Lakers’ Julius Randle has comed to grips with last year’s injury. “It made me appreciate and love the game even more.” (AP Photo/John Locher)
Below is a Q&A with Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco, who detailed Julius Randle’s off-season workouts and dietary habits. I detailed Randle’s efforts in those areas as well as his year-long recovery in the print edition. But below is an expansive transcript of my interview with DiFrancesco earlier this summer at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo.
What has gone into Julius’ improvement with his dieting?
DiFrancesco: “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 the 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.”
What has that done for him?
DiFrancesco: “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 body builder. 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 body weight down so we can take off some pressure.
He’s a big boy. He wants to take 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 sort 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.”