Rugby Fitness: Developing Player Power
In the wake of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, fans the world over are still reeling from the sport’s greatest event. Watching the professionals at work is undoubtedly inspirational and with the new year around the corner, what better time to take a leaf out of the professionals’ book and up your own rugby game?
Today, the rugby training equipment specialists at Rugbystore are bringing you a taster of some of the training techniques and exercises professional players use to improve power and performance on the pitch. Whether you’re a rugby fan intrigued by the behind the scenes action or an amateur player wanting to up your game in time for the new year, we’re taking you through some of the gruelling training tactics employed by world class rugby players in an effort to hone their craft.
A power driven sport
Rugby players are arguably some of the sporting world’s fittest athletes, requiring seemingly impossible levels of strength, stamina, explosive power and agility - a rare and enviable combination of physical traits. Whether it’s sprinting the length of the pitch, quickly changing direction or driving the scrum forward, power is key.
You’ll find a Wattbike in the gym of every professional rugby team, with some international teams even taking them on the road to allow for training in between matches. Used for everything from endurance training to honing explosive power, Wattbike training is an excellent way to improve your game.
Players tend to train differently, depending on their position on the pitch. Those who need to work on their power off the line usually complete a series of short, but high resistance 500m or 1000m sprints on the bike - giving players the strength and drive they need to accelerate off the mark or drive the scrum forward.
Deadlifts and squats
Weight training and squats are a staple of rugby training sessions in the gym. Great for building strength in the back, glutes and legs, deadlifts and squats are the perfect exercises for professional players. On top of this, deadlifting also improves grip strength - something which is often missed out of many training regimes.
When it comes to performing these exercises effectively, it’s all about good form and positioning - maximising the player’s benefit and minimising the risk of injury. Deep squats or jumping box squats are also used to work the full length of the muscle and engage all of the muscle fibres - helping with flexibility and producing the explosive power needed to accelerate towards the try line.
Rugby players are often regarded as statuesque in their stance, and this pillar strength comes from intensive training. Farmer’s Walks are often incorporated into training both on the pitch and in the gym to improve core strength and stability. Like deadlifts, this exercise also improves grip strength - ensuring no player loses their grasp of the ball at a crucial point in the game.
Essentially a short walking exercise carrying a hefty load on either side, Farmer’s Walks provide a surprisingly comprehensive workout - testing shoulder, core, back and leg muscles, among many others. Players will often mix up the maximum load, distance walked and incline of the ground being walked - in order to shake up their regime and see maximum benefits.
Well rounded training techniques
Of course, professional rugby teams incorporate any number of drills and exercises into their training regime - and while the aforementioned three provide a great starting point, a well rounded player is a strong player. Other training techniques include:
- Plyometrics - building both speed and strength through short, high exertion exercises - such as drop jumping and clapping push ups
- Circuit training - providing an efficient and comprehensive workout to improve and maintain overall fitness and condition throughout the rugby season
- Drills - from tackle drills to speed and interval training, these usually take place on the pitch. There are a variety of drills used to simulate the demands of the game, helping rugby players prep for the big day
Whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur player or a dedicated fan wanting to get in shape, the training involved in professional rugby provides a place from which you can draw inspiration, improve your fitness and ultimately up your rugby game - both on and off the pitch.
Author: Rory Nicolson is a rugby enthusiast and blogger for Rugbystore, the UK’s leading rugby equipment store - helping players train to improve their game.