Going from an undersized and undrafted free agent to an NBA Champion and multiple time All-Star takes ridiculous dedication and hard work.
The Ben Wallace workout below, which focuses on the bench press to develop upper-body strength, gives a little peak into his legendary work ethic.
Even though Wallace was short for an NBA center at 6'9", that is still very tall for an average person, which makes his 460 pound maximum bench press that much more impressive, considering how long his arms are.
Wallace went undrafted in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Virginia Union and signed with the Washington Bullets. He was handed no playing time early in his career and had to work for every minute he got on the court.
He earned more playing time after joining the Orlando Magic in 1999 and then fully broke out after finding a home with the Detroit Pistons in 2000.
Wallace's hard-nosed work ethic matched perfectly with the city of Detroit and the Pistons organization. He quickly became a 4-time All-Star, a 4-time Defensive Player of the Year, and a leader of the 2004 NBA Champions.
"Big Ben", listed at 6'9" and 240 pounds, was very undersized as an NBA center, but his great strength and athleticism helped him more than make up for it and turned him into one of the elite basketball players in terms of defense and rebounding.
The Ben Wallace Bench Press Workout
Below you can see what a Ben Wallace bench press workout looked like early in his playing days. He would perform the exercises below, in a circuit fashion.
He would go back and forth between the bench press and push-ups. He didn't rest at all until completing his last set of 20. He would load the plate up with a total of 95 pounds.
Tables adapted from: http://coachjacksonspages.com/Speed%20in%20All%20Directions%20-%20Five%20Star.pdf
You can see how Wallace got such a big and strong chest if he did workouts like these. This is obviously an upper-body workout that focuses entirely on the chest, and it gives no rest for his pressing muscles.
The setup of the training session also allows it to have great conditioning benefits. He essentially performs 10 sets of exercises without any rest. He would perform a total of 110 reps in less than 20 minutes.
The conditioning aspects will give the endurance benefits that mimic that which happens on a basketball court. Although there is no break, it still takes time to switch from a benching position to get on the floor to perform the push-up sets. This is similar to basketball, where you sprint to one end of the court to the other, then pause, waiting to move, and then sprinting back.
While Wallace was never a high-scoring offensive phenom, he was a terror on defense who was a great rebounder and blocker. He only averaged 5.7 points, but 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game over his career. His tremendous physical shape allowed him to play 1,088 career games over 16 seasons.
Despite not being a typical basketball star, Wallace led the Pistons through most of their dominant "going to work" era. His work ethic would inspire future basketball stars, such as Draymond Green. You can see Green's thoughts in this open letter he wrote in the Detroit Free Press:
Ben had an incredible work ethic. Not only did he work out extremely hard every day, but more importantly, he had the heart of a lion. It was amazing because he didn't say much, but everyone knew he meant business.
Beyond the afro, tip dunks, and shots blocked out of bounds, Wallace was a quiet leader who could impact his team all over the court. His performance on and off the basketball court led to both personal and team success.
This sample Ben Wallace workout shows how he became such a fan favorite during his time in Detroit. His work ethic and dedication to becoming the best athlete he could be has inspired future generations to reach their potential.