It didn’t end with a playoff birth, but Fitbit ambassador Harrison Barnes put together an impressive first season with the Dallas Mavericks. During the regular season, the 25-year-old forward played 2,829 minutes—only five players across the entire league hit the court more—averaged a career high 19.2 points per game—making him one of the top 30 highest scorers in the league—and was voted Teammate of the Year by his peers.
Although naturally athletic, accolades like these don’t come without consistent hard work—work that often starts in and extends to the off season. Even Mavericks’ team owner, Mark Cuban, has taken notice.
“[Barnes] saw his role change when he came to the Mavs and has adjusted his training—physically, skills-wise, and mentally—to improve at that new role,” Cuban recently told Dalton Trigg of SB Nation. “It’s not easy. But he puts everything into getting there.”
What does “everything” entail? Below, Barnes discusses some of the small things he does to stay healthy in the off season.
How Harrison Barnes Stays Healthy—And You Can Too
Target a Specific Heart Rate
Earlier in his career, Barnes struggled to recover properly between games. “Let’s say I have back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday, and then another game on Thursday,” says Barnes. “Usually Wednesday is always a day off from training, but I noticed that when I came back to play on Thursday, I wouldn’t feel any better. The first couple minutes of the game, I’d feel out of shape, like I hit a wall.”
After speaking with his trainer, Barnes realized he needed to do something to improve his cardiovascular base and overall endurance. His trainer suggested target heart rate training. So in the summer of 2016 Barnes began walking on the treadmill at an incline. “I started working on hitting a heart rate of 130 beats per minute and maintaining that for 45 minute,” says Barnes. “It was really challenging, but it’s helped me take my conditioning to another level. Now when I start the game on Thursday, I’m not gassed, I feel fresh.”
Get Adequate Sleep
“Sleep is the biggest thing,” says Barnes. “When I’m in Dallas, I wake up pretty consistently every morning at 6 a.m. Using Sleep Stages, I’ll check my stats against the benchmark, ask myself, ‘Do I feel tired?’ and then go from there. I attribute part of the reason I was so healthy this past season to a more consistent sleep schedule.”
Growing up, Barnes not only played basketball, he also competed in soccer and track. Now, he takes the running and agility workouts he did for those disciplines and incorporates them into his current training routine. “Cardio may be a short segment on the treadmill or going to a track or field and running sprints,” says Barnes. “To stay nimble, I might put out four cones and do shuffling, sliding, backpedaling.”
Barnes isn’t down with Paleo, but does like prioritizing protein. “When you’re traveling as much as I do, diet is kind of the one thing you can do a better job of controlling,” says Barnes. “You just have to be disciplined about it. Watch what you eat, stick to mostly drinking water, getting away from the juices, the fruit blends, the smoothies—all that type of stuff.”
Hit 10,000 Steps
In season, hitting 10,000 steps is usually a given, but over the summer Barnes depends more on Reminders to Move. “Usually if I’m over 10,000 steps, I don’t really pay much attention to it, but on an off day, it reminds me to chip away at my step goal. I’ll be like, ‘Dang, I’ve still got 10,000 steps I need to get in.’”
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.