Top Ten Tips for In-Season Rugby Players – Part 2

Welcome back to part TWO of my top ten training tips for in-season rugby players.

This is how to MAINTAIN your strength and fitness from your off-season…and how to build more strength too.

If you missed part one check it here

6. Train Your HamstringsWP_000307

To become a monster on the field and protect your legs/hips/knees from injury, you gotta train your hamstrings! Strong and well developed hammies make you faster, stronger, heavier and an all round unit! Strong hamstrings will also support the box squat, which should be your main lower body lift!

The simplest way to train your hamstrings is with a glute ham raise bench, throw them in as a warm-up on upper body sessions and work them hard after your squat on lower body days. Do them at least twice a week and you will reap the benefits.

Now I know a lot of people don’t have access to a glute ham bench, you guys need to do good mornings and loads of glute bridge and hip thrust style movements for the above recommendations.


Sleep 9-10 hours every night and I PROMISE you will feel better, recover faster and play harder. Just set your alarm, make bedtime a routine and get it done! Try to go to bed and rise at the same times each and every day. I forget who/where I got this from, but if you do anything consistently for 3 weeks straight, it becomes a habit. So do the 21 day sleep challenge! Get 10 hours of sleep every night for 3 weeks and it will become a solid and beneficial habit.

8. Work on Your Skills

Remember…..your skills are what will get you noticed! Practise, practise and more practise on the KEY skills for your position will make you a superstar. So if you play inside centre, get good at running awesome lines every single week. Stay behind and practise some more if you have to. Flankers need to turnover the ball constantly so work on your steals and practise making quick and effective tackles. You know what your role is on the field, specialise!

Are you the best at your position? If not, what do you need to practise to become the best? Now go and do it.

9. Warm-Up by using Corrective Exercises

WP_000387 Don’t waste time after your training session doing so called ‘pre-hab’ exercises to prevent injury. Just find the areas in your body that need some work and do a whole warm-up based around exercises to develop these areas. If in doubt you probably need work on the following common weak and/or inflexible areas…(google them if in doubt);

  • upper back/scapular retractor strength (do your face pulls, scarecrows, lower trap raise, prone Y’s etc.)
  • glute strength (hip thrusts, good mornings with bands, even do some glute ham raise here if you can handle it!)
  • hip mobility (fire hydrants, birddogs and other mobility drills for the hips here, stretch out the hip flexors and foam roll the glutes and hams)
  • chest/shoulder mobility (doorway chest stretch, no moneys, shoulder dislocates)
  • abdominal strength (deadbugs, knee raise, plank varations. Work on strength NOT working till you get a burn in your abs!)

Just chuck a couple of corrective exercises into your warm-up (10-15 mins) and you will start improving your body from the second you step into the gym.

10. Set A Goal and Constantly Review your Progress

I saved this one for last but its possibly the best tip of all…..set a goal for yourself and constantly check on your progress to see how well you’re doing. Go and get a pen and paper!

You’re actually gonna set a 3-5 year goal, a 1-2 year goal and constantly updated 3-6 month goals. So lets say I want to become a pro rugby player, this is how I would commit that goal to paper:

3-5 year goal – get signed by a premiership club

1-2 year goal – get signed to the academy squad of a premiership club

3-6 month goals – join the best club I can get into and make 20 tackles a game

                - improve on my strength and skills by training four times a week

Write your goals down using the above framework, arguably the 3-6 month goals are the toughest to set as they are the stepping stones to the longer term goals. Every week or even every month you need to sit down and look at what you have written down and then write WHAT YOU DID TO GET YOU CLOSER TO YOUR GOALS and also WHAT YOU DID THAT MAY STOP YOU GETTING TO YOUR GOALS.

So I might review my goals as such:

I made 20 or more tackles in the last 3 games I’ve played and I haven’t missed a workout, which has helped me get one step closer to being signed by an academy squad of a premiership club HOWEVER I have been eating badly and drinking alcohol after every game, which may stop me getting to my goal.

Then BRAINSTORM different ways that you can achieve your goals and tweak and update your 3-6 month goals.

Dream big and believe in yourself, if you want to be the best you gotta understand that there is no point in being realistic. Set crazy goals and go about getting them done!

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Anthony Shaw

Raw Strength