On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
Universally recognised as one of the best basketball players of all times, and greatest athletes in the world, Lebron James owes his success and longevity largely to an incredible commitment to training and recovery.
In a typical Lebron James daily routine, we see the 4-time MVP stick to an intense regimen which balances intense training as well as quality sleep, nutrition and recovery techniques, which has led him to sustained performances on the court at 35 years old, well past the peak age for basketball players.
In an interview with Mens Health, Lebron’s longtime trainer, Mike Mancias, breaks down his training routine. Pre-training, Mancias will make sure Lebron has had some quality sleep the night before and fuelled up with a pre-workout shake about 30 minutes prior. Then some foam rolling on his quads, calves, hamstrings and lower back.
Lebron’s workout routine will generally include: Some cardio to warm up and strength training exercises: inverted rows, landmine rotational press, lunges, and core work. Outside of his usual basketball practice and strength & conditioning work, Lebron also enjoys yoga, Pilates, using the VersaClimber, and 100-yard sprints on the football field.
Besides the VersaClimber, I actually really like running on the football field for two reasons. You’re outside, which is always a cool way to exercise. And then it takes me back to my high school days of playing the game of football. And I just have a huge, deep, love of the game of football. So being able to get that condition in and get that cardio, being outside but also being back on the football field, it just does something for me, personally.LeBron James and His Top-Secret Trainer, Mike Mancias (#349) | The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss
Lebron James’ training diet
To fuel his workouts, Lebron likes to stick to eating clean, avoiding fried food, pizza, artificial drinks, artificial sugars, especially on game day. “Maybe he’ll have a chocolate chip cookie from time to time, but he’s not going crazy having pizza and burgers,” Mancias told GQ.
“In the summertime, when he wants to give himself a treat: chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream.” Lebron is also a red wine connoisseur and will usually have a glass with dinner to unwind.
In 2014, Lebron decided to try out the Paleo diet, which he describes as a mental challenge for himself, leading to his much slimmer physique that year. “I had no sugars, no dairy, I had no carbs,” Lebron explained to Sports Illustrated. “All I ate was meat, fish, veggies and fruit. That’s it. For 67 straight days.”
In a 2018 podcast interview with Tim Ferriss, Lebron took listeners through a recent example meal plan:
Yesterday, I had an egg white omelet with smoked salmon and gluten-free pancakes with berries. That was my breakfast. For lunch, I had whole wheat pasta, salmon, and vegetables. And right before the game, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And at halftime, I had sliced apples with almond butter on top. Right after the game, Mike gave me a protein shake to put in my system right after. I downed that right after the game last night. And then for dinner, I had chicken parm with a rocket salad and a beautiful glass of cabernet.LeBron James and His Top-Secret Trainer, Mike Mancias (#349) | The Tim Ferriss Show
When it comes to sleep, Lebron has long recognised the benefits of getting enough and typically averages 12 hours of sleep a day. He wakes up at 5am after getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep, and will nap throughout the day.
“For my 13-year career, I’ve taken a nap for the most part every day and for sure on game days,” Lebron told CBS Sports. “Sleep is the most important thing when it comes to recovery. And it’s very tough with our schedule. Our schedule keeps us up late at night, and most of the time it wakes us up early in the morning. There’s no better recovery than sleep.”
Lebron’s sleep routine includes making sure his room temperature is set just right and completely dark, and turning off all his electronic devices 30-45 minutes before going to sleep. He also plays Rain on Leaves sounds on the Calm app.
Other recovery methods Lebron includes ins his daily routine include cyrotherapy and flexibility exercises, which has no doubt contributed to his longevity on the courts. Lebron also likes to perform daily meditations, also using the Calm app.
I’ve been very consistent with training my body, rehabbing my body, eating, having my body be very clean throughout this journey because I’ve always wanted to have a long career, or as long as I could be in this space.LEBRON JAMES AND HIS TOP-SECRET TRAINER, MIKE MANCIAS (#349) | THE TIM FERRISS SHOW
During a more recent interview on the Road Trippin’ podcast, Lebron talked in detail about the challenges of winning the two NBA championships in 2016 and 2020, with the COVID-19 bubble in particular.
“The one thing that I know for sure is that I’ve been a part of two teams [that have] won the two hardest championships in NBA league history,” he said to hosts Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton.
“The 2016 Cavs coming back from 3-1 versus a 73-9 team, being down 3-1 versus one of the best teams that’s ever been assembled. And then what we went through in the bubble. And if you were not in the bubble, you don’t quite understand it,” Lebron described.
“You will never ever understand how hard it was to win that championship, to be able to motivate yourself. This is literally out of your whole comfort zone. No family, I didn’t see my family for eight-and-a-half weeks.”
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.