Rugby Fitness – Is there a Right Way?

Is there a right way to train for Rugby Fitness?

Is there a right way to obtain rugby fitness? Many would argue that you need to focus on speed, getting stronger, strongman training for rugby, power, training for set periods of time etc etc.

The truth be known there is no right way. Yep – you heard me. There is no right way. To focus exclusively on one element at the expense of another would be rugby fitness suicide but that is where it ends.

Take the amateur rugby player who find the best way to get strong for rugby. For weeks upon weeks, he focuses on this only to find that as soon as he sets foot on the pitch his conditioning sucks. He his gasping for wind after 5 minutes. That defeats the purpose.

Getting fit for rugby DOES include a multi-faceted approach consisting of the following:

1. Strength

All rugby players need to get stronger. During the off-seasonĀ  sessions a week (2 upper and 2 lower) will work terrific moving to 3 during the season with the bulk of your lifting performed Monday to Thursday AM. Keep the reps between 3 and 8 reps all year round with a massive emphasis on getting better in the big 4 – squats, deadlifts, bench press and military presses.

2. Speed

This should be trained the majority of the time in the off-season with the amaeur rugby player using the warm up to include speed drills and flat out work in the session. Nothing more than 40m though.

3. Power

For rugby players this can be trained in cycles during the season and use of contrast methods (heavy squat followed by hurdle jumps) can be utilized for power production. No equipment – no problem. For rugby players hopping, skipping and bounding usually suffices. Unless the players are adequately strong enough there may not be too much point in over-complicating the whole ‘power development’.

4. Conditioning

From prowler pushes to sled, tyre flips to sled drags, sandbag carries to partner carries this needs to be worked on! Without it you are nothing on the pitch and terms such as chocolate tea-pot etc will be commonly used. A good coach will be experienced enough to see when and if the squad needs it. As a rule of thumb conditioning specific to the demands of the game should be done every 3 weeks.

5. Mobility

Daily, Do it. Stretch, mobilise and foam roll. This is so overlooked and can really keep niggles and injury prone sites at arms length.

6. Flexibility

Static stretching is great OUTSIDE of the training window. Long static stretches for up to 90s will do wonders for restoring muscle length. FOcus on the hip flexors and the ITB, lower back and upper back

7. Nutrition

This is often overlooked and as I tell my rugby players ‘one of your training sessions should be in the supermarket’ or at least learning how to cook decent nutritious meals in minutes. Most of your team will feel a huge benefit if they even consumed more water and ate a decent breakfast. Nutrition for rugby is crucial.

8. Recovery

The nature of this will be detemined by how much time you have as an individual. If you are short of time then a good bath, stretch and foam roll will usually suffice. As will eating the right foods. If you have more time then hit the pool and the hot tub for a chance to lower your stress response to exercise and give your body an accelerated ability to recover and therefore hit the training again.

All of these components make rugby the sport it is pulling the athleticism out in all shapes and sizes of human bodies. Props are props. seconds rows are second rows. fly halves are fly halves wingers are wingers and never the two shall mix! In terms of physical capabilities this is true.

To train like a winger would be equally as futile if the demands of your position meant a static conraction of 10s followed by 5 rucks and a tackle, one ball carry and a lift (prop cycle of play).

What can be gleaned is that all players to get fit for rugby need to train ALL the basic elements. SOME specific work should focus into the equation but at the end of the time there is no right way, only a way that encmpasses all eight elements done with intensity, a goal and purpose. In essence there is no RIGHT way only a puzzle of merging elements that needs equal attention.

John Lark is author of Get Fit for Rugby and creator of the course, Nutrition for Rugby. Download your Free Get Fit for Rugby Course that addresses all components of rugby fitness at

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