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Rugby: Preparing to play starts now!

I decided to write this blog as it's obviously a situation I find myself in but I've also been asked by a lot of friends in the same situation about how exactly to approach their training. So let's give it a crack.


It's important to recognise that everyones training is going to be individual as we've all got our weaknesses and strengths, not to mention the differences in training types for different positions. This is very much an overview and is probably more relevant to rugby league. I'm taking the average rugby player who is 6ft, 90kg and in some sort of good shape as an example. By all means tailor this advice to suit your own needs.


Mobility and Injury prevention.

Use the rest of this lockdown and up to Christmas to sort out your mobility and iron out any niggles. Most rugby players play at between 70% and 90%. You have an opportunity to iron out all the kinks and increase flexibility, mobility and stability. Things that most of us skip and end up being the reasons for hamstring, hip, shoulder, ankle injuries that are really avoidable.


Strength Training.

Strength Phase (January - June). You don't need to be match fit right now! In fact being match fit right now would be a terrible idea. You will never get an opportunity to build strength like the one you have now. No games means that you're not sore from playing, you're not worrying about training on a Thursday or Friday incase it impacts your performance and you're not to sore from a game to train on a Sunday. So take this opportunity to gain some strength while you don't have the additional pitch volume and extra recovery time.


Performance over vanity.

Try not to worry about getting into shape for summer. Rugby unfortunately doesn't coincide well with the "beach body" timeline. Rugby players should be using off season to get bigger and stronger and then using preseason (Starting in Mid July) to start working off the excess weight they put on within a strength phase. But most players (Not professional) want to get in shape for summer (calorie deficit) starting in Late April. By the time they get into shape it's June/July and they're into pre-season. Which we all know is a lot of running volume. Not ideal for a strength phase. By the time September comes around you've spent 5 months essentially "Cutting"..... Not Ideal.


Periodising your training.

Strength and conditioning is all about developing an athlete to perform optimally at a given point. So treat your training like this. You want to target October/early November as the time when you perform optimally (Few games under your belt so your match fit). From there, the aim of the game will be about reducing load in order to recover as optimally as possible and slow the rate of regression as much as possible throughout the season.


Overview.

- Sort out your niggles and mobility, stability and flexibility issues.

- Strength Phase. Big movements heavy and often. Train movements not muscle groups. Around 5 reps, 5 sets, lots of rest time, lots of recovery time.

- Hit Pre season (July) Big, strong and with a bit of fitness.

- Use pre-season to get rid of the excess weight and get some running in the legs. Reduce the number of gym sessions and start moving to more powerful movements.

- Season starts. Reduce the load in lifts, moving weight powerfully and fast.

- Maintain as much new gains through monitoring weekly loads and getting on top of prehab/rehab.


I hope this helps. It's important to look at your training from a bigger picture point of view rather than just deciding to get fit when your an athlete. Ask the questions. Why am I doing what I'm doing. How will this fit into my timeline etc..


As always if anyone has any further questions please don't hesitate to get in touch.


Sam.



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