Ratliff had stayed away from the weight room in high school for fear that it would affect his mechanics. In college, his workout regimen focused almost entirely on weightlifting. At that time, workouts for college basketball players weren't that much different from those for football players. The belief was that the greater muscle mass a player could get, the more effective he would be. Trainers felt that the best way to gain muscle mass and stay fit was by performing many repetitions of gym-based exercises involving heavy weights. Ratliff recalls:
I just did a whole lot of weights in college. You did the squats, you did the power clean. You did a whole lot of football stuff. For basketball guys, it was still the football stuff. So I lifted a whole lot of weights. Curls, dips, and all kinds of stuff.
In the transition from college to the NBA, Ratliff's workout routine evolved. It began to better reflect his approach to the game, emphasizing quickness, agility, and functional stability rather than strength for its own sake. Instead of lifting weights in ways that did not relate to the motions of basketball, Ratliff's preparation and training became rooted in the kinds of things he needed to do on the court:
Now that I'm in the pros, my workout routine is more about maintaining agility, gaining strength and keeping my core as strong as I can keep it. It's not about me pumping 300 pounds up on the weight bench laying on my back. Everything I do now mostly deals with movements that I'm doing out on the floor, strengthening movements that I'm doing out on the floor.