In this 3 part series I am going to return the fundamentals of training. I speak to lots of rugby coaches and players each week and it still amazes me how most people don’t grasp the foundations upon which the advanced stuff is built. In this 3 part series I will cover the foundations and how they integrate to advanced training techniques.

Why train?

The whole idea of training is to get better on the rugby field. While you can argue many of us also want to look better – less body fat/more muscle, the primary aim is to improve on the rugby field.

To therefore get better you need to know what the rugby field demands of you. The demands of rugby are immense. The only sport where the biggest guys have to be the “fittest” and success relies on merging the qualities of speed – size – fitness with technique.

Why training works

Training works because the natural response of the body when given a sufficient stimulus is to react by making you better at that trait. So if you go for a run it will improve aerobic function, lift weight it increases strength and muscle size.

For training to work long term the stimulus you give it must be tweaked so that every week or two the stimulus is a little different and therefore the body continues to adapt by increasing that trait stressed.

When training doesn’t work

Training doesn’t work, in this context, when it does not improve your on field rugby performance. This can come from using the wrong training techniques. For example,

–          Gaining 5kg of muscle may make you a worse player if you lose fitness and speed as a result of the process.

–          Lengthening your hamstrings if your hips become unstable thereafter makes you a worse player.

–          Doing high volume of jogging which reduce your speed and agility may make you worse on the field.

Another reason that fitness will not work is as mentioned above. If you do the same training plan then after initial adaptation the body thinks it is comfortable with it. Yes, you will still get hot, tired, burn the muscles but NO your body will not go away and respond by making you faster, fitter, stronger. You can spend years doing the same plan and make very small gains because of this yet not even notice. I know this first hand as did for for around 2 years.

Areas of Rugby Fitness

If you break rugby down into true conditioning demands then rugby requires you to have developed

–          Agility – an ability to move in non-linear directions, e.g. sideways, diagonals, backwards, backwards diagonals as well as being able to decelerate and then re-accelerate within these movement planes.

–          Power (fast speed strength) – the ability to produce force in high speed movements, e.g. the 0.2 seconds your foot is on the ground in sprinting, kicking a ball or on initial hit in a tackle

–          Strength (slow speed) – The ability to exert your maximal force such as in a scrum or maul. It also directly influences your power output.

–          Speed – The ability to accelerate, reach top speed and resist deceleration at different point during a game. It also includes speed endurance. The ability to sprint as close to top speed while tired.

–          Fitness – The ability to aerobically cover the ground needed, to recover between efforts of work and to produce the necessary strength and power demands under fatigue.

–          Flexibility – The ability to adequately move the body in necessary movement patterns during a game, be this to lift a defender from lying on the ball to adequately being able to extend the thigh behind the body when sprinting.

In the next part we will look at the unseen factors that affect why one player gets better results than another while following the same  training plan.

Agree? Disagree? Have a thought to share? Comment below, it is always good to hear from you.