Playing & Training

A Workout Designed for the Demands of Rugby Union

Lady trains plyometrics by jumping on box

Playing rugby nowadays requires a mind-boggling range of skills. You have to be super-fit, agile yet strong, rapid yet muscular – and the key to attaining this level of ability is training, training and more training. You will need a rugby fitness regime week in, week out, to play competitive rugby at your very peak.

Pre-season means prep

In a multi-sprint sport such as rugby, you can never let you stamina dip, so it’s good idea to continue interval training all year round. Interval training is described as sharp bursts of exercise at 90-110BPM interspersed with short rest periods. For your stamina, this can be done by running on the pavement, pedaling on an exercise bike or swimming in a local pool.

Interval training (also known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) ) may be better for your rugby fitness than continuous training for an hour at 70-80BPM because it can increase aerobic power and raises your cardio levels without lowering your anaerobic power. Next time you’re on the bike at the gym try 4 Rounds of 4 Minutes work and then 4 Minutes rest for maximal distance over the 4 rounds. Measure how far you can go in total and re-test 1 month down the line.

Person cycling indoor bike

What’s on the box

Whether you’re bursting through a defensive line, jumping in the lineout or making a big hit, rugby is often a game of explosions, so your rugby fitness regime will need to include explosive power exercises such as box jumps. These will also give a real kick to your stamina.

Start from a half-squat and then jump onto a box of low height and then increase the size as you go. Use your arms to help you power upwards into the air. You’ll find your power and acceleration will increase, as well as your all-important rugby fitness. Try x6 sets of x6 reps, but, as a tip, if you feel you’re faltering, either reduce the number of sets or take longer rest periods between them. Don’t be a hero – you’ll end up missing out on game day.

Jump for your rugby life

As well as the box jumps mentioned above, think about doing depth jumps, where you stand on a box, some 70cm from another box. Step off the box and then jump over the other in a series of x3 sets of x10 depth jumps. This will massively increase your plyometric power.

If you are box free, you can always try bounding Attempt x3 sets of 30m runs, with your stride overstretched so you spend more time in the air. Don’t focus on worrying about whether you look like an idiot in the park; focus on increasing the length of the run and your time in the air.

The joy of flex

As well as possessing great muscular strength, the competitive rugby player also requires great agility to avoid tackles and change direction at pace. Slalom are a great addition to your rugby fitness regime. In pre-season, when you don’t have access to 30 brightly coloured cones from your club, think about weaving between bollards or even trees as you jog or sprint.

Think laterally – you’ll need to run from side to side in your training and in your matches. It might even be worth attending yoga classes to increase your suppleness and flexibility; it’s a great way of making sure you avoid ligament damage from all that tackle-dodging, high-speed running!

Stay cool

When you are going through your rugby fitness regime, cool-down exercises will play a big part. A light jog and some active stretching will make sure your hamstrings doesn’t suffer. It is time to take this seriously if you want to consistently perform at the highest standard.



Writer and expert