When Dwight Howard was drafted #1 overall by the Orlando Magic out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, he was not the “Superman” he is today. He was a skinny, tall kid with tons of potential.
Somewhere between 2004 and his current dominance “inside the paint,” he managed to put on weight and sculpt his body. How else could he handle the rigors of playing “inside” in the NBA. He is the 2-time defending NBA “Defensive Player of the Year” after all.
You can’t achieve that as the scrawny kid.
Dwight does many different exercises and routines that have helped take him to the top. Highlighting some of his routines and preferred exercises should give us insight into how he put muscle on such a thin frame.
Some guys are naturally big and just need to build muscle—Dwight Howard was tiny and needed to build a whole body! What’s his secret?
Dwight’s Routine in the Gym
Dwight works out with Orlando Magic strength coach, Joe Rogowski. He doesn’t always train at home, and when he is at the Magic’s practice facility, he works out with Rogowski.
If you have a personal trainer or you belong to a gym, these are some great exercises for you. You can put your own program together or you can use a personal trainer to help you incorporate exercises like those Dwight does with Rogowski.
These are a few “basic” gym exercises, but Rogowski has training tips to go along with the exercise to make it more effective. A “bench press” is just a bench press—but you can also add onto the move.
Hold the bar with your arms as wide apart as you can and find a spotter! Laying on your back and lifting weights without a spotter is about the worst idea ever.
Rogowski says you should not arch your back, but keep your core activated during the press. Dwight does what they call a “pyramid rep scheme” to increase muscle gain.
For the “pyramid” start with the lightest weight and do 10 reps, then increase the weight and do 8 reps. Continue until you are doing your heaviest weight at only 2 reps. You should feel comfortable with the weight, but you’re still pushing yourself by the end.
Feed the meathead in you already!
Here you’re supposed to sit on the Lat Pulldown Machine and hold the bar wider than shoulder width. Pull the bar down to your upper chest only and then let it rise until your arms are straight again.
Because the exercise moves slowly—and it’s a good rebounding exercise for your basketball guy—you can do 2-4 sets of 10-12 pulldowns. Remember to keep good posture—don’t slouch as you pull the bar down.
Hop on the Leg Press Machine with your feet slightly wider than your hips. This one is great for all the muscles around your hips, knees, and ankles. Rogowski calls it a “multi-joint” exercise.
Lower the weight on the machine with legs slowly for 3-4 reps—in 6-8 sets of reps total. That may seem like a lot of weight, but your joints will thank you when all the muscles surrounding them are stronger.
These exercises and this routine might seem extreme—or you might not have a gym handy. Well, Dwight also works out at home.
Dwight’s Home Workout
Nobody, regardless of how much money they make, wants to be at the gym all the time. Sure, you could just put a gym in your house if you’re a millionaire, but sometimes it’s better to stay simple. This sampling of home routines come from Dwight’s trainer, Brian Meyer.
You can do these exercises at home on a rainy day, during a blizzard, or whenever you just don’t want to leave the house. Yes, even NBA superstars “stay their ass at home”—as Dennis Scott says. It keeps you out of trouble!
It is recommended that you start this exercise with your hands on the flat side of a weight plate. Honestly, you could use anything that won’t move and provides a couple inches of elevation. Try a book, some towels, or even an extra tile from your kitchen remodel!
Start in proper push-up position with your back completely straight—no butts up in the air here! Your left hand is on the plate and your right hand is on the floor. Complete a push-up.
Now, push off and fire yourself to the other side—now your left hand is on the floor and your right hand on the plate. Rinse and repeat! How many push-ups can you do? 20-25 is a good set for your arms.
One-Legged Squats with Dumbbells
Got a couple dumbbells at home? Got a couple milk jugs? Times are tough and you can do this with any weight that you promise not to drop on your foot!
Lower the weight to the floor without arching your back. It should feel as though you’re setting the weight on the floor—only you stand back up and continue.
10-20 reps on each leg should do the trick.
Squat Plus a Push-Up
You have no equipment at home. You don’t belong to a gym. You need something. Then perhaps you should combine squats and push-ups. Actually, this exercise is called a “burpee.”
From a standing position squat down. The squat alone works some of your lower body. Now place your hands on the floor and throw your legs behind you.
You should be in a push-up position. Back straight—no butts up here—and do a push-up. Jump your feet back under you and stand.
There are multiple ways to perform a burpee, but if we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned that intensity helps. Don’t “tap dance” around this exercise. You’ve got to be “on the move” to exert yourself during burpees.
Dwight Is a Motivator
Instead of just staring up at him and asking, “How’d you get so big” or “How’s the weather up there,” you could very easily take Dwight’s story and program as a motivator. If he can do it I can do it.
Basically, Dwight put on about 40 pounds of muscle since joining the Orlando Magic, making him one of the most imposing big men in the league. He followed these simple routines—and more—to attain his goal of a stronger physique.
Just because you’re “skinny” doesn’t mean you have to stay that way—Dwight didn’t—and you don’t have to either!