I accept cookies from this site

We use cookies to help make this website better. To find out more about the cookies we use, please read our Cookies Policy. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, you consent to this use, but if you want, you can find information in our Cookies Policy about how to remove cookies by changing your settings.

Physical conditioning exercises on the field

Functional strength training for Rugby

A progression from bodyweight drills to the inclusion of functional training equipment

Rugby is a contact sport so players need to be strong enough to maintain balance and stability in contact. Players need to be able to apply strength both when making a tackle and also when resisting a challenge (i.e., being tackled). The other key benefit provided by a functional strength and conditioning programme is that you will be less prone to injury. The muscles and joints become stronger, which is especially important for the neck, shoulders, hips, knees and the core of the body.

Weight training is an excellent form of strength training which provides a comprehensive range of benefits to the Rugby player. However, not all players will have access to weight training facilities at the training ground or at a local gym or sports centre.

Weight training must be supervised by a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach or experienced fitness instructor for two important reasons: first, health and safety, and second, sessions need to be Rugby relevant and specific. This could also present a problem for some Rugby clubs if such an individual is not available.

The illustrated body weight circuit shown above is an excellent starting point, but it is important that there is a progressive challenge available. This can be provided by the use of functional training apparatus. The benefits produced are not just limited to gains in strength but also in flexibility, stability and balance.

A practical and convenient alternative to weight training is provided by the use of tyres, medicine balls, stability balls and suspended bodyweight training apparatus. All of these training tools will facilitate functional strength development as opposed to developing general strength for no real purpose. As with weight training, they produce a compound and whole body conditioning effect. But it is likely that they will provide a cheaper and more versatile option that can be used indoors or outside on the training pitch. The other advantage offered by these tools is that they can be conveniently stored and used at the Rugby club itself. They are also very adaptable and can be used to develop positional specific qualities such as sprinting, tackling or scrummaging.