How Jimmy Butler stayed in form in the course of the pandemic

At the start of 2020, the Miami Heat was one of the NBA's surprise teams, thanks in part to Jimmy Butler's high profile performance. Two months later, on March 11, the league came to a halt after announcing that Utah jazz star Rudy Gobert had tested positive for coronavirus.

Since then, all sports – like most of the nation – have been banned due to the global pandemic. And while safety remains a top priority for Butler, whose physical fitness is unmatched in the league, staying COVID-19 free and staying fit has become a challenging necessity.

Throw in the uncertainty of the NBA season back then – from the length of the lockdown to the question of whether the season would ever start again. Deciding how to stay ready to play became a mystery Butler would face along with his personal trainer James Scott.

The couple came to the realization that sticking to their ritual of early morning exercise with some changes to Butler's diet would be the ideal roadmap to maintaining the level of fitness that has made Butler one of the most torn athletes in the league. So effective was their plan that Butler went to court on August 1 against the Denver Nuggets with more muscle and less body fat than in his last game in March.

"It was just because we were mentally prepared that we didn't know whether it would take two weeks, two months or a year," Scott told Muscle & Fitness. “In the beginning, the training wasn't clear. We saw people doing zoom workouts and the like. In the end we just said, you know, fuck it, let's go ahead and do this right. Let's have an offseason mentality. "

Butler knows all about what it takes to be ready for whatever life throws at him. "I'd be lying if I could tell you what tomorrow's going to bring," Butler told M&F in January after losing to the Brooklyn Nets. "I can't tell you how my body will feel. I can tell you how to prepare to hope my body will feel this way."


While the rest of the nation battled a different type of "Quarantine 15" for the past four months, Butler added to his 6 & # 39; 7 & # 39; & # 39; – Add frame weight, hit a solid 230 pounds while dropping his body fat percentage to a ridiculous 4.3%. While the NBA season was suspended, Scott Butler switched to a carbohydrate reload – limited carbohydrates during the day and carbohydrate reloads at night – to improve his diet. And the strategy, he says, worked.

"Since Jimmy wasn't playing games, he didn't need that many carbs to recover or he needed fuel," says Scott, saying that at Butler's last meal around 7pm. Each night, his carbohydrates usually consisted of healthy grains, some rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes.

"Our thing was like, if it came from Earth, we'd eat it," says Scott.


From a physical standpoint, the leisure butlers today might have helped, says Scott. Before the shutdown, Butler averaged more than 20 points per game for the Heat (At the same time, however, a number of injuries, including foot, back, hip, knee, ankle problems, and a toe injury, kept Butler out of the last Play the Heat out against the Charlotte Hornets in March.)

"In a way, it was kind of a blessing because it gave Jimmy time to heal all the light bumps and bruises you get after playing 60 games a season," said Scott. "I'm sure most NBA players thought so too. At this point in the season, you put on a lot of things with bandaids.

Working with Butler, Scott incorporates his own twist on the conjugate training method, the popular formula made famous by Westside Barbell, in which you are constantly rotating exercises in and out of a program. "We don't have many maximum lifts for a basketball player," he says.

With each workout, Scott Butler has dumbbell presses and raised back split squats to increase strength. Trapper and Vertimax machine jumps are also added to increase the explosive power.

A constant in any workout, says Scott, is the incorporation of a medicine ball. For a butler or any basketball player, quick reflexes are essential in every situation, from dishing to the open man to no-look passes. So Scott will throw in any number of variations – overhead throws, rotation throws, catch-and-pass, both single and double-armed passes in Butler's routine.

"We're really focused on the speed strength of his fitness," says Scott, pointing out that the medicine ball's weight doesn't have to be heavy. "We're trying to move forward as quickly as possible … That's what sets top athletes apart. They don't necessarily produce more power than non-elite athletes. They can only produce that power faster."

As a finisher, Scott Butler throws color-coded tennis balls in what he calls training with neurocognitive efficiency. Scott shouts a color and then throws a ball that matches his words or not. Butler's job is to catch the right color and let the wrong one fly by. Sounds easy, but Scott says when your time is running out you need to keep your thoughts right.

"Focus can be a split second decision for an athlete like Jimmy," says Scott. "It could be the difference between winning and missing an order and giving up the basket."

The physical and mental boost Butler gets from Scott has helped keep him focused and ready to continue his all-star season.

"I think that's one of the most real things he said, 'body cares," says Butler. "If you ask me to do 10 reps, man, I only have eight, just do the ten. I guarantee you ten. It's all part of the mind. If you can do it, no one will clap for you. "

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