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Old 05-02-2007, 08:08 PM   #11
Steve Shafley
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,273

except for 7's which I will not play

You'll notice that I take a more concurrent approach than James. I think that you can get damn near everything done all at once, with perhaps a bit of emphasis on conditioning in the last 4-5 weeks before the season starts, providing you don't lose much of your condition over the off-season.

Prop specific strength work:

I've found these movements translated into better propping for me. Maybe you will too. I propped at 5'11.5" and ~235-255 lbs.


1. EXPLOSIVE PULLS: Power cleans. I'd cycle between PCs from the floor, PCs from the hang, and high pulls with a clean grip. 2-3 week cycles in each movement. The inherent speed and violence of the power clean is really valuable for any forward. I use it so you can translate the "slower" kind of strength gains from the other work into a more explosive movement.
2. SQUATS: I'd really lean towards cycling through the back squat, front squat, and box squat in 2-3 week cycles for each movement.
3. POSTERIOR CHAIN STRENGTH: Good Morning: I feel the GM is better for a prop than the deadlift. The prop's upperbody and neck is engaged during the scrummage (as well as rucking and mauling) and it always felt to me that the good morning provided a better preparation for that sort of work. If you need to cycle this, I'd alternate a GM with an SLDL or an RDL, just because GMs seem to really grind you down.


1. PRESSING STRENGTH: The push press is very important, especially for a lifter. Cycle Push press, incline press, and bench press.
2. MIDBACK & LAT STRENGTH: Chins or Weighted Chins, Rows, 1 Arm Rows.

The Little Things That Matter:

Neck. As a prop you have to work your neck. My suggested neck movements follow:
a. Manual Neck: This has the benefit of being able to be done anywhere. Front, back and sides
b. Neck Harness or Machine work: Because the neck often needs more than manual resistance. I really like the neck lift...i.e. you put the headstrap on, bend over and attach it to a loading pin, and you stand up with it. The isometric contraction is going to build strength exactly how you will need it in the scrum. Follow heavy neck lifts with light, pumping neck movements with the machine or harness.
c. Neck nods. Lie on a bench. Wrap a plate in a towel. Put the towel on your forehead and hang your head off the edge. Now work neck flexion movements carefully.

Calves and tibialis:

Tibialis work is something that will save your ankles and perhaps your knees as well. The tibialis is grotesquely undertrained by damn near everyone, and it's easy to remedy. Stand on a box or a step, hang your feet off the front. Lower your toes to the floor then pull them upwards towards the ceiling. Progress from two feet to one foot, and you can also add resistance by shifting your weight around. If you so desire, you can pick up or make a tibialis-specific exerciser called a DARD. I'm going to ask you to google it.

Calves: I preferred, as a rugby player, to work my calves one at a time.

Since you expressed and interest in one legged work, let me suggest some unilateral progressions:

Quad Dominant:
Lunges-->Split Squats with foot on ground--->Split squats with rear foot elevated

Glute/Hip Dominant:
1 leg Good Mornings--->1 leg deadlift variations

Putting it all together can be a mess.

I would like to see you have 3 strength sessions a week, and all of them be full body sessions. I might set them up in an alternating fashion:

Workout 1:
Explosive Pulls

Workout 2:
Posterior Chain Strength

My thoughts on conditioning:

Hard, short sprinting workouts AFTER lifting sessions. Think quality not quantity. You just want to manage the erosion of your in-season conditioning. I'd seriously consider hill sprints if possible.

XF style metcons can be detrimental to strength, so, you need to make a decision...conditioning emphasis in the FIRST half of the preseason, or in the second half. Personally, I'd lean towards the second half. You also mentioned sleds. Feel free to do some heavy and hard sled dragging instead of the XF style metcons.

Let's say we divide it up into two 8 week periods.

First 8 weeks:

3 strength sessions weekly. 1 sprint session, 1 WOD session.

My suggestions (NOTE, these are just suggestions, and I just came up with them, there are probably better ways to fit the work into your specific schedule)

SUN: OFF or active recovery
MON: Strength A + Sprint session
TUE: Probably Practice
WED: Strength B
THU: Probably Practice
FRI: Strength A + Metcon or Sled
SAT: Off or active recovery

Rotate your exercises every 2-3 weeks, unless one feels like shit and stale. If you really can't make it work, switch immediately.

And as far as practice...if you are doing conditioning during practice, then that might certainly change things up.

Second 8 weeks (conditioning emphasis)

SUN: Off or active recovery
Monday: Strength A + Sprint work
Tuesday: WOD or Sled conditioning, Practice
Wednesday: Strength B
Thursday: Practice, WOD or Sled Conditioning
Friday: Sprint work
SAT: OFF or active recovery

You really need to be able to successfully gauge your work capacity, and if training is completely out of the question, then just skip the day occasionally.

Active recovery:

-playing with kids/dog
-sauna/steamroom/hot tub/ice bath
-light swimming

Lord this is a mess. I'll have to look at it tomorrow to see if I can clean it up a bit.
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