• Image about Erik Phillips

ERIK PHILLIPS KNOWS pain. But as a veteran certified athletic trainer and strength coach with 11 years in the NBA, he also knows how to mitigate it. After six seasons with the Denver Nuggets, the 33-year-old Arizona native moved back to the desert to take a job as the Phoenix Suns’ head strength and conditioning coach. In those five years, Phillips and the team’s all-star training crew have turned the Suns into one of the league’s top organizations in terms of injury prevention. “The old-school way was to say, ‘Here’s an injury, what do we do?’ Now we’re basically trying to find injuries before they happen,” says Phillips, who, along with a group of trainers who have worked with top NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball players, recently opened a state-of-the-art training facility outside of Denver called SportXcel (www.sportxcel.com). Based in the suburb of Englewood, Colorado, the gym focuses on three key areas -- stability, strength, and power -- using stabilization training, single-leg training (to develop every muscle from the ankles to the hips), and core training. When traveling, Phillips offers these five easy (and hotel gym-friendly) exercises the pros use on the road.

Stability-Ball Bridge
(2 sets; 20 reps)
Lie on your back with an appropriate-size stability ball between your shoulder blades. Bend your knees while keeping your feet pointed straight ahead, shoulder-width apart. Draw in your abdomen, activate buttocks, and lift your pelvis as far as possible without moving your spine. Slowly return to starting position maintaining spinal alignment.

Stability-Ball Squat
(2 sets; 12 reps)
Start by placing a stability ball against a wall behind your midback. Under control, squat downward, keeping your knees aligned over your second and third toes. To return, push through your heels, activate glutes, and stand upright until hips and knees are straight.

Prone Iso-Abs
(2 sets; 20 reps)
Begin by lying face down with your feet together and forearms on the floor. Draw your lower abdominal region inward and squeeze glutes while lifting your entire body off the floor until you form a straight line from head to toe, resting on forearms and toes. Hold, then slowly return to starting position while keeping your chin tucked.

Front Step-Up to Balance
(2 sets; 12 reps)
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Step up with the left leg, keeping your foot pointed straight ahead and knee aligned over second and third toe. Push through the heel, stand up straight, and balance on one leg. Keep your right leg at 90 degrees next to the weight-bearing leg. Return slowly to start position and alternate legs.

Single Leg-Balance Reach

(2 sets; 20 reps)
Begin with your right leg slightly bent and hips in a neutral position by tightening your abs and glutes. Extend the left leg toward the rear and side at a 45-degree angle, tightening your glute, quad, and calf (triple-extension) in the process. Stabilize for two seconds fully extended, then bring your left foot back toward the right foot to neutral.


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