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ampallang

Rugby Conditioning

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I'm the least fit person on my rugby team, and that needs to change.

 

I've been pretty dedicated to powerlifting -- and nothing else -- for a couple of years now, so I guess I've conditioned my body to do slow, heavy sets with lots of rest in between.  It really shows once I'm out on the pitch; it doesn't take much at all before I'm sucking wind and ready to face plant.  I need advice on how to improve my cardiovascular conditioning, preferably without eating too much into muh gainz.  I'm currently playing prop, but, due to losing some weight, they'd like to move me to flanker or number eight.  Short term, I'd like to not be a liability on the field after maybe ten minutes of play.  Long term (spring season, unless I'm being entirely too optimistic), I'd like to be able to play flanker for 80 minutes.

 

I powerlift three times a week.  It's class-based, so there isn't much flexibility in the schedule or the programming.  Sunday is squats, usually with some deadlift assistance work.  Tuesday is bench press, press, and some kind of back work (usually bent row).  Thursday is deadlift, usually with some squat assistance work.  We will typically finish Sundays and Thursdays with sled work or sprint intervals, but I haven't seen any carryover from this.  I can't speak to periodization, as that's handled entirely by the trainer, but the main lifts will be one, three, or five reps per set 95% of the time.

 

At home, I have a barbell, a squat stand, a bench, and weights in both iron and rubber.  My ceilings are low, so overhead work like jerks are entirely dependent upon the weather and how motivated I am to carry a bunch of equipment outside.  I also have farmer's walk implements.  I live near a high school track, a fairly hilly trail, and a road that's great for hill sprints.  Through work, I have access to a gym that has equipment similar to a Planet Fitness.  It has treadmills, stationary bikes, and a mostly broken rower in addition to a Smith machine, an assortment of fixed-angle bench press stations (WTF?), and absolutely nowhere to squat heavy (probably not relevant, but it irks my powerlifting sensibilities).

 

I'm not really looking for a detailed daily plan to follow so much as some general guidance.  Has my current regimen adapted my body in such a way that I'm incapable of the long term exertion rugby requires?  If so, I suppose I have a longer road ahead of me than I hoped.  What kind of conditioning work would best prepare me for flanker?  Is there anything I should definitely avoid?  As I mentioned above, there's only so much flexibility I can expect when it comes to my powerlifting programming, but I'm open to suggestions I can take to the trainer.

 

Thanks in advance for any help provided.

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I know this is kinda a crap answer (although it's a crap answer that will point you to some really good answers) but might be worth firing this to my coach for his podcast. He's a powerlifter but his day job is strength and conditioning coach with a professional rugby team. He does a regular podcast which covers this sort if thing and I suspect you'd get a more useful and professional answer (for free) than you'd get from those of us here.

 

Short answer from me would be you're not permanently out of condition but you need to change your programming if you want to focus on rugby rather than powerlifting.

 

That's one of his rugby S&C videos. 

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Did someone say rugby?! :D 

 

 I play rugby too (hooker, but I've played every position in the pack), and I totally understand the struggle that is conditioning! I have a bunch of thoughts about stuff that will help, but I'm supposed to be getting ready for work right now, so I'll be back tonight to write it all out! But I think being ready for 80 minutes by spring is definitely do-able, with some hard work of course :) (and that's with the assumption of a northern hemisphere spring, if you're in the southern hemisphere you'd already be in your spring season, no?)

 

Quick question - Are you currently able to play prop for 80 minutes? And you mentioned being by some spots for hill sprints, is that doable over the winter or will you have 3 feet of snow?

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maegs, 

 

Yes to the Northern hemisphere, no to playing 80 minutes of any kind of rugby (what's up with the backs just standing around while I'm scrumming?), and cold weather hill sprints are a go for most of the winter.

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12039304_1051723891513772_22204303505614

 

Ok, so it sounds like you need to work on stamina and speed. I think the problem is that it sounds like the only time you're really going for an extended period is during the actual games themselves (assuming that your practices are like mine and there's standing around between drills and while there's lineout practice and whatnot). You said you do a bit of sled pushes and interval stuff at your weight classes, but I find that just doing interval training doesn't carry over to having the endurance to go for 80 minutes, no matter what people say. 

 

I'd do a 5k program, like Couch to 5k, or I think Zombies! Run has one as well, to get your stamina up. As you do it, you'll probably also get better at pacing yourself and being able to adjust your pace as you go, instead of going out hard and fast and tiring out before you're done (as I still have a tendency to do). That might be something you could do on Tuesdays, and one other day each week. Doing sprint intervals and sled work, and maybe adding in some hill sprints or running stairs will help you with those bursts of speed, and then having the underlying endurance built up will help you keep it up for the whole game. Especially with the sled and hills/stairs, if you can sprint while you've got weight/gravity working against you, then you can sprint on the flat. IIRC the conditioning workouts that we did when I played in uni were about 20-30 minutes, and were interval-based. I still have the sheets with them floating around if you want me to send you some ideas - we had rower, bike, and running ones.

 

I'd also see if you can incorporate some explosive lifts into your routine. You said you don't have a lot of overhead room, but cleans without the jerk should be doable, and if you get ambitious and want to haul stuff outside, then you can add in jerks or push presses or snatches or thrusters. Push presses/thrusters might especially be helpful if you're lifting in lineouts or your team uses a jumper on kickoffs (jerks not so much because they're more about dropping your body under the weight vs pushing it up above you, if that makes sense).

 

Flanker is a lot about knowing when to push yourself and when to hold back a bit, and also working on your running lines will be helpful - for example, while the backs are sending the ball down the line, don't loop around behind them and then try to catch up. Instead go straight across the field, and then by the time you get across the backs should be past where you are. I found this article on it when I was trying to explain the same thing to a friend of mine who wants to move from lock to flanker. It's all about being efficient with your energy, rather than constantly sprinting around the field and throwing yourself into everything. Watching some high-level games and keeping an eye on what the flankers get up to might help as well. 

 

Ok, that ended up being a lot. But to sum up, I don't think you're incapable of long term exertion, I think it's just that your body's not so used to it. I'd focus first on getting your stamina up, but also keep up the interval/sled work you've got going on now. Learning how to pace yourself will be a big thing, playing for 80 minutes doesn't mean running full out for 80 minutes.

 

One more thing - depending how you're eating, you may need more carbs in your life. I find that during rugby season I need to eat way more carbs that I do in the off-season, otherwise I just get gassed and can't make my legs move fast no matter how much I want to. So keep an eye on how you're feeling and experiment a bit that way as needed.

 

I hope this helps!! :) 

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I'm going to dredge up this post because it's gorram useful to me. I play lock and flanker for a team in DC. Would the same type of conditioning for a prop be useful for someone in second row?

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I think so, theoretically the 2nd row is supposed to be a bit faster than the front row, but in my experience the front row and second row work together a lot and it just ends up being whoever gets there first that rucks or whatever. Personally, I don't like using the fact that I'm a front row player as an excuse for being slow - a faster front row is more useful than a slower one! So I tend to do more conditioning work than a lot of front rows I know ;) 

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On 1/3/2017 at 9:51 PM, maegs said:

I think so, theoretically the 2nd row is supposed to be a bit faster than the front row, but in my experience the front row and second row work together a lot and it just ends up being whoever gets there first that rucks or whatever. Personally, I don't like using the fact that I'm a front row player as an excuse for being slow - a faster front row is more useful than a slower one! So I tend to do more conditioning work than a lot of front rows I know ;) 

 

 

My girls keep telling me we need more props like me and I keep saying, no we need less props like me and more props who could almost be loose forwards. The days of the big fat prop are over with the changes to the scrum laws. A player who can hold her own in the set scrum but get to the breakdown fast and be devastating there will always be a superior player to one who is really strong in the scrum but only gets to every 5th breakdown. Stamina, speed and explosive power are the things to work on.

 

I'm a rookie coach and stereotypical old fat prop in Springfield, MO. I will talk about rugby all day and all night if given the opportunity. 

 

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I posted a video clip on my Facebook the other day of Adam Jones trying a drop goal. Guess I need to add kicking game to the list of the things I need to work on. 

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I keep saying, no one expects a prop to know how to kick! Take 'em by surprise! (also the reason that forwards generally can't kick is that no one every bothered to teach us!)

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