On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
When it comes to athletes with unmatched drive and determination, the NBA has long been a breeding ground for some of the hardest workers in sports. From Michael Jordan’s legendary “Breakfast Club” workouts to LeBron James’ unwavering commitment to longevity, and the late, great Kobe Bryant’s famed work ethic, the league has always been overflowing with players who have made their mark through sheer willpower and relentless effort.
And then there’s Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat Small Forward who takes the term work ethic to the next level. Just ask the people who the NBA player works with and they’ll tell you themselves. “He has a Hall of Fame work ethic,” Butler’s coach Erik Spoelstra once told Business Insider. “That’s not something of myth. That’s something that’s well earned and it’s real.”
Then there’s James Scott, his performance coach, who has been working with NBA players for over 15 years but had never seen anyone work like Butler. “When I started working with Jimmy, it was the first time I’d ever trained somebody at 4:00 a.m.,” he told Men’s Health back in 2020. “And he’s never late, not by one minute, no matter the time or the place.”
The Miami Heat player’s rough upbringing may have played a part in his future greatness. Born in Houston on September 14, 1989, Butler’s father abandoned the family when he was just an infant, and he was kicked out of home when he was 13 years old. As he recalled in a 2011 interview, his mother told him, “I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go.”
He found himself hopping from one friend’s house to another, never staying in one place for too long. During a summer basketball league, he caught the eye of a fellow player named Jordan Leslie, who soon became a close friend. Jordan’s family took Jimmy in, offering him a place to stay and a new sense of family. Jimmy later spoke highly of Jordan’s mother Michelle, saying she showed him love and acceptance that he never thought possible.
Butler’s basketball career started at Tomball High School where he was voted team MVP in his senior year. He went on to play at Tyler Junior College and then transferred to Marquette, where he had a successful college career and was drafted 30th overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2011 NBA draft. In his early years with the Bulls, Butler saw limited playing time, but over time he established himself as a key player and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2014.
Overall, Butler’s early NBA career wasn’t anything spectacular, but he kept grinding away at the game and working on improving his craft until his work ethic and grit took him to new heights. Even though he may be relatively average in the athletic arena compared to the likes of physical specimens like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson, the Miami Heat Small Forward is always ready to outwork anyone.
“I’m tougher than you,” he explained to Men’s Health. “That’s where I’ll bank it at, and being tough is a talent. I back down from no one. I’m scared of nobody. I don’t care about the name that you have, what you’ve done. You can’t intimidate me none. And that’s what’s gotten me here.”
Jimmy Butler’s training routine & diet
“Rise and grind” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to Jimmy Butler’s daily routine. For Butler, a typical day starts with a 4:00 a.m. workout (which means a 3.30am wake up call), which sets the tone for an entire day devoted to basketball readiness.
Every hour of his day is mapped out, whether it’s planning out the workouts, recovery, drills, or thinking about game strategy. “It’s a rhythm, it’s a routine, and I don’t skip any of it,” he says. “I don’t skip any steps of the process.”
Butler’s workout usually starts out with shooting a ten-pound medicine ball to build wrist strength and moves on to one of his favorite drills: standing on one leg with a resistance band pulling him off-center as Scott throws him red and blue balls, challenging his balance and mental focus. After attacking his abs with bridges, planks and other core exercises, Butler spends an hour working on about 1,000 jump shots.
By the time he’s finished with his first workout for the day, it’s the start of the day for most people, and he’s headed home for breakfast — usually an egg white omelette, avocados, berries, and black coffee — before spending some time recovering in ice or yoga.
Even though he’s a fanatic about his coffee — Butler can easily down 7 to 10 cups per day — he’s absolutely strict about getting enough sleep for his body.
“I get my nine hours per night,” he told The New York Times. “I’ve trained my body to be able to do that. If I don’t sleep nine hours, I’m definitely not worth a damn, so with all that coffee being said, I think I’m pretty used to lots of coffee and lots of sleep at the same time.”
In 2021, Butler spoke to GQ about his diet and ran the publication through his game day routine, which features less training although was equally intense as every other day in Jimmy Butler’s life.
If we’re home, I’ll try and wake up at seven and get a light lift in. I mean super light–just moving, making sure my hips, knees and ankles are moving. I’ll eat breakfast and go to shootaround. I’ll come home after that, play dominoes, eat lunch, and then get back to the gym early to get a real lift in. After that, it’s getting ready to compete. I’ll eat another meal before I play and after that, it’s just messing around with the guys and coaches to keep things lighthearted. Once it’s time to compete, it’s time to compete. After that, I’ll come home and play dominoes and beat everyone again.The Real-Life Diet of Jimmy Butler, Who Eats Simply and Drinks Wine With Mark Wahlberg | GQ
Before you go…
Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.