The Best Mass Building Exercises for Rugby

The Best Mass Building Exercise 4 Rugby Fitness

In terms of fitness 4 rugby, the best mass building exercises are simple. In fact if you are looking to pack on mass quick then add more food to your plate and more weight on the bar whilst sticking in the weight room to a sound diet of the exercises below.

1. Deadlifts

Number one ranks the deadlift and there is a strong enough reason why this is important in getting you fit 4 rugby. Why? Because it is a total body movement that at the same time allows you to shif obscene amounts of weight. The hormonal effect is therefore much greater with this exercise.

I am not a huge believer in functional training for rugby. In this respect you try and mimic as closely as possible the actions you perform on a rugby field. If you try and do this you will get weaker. I know, I have tried it. It doesn’t work. Stick with the big guns and get strong with the loads you are lifting. THAT will have a direct carry over onto the rugby pitch.

Likewise I am not going to try and instruct you on technique. Get a coach who can look at your technique allowing you to get the most out of it. There are so many indivudual flexibility issues that can only be spotted with a trained eye. However, remember some coaching cues if you are on your own in the weight room. These include, arse down, chest up, look straight ahead.

Deadlifts for rugby are best performed in sets of 3-5 working with 70-85% of your best effort for 1RM. During the season I would train them once per week. In the season train them once per week.

A sample workout for your deadlift would be:

1. Deadlift 8 x 3-5 up to 180s rest

2a Back Extensions 4 x 15-20

2b Hanging Leg Raises 4 x 15-20

3 GH Raise 2 x 5

2. Squats

Like the deadlift, squats are great if you are looking to improve your fitness 4 rugby. There are many progressions too if you can master the full back squat including the depth that you are looking for.

Begin with the box squat and the ‘art’ of forching your hips back to allow the muscles of the posterior chain to fire and give you the all important surge coming out of the hole. Placing a pause at the bottom of the squat will build that explosive starting strength that will allow you to bust tackles.

You have to earn the right to squat full depth and taking into acount the flexibility issues that ALL rugby players have I very much doubt that a strong lordotic or arch in the back can be held, keeping the spine in neutral throughout the movement. If this is the case then again use a coach to look at your movements.

Use single leg variations for progression. Try this – put a barbell on your back and try bulgarian split squats for sets of 5 and then tell me that you NEED to do a back squat all the time.

A sample routine for the squat would be:

1 Box Squats – working up to a 1RM over 10 sets with a 180s rest interval

2a Split Squats with DB 3 x 8-10 – rest 60s

2b Chins 3 x 10-12 – rest 60s

3 Shrug with External Rotation 3 x 8 – rest 60s

3. Bench Press

I like the bench press for rugby. Why? a) if the player is lifting good loads this has a direct psychological bearing on his confidence. Everyone likes to bench b) It is a great upper body movement that allows maximum mucle recruitment allowing you to pack on size in the upper body.

Here is a tip – find a good powerlifter or strongman who can teach you HOW to bench for rugby. Technique is crucial in this regard. Your set-up and execution will translate to more loads if you get it right. More often than not it is NOT about your structural weaknesses but simply a question of your technique that can make the most immediate gains.

A sample workout for the bench press can include:

1a Bench Press 6 x 5

1b Wide Grip Chins 6 x 5

2a Press Ups 5 x 10-12

2b Inverted Rows 5 x 10-12

3 Side Bridging 3 x Hold

4. Military Press / Chins

Why have I put two exercises in? Well, alot of rugby players can’t handle overhead pressing. They are so beat up in this area that to further risk impingement around the sub acromial space is not worth it. Only if you wish to spend the time getting it fixed! Most lads don’t. In this case stick to chins and working good scapula control if you are wishing to improve your fitness 4 rugby.

During the movement focus on depressing the scapula. If you can’t get the movement then look for a coach. Use a lat pull down too to cue the movement.

If you are capable of lifting your arms above your head without any discomfort and good range of motion then the military press is an excellent tool for building mass.

A routine could include

1a Military Press 5 x 5

1b Chins 5 x 5

2a Dips 3 x 10

2b Lunges 3 x 8 each leg

3 Reverse Crunches 3 x 20

With fitness 4 rugby the basics and the simplest of tools always win out. Sure you can spend hours perfecting the angle of curl through the long head of your bicep. This will probably make you weaker in the long run as you forget about the basics as outlined above. Keeping adding weight on the bar, keep the technique sound and be consistent.

John Lark is author of Get Fit for Rugby and the course, Nutrition For Rugby. Download your free rugby fitness course here.

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