Tyler Marko and sports performance coach Raymond Brenkert break down how the Knicks’ off-season workout regiment is setting them up for success.

No genre of social media post excites a fanbase like an off-season training video. Regardless of the sport, there’s a feeling of endless possibility during the runup to a new season, and with NBA players’ penchant for posting, it’s like clockwork; fans get worked up over workouts. Many times it’s a big man shooting wide-open threes, or it could be an oft-injured player looking particularly spry on a dunk in an empty gym.

But we’re not here to talk about all that. Avoiding that cycle of hype and near-inevitable disappointment, sports performance, and movement coach Raymond Brenkert decided to focus on what we saw the Knicks’ players doing in the gym, but away from the court.

Lifting weights is about more than getting jacked, ripped, shredded, or yoked like Mitchell Robinson during last season. Lifting the right way, and focusing on stabilization can keep players healthy, strengthening the joints so a wrong step or a tumble to the court won’t result in something catastrophic. Knowing this, Brenkert shouted in excitement when shown clips of Knicks players kneeling or leaning on foam pads while lifting. Using a soft pad as a base forces an athlete to engage these stabilization muscles during these exercises, which does more to build practical strength than overly-heavy bench presses or squats.

Working on stabilization is important, but engaging these muscles too much can lead to injury when paired with heavy weight. It’s a fine line to walk, which is why Brenkert was also excited to see lots of clips of Knicks using cables. Without a track to guide them, barbells and dumbbells will activate these stabilization muscles, but because of it, they come with a greater risk of injury. Doing cable exercises while balancing on a foam pad brings the best of both worlds, reducing the amount of stress on the players’ bodies right before the start of the season, while also activating all the same muscles. Brenkert audibly cheered when he came across a clip of Quentin Grimes doing rows with a cable in a side plank position on top of a foam pad.

The Eastern Conference is as good as it has been in years, the Knicks will need every game if they hope to return to the playoffs again. The acquisitions of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein along with expected improvements from the newly-extended RJ Barrett and several other young players make the Knicks better than they were last year, but any missed time from any major contributors could send this team tumbling down out of the play-in. However, if the team can stay whole and capitalize on the bad luck of some other teams, then the Knicks could be poised to once again grab homecourt advantage in the 2023 playoffs.

There will always be injuries over the course of an 82-game season, but based on the glimpses shown through social media, the Knicks’ training staff has prepared this roster for the long haul. Pair what we’ve seen with the comments at the team’s media day – Derrick Rose discussed reworking his diet, and Julius Randle saying that he got a chef over the offseason – and it paints a picture of a team focused on health, ready to pounce. 

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