View Full Version : off season rugby training

joe murphy
10-31-2006, 10:05 AM
just wanted to steal some insight from what is an amazing new board.

I play lock and have about 4 months to spend training for next season. my role in the game is short bouts of intense power (in the scrum); sprinting to the ball where I (hopefully) either get a touch (on offense) or a tackle (on D) or get involved in a ruck/maul situation.

at 40, my goals for the off season are to get a little stronger, a little faster, and work on injury prevention. broadly, that means a couple crossfit classes and a couple power (O-lift or supplemental strength) sessions a week.

the only thing I've read specific to rugby conditioning is the article in dan john's "get up" newsletter.

diet is more or less paleo (with alcohol)

What should I be thinking about? Any specific suggestions or referrals or resources?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. thanks for this resource, very interesting board.

Steve Shafley
10-31-2006, 11:44 AM
Here's a post I made for a young guy before his his first season:

The only way you're going to learn the game is to play it. It will take you some time to learn it, no lie, however, that doesn't mean you won't be able to walk onto the field and be ready to play it.

Running sprints and short intervals is what's important over distance work. At 6'2" and 230, they are going to try to put you into a second row position in the pack, or maybe a flanker...depending on how big the scrum is. You might be tapped for a prop or a back, but probably second row will be where you start.

My running would always start out slow. A mile or two every day, or less if I was heavy, and I would have a break in period to condition my feet, ankles and knees to the running. Then the conditioning work would start.

Rugby is definitely an interval sprint type of sport. Like Eatit said, there are times for frequent short breaks, but also there's a lot of sprint/ruck/sprint/ruck/scrum/sprint/ruck periods that leave you seriously gassed, no matter what your level of conditioning.

What so many people neglect is training some type of sprint combined with some type of heavy push. That will kill you every time.

One of my favorite solo drills would be to have a tire in the field (or even a scrum sled or a regular sled...a Prowler from EliteFTS would be an awesome tool for rugby too). I'd kick the ball sprint towards it, fall on it and roll back up on my feet, turn around and kick the ball towards the scrum sled/tire/whatever. I'd then sprint to the implement and either flip the tire a few times or push the scrum sled for 10-20 yards.

Also reverse the order. Kick the ball, flip the tire or push the sled, then sprint to the ball and fall on it and come up and repeat. You could even do this shit with a heavy sandbag, and pick the damn thing up and carry it 10 yards or so.

If you can do that for 20-30 minutes hard, you should be approaching the level of conditioning you'll need. That's the kind of mixed modality crap that is the bread and butter of a rugby player.

Also, onfield agility is more important than linear speed.

And...don't accuse me of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Also the Crossfit stuff lends itself nicely to rugby conditioning.

I followed it up with some discussion of his off season work:

There are 4 major lifts for a prop that I found to be particularly valuable come game time.

The first, of course, is the squat. It can be a front squat if you prefer, but the back squat, simply because of the higher load used, is, in my mind, more preferable. The box squat is fine too. The increased loading on the posterior chain in the box squat might make it more preferable as well.

The second is the good morning. This is a very prop-specific movement, especially since when you are bound to the other prop, all of the resistance is going go be coming from your head/neck/shoulder area. A strong GM makes the initial pop after contact gratifying. Note that you really need a strong neck for this style of play. Picking up a neck harness is a good idea.

The third is the power clean. From the floor or from the hang, whichever you prefer. The guys on my team called this "the rucking drill" because it dramatically improved their rucking.

The fourth is the push press. I include this because in line-out play, I was always the lifter When I was playing, I could push press 225-235 or so, and this was sufficient enough to free up the other lifter for loose ball play and clean up. Yes, I lifted my jumper by myself. Most of the time you have two lifters. We did very fast line-outs, and having the extra man available was very helpful.

I'd train 2x weekly with the lower body stuff, maybe have it look like this:

Lower Body A:
-Good morning

Lower Body B:
-Box Squat
-Power clean

In fact, if you wanted to go totally minimalist, I'd round out the above two sessions by adding the push press on one of the days, and a 3 board press on the other day (the 3 board press I'd use over the bench only for the higher load, improving bench press lockout is also going to help overhead lockout strength)

I'd round it out with neck work and core work and maybe with chins.

Put it all together:

Session A:
Good Morning
3 Board Press
neck and ab work

Session B:
Box Squat
Power Clean + Push Press (combine them as long as you can, then split them out if there gets to be a dramatic difference between the two)
neck and ab work

3x a week, alternating the workouts would be a damn good start.

Exercises can be moved in and out and substitutions should be made with these thoughts in mind:

1. Posterior chain work is essential. Not only for scrummaging and rucking, but also to help with speed development

2. Neck and shoulder health/prehab need to be prioritized. Being in the scrum is rough on both.

3. If you aren't a lifter, then you can probably de-emphasize the heavy over head stuff, but still should include some.

On conditioning:

I really suggest your conditioning looks like how the game is played. LSD stuff is ok, up to a point, and then it's just fucking worthless and eats into your training time. Interval training, especially interval training with some kind of heavy implement work is going to be your best friend and the most cost-effective way to get the proper kind of conditioning for rugby. Instead of jogging for 40 minutes, work up to doing some kind of hard interval training for 25-30 minutes. It's going to be much better for your game.

I found this bit posted by a South African to be very interesting and worth reading about benchmarking your rugby fitness:

Great! I subject I know something about.

I'm South African, and rugby is all we live for down here. Let me know if there's any training advice or links I can give. I played competitively until about three years ago, so I still know most of the things you'll need.

Firstly, find out what position you'll play. It is really important, as fitness, body fat and strength requirements differ vastly from one position to the next.

We've pretty much established that you'll play in the pack. If you're going to play second row, drop your long-distance plans now! For a second row the game goes: fast, slow, fast, stop, slow, fast, slow, stop, fast, in average distances of about 15 metres, for 80 minutes, with a shitload of pushing and shoving and jumping and lifting in between. Clearly being able to jog 10 miles is not going to be of any help.

Fitness: If you're starting from scratch, the best way to shock your system into gear would be 150m sprints. See how many you can get in on your running days for the first two weeks.

After that, here's how you test. You'll see that a rugby field has three main lines running parrallel to the goal lines. The two on the sides are the 22s and in the middle is halfway. Your test is called a 90, and must mostly be done after training. Start on the goal-line, sprint to the 22 and jog back, then sprint to halfway and jog back, sprint to the far 22 jog back and finally sprint to the far goal-line. This should paced so that it is done in just under 90 seconds. If you can do five with a minutes rest between two sets, you're fine for a match. No extra fitness work is required.

For a forward strength program, you'll get away with only focussing on the following. Squat, calf raises, deadlift, bench, military press, and whatever cable row you prefer. If in doubt, imagine two lines extending from the ground, touching the sides of calves and all the way up. If you're training anything outside those two lines, you're wasting your time. 99% of all strength requirements on a rugby field falls inside them.

As a lock, you'll also need to do whatever you can to improve your vertical jump.

Other than that, your first season will be about skills and getting to know what contact sports are about. The most important advice: get a good mouthguard and a dental plan.

Robb Wolf
10-31-2006, 12:24 PM
Hey Joe!
Thanks for the kudos and great question. Steve's answer is about as thorough as can be so all I'd add is a "nice" way to structure the above might be a ME-Black Box schedule.
Day-1-ME work-hang power clean or push press, or squat. Following the progression Rut detailed in the second installment.

Day-2-Metcon-emphasis on sprints, sandbag push press...obviously running (sprinting) is of paramount importance and I Know Nick Massman down at San Louis Obispo structured ALL his rugby conditioning as CF-style session that included sprints of various lengths. D-balls, KB's and sandbags seem natural to include here in moves like P-press/jerk, slams, front squats etc.
Day 3 off-Every 3rd WO cut volume by ˝. Every 4 weeks cut volume by ˝. Every 12 weeks take a week off and just “be active” Keep an eye out for overdoing it.

As an aside I'd include LOADS of kipped pull-ups (in WOD's) and muscle snatches (perhaps in warm-ups) to immunize the shoulders against dislocation and impact injury. Throw an old bicycle inner tube around something immovable at head height and start working all ranges of movement with your neck, both static and dynamic.

Keep us posted on your progress! Kick some ASS!

James Evans
11-01-2006, 08:25 AM
First of all, good to see a question about rugby on a forum getting some responses!

Both Steve and Robb have given excellent advice but I would just like to add a couple of my own ideas if you can be bothered to read them.

Rugby since it turned professional over a decade ago has changed dramatically in terms of the approach to training. For example it is no longer acceptable to devote hours to grinding out long endurance runs like a zoned out marathoner. That used to be GPP for many players. We also now see what could be considered almost an over utilization of weight training. If you want to know why I think that's a bad thing then I'll answer in another thread. I'm even hearing about the use of...kettlebells. All these things filter down to the amateur game although admittedly often observed through the bottom of a beer glass.

Consider the following:

1. A study originated within the New Zealand camp in the early 1990's looked at how long the ball was actually in play during a game. The figure they came up with, as I recall, was around 23 minutes. In Rugby League it was 60 minutes but that is due to the more simplistic nature of the game. That's just over a quarter of an 80 minute game. For 23 minutes you are running, tackling, pushing, jumping, being smashed to the ground. The remainder of the game you are stood around with your hands on your hips listening to a lecture from the referee, waiting for a player to receive medical treatment, watching someone climb over a fence to get the ball back after it's been kicked from the field of play. At the top level of the game this figure will now be higher, particularly in something like the Southern Hemisphere Super 14 but it won't have changed much in the amateur game. Steve uses the idea of 30 minutes and I agree, you are training for 30 minutes of actual power based bursts of activity interspersed with jogging/walking/standing breaks.

2. I got this next idea from a Rugby League coaching manual by Phil Larder. Larder has coached at the top end in both sports (backroom staff when England won the World Cup in 2003) and I think it applies to both Codes.

A rugby pitch is 100 metres long goal to goal maximum. Imagine a fullback/wing counterattacks from his own tryline. He covers 100 metres of the pitch (assume he just breaks the line and heads up field, more allowing for dummying/swerving/sidestepping/changes of angle). Just before scoring a stunning try he is tackled and stripped of the ball, his opponent immediately launching an attack in the opposite direction. Grimly our player gets to his feet and tracks back in defence at top speed.
In total he covers 200 metres. This is very rarely going to happen, certainly not for a front five forward. Even a 100 metre all out sprint is going to be unusual. The ability to run multiple 5, 10, 20, 30 metre sprints though, often involving a collision, is going to be necessary.

4 months is a really good length of time to get some pre-season work. Despite my comments regarding training distances I do think a couple of weeks building a stamina base would be useful. Just do a few long runs, go out and stretch your legs. As I assume you are quite big and with respect, you're 40, maybe get on a bike for this, we don't want you grinding your joints. I'm sure Robb or someone can step in and tell me I'm wrong on this but I'm advocating starting slowly before the more intense stuff not training for The World Ironman title.

An excellent drill, particularly for forwards, is 40 x 10 metre sprints. Sprint, walk back, repeat. Really concentrate on technique, driving your arms when you run. These are short enough for you to maintain good form and have carryover to the ball carrying work a lock will perform.

I have always found sprint training mindnumbing but every player can be faster. Just focus on the shorter distances and work hard on them.

I think a lot of Ross Enamait's ideas have relevance to rugby, particularly this:

Quality Over Quantity

Perform 12 Burpees
Immediately sprint 100 meters
Perform 10 Plyometric Pushups (Handclap Pushups)
Jog back to the starting line
Repeat 6-10 times

Reduce the sprint distance though.

Dan John's Litvi sprints are useful too. They're along the same lines as Steve's exercise with the tire. Get outside with a weight like a dumb bell, a kettlebell or a sandbag. Perform reps of an exercise, drop the weight and immediately sprint 15, 20 metres. Vary the direction, set a ball on the floor that you have to pick up before sprinting. Dive on the ball and get back to your feet. Enjoy odd looks from passers by. As Steve says, reverse the direction, sprint then clean the sandbag.

Coach Rut's stuff is excellent too. I think it can be more accessible than stuff from HQ but that doesn't make it easier.

I think basically, with a mixture of Crossfit and some pure strength work you're right on track. Get your sprints in too. I assume you will have preseason sessions with your club as well. Keep it simple. It's very easy to get bored and uninspired. Plyo stuff comes up in a Crossfit workout so you don't need to be planning individual bounding sessions alongside sprint endurance work/lactic soak drill blah blah blah. I have taken part in suggested weight routines for rugby players that have taken 90 minutes with the appropriate rests. Utter rubbish. Cleans, squats, thrusters all good. Concept 2, very good. Much more than 30 minutes of it, waste of time. If it starts to fry your head, you won't do it.

Finally, get your hands on a rugby ball as often as you can. Just pass it between your hands, spin it, play with it. Weird in a grown man but very useful. I hope this helps.

Steve Shafley
11-01-2006, 01:13 PM
Good stuff James.

The only reason I'd recommend any LSD kind of work is to condition the feet, ankles, knees and hips to running, and that's only if you are completely deconditioned (i.e. new to the game and not previously athletic, or coming back to the game after several years of not playing)

23 minutes? Wow. I had heard much higher numbers last time I heard that discussed.

Robb Wolf
11-01-2006, 01:52 PM
That is a damn nice first post! Welcome and thank you.

joe murphy
11-01-2006, 03:07 PM
what great responses. thanks a lot. more than I hoped for, actually.

I'm going to study all this and put as much into effect as I can. I've got 4 months before pre-season training begins, and I want to be far ahead of the youngsters I play with by then.

23 minutes seems a little low to me, but maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. I mean, it feels like I'm running for 80 minutes. :D

I've done some of those dan john sprints with a kettlebell and a sled. not nearly as much fun as he made them sound.

"Finally, get your hands on a rugby ball as often as you can. Just pass it between your hands, spin it, play with it. Weird in a grown man but very useful. I hope this helps."

not so weird! I've got a gilbert XT500 right here in my office ...

James Evans
11-02-2006, 07:50 AM

I was being vague by using the word 'stamina' (and therefore lazy). I too advocate LSD work to prepare the body for more intense running activity and I think this has greater relevance for forwards. I know it's a generalisation but backs are backs because they can run and forwards aren't because the can't.

Saying that I went to school with a guy who was a fantastically fit flanker, amazing coverage of the field. We went to a boarding school and Jes spent a lot of time as a teenager in trouble and therefore being sent on punishment runs up into the hills above the school. As he got older (and more behaved), he kept doing the runs daily before breakfast. We were all pretty damn fit at school but he was one of the guys who still stands out in my mind.

I find LSD easy and as a human I favour what I find easy when I should be doing what I don't like (probably something I'm not good at).

But I'm only suggesting Joe does a few long, slow sesssions to ease in to preseason work. Sprints and intervals and Concept 2 work is the way forward.

As for the 23 mins, I'll check my source on that. As I said, I doubt this is the case on a hard South African pitch as Auckland visit the Western Stormers but on a wet, muddy pitch in the middle of freezing January in the back end of the West of England in the North Devon & Somerset League III I reckon that total stands.

Robb, your welcome. Great site, looking forward to the forum information building up and glad to see Steve and Dan John adding their knowledge. I trust I adequately referenced Dan in my mention of Litvi sprints...

Joe, couple of questions:

1. I assume you are not new to the sport by a long shot - when did your season end?
2. How tall/heavy are you?
3. What do you think are your strengths?
4. What do you think are your weaknesses?

Mark Joseph Limbaga
11-02-2006, 09:10 AM
For strength I'd suggest the Bill Starr 5x5.

Litvi sprints, Tabata intervals, complexes and an occasional benchmark WOD is what I'd put you on.

This is the time where you wanna get bigger, stronger and faster while training just to keep you sharp.

Robb Wolf
11-02-2006, 01:43 PM
I'm not sure if there is such a thing as adequate attribution these days:D

joe murphy
11-03-2006, 04:33 AM
James - Thanks for taking interest in this thread.

Your questions (my answers):

1. I assume you are not new to the sport by a long shot - when did your season end? (season just ended ten days ago. I'm not new to the game, but conditioning has never been my strong suit. more of a boat race guy!)
2. How tall/heavy are you? (6'4"; 245)
3. What do you think are your strengths? (I enjoy the game! that's really my strongest point. pretty good overall strength in the scrum and *knocks wood* not a lot of injuries.)
4. What do you think are your weaknesses? (easier question ... extremely limited time for training; one bad knee that limits speed; two weeks away from turning 41; endurance questionable;poor work habits) :eek: .

mark - thanks for your thoughts. when you say "occasional benchmark WOD" do you think 2 crossfits/week is not a good idea? I think I know what you mean by complexes - but can you explain further?

Mark Madonna
11-14-2006, 09:38 AM
I am 2.5 months out from rugby season. I eat mostly paleo and am 6'0" 240 lbs. So far we are not training yet with the team so I am going to try to do 4 workouts a week:
* Heavy lift day, with Clean and Jerk or snatch and fronts squats or deadlift, something like a WOD at www.mikesgym.org, or 5x5 with 2 lifts above.
* 5K or 10K row or run, unless I am playing touch, then I would use touch as my long day. Once I have a nice long row or run, I would use the shorter sprints and grass drills as I get closer to season, but I am going to try and keep the time I am working around 30-40 mins
* A short high intensity workout with weights, like Fran, and try to keep it under 20 minutes

*after a rest day, 3 round fight gone bad or like workout, as season gets closer, try upping it to 5 rounds.

4 workouts is what I have time for, and the only isolation exercise I suggest is shrugs at every other workout, espescially for forwards.

Thanks for talking about this, I need to start this week.

Robb Wolf
11-25-2006, 09:29 AM
Hey Mark!!
Great to see you here!

Mark Joseph Limbaga
11-25-2006, 05:21 PM
James - Thanks for taking interest in this thread.

Your questions (my answers):

1. I assume you are not new to the sport by a long shot - when did your season end? (season just ended ten days ago. I'm not new to the game, but conditioning has never been my strong suit. more of a boat race guy!)
2. How tall/heavy are you? (6'4"; 245)
3. What do you think are your strengths? (I enjoy the game! that's really my strongest point. pretty good overall strength in the scrum and *knocks wood* not a lot of injuries.)
4. What do you think are your weaknesses? (easier question ... extremely limited time for training; one bad knee that limits speed; two weeks away from turning 41; endurance questionable;poor work habits) :eek: .

mark - thanks for your thoughts. when you say "occasional benchmark WOD" do you think 2 crossfits/week is not a good idea? I think I know what you mean by complexes - but can you explain further?

During the off-seasn, you focus on getting as big and strong as you can and WOD are more pre-season work IMHO so I'd keep it to once a week. I do barbell complexe or DB complexes. You my wanna check istvan javorek's website for samples

joe murphy
12-20-2006, 01:51 PM
I even get an article in the performance menu.

I have to say, this is some customer service!!


James Evans
12-22-2006, 03:33 AM
Well your post inspired Robb to ask me to write the article and knowing that people like you had the questions inspired me to get off my arse and actually write it (which is why I had gone quiet on this orginal thread).

I hope you find it useful. It's a taster of things, obviously don't try to fit in everything. Any questions, let me know and I'm sure Steve can step in as well. Good luck with your training and the coming season and have a good Christmas.

joe murphy
01-16-2007, 08:58 AM
james - thanks again. the article was great. I have been enjoying the offseason, but have started getting ready for the spring. with your help, of course.

James Evans
01-17-2007, 07:34 AM
Good luck with the training. I'm glad the article and the stuff that's been put up on the boards has been a help.

I wish I had focused on this more in the article but keep it simple. I think you could adopt a comprehensive training regime modelled on the pros if you are a college kid or alternatively a trustifarian but not so easy with work/family. If you narrow your goals you are more likely to get in the necessary training.

I used to write programs that would involve early morning plyo sessions, sprints, lactic threshhold stuff, circuits for muscular endurance blah, blah, blah.

Did I get up every morning and do the skips and soak drills? Did I ****!

Get your general fitness up, work on your strength, attack your speed. Keep it fun. No one is paying you for flogging your guts out.

Let me know how you get on.

Randy Little
03-08-2007, 04:31 AM
What a great thread, I cannot wait to read the article James wrote. I have a question about in season rugby training.

I am a 35 y/o m, 6'3 245 who is playing rugby for the first time in about 5 years. My conditioning is pretty good although I weigh too much, have been on crossfit for 3 months, and feel better than ever.

What I am trying for a routine at this point would be to follow Crossfit for strength training and plyo, do a single long run every week (sunday) and mix in sprint work and long interval sessions the rest of the week with a true off day on Friday.

I played my first game back this past Saturday, and felt ok but definitely not in rugby shape, then I read this post on Sunday, and came up with my new plan. Yesterday afternoon after my crossfit I ran the 40 x 10 meter sprint and it pegged my rugby/second row needs exactly.

So any advice on in-season rugby training would be appreciated.


James Evans
03-08-2007, 05:02 AM
Randy, how much structured training do you have at your club? Obviously you need to build around that. If you just do skills and drills with them then all your fitness work needs to be down in your own time. If they work fitness in training then that needs to be taken into account.

I know that's pretty self evident but clubs can vary in their approach to fitness.

Glad you liked the 40 x 10s. I think that is a very good session.

Interval session you might like to try, do this as a road run:

1 min running, 1 min walking recovery, 2 min walking, 1 min recovery up to 5 mins then 5 mins back down to 1 min.

This is a 40 min sessions (30 mins work, 10 mins recovery).

You need to run the intervals as fast as you can without stopping. They are not sprints but I want you to hurt by the end of each interval but with this point in consideration: You will complete all the intervals This will take some judgement over how fast you go. I don't want you on your knees puking half way through but I'd like you to think that could be around the corner.

My usual variation of this is to take the pyramid up to seven minutes and then back down but that is time consuming and probably too much pounding for a bigger guy like you.

I ran this out the other day and was stuffed by the first 5 min interval. 5 minutes never seems so long and 1 minute so short while doing this. I'm not sure why it felt so hard this week, probably dehydration.

Shaf will likely disapprove of the long Sunday run. I don't have much of a problem with this but again, you're much bigger than me so maybe substitute a bike and go easy on your joints. I think the point of this should be purely for recovery after your Saturday game. For that reason you could also bring in swimming.

Randy Little
03-08-2007, 06:15 AM

Thanks again, you are a wealth of information. So you know, my positional goal is to play second row or eight man. I have been watching much more rugby lately and notice that second rows in the Super 14 can almost dominate the game. The good ones ruck perfectly and break gain line by 5 or 10 meters every time they touch the ball giving flyhalf and centers so much space. Anyway...

The club has very little fitness training, so my own time is where I plan on doing my work.

The Sunday run is strictly recovery, and riding or swimming are wonderful options, that would save some wear and tire on the joints. We do not have a game this weekend so I am going to try your pyramid interval and see how it goes, although I predict "Pukie" will be in my future.

As far as schedule goes, I am thinking of the following:

Sat - game day/or interval training
Sun - recovery run/swim/bike
Mon - Crossfit session (strength)/ pyramid interval
Tue - Crossfit session (strength)/ practice
Wed - Crossfit Session (strength)/ 40 x 10 m
Thu - Crossfit Session (strength)/practice or pyramid interval
Fri - off day

I am also interested in the Concept 2 rower, you seem to be quite a proponent.

James Evans
03-08-2007, 07:58 AM
Ok, I don't know what your work/personal commitments are like but how about:

Sunday: Rest/Recovery (Run/Bike/Swim/lie in bruised heap all day)

Monday: PM Strength - Squat/Push/Pull Heavyish session (5x5)

Tuesday: AM Crossfit/Conditioning Workout (something like the interval pyramid* or one of the Ross Enamait routines) Rugby focused good idea. 30 mins max.

PM Practice at club

Wednesday: Strength - Power/speed (focus on bar speed) Cleans, snatches, push presses, jump squats

Thursday: AM Speed work (ie sprints), 40x10s, shorter intervals

PM Practice at club

Friday: Total Rest

Saturday: Game

or if not playing: Interval Session (hard - long)
CrossFit session (hard - long)
a C2 session
Additional strength work - focus on one or two lifts (and we're not talking curls).

*If you still feel okay after the intervals do something else like Ross' Magic 50 (5 swings each hand, 5 snatches each hand, 10 burpees, 60 sec rest, 5 rounds)

This is quite a lot of work. I'm suggesting AM sessions when I can't bear them myself so I don't know if they are necessarily for you. I'm not sure how long your club practices take, you could of course build some of the training around these if you have the time. Persuade the coaches or your team mates to do some fitness work!

Keep strength work simple but I would have more structure than that provided by CrossFit. I don't think a Black Box ME approach is appropriate here.

Professionals will cycle through strength priorities during season (ie max power - max strength - speed strength - max power and so on) but you can simplify things I think.

Don't muck around with plyo stuff too much. Deeply misunderstood. Focus on your sprinting.

Can you commit to do all this? If not reduce it. Better to do a little really well than a lot in a half arsed manner.

Steve Shafley
03-08-2007, 07:59 AM
I don't like the run on Sunday, that's very true. There are some valid reasons and some not so valid reasons for that.

I would rather see a full body mobility routine done, like ones we've talked about here in the recovery forum (DROM or dynamic range of motion work), and some light calisthenic type work and easy, long stretches.

Swimming would be a nice option. In my mind biking and running are going to fire up the CV system and only help flush the legs, whereas swimming is going to help you deload the entire body, and is a full body activity.

Mark Madonna
03-08-2007, 08:32 AM
Wow, great stuff, you are doing a lot of work.

I agree with Swimming on Sunday or Monday morning, another day on your legs may lead to overuse for you 245 lb frame.

For our team when we do not have a game on Saturday, we train with a longer than normal a 20-30 min met-con workout Wed and Saturday a 5 round Fight Gone Bad, it really simulates the work out put during a game.

James Evans
03-08-2007, 08:38 AM

I know you come from more of a CrossFit perspective (or is that grossly unfair?), could you post your average training week?

I'm interested to see how you structure it. Are you all doing roughly the same thing? Could you remind you of your position too.


joe murphy
03-08-2007, 08:56 AM
this is what I've been doing:

mon: crossfit
tues: crossfit AM; team conditioning PM (sprints, indoor practice)
wed: mobility/recovery
thursday: crossfit
friday: crossfit
saturday: O-lift class
sunday: mobility/recovery

its been too damn cold to run outside! I'm going to start doing a long bike ride on sunday and knock off a crossfit day for intervals. but our season is still 6 weeks away; fields still covered in snow. I try not to run on pavement.

looks like not nearly enough strength work ...

Mark Madonna
03-08-2007, 09:49 AM
In college I was a prop/lock depending on the day and when I had an injury.
6' 240lb, in 2000-2002 at Cal Poly. I took a long time at school and instead of playing mens club I player-coached for the Cal Poly second and third side until 2004. When I was introduced to Crossfit by Nick Massman, a former Cal Poly number eight. I noticed that by introducing met-con(crossfit type) workouts like Fight Gone Bad and other chippers during the week (2 max) the players were able to handle a greater work load on the field and out work the other teams(that's why I am so fond of the workouts). I went to a crossfit cert. and met Robb and Greg E. In 2005 I played for Arroyo Grande Men's club D2 NorCal at 1,3,5,6. In 2006 I had knee surgery so I coached Cal Poly with Nick Massman. Now I am Ass. Coaching Cal Poly on Tuesday's and thursday's and saturday's playing for AG at #8 in a props body. 6' 250lb.

My training mimics Cal Poly,
Monday swim in the morning, lift heavey Burgener WOD in the evening
Tuesday met-con(20-30min high intensity) to mimic practice that I don't go to because of Cal Poly training
Wednesday, lift heavy, Burgener WOD in evening, 5-10 minute met-con(super high intensity) after
Thursday, practice
Friday off
Saturday game
Sunday off

And I wish I could get in a game of touch for more skills.

I can post my workouts and anything I do in the Nutrition Log that I already have going, If you want to see what I am doing.

Randy Little
03-08-2007, 11:34 AM
That is a good looking schedule, and I appreciate everyone's input. I would essentially be dropping the Crossfit a couple of days and replacing with strength sessions. That would contribute to a personal goal of increasing my speed. Hopefully I will lose a few more pounds as well.

The split workout sessions are no problem, I got in the habit of splitting workouts up when I was doing triathlons.

I would like to add that there was a mention in one of your articles somewhere about people doing weighted squats with imperfect form, and what was the point? The main benefit of Crossfit for me so far is the body weight squats as part of the warmup. My squat form is the best it has ever been, my knees and back do not hurt at all during or after workouts.

Steve Shafley
03-08-2007, 12:45 PM
Nice set ups, both of you.

I like the idea of the chipper style met-cons adding capacity on the pitch.

I really would have used a lot of XF style stuff for conditioning purposes back when I played. I flirt with the idea of going back out. I need to either shit or get off the pot.

Randy, how are you finding the strength work going? I would always hit a slow decline in both strength and bodyweight as my conditioning rose and as I got further into the season, no matter how much I ate or drank. I would eventually end up with only two strength sessions a week, which was the frequency I had titrated down from 5, that I needed to maintain the bare minimum of strength I felt I needed to play.

Randy Little
03-09-2007, 04:25 AM
I have never been a "workout warrior" and my strength levels would always fall appreciably as the season wore on. It is after many years that I have finally realised a connection between strength and speed, so hopefully this year I will try and maintain adequate strength training.
XF has been a blessing to me, when I started just 3 months ago I could not do pullups without jumping, and I am up to 7 now. They call it "greasing the groove" where you do pull-ups 4-5 times a day. My upper body is the strongest it has ever been overall. I see where James is coming from when he says to replace the XF a couple of days with true strength training. Push presses and snatches will prepare my body for speed and power.

On a side not, let me say to my new coach from England, apparently we DO fitness training at practice. Last night was the first practice with this guy and he had us crawling infantry style up and down the field, sprint relays, sprints with people on our backs, bunny hops. I am glad to say that today is a true rest day. Eveyr time the ball touched the ground we did pushups or situps.

Randy Little
03-09-2007, 07:11 AM
Would it be possible for you to give me examples of the Monday/Wednesday strength training routines?

Randy Little
04-11-2007, 07:00 AM
A quick update on the training so far.

James's training plans has worked out well so far, I am in great shape. I had a little caveat where I pulled a calf muscle during a game (caught weird in a scrum) so my running was put on hold. But my upper body strength is increasing and I feel great.

Additions - I added 3 sets of 10 pushups to my daily crossfit warmup. JMy strength days usually include Bench presses, squats or deadlifts, and pulldowns. My speed days include one-arm snatches, half cleans, push presses, and clapping push-ups.

Thanks a lot for all of the help and advice. The playoff season is here so my rugby season is almost over, after this I am definitely going to switch to a formal max speed/max strength/max power rotation.

James Evans
04-11-2007, 07:28 AM
Good stuff Randy.

I wasn't being rude in ignoring your previous post, I genuinely didn't see it. I guess you've found your own solution by now but:

For the Monday strength session:

Squat/Push/Pull Heavyish session (5x5)

I was thinking:

Squat/Front Squat

Deadlift/Clean/Power clean

Bench Press/Push Press/Military Press

Bentover Row/Weighted Chins/Single arm row

I'd keep it as simple as choosing one exercise from each category and performing a 5x5 routine (less for weighted chins)

For the Wednesday....like what you said....

When the season finishes, as you propose, you can structure the strength training more formally.

Hope your injury clears up.

Randy Little
04-11-2007, 09:28 AM
Thanks for all the help. I will be back in touch in about a month to get going on the full routine.

Andy Shirley
04-16-2007, 03:45 PM
I just joined up over here, and wanted to thank James for the PM Rugby article. Concept2 would like to thank you too, as the links in the article convinced me to buy one of their toys--as a xmas preent to myself.

Until an elbow injury sidelined me, I was having good carryover from ME+CF and C2 interval work--really reduced the impact on my knees/ankles. The elbow is getting better, and I'm getting back in to training now.

For the record, 29, 5'11" 230(current, 245 preseason). Position: preferably tighthead, then hook, then whatever else.

James Evans
04-19-2007, 03:00 AM
Hi Andy,

I've seen you field most of the rugby questions on the CF boards. Glad you found the article useful. And welcome to PM.

Back in the early 1990s when the England team were first using C2s they beat New Zealand at Twickenham. A big event.

C2 used the following as a tagline for a while after:

"What's the difference between a winning England team and a losing New Zealand team?"

I hate the bloody things but I think they are invaluable. And it will last you a lifetime.

Andy Shirley
04-19-2007, 11:44 AM
I have grown to hate it. Some of those workouts are fucking brutal. And there is no way to cheat that damn monitor. If you slack, it tells you. I love the brutal simplicity, and the ability to train in my apartment when its nasty out, as it has been for the last 6 months here in Portland.

What do you know about the "new" All Blacks training methods? I get to see them live in a few months(NZ v Scotland), I'll be over for the RWC. Gonna be a blast.

Barry Ward
12-05-2007, 01:59 PM
Hello everyone, I have been reading this thread over the last couple days and there seems to be some excellent advice on here. I live in Scotland right now, and during the Rugby World Cup I became enthralled with rugby! I have been studying the game from all different angles and have contacted a club back home that I will be joining when I return to the states....

Ok so here goes, I'm trying to figure out exactly what I should be training for, and what I should be trying to accomplish. I know what the positions on a rugby team are, what each one has to do, and what physical traits will best serve that position, but having never stepped on a field, I'm a bit unsure where I will fit in. I'm 24, 6'4" 190 lbs, former college basketball player. I think I have pretty good speed as I played shooting guard in BB, and wide reciever in high school football. I will be working on speed and agility pretty extensively as I want to come in as fit and quick as possible.

Right now I do XF as posted on the main site. Would it serve me best to adopt a routine like I've seen earlier on this thread, with alternating strength and XF METCON days? I'm sure this has already been asked, but I'm just unsure at which position I should be aiming for, and therefore training for. Thanks so much!

Henry Adderley
12-11-2007, 04:10 AM
Hi Barry -
Do you have any idea where you might like to play having watched a few games now. Do the backs interest you or the forwards?

Barry Ward
12-18-2007, 07:54 PM
Hey Henry, sorry for the delayed response!

Well to be honest I was looking more at the backs based on my build and the fact that I played wide reciever in football (but thats as complicated as my reasoning gets...).


Henry Adderley
12-19-2007, 04:24 AM
I think you'll end up on the wing to start if the backs are what you are after. It is a good place to learn. You'll want to work on speed, speed and speed.
I think that based on your size you'll eventually end up moving to back row but as it is a bit more technical/complicated there you'll probably want some game time to pick up what is going on.
So I would keep up the Crossfit and add sprints - lots of sprints!

Barry Ward
12-20-2007, 10:21 AM
Alright thanks for the advice Henry, yeah i figured I would end up there based on size but I will def. get to work on some extra sprint work!