Rugby is a huge game, both in terms of it’s popularity and the players! Even though there are three main types of rugby; rugby league, rugby union and the slightly less popular sevens version of the game, the core values and techniques remain the same.
Professional rugby players spend a similar amount of time practising techniques as well as maintaining and improving themselves in the gym, as strength and muscle mass are definitely needed in the game. These are some of the most popular exercises taught by coaches, for various benefits, as explained for each one;
Single Arm Barbell Power Presses
The first big exercise rugby players are encouraged to perform are Single Arm Barbell Power Presses. These might sound like quite a handful but in reality are a fairly simple but effective movement to carry out. This is a great exercise for developing pushing power through the shoulder, using a strong base as would be required in Rugby.
When developing upper body strength it is essential to develop the upper-lower body strength transfer. The Single Power Press emphasizes triple extension through the ankles, knees and hips, transferring the strength into an upper body vertical pushing action, important whilst tackling, whilst also improving core strength and shoulder stability.
Using a barbell loaded at one only end, place the unloaded end into a corner so that it will not slide. You should probably put something in between the barbell and the wall to avoid damaging it. With the barbell held in one hand at shoulder height and feet staggered, perform a less than half squat and drive upwards through the lower body, pressing the barbell overhead, so your arm is fully extended.
This exercise is essential in developing strength through the posterior chain and the back, as well as the legs. It is essential to keep a slight difference in the technique of the normal deadlift to help prevent as many soft tissue injuries. This variation is called the Romanian Deadlift.
Hold a barbell placed on the ground in front of you, with whatever grip you find most comfortable (an overhand grip is slightly better). Bend the knees slightly, and keep your shins straight, hips back and back straight (not completely) but with a slight natural arch. This will be your starting position.
Keeping your back and arms completely straight at all times, use your hips to lift the bar, exhaling as you do so. Once you are standing completely straight up, lower the bar by pushing the hips back, only slightly bending the knees.
The last exercise is very useful for a rugby player. Rucking, mauling, tackling and running are all major aspects of the game, and they all require strong legs and lower body power. I’m fairly sure you know what's coming next then. thats right, Squats!
Squats are possibly the best of all the leg exercises. They target your Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Lower Back, all effectively, as well as improving your posture. Squats will improve your driving power in tackles and rucks.
To perform the squat, place a barbell on your shoulders. Squat down, keeping your head up and your back straight, so your thigh is parallel to the ground, and your knee is at a 90 degree angle. Slowly stand back up, again keeping your back straight and your head high.