When it comes to the game of rugby, we all know that it requires not only immense skill but also speed, strength, and mobility. To develop all of those and to add dimensions to their game, rugby players, especially professionals, have to follow rigorous gym schedules that have them performing all kinds of exercises so that on game day, they’re in peak condition and ready to go.
In this article specifically, we’re going to talk about weight training for rugby players in particular, and we’re going to put an emphasis on what the best exercises are and what benefits you can expect from doing them consistently. So, if that sounds like something you want to learn more about, then keep on reading – we’ve got you covered.
What Weight Training for Rugby Players Looks Like
In the Warm Body Cold Mind blog, we’ve talked endlessly about different exercises and fitness equipment and basically turned into a bible on weightlifting. However, in this particular piece, our goal is to put specific focus on what rugby players should be doing in the gym in order to become stronger, more powerful, and more explosive.
4 Top Exercises for Rugby Players
In the game of rugby, you have to use your entire body – the upper part for pushing, shoveling, holding on to the ball and your legs for sprinting, jumping, and making the difference in key situations. That’s why the exercises that we will be listing below are not focused on any one muscle group in particular; instead, all of them create a full-body routine.
The front squat is a variation of perhaps the most popular leg exercise there is. Much like the regular squat, this one primarily targets the muscles of the lower body with more emphasis on the quads instead of the hamstrings (which are more targeted in the traditional squat). Additionally, front squats also work the muscles of the upper body as you’re required to balance the barbell on your chest as you perform the movement. In terms of rugby benefits, front squats will make you more mobile, will improve sprinting speed and tackling power, and will enable you to change directions quickly.
If we had to pick only one barbell exercise for rugby players, then this one would be the main choice. The deadlift is well-recognized as one of the most effective, full-body movements for building strength and power while working essentially all your main muscle groups. It’s primarily focused on your posterior chain (aka the muscles in the back of your body that are giving you power when you drive forward), and so it’s great for developing speed and pushing power. Along with that, the deadlift perfectly partners with the front squat, and even by doing just these two exercises, you will get a terrific, balanced, full-body workout that truly stimulates all the vital muscle groups. Another terrific thing about the deadlift is that it has many variations, so you can always switch up and surprise the muscles by challenging them in a slightly different way – that helps them more easily adapt to new movements and prepares them for in-game situations.
The power clean is a fantastic, stripped-back version of the Olympic squat clean and is an explosive, full-body exercise. It trains your ability to produce strength quickly and can massively improve your jumping, sprinting, and tackling. It’s an explosive movement that should be done carefully and for which you will have to dedicate time to master the right technique (so you don’t get injured). It’s vital not to try to go heavy too soon as, in most cases, that will result in some kind of pain – that’s why it’s better to focus on moving the bar quickly and doing it the right way. Final tip – don’t do high reps; it’s better to go for a lower number but to do it using your full explosiveness.
This simple exercise is so effective that it’s a must for every rugby player. To do it, you don’t need a lot – just take some heavy dumbbells and start walking. Continue until your hands aren’t begging for mercy, then stop, rest, and repeat. Even though it’s simple, the farmer’s walk actually develops full-body strength and endurance while also working on your cardiovascular fitness and helping you build a stronger grip (that way, your ball security will improve).
Of course, there are many other exercises you can perform, and it’s likely that they will also provide terrific results. However, the list we shared above is what we consider to be “must-do” ones – the kind that will challenge your body in just the right way and will give you many benefits you can later translate onto the field and during important games.