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Kobe Bryant: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

The stories about the late, great Kobe Bryant’s work ethic are endless. If you start reading up on them, you’ll soon find yourself going down a wild rabbit hole of countless tales from teammates, rivals, coaches and other associates spanning the Los Angeles Lakers’ 20-year basketball career.

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There was that time during the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics when the US basketball team met up in Las Vegas for a mini-camp to prepare for the games. “We’re in Las Vegas and we all come down for team breakfast at the start of the whole training camp and Kobe comes in with ice on his knees and with his trainers and stuff,” Chris Bosh said in an interview with ESPN.

“Everybody else just woke up. We’re still stretching and yawning and looking at [Kobe] like, ‘What the fuck?'” Dwayne Wade added. “We’re all yawning, and he’s already three hours and a full workout into his day.”

Or that time when Shaquille O’Neal walked in on Bryant practicing without a ball. “You’d walk in there and he’d be cutting and grunting and motioning like he was dribbling and shooting,” Shaq wrote in his book. “Except there was no ball. I thought it was weird, but I’m pretty sure it helped him.”

Or that time when former Lakers coach Byron Scott found an 18-year old Bryant practicing two hours early in the dark. “I came in one time, and we were still playing at the Fabulous Forum, and I heard the ball bouncing. No lights were on,” Scott told Business Insider.

“Practice was at about 11, it was probably about 9, 9:30. And I go out to the court and I look, and there’s Kobe Bryant. He’s out there shooting in the dark. And I stood there for probably about ten seconds, and I said, ‘This kid is gonna be great.’ I knew this kid was gonna be special.”

Or that time when former Lakers player Tony Gaffney recalled Bryant beating him to practice no matter what other commitments he had on that day. “There was no difference with the Lakers except no matter how early I showed up for practice, it wasn’t early enough: Kobe was on the court with three trainers doused in sweat,” Gaffney told Basketball Insiders.

Even if the four-time All-Star Game MVP had to take his daughters to school on practice day, he’d wake up early enough to be at the gym by 6am, train, go drop off the kids, then be back at the gym way before practice officially started at 10:30 am. “No one would have any idea that he’s been in the gym working for three-to-four hours,” Gaffney added.

Or that time when Michael Jordan remembered Bryant reaching out to him at all hours of the night to get advice on certain moves. “He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 12:30, 3 in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork and sometimes the triangle,“ Jordan told The Chicago Tribune. “At first it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion.“

The point is, you can read stories about Bryant’s relentless work ethic forever. It’s what helped him set all those basketball records: all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history, first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons, the second most points scored in a single game, with 81, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, and plenty more.

The only other sporting figure who comes close to matching his drive is Floyd Mayweather, whose work ethic Bryant himself called “maniacal.”

Those times when you get up early and you work hard. Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream.

This 1 Quote From Kobe Bryant Is All You Need to Know About His Success | Inc.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were rivals on the basketball but close friends off it. Photo credit: Phil Valesquez/Chicago Tribune.

Kobe Bryant’s training routine & diet

For the Black Mamba to maintain his MVP calibre playing over the stretch of two decades, he relied on a combination of intense off-season training, careful diet planning and regular recovery sessions; each varying in degrees as Bryant got older.

In 2015, at 37 years old with an extensive list of injuries and racking up more than 56,000 minutes over his NBA career, Bryant’s days were filled with treatment sessions, stretching, weight training, massages and physical therapy.

“The kid has got a lot of miles on him,” said former Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, during Bryant’s 2015-2016 season. “And they’re hard miles. They’re hard miles. If you’ve ever been to Maui, the Road to Hana? It’s a rough road, man. It’s beautiful when you get there, but it’s a rough road.”

A typical non-game day had Bryant doing some cardio training on the treadmill, “just to keep my legs going,” and hitting the weights 3-4 times a week, working on strength-building exercises like deadlifts, squats, lunges, upper-body presses, rows and chin-ups.

“In terms of massages and more physical therapy, Bryant says he works plenty on off days with Seto, along with a couple of his other physical therapists,” according to an ESPN article. “Sessions can last about 30 minutes and might begin around 10 a.m., usually focus on joints from the hips to his right shoulder and more, with the goal being to maximize mobility and stretch brittle ligaments.”

Even though the Lakers regularly employed a large team of physical therapists, trainers and massage therapists, Bryant’s demands were so great that he hired his own neuromuscular therapist, chiropractors, active-release therapist, stretch professionals and strength & conditioning trainer.

Tim Grover, who was the strength & conditioning coach for both Bryant and Jordan, explained how the two legends approached their training. “One of the biggest differences between the two is Michael always knew when it was enough,” Grover told GQ. “And he would listen to you. If you said, ‘That’s it,’ then that’s it. With Kobe, to him, ‘That’s it’ means that’s it for that moment, but three hours later, I can start back up again.”

When it comes to Bryant’s diet, the Lakers shooting guard began to take his nutrition much more seriously later in his career. That meant cutting out sugar cookies, Sour Patch Kids and his famous pre-game meal of pepperoni pizza and grape soda, and adding in a lot of lean meat, fish and vegetables. The low-sugar bottle of chocolate milk for his post-game meal stayed though.

During his 2012-2013 season, Bryant also started adding bone broth as a staple to his diet. “Everybody is looking for a magical elixir or some cure-all,” said Tim DiFrancesco, the Lakers’ head strength and conditioning coach, “but bone broth is where it’s at.”

“What I’ve done really is just train really hard and watch my diet,” Kobe told ESPN. “I think that’s the thing that catches guys most. They don’t do self assessing. They feel like they can go out there and do some of the things that they did when they were younger and eat some of the things that they’ve been (eating) and not accept the fact that what you put in has an impact.”

“I’ve been able to be honest with myself and have had to cut down on a lot of things and eat very healthy. It sucks, but it’s worth it.”

Diet is always the hardest thing. We’re accustomed to eating what we want to eat whenever we want to eat it. You become comfortable with that. A change in that is a change in your lifestyle. That’s been the most difficult.

Lakers star Kobe Bryant continues to feast, thanks to diet | Los Angeles Daily News

Kobe Bryant’s sleep schedule

Much has been made about Bryant’s insane sleep schedule, especially when compared to Lebron James who typically gets about 12 hours of sleep a day. During a 2006 interview on Stephen A. Smith’s former ESPN show, Quite Frankly, Bryant famously told the host, “I don’t need too many hours of sleep, man. I can go off of three or four hours.”

Later in his career, however, Bryant’s approach to his sleep routine changed, as he began to understand the importance of shutting off and winding down. In a 2014 New York Times interview with the sleep queen herself, Arianna Huffington, Bryant revealed that he was getting much more sleep these days, “I used to get by on three or four hours a night. I have a hard time shutting off my brain. But I’ve evolved. I’m up to six to eight hours now.”

Bryant also explained that he wanted to get more sleep to have more energy to play with his kids. “You know the other major thing about sleep? It gives me more energy to spend time with my family and have fun with my kids. As I got more rest, I could work and come home — and become the human jungle gym again.”

Post-retirement routine

Bryant’s work ethic and insatiable desire to be the best in whatever he pursued extended well beyond the basketball court. After setting up Kobe Inc. in 2014, Bryant began cold calling successful business executives and leaders like Nike’s CEO Mark Parker, former Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive and Oprah Winfrey to get their advice.

“I’ll just cold call people and pick their brain about stuff,” Bryant said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Some of the questions that I’ll ask will seem really, really simple and stupid, quite honestly, for them. But if I don’t know, I don’t know. You have to ask. I’ll just do that. I’ll just ask questions and I want to know more about how they build their businesses and how they run their companies and how they see the world.”

After retiring at 37 years old in 2015, Bryant continued to stick with an intense daily routine; juggling 4am wake up calls for gym training sessions and working on his numerous business ventures, including Kobe Inc., production company Granity Studios, venture capital firm, Bryant-Stibel, and Mamba Sports Academy.

For his post-retirement training routine, Bryant finally had the chance to pack some serious muscle mass with his retirement from the NBA. He worked with his personal trainers to focus on a high-weight, low-rep training program, working out four days a week to achieve his bulking goals.

“I don’t have to be as agile as I used to,” he told Men’s Journal. “Being lean was easy, because I was always pretty scrawny growing up. But these days I have been able to really up the weight, and put on some legitimate muscle.”

Part of Bryant’s motivation to continue working hard was to inspire his children. “Your kids can’t see how hard you work. You go to the office. I come to the studio. They don’t really see the effort. So how can we teach our children what it means to work hard? You do it through training,” he told Lewis Howes on an episode of The School of Greatness.

“When I get up in the morning [to exercise], my daughter goes with me,” he said. “She goes with me before school and it becomes a daddy-daughter thing. Through that process, she understands the value of hard work.”

We are obsessive. We wouldn’t want to be doing anything other than what we are doing. That’s where obsession comes in – when you care about something 24 hours a day.

Kobe Bryant’s new obsession? Dominating the business world | ESPN

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.

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Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.