Elite performance coach and lululemon’s latest ambassador Harry Jameson is on a mission to get us thinking about our minds just as much as our bodies.
With more than 15 years’ experience coaching top athletes, celebrities and professionals, his approach to health and fitness is very much a holistic one (opposed to the the outdated and unsustainable PT method of getting shredded in 2 months through extreme training and energy sapping calorie deficits).
The benefits of exercise are well documented. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and even some cancers. But in order to hit your performance goals, train like a pro and bulletproof your body against injury, you need to look at more than how many burpees you can do. Diet, nutrition, recovery and mental health are all equally as important.
We caught up with Jameson to find out his golden rules for toning up and staying healthy – inside and out.
1. Vary the intensity (and skip the HIIT)
“I wouldn’t do HIIT or anything super-intense, where you’re working in the top 10% of your heart rate threshold, more than twice a week. If I did high-intensity workouts five days a week, I would need to rest more. It’s counterproductive to plough mindlessly through workouts without pausing to allow our bodies to heal and restore.
“The reason why people experience fatigue injuries or burnout is because they train at a high intensity too often. Low-intensity training is fantastic for the management of stress. People have stress management and exercise the wrong way around. You shouldn’t think: ‘I’m stressed: I’m going to go to a workout class in a dark room with nightclub music, rip my shirt off and run as fast as I can on the treadmill at 7am after no sleep, too much booze and only functioning on caffeine, adrenaline and cortisol.’ That’s like trying to put out a fire with petrol. A stressed person should skip the HIIT, reduce their caffeine and alcohol intake and do submaximal cardiovascular training for between 30 and 60 minutes.”
2. No exercise plan will outperform a poor diet
“Don’t look at fitness in isolation. You need to look at your movement, your recovery and your nutrition. You need to recover as hard as you train – it’s almost impossible to train on a poor diet.
“I had a client who owned a Ferrari – I was training him about 15 years ago – and he’d come into the gym with a can of cola in his hand every day. I asked him how many cans he had a day and he said about two or three. So I asked him whether he’d pour that coke into his Ferrari. He looked at me like I was mad. You wouldn’t do it, because your Ferrari was not designed to run on cola – just like your body isn’t designed to run on cola. That analogy really resonated with him and I managed to get him off his fizzy soda addiction by getting him to treat his body like a Ferrari.”
3. Wear exercise-specific gym kit
“I hate training shorts that don’t have pockets. Why would you make a pocket on a pair of running shorts that doesn’t fit an iPhone? It drives me mad. So I love lululemon’s ‘licenced to train’ shorts and the ‘licensed to train’ pant. They also make the best boxer shorts I’ve ever worn – it’s actually quite an underrated piece of kit. And the tops have this smart sweat and odour-resistant feature knitted into the fabric that wicks away the smell. I sweat a lot. I like the feeling of sweating. I like working out in a warm room. I like training in the heat and running abroad. So having kit that smells fresh wash after wash is really important.”
4. Recover with cold exposure
“Recovery is about the reduction of inflammation. Cold exposure – whether that’s ice baths, cryo or plunge pools – is really good for recovery. I sometimes train at Chelsea Football Club, which has a sauna, cold plunge pool and steam room right next to one another. When you go from hot to cold to hot you get that vasoconstriction, which flushes out all the lactate in your muscles and is great for reducing inflammation.”
5. Meditate daily
“It doesn’t have to be long, and you can use lululemon’s Meditation Space or try some square breathing techniques, but meditation is a great method of relaxation. It can have so many effects on the body. If you want clarity of mind, and to manage anxiety, morning meditation is best. Whereas if you have dips in concentration and energy levels, you should try afternoon meditation. If you struggle to get to sleep and to unwind, opt for evening meditations.”
6. Make time in your diary for the things you love
“I love spending time with my children. I love cooking. I love playing golf with my dad – it’s four hours of the week when my phone is in my bag and it’s just me and him walking in the countryside and catching up. I think it’s just as important to structure emotional recovery into your schedule as it is to schedule rest days from the gym. People underestimate how important those human connections are.”
7. Set performance goals
“I think the biggest mistake people make is that they use weight as a barometer of fitness. You should set performance-related goals instead – such as running a sub-four-hour marathon, or being able to do 100 push-ups, or a single pull-up. When you start knocking off those little markers, your body will start to change into the aesthetic desired. Really fit people look really fit.”
Find your fit with the lululemon range of premium activewear
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