He trains harder and longer than anyone else in the NBA
MF: Can you give us some insight into your training routine, both off-season and during the season?
Kobe: During the season, I focus a lot on weight training, obviously building up my strength level as the season progresses. In the off-season, it's about getting stronger as well, more agile. Also, conditioning plays an important part in that, because you want to make sure you come into the upcoming season in tip-top shape. Then, obviously, you want to get on the basketball floor and work on your skills.
MF: In the off-season, you probably spend many more hours training, is that right?
Kobe: During the season, it's probably about four hours or so a day, with practice and extra work.
MF: So specifically though, in the off-season, what kind of weight lifting are you doing? Is it explosive movements, like plyometrics?
Kobe: Not really, it's all Olympic lifts. I do a lot of track work.
MF: So like snatches, things like that?
Kobe: Yeah, clean-pulls, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, back squats, things of that nature.
MF: One of the most impressive aspects of your game is your stamina – your ability to play so many minutes per night at such a high level. If you could pass along some tips on how to get bigger, obviously, but also to stay agile and have extra energy, would you recommend Olympic lifts?
Kobe: That helps tremendously. I think it's a combination of lifting weights and doing a conditioning program. Whatever your program is, the key is to push yourself to a level where you're hurting. You can't gain conditioning without going through it. You're going to have to feel some pain, you're going to have to feel like your lungs are burning, and you know, you want to spit up blood, that sort of thing.
MF: Sure. So what kind of cardio do you have to do – I'm imagining that during the games and practice, you get plenty –
Kobe: No, but I do a lot more. When I get on the basketball floor, it's about fine-tuning my skills, it's not about conditioning. My conditioning comes from just running, whether it's on a track, or on a field, or on the court itself, just doing suicides, or sprints.
MF: So it's just a technique thing, shooting jumpers, things like that?
Kobe: Yeah, it's something I can do over and over, so I'm in great shape. MF: How many do you shoot in a day?
Kobe: It's between 700 to 1,000 makes a day.
MF: How has your training program changed over the years? You're already becoming a veteran of the league.
Kobe: It's become more efficient. I'm not just doing a whole bunch of things. I think when you first come into the league, you kind of figure out what works best for your body, what wears down your body, what doesn't, recovery, what works best in that area. I've been in the league 10 years, 11 years now so I know exactly what works and what doesn't work for me.
MF: Do you have any training tips, aside from Olympic lifts, that you'd recommend to younger basketball players?
Kobe: The thing that I tell them all the time is consistency. If they watch me train, running on a track, it doesn't look like I'm over-exerting myself. It's a consistency with which you do it, in other words, it's an every-day-thing. You have a program, and a schedule, and you have to abide by that, religiously. You just stick to it, and it's the consistency that pays off.
MF: If you could pinpoint one part of your game – and this would really be nitpicking – what would it be?
Kobe: It depends – I usually make those evaluations at the end of the season, along with Phil (Jackson) and the coaching staff, and break down the season and how I progress, and how I evolve as a player, go into the summer with a plan, exactly what I need to work on.
MF: So that's every summer? You break your game down?
Kobe: Oh yeah. You have to.