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How to Increase Physical Strength

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To be a stronger rugby player, you have to focus on working multiple muscle groups and work on movements that are repeated on the pitch.

The following training plan will help you to improve your overall strength in rugby specific scenarios, by increasing your ability to create power.

Our 6-week rugby strength program consists of three exercises for each training day, all of which are compound exercises that will work large muscle groups and fall into one of three categories: Pull, Push and Squat.

On any given training day, choose one of the four training options and then perform the recommended number of sets and reps that correspond with the week of your plan.

Weeks Sets x Reps
1 4 x 6
2 2 x 5, then 3 x 3
3 5,4,3,2,1
4 6,5,4,4
5 5,4,3,3
6 4,3,2,2

Option Pull Push Squat
1 Deadlift Two-Arm Kettlebell Military Press Front Squat
2 Kettlebell High Pull Plyometric Clap Push Press Box Squats
3 Renegade Rows Single Arm Barbell Push Press Side-Step Squats
4 Tyre Flips Dynamic Superman Lateral Box Squats

Front Squats

Muscles Worked: Quads, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings and Lower Back.

Useful For: Improving tackles, rucks, mauls and scrums.

Technique:

  • Begin by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width and toes pointing outwards slightly.
  • Rest the barbell on top of your collarbone and front deltoids using a closed overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Then, relax the grip slightly by removing your thumb and little fingers from the bar.
  • Once you are ready to begin the movement, slowly lower the bar by bending your knees and hips, maintaining a straight posture and keeping your head up as you do so.
  • Continue this movement until your thighs are just past parallel with the floor, inhaling as you lower. Make sure that your knees and the front of your toes are in a perpendicular line to the floor; otherwise you will be placing undue stress on the knee.
  • Return to the starting position by pushing against the floor with the heel of your foot and straightening your legs again, exhale as you do so.
  • Side-Step Squats

    Muscles Worked: Calves, Hamstrings and Lower Back.

    Useful For: Developing a powerful, quick side step.

    Technique:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells by your side; the foot of your leading leg should be angled outwards at about 45 degrees.
  • To begin the movement, bend the knee and hip of your leading leg to lower your body towards your angled foot, breathing in as you do so; be sure to keep the opposite leg only slightly bent.
  • From here, breathe out as you extend the knee and hip of your leading leg to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement with the opposite leg – that’s one rep.

    Dynamic Superman

    Muscles Worked: Core.

    Useful For: Staying strong even when tackling the toughest of opponents.

    Technique:

  • Get into a press-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Tighten your core as you slowly bend your arms to lower yourself to the floor.
  • Using your arms, drive yourself back up and extend your right leg and left arm out straight.
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the opposite leg and arm; that’s one rep.

    Deadlifts

    Muscles Worked: Lower Back, Middle Back, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads and Lats.

    Useful For: Dominating the opposition like Chris Robshaw.

    Technique:

  • Approach the barbell with your feet hip-width apart, standing so that the middle of your foot is directly under the barbell.
  • Bend your knees whilst keeping your back as straight as possible, lean forward to grasp the bar using a shoulder width overhand grip – this is your starting position.
  • When you have a firm grip on the bar, take a deep breath. Drive with your legs and exhale whilst returning your torso back to an upright position.
  • Once you are in an upright position, lock your shoulders back, stick your chest out whilst simultaneously locking your hips and knees; be sure not to shrug or lean back at the top of the deadlift.
  • Push your hips back and lean forward at the waist to return the barbell to the floor. Bend your knees once the barbell reaches the top of your shins, when the weights on the bar touch the floor, rest for a second then do your next rep.
  • Two-Arm Kettlebell Military Press

    Muscles Worked: Shoulders and Triceps.

    Useful For: Pushing and fending off tackles with one hand.

    Technique:

  • Hold a kettlebell in each hand.
  • To start, clean the kettlebells to your shoulder, remembering to extend through your hips and your legs, and rotating your wrists so that your palms face forwards.
  • From here, press the kettlebells up and out. Make sure that as the kettlebells pass your head you remember to bring your biceps as close to your ears as possible.
  • Return to the starting position by reversing this motion – that’s one rep.
  • Single Arm Barbell Push Press

    Muscles Worked: Quads, shoulders and core.

    Useful For: Pushing and fending off tackles with one hand.

    Technique:

  • In order to perform this exercise you will need a corner of a gym or somewhere to prop your barbell up, and a suitable weight plate.
  • Hold the bar in one hand with your hand placed towards the top of the barbell, stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your shoulders back.
  • Lower down into a squat position, whilst simultaneously lowering the bar towards your shoulder.
  • Return to the starting position by pushing back up through your heels and pressing the barbell back up until your arm is fully extended.
  • Box Squats

    Muscles Worked: Quad, hamstrings and glutes.

    Useful For: : Sprinting, changing direction, and lunging into a tackle.

    Technique:

  • Stand with a box of an appropriate height about 1-2 feet in front of you.
  • Sit into a shallow squat and swing your arms behind you to get ready for the jump.
  • Jump as high as possible by swinging your arms forward and up, whilst simultaneously extending through your hips and knees.
  • Land softly on the box with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact through your legs.
  • Jump back to the ground or step down from the box one leg at a time – that’s one rep.
  • Plyometric Clap Press-ups

    Muscles Worked: Chest and shoulders.

    Useful For: Pushing and throwing.

    Technique:

  • Get into a press-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Tighten your core as you slowly bend your arms to lower yourself to the floor, hold for one second at the bottom of the press-up.
  • Using your arms, drive yourself back up powerfully so that you can lift both hands off the floor to perform a clap before landing.
  • As you become more accustomed to this exercise, you can try adding more claps in-between press-ups.
  • Lateral Box Squats

    Muscles Worked: Quads, Calves, Hamstrings, Glutes and Lower Back.

    Useful For: Quickly changing direction and tackling.

    Technique:

  • It’s more difficult to jump laterally than vertically, so make sure you start with a comfortable height and work your way up from there. You can also jump.
  • Stand with a box of an appropriate height about 1-2 feet to the side of you.
  • Sit into a shallow squat and swing your arms behind you to get ready for the jump.
  • Jump as high as possible in the direction of the box by swinging your arms forward and up, whilst simultaneously extending through your hips and knees.
  • Land softly on the box with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact through your legs.
  • Jump back to the ground or step down from the box one leg at a time – that’s one rep.
  • Renegade Rows

    Muscles Worked:

    Middle Back, Abdominals, Biceps, Chest, Lats and Triceps.

    Useful For: Improving tackles, rucks, mauls and scrums.

    Technique:

  • Assume a press-up position with two kettlebells placed on the ground directly in line with your shoulders.
  • From here, grab the handles of the kettlebells so that you are supporting your upper body.
  • To perform the movement, row one kettlebell whilst you push the other into the ground. Be sure, to pull the kettlebell towards your side as opposed to directly up.
  • Lower the kettlebell back down to the floor and then repeat the movement on the other side – that’s one rep.
  • Ketllebell High Pull

    Muscles Worked: Traps, Adductors, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads and Shoulders.

    Useful For: Improving grip strength.

    Technique:

  • Assume a wide stance with a kettlebell between your feet.
  • Squat down by setting your hips back as far as possible with your knees bent and grasp the kettlebell with both hands; keep your chest and your head up.
  • Begin the movement by extending your hips and knees whilst pulling the kettlebell to your shoulders, making sure to lead with your elbows as you do so.
  • Reverse the motion and return to your starting position – that’s one rep.
  • Tyre Flips

    Muscles Worked: Quads, Calves, Chest, Forearms, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Shoulders, Traps and Triceps.

    Useful For: Scrums.

    Technique:

  • With a tyre on its side, stand in a similar position to it as if you were performing a deadlift. .
  • Grab the underside of the tyre and lean into it so that your weight is on the balls of your feet. .
  • To lift the tyre, extend through your hips, knees and ankles, driving into the tyre and up. .
  • When the tyre is past your waist, change to an overhand grip and push the tyre away from you – that’s one rep.
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