most players train like bodybuilders for rugby and not only is this stupid but it can even be detrimental to your performance (and injury rate). another drawback of bodybuilding training for athletes and sportsmen is it tends to treat the body as a collection of individual body parts which are trained on different days of the week using a split routine. to determine that type of training you need to do, it is important to analyse the physical demands of rugby and then construct a training plan to meet those demands. in the early days of training for sports, strength training was said to make you “muscle bound” suggesting that lifting weights would make you slow, less mobile and flexible. coordination is the ability to wilfully control your limbs to produce smooth, accurate movements and can be thought of as the brain/muscle connection. the aim of this book is to introduce you to some of the best, most rugby-appropriate strength training methods around so that your gym workouts are as productive as possible. low bar squats can be hard on the shoulders and might not be the best option of you have a history of shoulder problems or poor shoulder/chest flexibility. the simple act of bending down and picking a weight up off the floor is arguably one of the best strength exercises you can do. this can be useful for lifters who want to train hard but need to limit the weight lifted e.g. traditionally, the military press is performed standing, with straight legs, and using a barbell pressed from the front of the shoulders to full arm extension. the idea is to start the movement with a strong leg drive and finish it with the arms. that is not to say that bodybuilding methods are off the menu – just that they are the icing on the strength and power cake. once it is no longer possible to continue adding weight to the bar, the lifter as a couple of options.
some of them are excellent, some are less so, but all will work if you stick with them and add more weight to the bar week by week. all workouts are based on what powerlifter and strength coach wendler calls your “training max” which is 90% of your true or estimated one repetition maximum in the key lifts. when working to or close to failure, there is also a risk of injury is technique is not perfect or, in the case of the squat and bench press, your spotters are not on the ball. after several restarts, lifters should move to a more advanced variation, such one that involves back-off weeks, to allow for more rest. starting strength is the epitome of strength training simplicity and the antithesis of more complex, percentage-based programmes. the fourth day of the workout week is a dedicated bodybuilding training day where any muscular weaknesses can be addressed such as direct work for shoulders and biceps. once you stall, the weights are decreased to provide a deload period and you begin your cycle again. sets of five reps are awesome for developing strength and hypertrophy but in the amrap sets, especially in the early days of the programme, your reps are likely to be higher than is ideal. this is readying you for your test at the end of the programme and getting you to your maximal strength. crossfit has a lot to offer from the point of view of general physical preparedness (gpp) and many of the workouts are excellent for developing conditioning and fitness but as a workout for developing quality strength or power crossfit is not a good option. the program consists of three workouts per week to allow adequate time for recovery and rugby practices. where an exercise is designated as “speed”, perform the sets and reps prescribed but select the heaviest weight you can use without being forced to slow down. if you cannot perform the reps explosively, the weight is too heavy and you are actually training yourself to go slow rather than fast. ramped sets are one of the best ways to warm up and will cover most your preparatory bases – especially if you focus on a full range of movement and take shorter breaks for the initial sets top maximise warmness. of course, simple doesn’t mean easy and you still have to work hard and strive to do a little more from one week to the next if you are going to get stronger.
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