The sustained excellence and longevity of LeBron James is a testament to his mental and physical discipline and commitment to the game, his teams, and himself. Those characteristics are borne out of a mentality and detailed routine unlike any I’ve ever seen before from an NBA player.
In this piece and the accompanying videos, I’ll take you through the mental and physical bedrock of LeBron’s career longevity, including three key aspects of his mentality and approach, along with a detailed look at his offseason training regiment.
The driving force behind LeBron’s success, sustainability, and relative health stems from a proactive mindset that addresses problems before they ever occur, a willingness to constantly be evolving and adapting — whether by utilizing new technology, new research, or new things he’s learned from other players — and, part and parcel with each of those, a unique ability to take a step back and view things through a bird’s eye lens to determine a long-term roadmap.
For a more detailed look at each with multiple concrete examples spanning LeBron’s career from his days at St. Vincent St. Mary High School to the present day, check out the following video:
James’ unprecedented longevity and excellence isn’t by accident. It’s due to a detailed, ever-adapting methodology and disciplined execution of it, borne out of a mentality and consistency that is head and shoulders above any athlete I’ve ever seen. Each of those qualities are clearly reflected in his mental and physical training regiment, particularly in the offseason.
LeBron’s offseason plan and regiment
James’ offseason roadmap and regiment are critical to sustaining his mental and physical fitness while appropriately ramping up for training camp, the regular season and the playoffs. That roadmap can be organized into three different phases:
3. Ramp up
In the following video, follow along for additional details on each phase, and explanations of LeBron’s dedicated mental and physical fitness routines:
All in all
LeBron’s mentality and approach is what sets him apart from most athletes, on and off the court. Mentality is often what separates great players from legends, a theme that is shared across all sports — whether it’s New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, tennis all-time majors record-holder Roger Federer, longtime Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque, Arsenal strike Thierry Henry or the Lakers own Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, just to name a few.
The proactive, adaptive approach and long-term perspective is particularly evident during LeBron’s careful offseason planning, which is tailored to address multiple health and performance factors and set him up for success heading into the season.
The scariest part (for opponents, at least) is that with the Lakers missing the playoffs last season due to injuries, he’s had even more time to decompress, prepare, and build his mental and physical fitness.
After the doubts that followed his own Grade 2 adductor tear injury last season — even though he came back far quicker than most players do, even though the way he got hurt would’ve injured any player and even though he had a great end to the season while not being close to 100% — he’s now more motivated than ever, on a Lakers team that pairs him with his best teammate ever and surrounded them with personnel that fit their strengths.
To that point, James was already locked in for the Lakers’ first preseason game, diving on the floor for loose balls and setting an example from the top down. LeBron hasn’t outright admitted that he’s trying to prove a point this season, but he’s certainly hinted at it in interviews and social media posts. And when those are mixed with his disciplined training regimen and preparation, the stage is set for an unparalleled season, regardless of age.
Dr. Rajpal Brar has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 1.5 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), and analyzes the Lakers from a medical perspective for Silver Screen and Roll.