Workouts that are Perfect for Time Restricted Rugby Players

August 28, 2017

I’m sure in an ideal world most grassroots rugby players would love to train, play, perform and rest as their career - of course the best part of being a professional is you get paid for this luxury!

Unfortunately, most players will never reach that ‘dream’ of playing as a career and will have to work the rugby around family and full time alternative career paths. So, with training generally taking place on two evenings per week and a game at the weekend it’s understandable that players often neglect the gym.

Such an important aspect in sports performance not just in improving how we play within our position but also having a huge influence on injury prevention. Although not an ideal scenario what if we could shorten a workout time, whilst still ensuring we can hit key areas of strength, power and stamina?

During the season, along with training two times per week and games at the weekend, if a player could dedicate just one of these sessions per week to compliment rugby specific training that would be suitable. During the off-season aim for 3-4 sessions minimum per week to maintain and increase strength, power and stamina. (As previously mentioned in my periodisation for rugby article).

Give each of the following workouts a try ensuring these sessions are only completed following a suitable warm up routine.

Strength/ Power Workout

This workout is ideal for front row players or for a back looking to increase individual strength. Each exercise should consist of 5 sets. For strength work aim for sets of 8-12 repetitions and for power development hitting rep ranges of 1-5.

  • Barbell wide stance squats
  • Barbell deadlifts
  • Barbell bench press
  • Dumbbell shoulder press

This workout, although simple and basic in design, hits all the key muscles a rugby player relies upon and can be completed in 50-60 minutes (including a warm up). Although I’ve specified either dumb bell or barbell, both will work for this workout so you don’t need to wait around for someone else to finish.

Cardiovascular stamina

Want to improve your stamina without the boredom of the treadmill or bike? The perfect equation is the HIIT principle – high intensity interval training.

A 20 minute circuit designed to keep your heart rate peaked, muscles burning and create a full body workout. Great for improving overall fitness of any player but particularly beneficial for the backs, or even in my experience for referees too!

Pick 5 exercises and perform for 30-60 seconds each, dependent on fitness levels and allow yourself no rest between sets. Working through the circuit for the full 20 minutes. Here’s an example of a workout sure to get the heart pumping and muscles burning.

  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping squats
  • Burpees
  • Star jumps
  • Backwards lunge to high knee

Muscular endurance/stamina

Moving on from cardiovascular stamina we can look at increasing muscular stamina over prolonged periods (80 minutes) but in a short time.

Again this is a similar principle to the previous section of HIIT training. However this time we will pick 5 exercises focused around full body resistance training. Ensure that with the 5 exercises selected pick a weight that is challenging however allows you to complete every set, rep and time.

For this circuit you will need a kettlebell, barbell and pair of dumbbells.

  • Barbell clean and press
  • Kettlebell 2 hand swings
  • Wide press ups
  • Dumbbell squat press
  • Barbell deadlifts

Either aim for continuous sets of 10 reps (sounds low but keep this up for 20 minutes!) or time each set for 30-60 seconds ensuring throughout that technique is spot on.

This is a good workout for any player looking to increase full body fitness, stamina, endurance and resilience.


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