ label also being thrown his direction), but the power forward was able to come back from the likes of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and a torn labrum by turning to some preventive maintenance.

“I’ve been doing yoga three times a week for the past (four) years,” says Brand, “and a lot of stretching, which is the most important thing. You can land awkward, but you’ll be okay of you’re flexible.

“I didn’t do (those things) when I was younger,” he continues, “but take it more serious now at this stage of my career.”

Brand’s role with the 2014-15 Hawks was one of the leadership variety, averaging 13.5 minutes per game (which included four starts). The team finished with the best record in the East but was no match for the LeBron James-led Cavs. Now Brand enters another offseason filled with questions. Will he continue? Will the Hawks bring him back for a third consecutive season? Those answers will eventually come, but Brand has an offseason training regimen that will get his body prepared for another 82-plus games banging bodies inside the paint…just in case.

His summer schedule is a mixed bag of weight training and cardio. “I perform two-to-three week intervals where I go from doing real light lifts and 12-to-16 reps, to heavier and explosive lifts for up to 40 reps a set,” explains Brand. “I also mixed it with heart rate targeted training and wore a monitor while biking outdoors.”

His nutrition also needed to be addressed as he aged and Brand had to make some vital changes in his diet. “(It) really wasn’t that important to me when I first got into the league,” he says. “Back then when I was only 19 years old, I was kind of chubby and really didn’t have any muscle definition. So eventually, I went and met with a nutritionist.”

Brand was surprised to learn that he was sensitive to gluten and had to make some adjustments to avoid it. “I came from a culture of eating McDonald’s a lot,” he says with a laugh, “and I also had to cut out the extra sugar from Twizzlers, which I used to love eating.”

His overall fitness lifestyle has saved his career and surely prolonged it. Between the yoga, cardio, low weight/high rep – heavy weight/low rep routine and healthy nutrition program, Brand has been able to have a ‘second career,’ if you will, since his top prospect days.