Skill sets aside, rugby is a game of power and speed. It is tough on the body and you need to be properly conditioned to play it well and protect yourself from injury. These 10 rugby exercises will help you get the bulk, strength and fitness that will let you play the game to your full potential – and you’ll look pretty good in your rugby t-shirts from Canterbury too. A word of caution first though: check with your doctor and coach before starting on an exacting training regime and, when using weights, never train alone.
Front squat – This is possibly the best core exercise there is. Hold a loaded barbell across the front of your shoulders and, keeping your back straight, lean slightly forward. Bend your knees till they are at right angles (as you develop you can go lower) and then straighten up again. This develops great core strength, powerful thrust in the legs and good balance and posture.
Uneven squat – Similar to the front squat, this exercise is performed with one leg on a box so that it is higher than the other. Instead of a barbell, use a dumbbell held down in front of you. This exercise helps develop core and leg strength and promotes posture and balance.
Farmers’ carry – A seemingly easy but actually a very tough exercise, all you have to do is carry a heavy weight in each hand at your side and walk quickly in a straight line. The farmer’s carry is great for developing core strength, strong legs and hips, stability in your legs and back and a strong grip.
Tyre flipping – Another really tough exercise, tyre flipping involves placing a large tyre on the ground and moving it by flipping it over. Done properly, it develops almost the whole body, strengthening your core, shoulders, elbows, legs and lower back, as well as improving your grip.
Shoulder press – An excellent upper body exercise, the shoulder press is performed by holding a barbell across the front of the shoulders as you are standing straight and then pushing it up above your head until the elbows are locked out. It develops shoulder strength and the triceps and helps with lower back and core stabilisation.
Step up with knee drive – With a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell across your shoulders, you stand in front of a bench and step up, leading with your left leg. As you straighten the leg, you lift your right leg till the knee is at right angles. Step down to your starting position and repeat, alternating legs. This exercise improves hip drive and leg strength, develops stability and helps with speed.
Spilt power press – This is an explosive exercise designed to develop upper body strength, trunk strength, shoulder stability and power in your hips and knees. Load a barbell at one end and place the unloaded end in a corner to keep it in place. Hold it in one hand at your shoulder and stand with your feet staggered. Then, thrust the barbell upwards. After a few repetitions, change arms and reverse your stance.
Deadlift – With a loaded barbell on the floor in front of you, lean forwards with your back straight and shins as vertical as possible. With your arms straight and shoulder width apart, take hold of the bar and stand up straight. This is an excellent exercise for the lower back and hamstrings.
Plyometric press-up – A fine exercise that requires no equipment, the plyometric press-up is designed to develop explosive power in your shoulders and chest. Take the usual press-up position (prone with feet behind, hands on the floor with arms straight and shoulder width apart, and a straight back), lower by bending your elbows till your nose is about on the floor and then push up by straightening your arms. But, for plyometric press-ups, the upward movement must be powerful enough for you to be able to take your hands off the floor and clap before returning them to the floor. Repeat several times. You can make it tougher by increasing the number of claps.
Medicine ball twist – Intended to help develop the abdominal area and, to a lesser extent, your arms and shoulders. The medicine ball twist replicates some of the twisting movements you encounter in every rugby game. Sit on the floor with your legs in front and, with a partner standing to the side and slightly behind, simply toss a medicine ball back and forth using both arms. Change sides after about 10 throws.