The world’s best player reveals his training regime and a lack of game day McDonald’s
Raised in the Ohio projects and now the world’s fourth richest sportsman (according to Forbes), LeBron James will be playing for Olympic favourites Team USA in London this month, hoping to add another gold medal to the NBA Championship he’s just won with the Miami Heat. ShortList discovers the secret of his success.
Talk us through your average day in training.
The first thing I do is ice my back and feet – for contact training this is a really important part of my regime. Then it’s 30 minutes of combined stretching and yoga [followed by] either gym work or working with the ball on court. I always stretch to warm down. I keep on stretching throughout the day as well.
What’s the most hi-tech piece of equipment you’ve used in training?
During cardio days we are all wired up, and at the end it tells you everything. How many calories you burned, your heart rate, miles ran, and it looks for any deficiencies in your body. It’s immense.
What’s the one part of life that you deny yourself, but really miss?
Before I turned pro, I used to have McDonald’s for lunch on game day. You just get to the point where you think: I am blessed with all this talent and was born an athlete, so I need to treat myself with respect.
What are your nutritional tips?
It sounds so simple, but I am a big believer in water. I start the day with two big glasses, and pretty much drink it until I go to bed. It’s the simple things you need to be doing, like my chef always makes sure my chicken breasts are skinless.
What’s the most extreme measure you’ve gone to, to prepare?
There was a point when I could not go an hour without stretching, because I was making sure my back was in 100 percent good condition. During the flight from the US to London for the Olympics, I will be up every hour to stretch. On a long flight at pressure, it’s important for anybody, professional athlete or not, to do exercises.
What part of your body suffers most?
I have had issues with my lower back in the past, but we have come up with a solution that has eliminated that. It used to get sore and tight, but with yoga, stretching and daily massages, I am keeping it under control.
Do you ever do other sports as part of your training?
We do the 100m sprint in training, but any more than that isn’t necessary for NBA players. The 100m will be crazy in London this summer, I am tipping for the record to be broken again.
You’re quite fast on the court yourself – what exercises are best to improve speed?
If you are talking about running speed, that’s a pretty natural talent, but if you are talking about acceleration, there are a few things you can do. Try getting a workout buddy to help you with some resisted towel sprints.
Do you do any mental preparation to prevent nerves?
There has always been a lot of pressure on me, so nerves are something I quickly conquered. Every time I step on the court I believe I am going to be on the winning team. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but you have to have the belief.
What music do you listen to when you’re working out?
My boy Jay-Z is a good buddy of mine, and his music plays a big part of my workout time. I am a big fan of Drake right now as well.
To improve stamina, the treadmill is good, but the exercise bike is tougher and works more of your body. Do a 10-mile ride uphill, and you know you’ve had a workout.