When Lakers forward Julius Randle came into the off-season, he had one thing on his mind: getting into the best shape of his life.
After leading the Lakers in rebounding in his second year in the league, the team’s management challenged the young forward during his exit interview to get even better, telling him to basically go “beast mode” and return like “a beast coming back in incredible shape” for the next season. Randle took the challenge head-on.
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The former Kentucky star connected with trainer Amoila Cesar, who put him through an intense workout program, taking him from 15% body fat down to just 6% in less than five weeks. 
“It was a lot of hard work, but it really worked,” Randle said. “We did a lot of resistance training, and focused on legs workouts and strengthening my foundation. The NBA season is such a long stretch, and your body can wear down, so I wanted to push hard this summer.”
Randle and Cesar trained five days per week, spending 90 minutes in the gym each day. Cesar broke down the program into what he called “three pillars”: hypertrophy/strength, speed/agility, and recovery/mobility. The workouts included hip and mobility drills and at least 20 minutes of nightly foam rolling. His warmup? A one-mile run.
“The most important part was making sure Julius’ hips and mobility improved every week,” Cesar said. “Julius suffered a hip-pointer injury and a broken leg in the past. Hips, glutes, and core are the power source for many athletic movements, and we worked hard on strengthening those areas. We always started with dynamic and mobility stretches to make sure his glutes would properly fire.”
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Randle completely transformed his body over the summer from the program, sculpting out a rock-hard six-pack. (Check out the pic his wife posted on Instagram.)
The transformation has helped Randle move better on the court in the Lakers’ uptempo offense this season, and the results have been positive. While Randle is playing seven fewer minutes per game than last year, he’s scoring and rebounding at nearly the same rate, and he’s shooting a career-best 54% from the floor. Not bad as he looks to get a new contract for next season.
What was it like overhauling your training last off-season? What was your daily routine like?
JR: It was great. Coming into the summer, my main focus was getting into the best form that I could possibly get in. I wanted to be in the best shape I’ve ever been in coming back to the team, so I recommitted myself to the weight room as well as basketball court. For me, it was like an introduction to a whole new process. A lot of that was in the weight room doing heavy lifting, usually for around an hour and a half. Straight from there, I went to the court, and I’d usually do a basketball workout and some skills training. Later on in the summer when guys started playing again, we would play pickup and that was usually in the afternoon. Then, sometimes, I’d do another workout or shoot hoops around 8 p.m. to finish the night.
What were some of the workouts and training routines you did that helped you the most when you got back on the court?
My trainer was great to work with. He had me doing a lot of moves I’ve never done before, and it was much more than just your typical squats or lunges. We did a lot of work on my lower body, and worked to strengthen my legs, hamstrings, and glutes. For upper body, we did a lot of bench press and a lot of bodyweight workouts, too. Lots of pullups, pushups, back pulls, and we did those with resistance too. Not always with weight, but with a resistance band, and we also did some farmer’s carry exercises and full-body workouts. Some of the routines had cable rows, wood chops, hang cleans, barbell cleans, and med ball slams, which really helped me get lean and strong.
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What was your nutrition like and how did that help? What’s your favorite cheat meal?
It was a lot of meat [laughs]. Some days it was steak, some days it was ground beef or ground turkey—with a lot of veggies. Sometimes people don’t know how to eat things properly to help nutrition and training, so portion control became a big focus, and that was really huge for me. A lot of times I’d work out at night, and I wouldn’t want to eat anything too heavy, so we stuck with Greek yogurt and things like that for a late snack. For a cheat meal, well, I’m a Southern boy, so I like soul food—any type of fried chicken or mashed potatoes. All that type of stuff is my favorite cheat day pick.
What are some of the lessons you learned from your training this summer? 
I learned a lot about how to handle my body, and how to handle a strict training and nutrition program. I feel like I can keep that up moving forward in my career. I learned that the work never stops—if you want to play a long time in this league, you have to constantly work out your body and always be trying to better yourself on the court. The work never stops. Obviously you have to be careful about your body breaking down over a long season, but for me, it’s always making an improvement;  and in the off-season, making sure I’m healthy next season as well.
What are your expectations for yourself and the team?
Our team likes the challenge of trying to get better each day. We have a lot of young guys, but we’re always trying to win, whether it’s a practice, drills, or a game. Are we pushing ourselves to be better? That’s what we always ask ourselves when we work. I don’t like to put expectations on things, but like I said, we are going to keep pushing and working to get better. You want to look back through the course of the season and find yourself making tremendous improvements. You just try to take everything a day at a time.