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Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle caught the attention of the basketball world on social media this summer with a pretty stunning body transformation.
The side-by-side shot of Randle on Instagram showed off the progress he’d made just three weeks into his off-season training program. The transformation was sparked by an exit interview with Lakers management, who told Randle that he should return like “a beast” and “come back in incredible shape.”
While Randle wasn’t necessarily in bad shape at the end of the season, he was playing bigger than his 250-lb listed weight, finishing the year at 260lbs. Although he led the Lakers in rebounding in just his third season—and only his second full year in the league after missing all but one game his rookie season with a fractured fibula—Randle knew the team would continue to run an up-tempo offense with which he’d need to keep up. The transformation wasn’t just about getting into shape for Randle—it was about survival.
Randle realized that to take the next step in his career, he needed to work harder than he previously ever had during the off-season.
Randle’s trainer helped overhaul Randle’s usual routine with the goals of getting him down from 14% body fat to 6%, cutting his overall weight by nearly 20lbs, and improving his speed and athleticism overall.
“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.”
Knowing that Randle previously suffered a broken leg and hip-pointer, Cesar put a focus on doing hips and mobility drills at the beginning of each training session. Randle worked out five days per week, always starting with at least 15-20 minutes of an extensive stretching routine. At night, he foam-rolled for at least 20 minutes. On each Friday during the program, Cesar sent Randle to a sports chiropractor and had him undergo cryotherapy treatments.
It was something akin to a 12-week boot camp for Randle. Training sessions started at 8 a.m. each week Monday through Friday, and lasted at least 90 minutes, with each workout including a one-mile run as a warmup. Following his weight training and morning workouts, Randle would spend at least two hours doing basketball drills and on-court training.
“It was tough, but we worked hard,” Randle said. “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.”
Each phase of the program lasted four weeks. By the end, Randle’s core had something closer to an eight-pack rather than the usual six-pack abs. As the start of the NBA season got closer, Randle cut down on heavy weights to avoid any unnecessary stress on his joints, and focused on mobility exercises, legs workouts, and core strength.
“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 for this. When you’re looking to transform your body in the 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.”
Due to his past injuries, Cesar had Randle open each workout with 15-20 minutes of flexibility and mobility work, comprised of this stretching routine. Following this routine, Randle would run one mile, then go into the workout. While this was designed specifically for Randle, Cesar recommended that people should use some type of stretching routine before any workout: