Q&A with Barry Rubin: How to Train Like the Philadelphia Eagles

We talked with Eagles’ strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin to find out how he keeps the Birds in game shape.

What’s a typical day of practice like?
We have different routines. Sometimes we’ll do a total-body weight workout, but I like to do all our strength movements one day and power movements the next. The strength routine usually includes things like squats and bench presses. For power, we do Olympic lifts, things like the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. We use a lot of free weights. We try to simulate as close as we can in the gym what players do on the field.

What drills do you run for conditioning?
Two times a week we do drills for speed and agility, and two times a week we do conditioning. Sprints followed by short recovery periods are good for building speed, and position-specific drills like back pedaling exercises help with agility. For conditioning, we do what’s called “tempo” runs. They can be either fifty, a hundred or two hundred yard runs with short rests in between. The length usually depends on the player’s position.

What’s the length of a typical workout?
Total, it takes an hour and a half, 45 minutes of each. Usually we do the conditioning second because after that you’re pretty beat.

Do you place much focus on stretching?
Oh yeah, that’s a big part of it. Beforehand, we do dynamic stretching, which is stretching with movement. It warms up the body, which is what you want to do before a hard workout because it prevents injury. We spend about fifteen minutes on that before we get started on the hard stuff.

What about you? Apart from the team, what does your own workout consist of?
Well, I’m obviously a little older than the guys I coach, so I focus on an overall fitness routine. Monday and Thursday, I do a total-body weight workout. Tuesday and Friday I do cardio. Wednesday and Saturday, I walk. Sunday is my day off. I also do a dynamic warm-up before each workout.

How do you work the team differently during the offseason?
During the offseason, it’s more volume, more days of lifting. During the season, we try to keep up with all the regular exercises, but it often comes to a point when they’re banged up, so we have to make adjustments. If a guy can’t do some kind of Olympic lift, we’ll have to substitute something else. If a guy’s joints are hurting, we use machines instead of free weights. Free weights work best because they work more muscle fibers, so all the stabilizing muscles come into play. So free weights are better, but there is a place for machines. For older athletes, or for players who are injured, machines are easier.

‘Fess up: Which guys perform the best or most consistently during workouts?
I don’t really want to name names. They all do well, a very compliant group overall. They’re professionals and know the benefits of the weight room. There’s just a small percentage that you really have to stay on top of, but that’s true with anything.