How to build leg muscle and power
Modern rugby players need to combine muscle mass with a low body fat level and enough explosive training strength to create a physique with a high power to weight ratio. While upper body size and core strength training is very important, and nutrition an increasingly important element, finding out how to build leg muscle and power is the real driving force behind an explosive base.
The 5 x 5 routine below will help you get leg muscle growth, allowing you to sprint faster and have more explosive power when playing.
Try performing this routine once every 5 days, and watch your leg power explode.
The 5 x 5 Leg Power Workout
Building powerful legs should include the three classic exercises to target the core strength muscles of the legs. There are many different rep and set ranges you can use when developing leg power, but a 5 set x 5 rep workout offers a good balance of muscle growth, strength and explosive blasts.
Exercise 1: Power Cleans
The power clean is a classic power building exercise and is a core part of my strength and power training. In terms of rugby performance, it’s fantastic for developing the force needed in scrum pushes, tackling and impacts when running with the ball. However, it can be used by any sports player desiring explosive performance.
Exercise 2: Front Squats
Normal squats are a great exercise, but training with front squats is an excellent way to target the quads while developing power (they also give your abs and core strength a very intense workout). Front squats are very tough, so you’ll need to reduce the weight you use for regular back squats. If you want an exercise to build great looking quads, think about adding front squats to your routine.
Exercise 3: Deadlifts
Heavy deadlifts are an excellent way to develop hamstring and gluteal leg power (deadlifts are also very good for strengthening the lower back and the core), increasing sprint performance and creating the brute force needed when you have a pack full of 19 stone athletes pushing against you. The deadlift is a great all-round muscle and power builder, so it’s great for both physique and power development.
The key to building powerful legs is to conduct a controlled set of exercises under a controlled environment to deliver maximum results.
Reps & Sets:
5 x 5
Approximately 80-85% of your 1 rep max (note: the aim is to make the last rep of each set ‘almost’ impossible to complete).
For maximum power, lift the weights with perfect technique on the active lifting phase. Return the weight to the starting position quickly, but under control and with perfect form.
2 minutes between sets.
Aim to slowly increase the load used in each session.