Despite being in just his second season, New York Giants star Saquon Barkley has established himself as one of the NFL’s best players. As a rookie he led the entire league in total yards from scrimmage, and week after week he puts together electric plays, like when he stiff armed multiple players into the ground against the Detroit Lions.
The reason Barkley has been so explosive in the NFL is in large part due to his focus on fitness and training. Barkley has been a workout marvel since his college days—he set multiple weight room records at Penn State—and since turning pro he’s shown off his strength with his Instagram workout videos. While lifting big weight is an important part of Barkley’s routine, something else that plays a major role is his use of tech-connected fitness gear and recovery gear.
“I think it’s so important as an athlete to have the data we can get now,” Barkley told Men’s Journal. “With connected tech, I can find out exactly how much I’m running, what areas I need to build more, and the gear is huge for recovery, too. I like to use the NormaTec boots a lot, they help me so much with soreness and making sure I’m feeling my best.”
Barkley recently partnered with Best Buy to help promote how people can use connected fitness and recovery gear in their training like he does. As part of the push, Best Buy has created a collection of connected fitness equipment that’s coming to over 100 stores around the country, which gives people the chance to check out a wide range of gear, including options from Flywheel Sports, NormaTec, Hyperice, Hydrow and NordicTrack. Some of the new products include the Hydrow rowing machine, Hypervolt Hyperice recovery products, the Flywheel Home Bike, NordicTrack treadmill and cycles, as well as the NormaTec Recovery system. (Check out the Best Buy collection of products here.)
Barkley spoke with us about his favorite fitness gear to use, why connected workout tech is great for athletes, how he builds his legendary quads, and more.
How has using connected gear and data helped shape your training and recovery?
What I like is that the data you get can help you become a better athlete. We’re all competitors, so you want to be able to have every advantage you can. We have things like GPS trackers and body tracking gear that shows us exactly how fast we’re running and how many yards we ran in a day. It can tell you your exact workflow, your body mass, all that, and keep track of your progress. It also can help you see the areas where you need to keep working. That’s huge for me.
You’ve gotten a lot of attention for your quads. People call you “Sa-Quads” and they even were featured in a SportsCenter commercial. What are some of the ways you train your lower body?
Honestly, with my legs, a lot of it is God-given [laughs]. But overall, squats have been huge for me and are something I use a lot. The explosive lifts, like the power cleans and deadlifts, those are some of my favorites to do. I love working out in general. I’ve been doing more bodyweight workouts lately, and even in my offseason last year, I was doing CrossFit workouts, which is something I hadn’t done as much before. All that helps my conditioning, and need that conditioning to play at a high level for four quarters.
What’s your favorite fitness gear and connected tech that you use in your training?
The NormaTec Recovery boots are probably my favorite, but I also like to use the Hypervolt Hyperice, which is great to use to get warmed up for your workout. When people see my workout videos and those 400-pound lifts, they don’t see the preparation in what I do before and after that to get my body ready. Sometimes the most important part of your preparation is within those 20 minutes you have before going into that workout. Manual therapy and massages are important too, but now you can have that recovery equipment right there when you need it. The other stuff Best Buy has, like the Flywheel bike, NordicTrack, and Hydrow row machine, those are great for athletes to use too.
What’s it been like working with Best Buy and seeing them have this push for fitness tech and and connected gear?
I think it’s important. It’s important for athletes to have access to his gear and equipment, and now people everywhere can use it themselves. It’s connecting sports and fitness, and as a professional athlete, we are using this type of technology all the time. People are always asking me and hitting me up about my workouts and my videos, and now I can tell them they can literally come to Best Buy and get a lot of the stuff that us athletes use. Even for athletes, it’s cool that we ourselves can come in here and check these out instead of having to go through my agent, or someone at the team facility or something like that. It’s awesome Best Buy is making this type of gear and equipment available, it opens things up to people and they can use in their own workouts and training programs. On top of all that, it’s been great working with Best Buy and getting to meet fans like I did tonight, it’s always awesome and something exciting for me.
How is your training different between offseason and in-season workouts?
The offseason is a major grind. During the offseason, you’re preparing your body to handle the wear-and-tear of a 16-game season, plus training camp, and everything in between. You have to get your body fit enough, in shape enough, and conditioned enough so that when the season comes, you don’t decline too much. For example, during the season we don’t max out in our lifts, but we still push hard to make sure we’re maintaining our strength and training at a high level.
How has tech and new types of gear impacted you as a football player away from just training and your workouts?
On the field, we have the technology now where I can go run and have a whole day of practice and come back and I can literally tell you my exact record of everything I did. You can see if you’re overworking yourself, or underworking yourself and need more. That can benefit you a lot with that data. Off the field, or during a game even, you’re sitting on the bench after a play or a drive, you can go right back and see the Microsoft Surface and see the images and capture the moment of what happened. Sometimes it’s really good, and sometimes you snap and say ‘damn I should have had this play here.’ But it helps you when that look comes up again later in the game and you can attack it and hit it right.
Being home too, you can now be anywhere in the world and be watching film and learning. If you’re on the bye week, on the plane home or to the game, you’ll have my iPad here and I can take that and benefit myself and learn more details about something I missed or a look I need t work on. It’s those little details and things that can make a difference between winning and losing. It’s helped me a lot when I’m watching film against defenders and it helps me see how they tackle, so I know next time when I go against them whether I should spin, or jump, or try and run through him and break that tackle. Or see if how a guy blitzes and how I can slow down his momentum. And you can use all the technology to help you become a better player.
What’s your advice for people out there about how they can train like you?
The advice is simple, but I’d say definitely take advantage of the fitness tech and equipment that’s out there. Now you actually can have that same equipment in your home in your home or basement gym that pro athletes have access to. So why not take advantage of that? The fitter the world is, the better. Take advantage, go grind and go get it. It’s great that Best Buy is making it available to people.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!