Muscle & Performance - - Pro Corner -

Harris is a small for­ward for the Detroit Pis­tons and was the 19th pick over­all in the 2011 draft. His as­cen­sion in the league has been steady but sure: Af­ter start­ing only 23 games com­bined in his �irst two sea­sons as a Mil­wau­kee Buck and hit­ting about �ive points per game, the 6-foot 9-inch, 235-pound ath­lete has av­er­aged mid-dou­ble-dig­its in scor­ing ev­ery year since, and has �irmly estab­lished him­self as one of the premier de­fend­ers in the East­ern Con­fer­ence. The stat-geeky hoops web­site Basketball An­a­lyt­ics once even called Harris “the NBA’S Most Un­der­rated Player,” clas­si­fy­ing the 24-year-old as a mod­ern-day “Ver­sa­tile For­ward” along with the likes of Leonard and Lebron James.

Now en­ter­ing his sixth sea­son as a pro and his �irst full sea­son with the Pis­tons, Harris is de­ter­mined to take his game to the next level by cover­ing all the bases: basketball skills devel­op­ment, in­ten­sive strength train­ing and cleanas-a-whis­tle nu­tri­tion. For­tu­nately, he’ll have some help.

Detroit Strong

Gone are the days when basketball play­ers avoided the weight room, leav­ing the iron work to foot­ball play­ers and body­builders. Gone also are the spindly, sub-200-pound physiques of the NBA small for­wards of the 1970s and ’80s. Harris’ long, mus­cu­lar frame is now the league norm and lift­ing isn’t just some­thing he does be­cause he has to.

“I am a work­out guy,” states Harris. “I’m big into squats and lower-body strength in gen­eral. I do bench presses, jerks, pow­er­lift­ing … I like it all. It gives me an ad­van­tage and I like to put in a lot of ex­tra work.”

Harris’ weight train­ing ar­chi­tect is An­thony Har­vey, CSCS, the Detroit Pis­tons head strength and con­di­tion­ing coach. Har­vey was on staff for the Magic while Harris was play­ing in Or­lando, so he is in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with his pupil and knows he’ll do any­thing and ev­ery­thing it takes to ex­cel.

“To­bias is one of my fa­vorite ath­letes to work with,” says Har­vey. “He’s very metic­u­lous and up front about how he wants to train and he’s a very hard worker. There are ac­tu­ally times when I need him to take a break and he wants to do more.”

Cur­rently the main fo­cus with Harris’ train­ing is in­creas­ing leg strength and mo­bil­ity and groom­ing him to play with a lower cen­ter of grav­ity, which al­lows him more lever­age to move his op­po­nent, ac­cord­ing to Har­vey. Sounds pretty sim­ple, but a lot goes into achiev­ing those goals, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the NBA’S 82-game sched­ule and 48-minute games.

Harris’ offseason sched­ule is a com­plex pro­gram of strength, con­di­tion­ing and flex­i­bil­ity ses­sions that in­clude ev­ery­thing from tra­di­tional bar­bell moves to Olympic lift­ing to func­tional strength to yoga. He also does sev­eral weekly work­outs on the track and the basketball court to en­hance speed and en­durance, and spends at least one day in the pool swim­ming for re­cov­ery and con­di­tion­ing.

“Just see­ing how he goes about his offseason train­ing is re­mark­able,” says Har­vey. “He’ll have his brother record [his lifts] and send them to me so I can cri­tique them. You don’t have to hold his hand. You show him once, you show him twice, he gets it and it be­comes a part of his rou­tine.”

that’s one of the big­gest things when it comes to chang­ing the body and gain­ing strength — putting the right foods in your body.”

Some say Harris has a nu­tri­tional ma­tu­rity be­yond his years, and most peo­ple don’t start ad­dress­ing their di­ets un­til they’re forced to do so in their 40s or 50s. Case in point, To­bias’ dad (and agent) Tor­rel Harris: “I’m 58 years old and I’m just now learn­ing about nu­tri­tion and what to eat,” says the elder Harris. “And I’m learn­ing it all from my son. The thing about To­bias is, any­thing he can do to be a per­fec­tion­ist, he’s go­ing to do it.”

Like a good per­fec­tion­ist, Harris has en­listed one of the top pro­fes­sional chefs around to de­sign his day-to-day fare: Sam Miller, owner of Pro­gres­sive Well­ness LLC in New York City. Though a ve­gan him­self, Miller in­cludes chicken, turkey, �ish and oc­ca­sion­ally red meat in Harris’ pro­gram, but the main sta­ples of his meals are eggs, av­o­ca­dos and an end­less as­sort­ment of fruits, veg­eta­bles, seeds and su­per­foods. Ev­ery­thing’s nat­u­ral, ev­ery­thing’s or­ganic and ev­ery­thing is in­ten­tion­ally ra­tioned in the op­ti­mal amounts of car­bo­hy­drates, pro­teins and fats.

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