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Fitness - How do I get fit for rugby?

Having basic fitness and being fit for rugby are two different things.
sam warburton running as part of the pre season rugby fitness drills he’s completing

So technically speaking, ‘fitness’ is a very broad term, but we tend to associate it with running or aerobic ability for example. This is what we will talk about today. How to ‘condition’ us for the extremely tough endurance requirements that a game of rugby demands.

I will not blame anybody for thinking, “well I run a lot in rugby, so I’m going for a 3 or 5km run”. I totally understand the logic, but let me ask you a few questions first…

In a 3-5km jog do you:

1. Quickly change direction?

2. Run at very high speeds and lower speeds?

3. Do you run hard for 30 seconds then take a break, followed by another 1 minute of intense running and rest again?

4. Accelerate or decelerate often?

5. Get up and off the ground?

The answer to all of these should unanimously be NO unless you’re a very clumsy runner! Now you can see from a specificity perspective, why a 3km run doesn’t transfer a whole lot over to rugby. Of course, it will help somewhat. If you’re a brilliant 5km runner it will help you cope with some of the demands, but we want to get you from A-B as efficiently and quickly as possible.

So, what do I need to do?

Circuits and interval running are brilliant for rugby, and if you can combine the two then you have a brilliant ‘rugby fit’ session.

Let’s begin with some running examples. Firstly, lets perform this session on a pitch! The surface which you run on can really help. If you had 2 people on near identical running routines, one on a treadmill and another on a pitch, obviously the player running on a pitch will be better prepared to play a game of rugby as the surfaces can be drastically different. Don’t panic if you can only perform a session on a treadmill at a given moment in time. We actually prescribe plenty of these and it’s a great substitute but shouldn’t be the only session type you do.

Secondly, think of time intervals. Running at higher speeds for 10-30 seconds, followed by rest, and maybe some even longer time intervals of 30-60 seconds are very specific to the game of rugby when you consider a set play rarely lasts longer than 2 minutes.

Thirdly, make sure you include changes of direction, including turns which will help develop your ability to decelerate and accelerate under fatigue.

You also have ‘strongman’ type sessions when you’re flipping tyres, pushing sleds, getting up and off the ground, wrestling, and basically just replicating the more physical endurance needs for a rugby player. This would be more specific for forwards as would running more specific to backs. However, both sets of players should incorporate a mixture of both techniques. How much just depends on your needs as a player and possibly the position you play. For example, a prop would require more strongman type sessions than a winger.

Hopefully that helps. With what you’ve learnt from this blog, try to think are you training as specifically as you possibly can to get an edge on your opposition.


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Strength Training

Here you will find a collection of articles all about strength training. How to get stronger, types of training, reps and set as well as training volumes.

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Christ Tshiunza in the gym holding weights and exercising as part of an online pt coaching

How to Design a Strength Training Program for Your Sport

Designing the perfect strength training program for your sport. Learn how to tailor your workouts so you can excel in your sport, and discover how important it is to track progress to ensure great results.
Christ Tshiunza performing mobility for his pre season rugby fitness drills

Maximising Your Strength Gains: The Importance of Proper Form and Technique

The importance of proper form and technique in strength training. Discover how focusing on proper form and technique can help you get the most out of your workouts and minimise your risk of injury, especially in high-impact sports like rugby.
Athlete performing an exercise prescribed to him in his rugby weight training program pdf

The Role of Strength Training in Injury Prevention for Athletes

The role of strength training in injury prevention for athletes. Discover how improving muscle balance, stability, core strength and functional movement can help drastically reduce the risk of injury and keep you performing at an optimal level.
Sam Warburton performing a squat in the gym for rugby conditioning drills

5 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Improved Athletic Performance

5 essential strength training exercises we would recommend for improved athletic performance. Learn how squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, and overhead press can help you become a stronger, more powerful athlete. Build those qualities and watch your performance increase!
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How to Design an Upper Body Session

Your guide to constructing the perfect upper body session.
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Strength & Power - How & why for rugby players?

It is without doubt that two players side by side, the same weight, speed, fitness & skill level, will be drastically different players if one possessed superior strength & power.
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here are some of most asked questions

We hope these help with any questions that you may have. If these don't answer yours in particular then feel free to reach out on Instagram or via email, we are here to help.

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articles by sw7 academy

We provide programming and a community to help athletes develop but we also want to teach you as much as we can along the way.

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Sam Warburton discussing a rugby player meal plan on the app


When it comes to changing your body composition, either gaining muscle or losing body fat, nutrition will be the most important aspect.
man pressing dumbbells to increase his rugby fitness with coach watching

Fat loss

Fat loss is probably the most misled topic in the fitness industry. Here we will lay out the fundamentals for you in black and white.
mad holding medicine ball as part of a rugby conditioning program


Conditioning isn't just getting flogged up and down the pitch running shuttles there's lots more to it. We will talk about the different methods to conditioning.
man stretching his groin and adductors as part of his rugby training program for forwards

Rest & Recovery

Recovery is a huge part of the game. If you want to train and play for years to come its essential you take note of these articles.
man performing Bulgarian split squat programmed by the best app for weight training


Everything you need to know about gaining muscle mass. Incorporate this advice into your pre season rugby fitness drills.
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Power is one of the most important physical aspects for any rugby player. The ability to produce force in a short space of time will win or lose collisions.

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If you want to be a more powerful, stronger and more explosive version of yourself then join the team.

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