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At the end of the 2016–17 NBA season, Julis Randle, who was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers at the time, had a conversation with the management team. In the exit interview, they told Randle that he should return like “a beast” and “come back in incredible shape.” Magic Johnson, the president of basketball operations for the LA Lakers, sent the team a very clear message: he wanted them in the best physical conditions of their lives.
“We don’t want anybody over seven, eight percent body fat anymore, and basically all but one or two players were in double-figures in body fat, we can’t have that,” Johnson told Spectrum SportsNet. “We told them that this is all about excellence now and so you’ve got to be disciplined, you’ve got to put the work in.”
Randle took those words to heart and committed to transforming himself during the offseason. With the help of his personal trainer Amolia Cesar, he set himself the goal of trimming down from 14% body fat to 6%, cutting down his weight by 20 lbs, and improving his overall speed, explosiveness and athleticism.
“I broke Julius’s program down into three pillars: the hypertrophy and strength phase, an agility phase, and a recovery/mobility phase,” Cesar said in an interview with Men’s Fitness. “Our focus was to make Julius’s body more agile and athletic; improve Julius’s speed while rebounding and defending; and boost his explosive power to the rim while taking contact.”
Magic [Johnson] issued me a challenge to get in the best shape of my career—that was something that really resonated with me and I started to take my weight very seriously from that point. It was great working with Cesar. Obviously he pushed me in the weight room—with my conditioning and body. But he also had a tailor-made plan for my nutrition as well. From that point on, I really started taking conditioning and nutrition in the offseason seriously.The Real-Life Diet of Knicks Breakout Julius Randle, Who Preps for Games with Huge Breakfasts and Meditation) | GQ
Julius Randle’s training routine & diet
Under Cesar’s guidance, Randle trained five days a week, Monday to Friday, during his offseason. Each workout session began with at least 15-20 minutes of an extensive stretching routine. Given that Randle had previously suffered a broken leg and hip-pointer it was important to focus on hips and mobility drills.
After that, Randle warmed up with a one-mile run before hitting the weights. The actual weight training session, which included exercises like deadlifts, power cleans, snatches, front/back squats, barbell rows, and bench presses, lasted for about 90 minutes. Following the gym, Randle spent two more hours practicing basketball drills and on-court training. At the end of the day, he foam-rolled for at least 20 minutes, and went to a sports chiropractor as well as cryotherapy treatments once a week.
It was tough, but we worked hard. We did a lot of unconventional movements that I’ve never done before, but they paid off for me. A lot of the focus was gaining more power and strength in my hips, glutes, legs, and core.JULIUS RANDLE’S MUSCLE-BUILDING, FAT-BURNING, TOTAL-BODY WORKOUT | Muscle & Fitness
The training overhaul worked. Randle started the 2017–18 season in the best shape of his life, stunning social media with his before and after photos. He scored a career high with 36 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was the only Laker player to appear in all 82 games.
Now in his second season with the New York Knicks, Randle has stuck to the intense workout routine he established a few years ago. During 2020, when the NBA season was on-hold due to COVID-19, Randle called up his old trainer, Tyler Relph, to help him stay in shape during the pandemic.
According to the New York Post, “some days that meant the two would meet at a gym at 6 a.m., drilling footwork, working on Randle’s shot, 90 minutes of nonstop grind. Three or four times a week that was only the second stop on the itinerary as Randle would open his old high school gym at 5 a.m. to fire up jumpers on his own, the first bundle of 1,200 he would shoot every day, every week, every month, for nine months.”
For his diet, Randle has been watching what he eats ever since the lifestyle overhaul. “Diet is super important,” Cesar said. “I always say, you can’t out-train a bad diet. We focused on organic whole foods to minimize his exposure to hormones, pesticides, artificial flavors, and hidden sugars. We cut out dairy products and liquor. And he drank a gallon of water every day.”
In an interview with GQ, Randle described a typical game day routine, including his meals:
I wake up, do my meditating and devotional to make sure my mind is right. We’ll have a shootaround and I’ll come back home usually. On game days, I like a huge breakfast. It’ll be some eggs, preferably an omelet, some protein. It has to be huge. My chef does a good job at switching things up with what I like. I’ll take a nap, wake up and meditate again for about 30-45 minutes. My chef usually has a small pre-game snack for me, like a sandwich or wrap. I’m not huge on eating much before the game. Once I have my snack and Celsius, I have a physical therapist I work with at the house to get my body right. I’ll get to the arena and do some contrast with the cold and hot tub, get some more stretching in and then it’s time to warm up, get my shots up—then it’s time to go to work.The Real-Life Diet of Knicks Breakout Julius Randle, Who Preps for Games with Huge Breakfasts and Meditation) | GQ
With an intense training routine and careful planning, Randle still has room for a few cheat meals in his life. “I’m a Southern boy, so I’ll definitely do some Southern comfort food,” he told GQ. “But I also love Italian food. I’ll have a chicken alfredo. Love the pastas. I’m from Dallas, so Tex-Mex is huge. I’ll do some Mexican food. I have a couple of different options when it comes to cheat days.
I feel amazing. My body responds and recovers really well after every game. But it’s a journey and a process. I’ve learned more and more about my body and ways that I can help myself recover better to get the best optimal performance out of myself. That’s what it’s all about. It’s the training, recovery aspect, nutrition you put in your body; all of that works into one to get your peak performance to give you an advantage on a game-to-game basis.The Real-Life Diet of Knicks Breakout Julius Randle, Who Preps for Games with Huge Breakfasts and Meditation) | GQ
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