It takes a rare combination of skills and abilities to build a career as an NBA player. Even those with an above-average talent must work tirelessly to hone their skills enough to compete. The converse also holds true. No amount of natural talent can make up for a less than stellar work ethic.
For the perfect example, consider the current greatest player in the world, LeBron James. James possesses an inherent degree of athleticism most players only dream about. Yet he also holds himself to a strict regimen meant to keep his body in tip-top shape. Let’s break down the components of James’ incredible daily routine.
Plenty of gym time
As you can probably guess, James spends an inordinate amount of time working out, either in his team’s gym or at home. Two or three gym trips a day are the usual order of business. James has had the same personal trainer, Mike Mancias, since his rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The two spend massive amounts of time together, working to maintain and even improve James’ physique.
James’ workouts vary from day to day. That said, according to Men’s Health, a customary trip to the gym likely involves some or most of the following types of strength training: inverted rows, landmine rotational presses, multi-planar lunges, and cable lateral chops. He also does plenty of traditional weight lifting, including standard exercise like bench and overhead presses, deadlifts, and bicep curls.
That’s just the muscle-building side of things. James spends plenty of time doing cardiovascular work as well, whether on a treadmill, an exercise bike, or a versaclimber. He also drops in on pilates and spin classes regularly. James also incorporates yoga into his daily routine, both as a toning and stretching exercise and as a way to cool down after intense workouts.
A relaxed healthy diet
In this day and age, most pro athletes recognize that what they eat has a huge effect on how quickly they recover and how well they hold up to the stresses of a season. James is certainly no slouch when it comes to healthy eating. Lean meats, leafy greens, and plenty of vegetables are common staples of James‘ diet.
Yet compared to other superstar athletes — Tom Brady, for one striking example — James’ diet is pretty relaxed. While he’s tried the Paleo diet and other nutritional fads, for the most part, he doesn’t seem to stick to any strict diet. Back in February, James’ former teammate Tristan Thompson told GQ that James’ had a pretty terrible diet. In particular, Thompson called out James for eating “dessert with every meal.”
LeBron James’ staggering amounts of sleep
While James may take a relaxed attitude where diet is concerned, he is dead serious when it comes to an equally important part of the recovery process: sleep. James gets a mandatory eight to nine hours of sleep every night. That dedication is backed up by plenty of science, with one 2011 study demonstrating that adequate sleep improves various aspects of basketball performance.
Yet James’ sleep routine doesn’t stop there. He is equally dogmatic about his daytime naps, regularly earmarking about three hours for that afternoon routine. James claims he has been taking such naps for his entire career. At first glance, a three-hour nap may seem somewhat extreme.
But consider the fact that, even on game days, James often wakes early in order to get in his one or more workouts. With most NBA games not starting until later in the evening, it only makes sense to dedicate part of his afternoon to recovery.