A good rugby gym workout plan will improve performances on the field
It may not always be possible to hold training sessions outside due to factors such as bad weather or a lack of playing facilities, therefore it is paramount that coaches are adaptable and have rugby gym workout sessions ready to put into action.
Almost all coaches will have gym sessions as part of their player’s rugby fitness
programme already, having recognised the importance of weight training exercises and strength and conditioning. As such, they will have pre-planned workout sessions for the players that will focus on improving power and strength, building muscle mass and endurance or working on weaknesses in individual players.
The basics of any rugby gym workout will involve the use of free weights, barbells, bench presses and various machines that are all useful in augmenting each player’s core strength and power base. The physical requirements of modern rugby dictate that upper body strength is crucial in order to withstand the huge impacts that occur in the contact and breakdown areas.
Obviously, in a gym, there is little room for a coach to conduct drills and exercises that build up power, speed and explosiveness in players’ leg muscles however, these muscles can still be worked on by using weights and machines during static exercises.
It is generally recommended that when working on strength development with young rugby players from around ages 9-13, coaches are encouraged to use workout techniques using gym equipment such as medicine balls, Swiss-balls and wall bars. Body-weight exercises including push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and squats are also a good way for young players to improve on core rugby conditioning requirements.
It is important for coaches to recognise that any rugby gym workout is not only centred on using weights and machines to build up strength and conditioning. Rugby players need to have a strong aerobic and cardiovascular base. Stamina and fitness are vital for a player to help him/her get around the pitch for the full duration of the game and to keep being effective in the tackle and at set-pieces.
A coach can design aerobic workout programmes for the gym to incorporate the use of equipment such as treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines and cross-trainers. These machines are very useful in terms of allowing players to supplement their aerobic training outside on the practice pitch.
Another benefit of using these machines is that they allow a coach to tailor training and rehabilitation schedules for rugby players recovering from injury. It may be more prudent for returning players to begin their recovery in the gym following a strict workout plan rather than on the training field, where there may be a greater risk of injury recurrence.
For players and coaches there is nothing better than getting out on the practice field and training with the ball. However, to ensure players are at optimum physical fitness levels, a well-focussed gym workout is a crucial aspect of any training programme.