Pro Tips

Train Like Lacrosse Star Paul Rabil

How the two-time Steinfeld Cup champion trains to support his pro career and side gigs.

Paul Rabil
Josh Rottman / M+F Magazine

New York Lizards midfielder Paul Rabil of Major League Lacrosse is one of the sport’s most accomplished players. But that’s just his day job. Off the field, he’s a social media personality with 76K Twitter followers, more than 100K subscribers to his YouTube channel, plus a growing podcast, “Suiting Up.” And the 31-year-old, 10-year lacrosse vet’s star is only rising, thanks to his meticulous approach to clean living. Here’s how Rabil keeps his body and mind sharp amid the chaos of his ever-evolving life.

IN-SEASON VERSUS OFF-SEASON“I try to keep a level of consistency year-round in my approach to training, nutrition, and recovery,” Rabil says. “Those athletes who are able to sustain a stable career, I believe it’s because they don’t veer off. They just keep improving and changing. The only time my routine really changes is after a game, because the physical expenditure is so great—I may take two days off from any physical activity to fully recover. But that’s not the case in the off-season. Also, when I say, ‘take off,’ I’m not in a bed all day. I do active recovery exercises to break a light sweat, like dynamic stretches.”

TRAINING“My workout is broken down into three stages: preconditioning, which is my dynamic warmup. Then I’ll do actual conditioning, like metabolic speed workouts and 300-yard shuttles. As a midfielder in lacrosse, that helps me pass the ball back and forth while factoring in sprinting and turning. Then I end with strength training. I make sure that I do both pushing and pulling moves. So, if I do a set of shoulder presses, I’ll also do lat pulldowns. A lot of people end up front-loaded or top-heavy. I want to be balanced front to back.”

TOOLS OF THE TRADE“Two products I use for recovery are NormaTec air pressure boots—they cover your entire leg and help flush out toxins—and a vibrating foam roller to help penetrate acute areas like the psoas muscle and hip flexors. I also love using a suspension trainer. It allows me to increase my range of motion on moves like lunges, pushups, and incline presses.”

RECOVERY“Recovery is more important than training,” Rabil says. “At the top of the list for me is sleep. I try to get eight hours every night. I would suggest a high performer gets at least seven hours a night.”

DRINK UP“Hydration is non-negotiable to me,” Rabil says. “I’m always drinking water. There’s too much literature out there that suggests that it aids in the healing process and boosts performance. It’s not that hard, so why wouldn’t you do it? The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before bed is drink water.”

MINDFULNESS“I do 10 minutes of guided meditation every day. And that helps everything from the top down— from regulating my stress to reducing points of pain and lactic acid buildup in my body to loosening up. I’m on a 51-day streak, and I’m proud of it.”

HIP FOCUS“For lacrosse players, there’s a lot of torque involved in how we move, especially when shooting. The hips are also central for hinging and squatting movements, which help in being able to get down and pick up a loose ball. For years I’ve been trying to get the proper alignment in my hips. For that reason, I squat. It’s a great resetting exercise from your upper back through your hips and into your legs.”

ENTHUSIASM“Every Monday I have a new podcast, and every Wednesday and Friday there’s a new video on my YouTube channel,” Rabil says.“I think of these projects as my energy management, not my time management. If we manage our energy well, and we’re passionate and enthusiastic about the things that we do, it’s less about how much time I need to carve out and more about how much energy I have for each task.”