In Season Strength Training To Keep You On The Pitch
It’s 2 weeks to go before the new season starts and I bet your already experiencing the Sunday morning shuffle as you try to recover before another week of training.You have already ‘felt’ that the standard of rugby in the amateur (and professional) game is on the rise. The demand from coaches to get bigger, stronger and faster now falls on the shoulder of every player regardless of position. However. There is no point in having all that ‘pre season’ mass if you can’t move it around the pitch for 80 minutes.
Squatting less than your own bodyweight? Then forget about trying out the latest power move in the hope of getting faster. Getting strong and staying that way will have a much bigger impact this season, and the quote by Mark Rippetoe sums it up perfectly – “Stronger people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general”. Maybe a little extreme, but change people to players and killing to ‘stopping in the tackle’ and you get the idea.
This article is going cover what you need to stay strong and injury free for the whole season.
Planning your week
There are a number of variables that have to be considered when formulating your plan for training.
Age (both biological and training), injury history, position requirements, strengths (more so weakness), time available for training and club sessions. For most players this is what an average week will look like:
This has to be sacred time and that means having a plan, sorting out your pre and post workout supplementation getting your stop watch ready to stick to the rest times and above all train with intensity!
The first 10 minutes of every workout (this includes club training nights) should be spent addressing possible areas of concern, such as:
- Hip and ankle mobility*
- Shoulder Stability (mobility if an issue)*
- Glute activation drills*
- Thoracic Mobility*
- Squat/Olympic Lift movement pattern*
- Passing off the left and right hand (club night)
*The above will be covered in future articles
In Season Strength Training
Considering some of the planning questions from earlier then it’s always going to be challenging to cover every specific player need, but then again, strength training underpins athletic development. If we are stronger then we are going to be able to exert more force, allowing us to be stronger in the tackle; the scrum; jumping in the line out and best of all keep you playing week in, week out throughout the season.
Week 1 Monday- Strength
Standing Long Jump Coaches Tips:
It’s important to work on glute activation drills before doing this exercise- glutes, hip drive and power all work together
Get your feet underneath your hips- this is the optimal position for generating maximum power
Load then explode- swing your arms back, push your glutes back and feel tension in your hamstrings before each jump
Starting your strength routine with a bodyweight jumping based exercise is a great way to heighten your neural system, especially when you change the load from weighted vest to bodyweight. The other important factor is landing mechanics from the jump- this is key to injury prevention around the knee joint. If you want to add a little more to the session then land one leg; alternating between each side as you jump.
Bulgarian Squat is a great single leg exercise that prevents massive loads on the spine, works your core effectively and transfers well onto the pitch.
D1-D3 Combo- This is a great way to get some volume in to help maintain size whilst improving strength. The use of weighted/bodyweight chins or sternum pulls and inverted row is a good way to superset and balance out the push and pull ratio of upper body training.
Keep these at 4 minutes, simple exercises and then focus on good form with as many rounds as you can until the timer let’s you stop.
“Just think about this like defending your line on the last play of the game”
- 10-20kg DBs in each hand
- 4-minute block with 10-20kg DBs in each hand-
- Press Ups x3
- Plank Row x3 on each side (maintain press up position)
- Burpee x3
- DB Front Squat x9
Carry out as many rounds as you can without putting the DBs down
In weeks 2&3 then look to drop 2 reps from the lower body exercise and increase the weight. The upper body should increase by 1 rep each week and maintain weight lifted in the first week.
In week 4, de-load and drop all weights lifted to around 50% of what you lifted in the 3rd week. This will enable your body to adapt to the training stress and prevent over training in the coming weeks and months of a long season.
Thursday- Power Endurance
10 minutes to find your 1RM on Hang Clean (or Hang Clean Low Pull)
Choose a weight that allows you to be as explosive as possible without inhibiting form and letting go of the DB. Carry out 4 reps on each side, for each exercise before moving on with minimal rest.
- DB Snatch
- DB Clean
- DB Push Jerk
- DB Front Squat
- DB Single Leg RDL
The option of Hang Clean or HCLP? – the choice will come down to where you are in the season. As the physical nature of the game takes its toll; you will often find that wrists and shoulder can become sore. The HCLP is a great way to maintain power and minimise impact on the joints of the body, particularly when you start lifting near bodyweight and beyond.
In weeks 2&3 look to increase the number of reps from 7, to 9 and 11 respectively. This is where the endurance element comes in, therefore it is important to stay focused and work hard on every single rep for maximum effect.
Week 4 is exactly the same as the strength session. De-load and let the body adapt and recover for considerable training stress. It is best to reduce the number of reps from 11 to 3 and maintain the intensity with a 20s max effort/40s easy split on the A2/B2 exercises.
Now you have an idea on how to structure a training week, with a few exercises to get you started in the right direction. The real magic is consistency, logging your results sessions by session and then adapting it to your needs.
If your stuck for a gym then don’t worry, the next article will cover how you can do this with minimal equipment and still get the benefits.
Andy McKenzie ASCC