Away from the athletic programs we design, we also have training plans aimed at muscle gain or fat loss, depending on the client’s goal. For this post we will look at a muscle gain (hypertrophy) session.
Here we will talk through the design of an upper body session. You upper body session, after a warm up should include:
1. Horizontal Push
2. Horizontal Pull
3. Vertical Push
4. Vertical Pull
5. Isolation Exercises / Smaller muscle groups
We more often than not superset exercises because it means you can fit it more volume. For those who don’t know what a superset is, you pair opposing exercises and alternate back and forth.
Using the above structure let’s have a go…
For horizontal push you can select from, dumbbell press, incline dumbbell press, machine chest presses, barbell bench press, weighted press ups. The list is endless. Today we will select for simplicity, barbell bench press.
Now, we need to match this with a horizontal pull. Low row, single arm dumbbell row, seated chest supported rows, t-bar row, bent over row. Again, many options! Lets chose single arm dumbbell row.
Let’s move onto the second superset. Vertical push option to choose will be dumbbell shoulder press. We used a barbell for bench press, so for this push option let’s use dumbbells to ensure the arms are working independently from each other. Similarly, with the vertical pull. Let’s use a Lat Pull Down as it’s a double arm movement as opposed to the previous unilateral movement of single arm dumbbell row.
To finish with, this is a good chance to focus on something which you may feel is particularly underdeveloped. It’s also worth considering doing isolation exercises. More multi-joint, compound exercises may become a little too taxing, particularly for the nervous system, so let’s not shoot too high on the volume. Ill often chose a tri-set here which would include a rear shoulder / upper back exercise as most people often undertrain this and its good for shoulder health, with a bicep and triceps exercise.
We like to begin the session with heavier loads for more sets, then as session progresses, increase the reps and lower the sets. Its worth mentioning there is no one rep range which specifically builds muscle. From lower rep ranges all the way up to 25 can build muscle.
So here’s the session we have just designed using the above framework…
1A - Bench Press – 5 x 4
1B – Single Arm Dumbbell Row – 5 x 5
2A – Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 x 8-10
2B – Lat Pull Down – 3 x 8-10
3A – Dumbbell Bicep Curl – 3 x 10
3B – Tricep Extension - 3 x 10
3C – Face Pulls – 3 x 12-15
There you have a very complete upper body session, ticking all the boxes. If you can perform an upper body session like this 2 x per week consistently, you will achieve some great success.
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.more info
How to Design a Strength Training Program for Your Sport
Maximising Your Strength Gains: The Importance of Proper Form and Technique
The Role of Strength Training in Injury Prevention for Athletes
5 Essential Strength Training Exercises for Improved Athletic Performance
Fitness - How do I get fit for rugby?
Strength & Power - How & why for rugby players?
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.
Is there just weight lifting programmes?
As well as our comprehensive Strength and Conditioning programmes we also have sprint sessions, conditioning sessions both on pitch and off feet, home workouts with minimal kit if you’re on holiday or don’t have access to your gym for whatever reason. As well as those we have recovery sessions that consist of Yoga class which are run by one of the best in the game Alecs Donovan and Mobility class again by an industry leader Richard Hughes. The recovery classes are scheduled in some programme but they are available to all members to use any time and we recommend you do so for longevity and to avoid injury.
How many days a week do I have to train?
The rugby programmes run in either 4 or 5 day options for weights with other sessions available such as conditioning and running drills. The Body Comp programmes are available in 3, 4 or 5 day options. Pick whichever suits you and your lifestyle better, you’re better off picking 3 days a week and hitting all of those sessions consistently then picking 5 and missing 1-2 a week as the training splits will ensure you’re hitting each area the right amount across the week.
Who wrote the programmes?
The programmes were initially written by Sam and Josh. The majority of Sams Strength and Conditioning knowledge stems from Chris Tombs who was his coach at the Cardiff Blues Academy and into his professional career. Since Chris came on board as head coach at the start of 2022 we have rewritten or altered all of the programmes so they’re at the absolute fore front of Chris’ ever evolving knowledge.
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.