Training Sets and Reps for the Front Row

May 10, 2017

With so much inconsistent information out there, regarding training methods, weights usage, and set and rep targets, it can be hard to find a system that suits your needs.

My tip: experiment, explore different methods and find what works best for you!

A training method I have found to be highly effective for putting on some size, increasing strength and improving conditioning, is the 5 set principle.

When we look at the general role of the front row – operating in rucks and mauls, scrummaging and generating a high tackle count, the 3 working sets below can be of great use.

However, to repeat the above workload throughout a game; hitting maybe 40+ rucks, aiming for a high tackle count and scrumming with conviction, endurance and stamina come in to play, and this is where our finisher set comes in!

For each of the ‘power lifts’ (deadlifts, squats, bench press, clean and press, overhead squats, power cleans and snatches) perform 5 sets:

  • Warm up set
  • 3 working sets
  • Finisher set

E.g. If you’re aiming to increase power and can lift say, 100kg for 4 reps (power lifting rep range) perform a warm up set of 50kg X 20 reps, followed by 100kg X 3 sets (aiming for between 1-6 reps), and a finisher set, dropping the load to 60kg X 20 reps.

Alongside these power lifts, be sure to supplement with small muscle group training (biceps, triceps and core) into every session.

This type of training is ideal for the front row players who need that explosive power and strength alongside the muscular endurance, to prevent fatigue.

Adding in the smaller muscle groups gives the combination of strength, endurance, balancing and overall conditioning.

With planning in 2 gym sessions per week to supplement an average 2 days of rugby training and one game per week aiming to keep below 60 minutes, try this program for 5 weeks.

In order to challenge yourself and to monitor improvements, keep a training diary to log all weights used and reps achieved in each set.

Ensure a suitable warm up before beginning each session! 

Session one

Power squats for the 5 sets principle

Bicep curls for 3 sets

Power cleans for the 5 sets principle

Close grip press ups for 3 sets

Deadlifts for the 5 sets principle

Dumbbell lateral and front raisers for 3 sets

Core work

Session two

Bench press for the 5 set principle

Dumbbell lunges for 3 sets

Clean and press for the 5 sets principle

Single leg calf raises for 3 sets

Overhead squats for the 5 sets principle

dumbbell step ups

Core work

Notice we never use any machines at the gym – this is because with the use of free weight we engage more muscles and develop the core with more realistic results.


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