Just once every now and then, it makes good sense to clear the palate when it comes to your rugby fitness regime – and to throw in a workout from hell that shows you exactly how far you’ve come. A hardcore workout that wipes the slate clean and demonstrates how far you may have to go.
These hellish sessions can take the form of a little light powerlifting, far-from-comfy CrossFit classes or perhaps eight-rep workouts. Jump in and stir up the relatively calm waters of your 24/7 rugby-conditioning plan.
Crazy 8s are pure insanity
These hardcore workouts will “goose your training and boost your results”. x8 sets of x8 reps will build muscle and burn off any fat, using relatively few reps but some challenging weights at what is your 12-rep maximum. It might be a good idea to focus on the big three lifts –bench, deadlift and then various types of squats. Have a rest period of around half a minute between each rep, and try to push on through the very difficult later reps as your muscles will ‘memorise’ past efforts and make life easier in future Crazy 8s.
CrossFit to cut up your routine
As with Crazy 8s, these workouts from hell will show you what your maximum is – try not to do them more than once a week, or you’ll be bedbound for days! WODs (workout of the day, in CrossFit speak) will leave you winded and sore. Try the Filthy 50 which lives up to its name with a brutal circuit of x50 reps of 10 different disciplines – x50 box jumps on a 50cm box, x50 jumping pull-ups, x50 lunge steps, x50 knees to elbows, x50 reps of push press with 20kg, x50 back extensions, x50 wallballs with a 10kg ball, x50 burpees dropping all the way to the floor) and x50 double-unders.
The variety of the workout will leave you as a master of all disciplines and improve your cardio fitness. If it’s too daunting a challenge at first, half the number of reps for each exercise – try twenty-five of each. You can always swap, say, the box jumps for more burpees. Tailor it to your preferences.
Powerbuilding with the Wild 20
High-volume rep work can also break up the routine of your rugby performance regime. You can apply this twenty-rep training protocol to the Big Three lifts – in fact, any weights programme you’ve been sticking to. This system of twenty reps will help you if you have reached a plateau in your lifting – if you’re stuck at a certain weight– and you will gain an awful lot of bulk if you do it once a week for a minimum of four to six months.
It’s worth upping your daily calories by 500 on the days when you’re doing the 20-rep weights programme. Think of 7 sets using the big three lifts – sets 1-3 consisting of x5 reps; sets 4-6 of x10 reps; before building to the final, 7th set of at least x20 reps, all at a weight that leaves you panting after the third set. The following week, up the weight by around 5kg if you have completed the final set of x20 reps, so you are in a constant state of progression.
Hellish workouts at home
The Five-Minute Death Sets Protocol will shake up any stasis in your training regime, without you having to hit the gym or attend a CrossFit class. Do one exercise for five minutes without any pause, really a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) idea. This will be absolutely brutal, but you will attain the best five-minute fat burn imaginable. Try burpees for lower-body conditioning, star jumps for stretching, press-ups for your arms, sit-ups for your abs and so on. Attempt just a minute of each, then another for a minute, until you’ve filled up the five minutes. Then, have a well-earned rest.