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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