On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
There have been countless great basketball players in history. From Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, to the late, great Kobe Bryant and the reigning king of the sport, Lebron James. But there was just something extraordinarily special about Michael Jordan.
It was more than just the accomplishments — six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten scoring titles (both all-time records) and five MVP Awards to name a few. It was more than just the global shoe brand, which Nike has paid him an estimated $1.3 billion since 1984. Above all, it was his laser-like focus and unwavering work ethic that resulted in the movie-esque quality of his career story.
As Larry Schwartz, writing for ESPN, put it, “the Chicago Bulls guard had the rarest of gifts, the ability to transcend his sport. His fame and skill were intertwined, much as they were in earlier generations for a select few, such as the Babe and Ali.”
In an oral history of the 1996 Chicago Bulls compiled by Complex, Tim Grover, Jordan’s personal trainer, described a typical day of him juggling the 1995–96 NBA season and shooting the 1996 film, Space Jam.
A typical day for Michael would start with about 30 or 40 minutes of conditioning in the [dome]. This would include stretching, running, and various basketball stuff, nothing long distance, to get his wind up. Then he’d go to the movie set for some shooting. At lunch time, he’d work out with weights for about an hour and a half. Then he’d go back to the set from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. From 7:30 p.m. to about 10 p.m., he’d play basketball in the [dome].The Oral History of the 1996 Chicago Bulls | Complex
Another example showcasing Jordan’s intense work ethic was the legendary Breakfast Club. What started out as a 30-day solo strength & conditioning project for Jordan expanded into a 15-year team endeavour, made up of himself, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, and Randy Brown. Whether it was a practice day or game day, it didn’t matter, Jordan and his crew would gather at his Highland Park, Illinois mansion between 5-7am to work out.
“It was like having a gathering every single morning of individuals for the purpose of getting them on the same page, getting them prepared,” Grover said in an Air Jordan interview. “You know a lot of guys now start thinking about the game when they get to the arena. With Breakfast Club, when we were working out at 5am, 6am or 7am that’s when our preparation started.”
(The) Breakfast Club was a mindset more than a workout. We wanted to be more prepared than anyone else.Training to Win Like Mike – Air Jordan
Michael Jordan’s training routine & diet
When Grover began working with Jordan in 1989, it was to help build strength and power for the Chicago superstar, who was getting pushed around on the courts by the Detroit Pistons. “Every time I used to see the late, great Chuck Daley (Piston’s coach) I’d thank him,” Grover said. “The first time I did that he asked, ‘For what?’ And I told him, ‘Because of you I had the greatest job in the world.’”
Grover’s strength & conditioning program had Jordan and the rest of the Breakfast Club members work on both upper and lower body exercises, including squats, leg extensions, weighted step ups, biceps curls, deadlifts, good mornings, power cleans, and bench presses. The trainer also focused a lot on strengthening the players’ core. “If your core is strong, all of your muscles can produce more force and perform at a higher level,” Grover told Stack.
According to Slam, after the main weightlifting session was done, Grover worked with Jordan on injury-prevention exercises, “focused on the overlooked-yet-vital areas such as his wrists, fingers, ankles and toes.”
On game days, while most of the other players would head home to relax or take a nap, Jordan often found time to play a game of golf. “He’d sneak in a round of golf or nine holes. He was amazing,” said longtime Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski. “I’ve never seen anybody like him. A lot of energy. I don’t know how much he slept.”
My whole life had always been about being the best basketball player I could be. I had absolute tunnel vision—everything was channeled toward that.Michael Jordan: Icon | GQ
To fuel his intense training, Jordan was conscious about what he put into his body, although Grover says he was never a big eater, “he eats only when he’s hungry and only until he feels comfortable rather than full.”
A 1996 Chicago Tribute profile revealed a typical meal plan for Jordan, which featured “a good-sized breakfast — the biggest meal of the day — followed by a midmorning fitness shake, lunch, a midafternoon fitness shake and a light dinner.”
Breakfast: Large bowl of oatmeal with strawberries, blueberries and raisins; scrambled egg whites; glass of orange juice.
Midmorning: Fitness shake of Gatorade, protein powder and fresh fruit
Lunch: Chicken breast sandwich or lean hamburger; pasta or baked potato; small green salad.
Mid afternoon: fitness shake or, on game days, pre-competition meal of chicken breast or lean steak, pasta or baked potato, steamed fresh vegetables
Dinner: “Whatever he wants,” said Tim Grover, Jordan’s trainer.For Nutrition Savvy, Be Like Mike | Chicago Tribune
Before you go…
Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.