A four-time WNBA All-Star and an Olympic gold medallist, Katie Smith knows what it takes to perform at the highest level of professional basketball. Here, the Minnesota Lynx forward shares some of her Best Kept Fitness Secrets that have helped her get where she is today.
What is your favorite exercise for the lower body?
My favorite exercise for the lower body is anything involving balance, stabilization, quickness or agility drills. These types of exercises not only help strengthen my lower body, but also result in creating game-like conditions.
What is your favorite exercise for the upper body?
Pushups are my favorite upper body exercise. They allow you to utilize your own body weight to improve your overall strength.
What is your favorite cardio exercise?
The elliptical machine.
How do you work out on your off days during the season?
I take the off days off…ha. I may do some minor things, but I really try to rest my body when we have an off day.
What do you do to stay in shape during the offseason?
In the offseason, I'll play pick-up basketball games, do cardio work and lift three days a week. I really try mixing it up so that I don't get bored [with the fitness routine] in the offseason.
What is your toughest fitness challenge?
Long distance running is my toughest fitness challenge. Mentally, it's really tough. I'll do it, but I really don't like it too much.
Is there a fitness goal that you have set for yourself?
I really don't have a goal. It's more just to simply be in the best shape that I can be. During the season I try maintaining my body weight and I really listen to my body.
Is there a fitness accomplishment that you're most proud of?
I'm most proud of my overall physique. I think I've trained extremely hard to get where I am.
Is there an exercise that you hate doing and have to force yourself to do?
There's not one that I really hate. The thing I hate the most is warming up before starting to work out. When you start warming up, oftentimes your body is sore and doesn't want to move. That's a terrible feeling.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into better shape for playing basketball?
Obviously, continue to play basketball. But, you should also do things like jump rope, wind sprints and cardio. It's important to include strength training, too. The key in my mind is to mix it up so you don't get bored. The more variety you have, the more likely you'll stick with it.
How would you describe the importance of fitness and exercise in your life?
Fitness and exercise is a huge part of my life. When I don't exercise, I feel sluggish. Exercising helps give me energy, relieves stress and makes me feel healthy. It's fun for me and I really enjoy it. It will always be a big part of my life. I suffer from withdrawal without it.
Is there a song or type of music that you listen to while you're working out?
I don't listen to any particular music when I work out. Whatever is playing in the weight room is fine by me. I'm not very picky. I like to watch television if I'm doing cardio.
Is there a fitness product on t.v. that makes you laugh the most?
I laugh at a lot of them – the thigh master, the gazelle – mostly because I don't think they work. Bowflex...that one's funny too. The people in the commercial didn't get that way using Bowflex. They have professional bodybuilders promoting it who were already in great shape…ha.
Is there a certain food or meal that you like to eat before games?
Before the game, I usually eat something simple like a sandwich. Nothing too crazy.
What foods do you have a weakness for?
My weakness for food is any good home cooked meal.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
My favorite healthy snack is Fig Newtons.
When did you start working out?
I started playing basketball in the fifth grade. I really started working out when I got to high school – jumping rope, running, and eventually weight lifting, as a senior.
When were you (or are you now) in the best shape of your life?
I think in the past few years I've been in the best shape of my life, particularly with the Olympics and the WNBA.
How has your fitness routine changed over the years?
Yes, it has changed. As you continue with your routine, you discover what works best for you, and what keep you motivated. You also listen to your body and any aches and pains that it may develop. I try a variety of activities so my body can handle it and my mind stays fresh as well.
Photos: (from top): David Sherman, D. Clarke Evans, David Sherman, David Sherman, Jesse D. Garrabrant and David Sherman/WNBAE/Getty Images.