LA Lakers team member, Julius Randle, playing in a forward position caught attention on social media for his amazing body transformation. He posted a before and after picture of himself showing off his 3-week journey on Instagram during his offseason training schedule. This transformation gained so much attention that he was immediately called in for an interview by the LA Lakers’ management team telling him that he must return to the courts like a “beast” and get back into business with an incredible shape. To quote their exact words, “come back in incredible shape.”
Randle was not really in a bad shape during the season either. He was playing at a 260-pound weight. His transformation was not necessarily about his winning, but his survival. He knew that he needed to up his game to stay in the league and therefore, focus his attention on working hard during the offseason.
It was Randle’s trainer who helped him plan his workouts and diet in a way that would get his body fat percentage from 14 percent to 6 percent, which would reduce at least 20 pounds of his weight. Naturally, this would also lead him to improve his speed and stamina.
“I broke Julius’s program down into three pillars: the hypertrophy and strength phase, an agility phase, and a recovery/mobility phase,” Cesar tells 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. I knew aesthetically he would look amazing as we progressed, but the most important part was making sure the athleticism and strength in his lower body improved every week.”
Julius Randle’s Workout Routine
Randle’s trainer knew about his previous injuries, that is, a broken leg and hip pointer. So Cesar planned accordingly, focusing on some hip and mobility drills before they started out with any workout routine. The frequency of workouts was set to 5 times per week and a 20 minute stretching routine before the workout. Cesar also had Randle sent to a chiropractor for his muscles and undergo various cryotherapy treatments.
Randle says that it was almost like a 12-week boot camp for him. The training began at 8 am every morning for five days a week and lasted for at least 90 minutes. Each workout session included one mile run as a warm-up practice. This was followed by some strength training and other workouts. Next Randle would spend almost 2 hours in the court, playing and training for basketball. “It was tough, but we worked hard,” Randle explained. “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.”
The session lasted for a period of four weeks and by the end of it, Randle had developed a beautiful set of 8 pack abs instead of his regular 6 pack. As soon as the NBA season was approaching, they started cutting on the strength training to avoid any kind of overburden on his joints and ligaments and rather focused more on what was needed in the game, that is, mobility, leg strength, and core. He tells in the interview, “We cut down on a lot of heavy upper-body work and presses, so it wouldn’t affect Julius’ jump shot,” Cesar said. “Flexibility and recovery was the key to this. When you’re looking to transform your body in a short amount of time like Julius did, you can’t neglect key workouts. Overall, deadlifts, power cleans, snatches, front/back squats, barbell rows, and bench presses were some of the most important exercises we did.”
For Randle, a one-mile warm-up run was followed up by some stretching and mobility workouts that had specific stretches. Stretching is so important in any workout such that Cesar recommends people to do it even when they do not have any injury.
- Thigh Stretch with Foam Roller
Sets: 1 for each leg Duration: 1-2 minutes
- Calves Stretch with Foam Roller
Sets: 1 for each leg Duration: 1-2 minutes
- Glutes Stretch (Bridge Supine)
Sets: 2 sets x 12 reps Rest: 30 seconds
- Prone over Stability Ball Stretch (using opposite arm/leg position)
Sets: 2 sets x 12 total reps (6 per side) Rest: 30 seconds
- Rotary Torso Stretch – Forward Bending with Stability Ball
Sets: 1 set per side x 8 reps per side Rest: 30 seconds
- Closed Chain Ankle Dorsiflexion
Sets: 1 per foot Reps: 10 per foot
- Crossed Leg Stretch (Sit up with your arms back, cross your leg across the opposite knee, and hold)
Sets: 2 sets Duration: Hold for 30-45 seconds for each leg
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Sets: 2 sets x 10 reps for each side
- TRX Anterior Chain Stretch
Sets: 2 sets Duration: Hold for 30 seconds
- Run/jog for 1 mile
Talking about revolutionalizing Julius’ game, DiFrancesco had a lot to say:
“I try to watch as much in-game or in practice live action as I can and be able to assess that on my own. I also have a conversation with Mitch [Kupchak] and the coaching staff on how he needs to be a little bit lighter, but still strong enough to play the 4 if he needs to. The kid has so much he is able to do. But ultimately his style of play is revolved around getting the rebound, pushing himself and getting all the way to the rim himself. He’s a very good passer, too. He plays at a very violent place and so we have that discussion with Mitch and the coaching staff with Byron or through Byron. Certainly, that communication goes on there. But I take it upon myself to get as much live action assessment of what I see on how he’s doing things. Then I translate that into his workouts.”
Julius had a pretty hard time when he joined and played after his rehab. Coach DiFrancesco painted a clear picture for us saying,
“When he first started to get back into five-on-five play, he had a natural tendency to hold back the first couple of games. I noticed that clearly, he was protecting that leg a little bit. It wasn’t blatant where he was doing too much too fast. But you could see moments where he wasn’t comfortable finishing a move that he normally would. He would stay away from it a little bit without making it look obvious. His strength is not only in his diet with his calcium and bone-building vitamins and minerals that come with those leafy greens and supplements. It’s the load-bearing and lower-body weight room work. It responds by growing stronger. Then as I saw him progress and saw him in five-on-five action, I saw him doing spin moves into the lane. He’s feeling comfortable. If he wasn’t feeling comfortable, he wouldn’t be moving on both legs or landing in the same way and pushing off either leg the same way.”
Julius Randle’s Diet Plan
Cesar also mentions the importance of diet along with strength, conditioning, and mobility which allows a player to play at their optimum level in a match. About Randle’s diet, the coach says, “Right now, really focusing on his diet…just like your muscles, your metabolism needs to be confused as well, also making sure that we systematically change his meal plans and the way he eats, so his body keeps moving, we want that furnace, so keep adding to that furnace.”
Randle has committed sticking to the diet and making big changes to it. He even goes to the extreme of taking pictures of his food so that he can track whatever he is eating the day and is all according to his plan.
Just a while ago, DiFrancesco was interviewed about Julius’ diet and workout improvements and this is what he has to say,
“With Julius, he just recognized that in order to see the body composition changes, it was going to have to be a two-pronged approach. Nutrition with the food piece was going to have to be tightened up and taken more seriously. He was never terrible with it. But there were some subtle things to tighten up. He watched the amounts of sugar and he was getting more leafy greens. The leafy greens were big. Bone health for him is better. I don’t have to explain why that was very important. The leafy greens provided the fiber and that made him more full when he eats so he doesn’t feel like he’s hungry right after eating something and always feel like he’s reaching for something else. There were different vitamins and minerals that helped with his bone-building and fighting inflammation. That was huge. He took that stuff very seriously. He’s very good. Everybody has a little junk food here and there. But he’s really good about keeping it at a minimum. Once he really decided to do that, it’s helped a lot.”
DiFrancesco was asked about how his new workout and diet schedule has done for Randle, and this is what he said,
“He was in a hard situation. After he was in two consecutive boots and not able to be very active, all of a sudden he got cleared toward doing some things. At any level he has ever been at, he has been physically more dominant than most players he played against. He started to feel, ‘I am already physically dominant, I have a nice body here. But if I get in the weight room and do some of the more heavy lifting work and moving weight around, the possibilities are endless here.’ He started to feel that in his workouts. The goal is not to make him look like a bodybuilder. The goal for him is to take unusable fat mass and get rid of that and replace that with functional muscle mass. That’s what we tried to do, with trimming the bodyweight down so we can take off some pressure. He’s a big boy. He wants to take the pressure off the lower body because he had issues in his foot and leg. That’s going to be important. You can’t just lose fat, and then not put muscle on him. His game specifically is designed around giving hits and taking hits. He’s a bull out there. That’s how he plays and is going at a fast speed and is giving hits. He has to be able to take hits when he’s up there at the rim. Maybe one of the bigger things for him is to get his lower body under the right amount of resistance load. Everybody thinks you lift weights for muscles. But for him, he already has a huge body and is very explosive. So he has to be able to absorb the impact and decelerate from those fast speeds with a lot of mass coming down. Those sorts of support structures of the muscular-skeletal system with the tendons, ligaments, and bones. For him, that’s in my mind what was the ultimate foundation. Once he got into a routine, he works man. He’s a worker. He eats up workouts and looks at me like ‘What’s next?’ When other guys are 3/4 of the way through, they’re asking, ‘How much more?’ He’s finished and asks, ‘What’s next?’ He is an impressive worker.”
There was also a lot of difference noted when he came back with his body transformation versus when he started as a rookie. Here’s what DiFrancesco has to say, “We had him at the 265-pound range, potentially even slightly higher than that, plus or minus a few. At 14% body fat. We got him now toward closer to the 250-255 range at 9.5-10% body fat.”
Note: This interview took place in the early summers of 2019. In a more recent interview with Randle, he said he currently weighs between 244-45 pounds at just under 10% body fat.
The ideal body fat percentage for Julius was explained by DiFrancesco in the same interview, with he saying,
“I don’t really know. The kid is still very young. I’m very happy with where we’re at right now. But there’s still going to progress. If this is where we sit, I’m very pleased with this. But there’s going to be even more progress. He’s going to be getting minutes in games where he’s also going to be burning calories. I’m assuming he continues with his ferocious appetite for the weight room that he developed. He’s going to continue to lose some body fat and continue to gain some muscle. That’s what it all comes down to. He has shown that he is really willing and has an appetite for work. You can have the best plan in the world and all the best ideas to do stuff. But if the kid just doesn’t have it and is going through the motions and doing just enough to get by, you’ll never see significant changes. So with him, that’s what it is.”
There was definitely a difference between the amount of fat he lost and the muscle weight he gained. This is what DiFrancesco had to say about it, “He traded roughly speaking about 10 pounds of fat for 10 pounds of muscle. It’s plus or minus a little bit. We have the ability to roughly estimate those values. That’s very important. Those are not concrete. The only way you can know that is if you basically took an MRI of the individual or if you dissected the person. You wouldn’t know. These are all within reason. He lost about 15 to 20 pounds [in fat]. But there’s some variation within those numbers. He didn’t gain any fat.”
Julius Randle is definitely more ready than he was before for the game this season.
DiFrancesco went into the total detail of his diet plan explaining how much carbs, proteins, and fat he was consuming throughout the day. He also told the interviewers about the kind of food choices that he was making. He said,
“We went to Whole Foods and tried to find some things he could put in the cupboard. One of the things we worked on heavily was how to make a delicious healthy salad. If you change some of the intensity of the nutrients where you’re eating junk food, that doesn’t have much substance to the calories. You eat it and suddenly feel hungry again. There’s not a lot there besides refined carbohydrates, sugars, bad fats and stuff like that. Then you change that for more intense nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats and having it more around so you can get it more in him. Then you’re not as hungry all the time. You’re not in that situation where at the end of the day, you’re just ravenous and you think whatever is in the cupboard, you grab anything. A Snickers bar? Perfect. Give me one of those, whatever it might be. He’s still a young kid. Anybody is going to have a craving for some junk food here and there. He knows that he can’t be perfect all the time. That’s part of making it sustainable, where you have to let yourself off the hook and enjoy some junk food here or there. But instead of just making that your first option every time, now it becomes a much better and selective process. Then it’s at the point where ‘I’ve been very good for the last week and I don’t feel bad and I won’t ruin my progress by grabbing the fast food meal here or there or getting some sweet afterward.’”
It was just after the season ended that Julius transformed his diet. The whole food visit was just after that as explained by DiFrancesco.“It was shortly after the season ended. We focused on that trip on the big salad. Sometimes when you go and say, ‘This is where you should get at the grocery store’ and there are 1,000 things on the list, it’s overwhelming”, said DiFrancesco.
“I found that it’s a little bit easier to say to guys, ‘Let’s work on finding the 10 ingredients or six ingredients you need to make a good salad that you enjoy that hits all your nutritional needs.’ Even that is a lot to process if you’re not used to doing your own cooking and stuff like that. He took to it and we brought it back to his house and we made the salad and we had it. He said he really liked it. So he has that in his toolbox, the ability to walk into Whole Foods anytime he wants and gets the ingredients for the salad that he likes. Then we’ll go back again. It’s still a work in progress. We still have more trips to go where next time we might figure out how to make a healthy cheeseburger and show him how to do that and make it on his own so that during those moments when it’s real easy to get that fast food, we have an alternative.”
With a bone injury like Randle’s it was sure that he would be needing a lot of calcium because when he was overtraining before, his bones were depleted of calcium. DiFrancesco explained,
“That is not just with Julius. It’s with almost all NBA guys. Once that happened with Julius, we took a more aggressive approach. But we already were. We always have preached well before Julius got here that these are important nutrients to get. We try to assess and figure out based on the guy’s diet, bloodwork and things like that, how deficient is he in certain areas. I didn’t think it was anything where it was ‘Oh my gosh, he is super deficient in calcium or anything else.’ But he certainly wasn’t getting enough. That was present and evident and made clear. But you could say that about most kids in this locker room after going to high school and college and some of these things aren’t addressed. I don’t think it was anything where he was abnormally deficient in any area. But like most guys his age that walk into our locker room, he had some deficiencies that we’ve now addressed. Even before the leg happened, we tried to address that. It’s just that sometimes it takes time to take those deficient levels and increase them high enough.”
Here are some tips and guidelines that were followed in order to give the physique that Julius Randle desired:
TRIMMING THE FAT
“Julius came to me at 15% body fat needing to get down to 6%,” explained Cesar. “We accomplished that in less than five weeks.” The coach also said that strength was never a problem for Randle. Their main focus was to improve body fat, muscle endurance, muscle agility and the recovery which was to take place afterward. They trained five times a week and spent 90 minutes in each session. “Every four weeks, we focused on a new area, from hypertrophy and strength to agility and recovery,” said DiFrancesco.
It is no doubt that Randle had been super consistent with his workout and he gave immense attention to his diet schedule too. Let’s hear it from his own mouth:
“In addition to working out, the key was having a consistent diet,” tells Randle in an interview. “Before last year, I wasn’t really a big eater in the mornings. I got on a meal plan, eating a lot of lean meats and vegetables. When I didn’t have time for a meal, I would eat a Met-Rx Big 100 bar. Those really helped. It’s easy to grab one and eat it on my way to work out. It definitely gives me the fuel I need to get through my training.”
CUTTING THE CRAPPY FOOD OUT
Diet was the key ingredient for the physique that Randle has now. His coach said that one could never 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 [128 ounces] of water every day,” completed Cesar.
During the season Randle tries to be pretty consistent in the gym and lift weights. However, it gets tough for him while he is traveling, but he incorporates some sort of exercise in his routine. Randle tells in the interview, “I don’t lift too much on game days, but whenever I can on a practice day or an off day, I get in the weight room and keep my body strong.”
ALL ABOUT WORK, WORK, WORK
The coach is pretty strict about his workout routine, who also makes Randle do the exercises with barbells, dumbbell, and medicine balls. “I told him, ‘You gotta work like you’re on a 10-day contract.’ I also told him that winners are made in the off-season. And finally, we made sure to finish the workout no matter what. I don’t care if you throw up. You get back up and finish the job,” said Cesar.
OTHER IMPORTANT MOVES
Randle’s favorite exercise is burpees, which, according to him, is great for working out the whole body. On his favorite exercise, he says, “I did a lot of barbell burpees this summer. Those are really effective but really tough. Those will burn you quickly. Another good pick for basketball training would be kettlebell swings.”
THE RUSH AND THE HYPE
There is no doubt that Randle has to travel a lot, which means he goes through a lot of jet lags. But good for him, he gets adjusted to the new city extremely well. This is his advice to handle the jet lag: “I’ll get off the plane and go straight to the gym to get a sweat and a workout. Because if I’m sitting on the plane all day and then go to my hotel room, I feel sluggish. So I try to get a workout in as soon as I get off the plane. Get a sweat going, get a good meal, get some good rest, and be rejuvenated for the next day.”
THE LAST YEAR OF CONTRACT
“It’s true, I’m in the last year of my contract,” Randle explains when asked about the last year of his contract. “But my motivation doesn’t really come from that. It’s more that I just want to be the best player I can possibly be. That’s really only where my motivation comes from.”
And this is probably the kind of motivation that is expected from a successful basketball player. That’s all for what Julius Randle does in a day when it comes to his diet plan, his training and workout schedule.