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Regional Academy Strength and Power

Strength training for young players is arguably the most important element of the fitness curriculum.  No other fitness area can be so constructive or destructive to a player's career depending upon its implementation.  It is critical that young players receive appropriate coaching advice to promote safe and effective lifting techniques in the weights room.  Only then will the performance enhancing and injury reducing effects of strength training be realised.  Strength and conditioning coaching awards are now available via 1st4Sport.

Strength and power are written together in the fitness curriculum for good reason.  For 95% of rugby players, of any age, their maximum power is limited by their maximum strength.  Improvements in the latter will have beneficial effects in power and speed, and this is especially true for young players.  Hence, the competencies for power training can be viewed as the same as those for strength training, and are listed below.

(N.B. Competencies for those power training exercises that are not based on weight training, such as jumping and bounding exercises, are covered in the section on Agility training).

Strength training in the fitness curriculum leans heavily on exercises borrowed from the sports of weightlifting and power lifting.  Traditional strength training methods are founded on these exercises.  Young players should aim to be able to display competent techniques in the following exercises:

And, in addition,

  • Safe techniques on all machine based exercises, e.g. Leg Press

It is not expected that all players will use all of these exercises all of the time during their rugby playing career.  However, it is important that all players are coached to become competent in the execution of these exercises with light loads.  Only then will players be able to train safely, unsupervised, in gyms local to their homes.

In the pursuit of strength improvements, it is typical for players to favour one training exercise over another – the Bench Press is typically ''King'' in this regard.  To off-set the risk of players developing imbalanced strengths in their basic movement profiles, we encourage strength and conditioning coaches to keep a close eye on the following movement ratios exhibited by their players, and to prevent players from moving too far away from them:

Strength training movement ratios
Body Parts Movements  Ratio 
Upper Body Push:Pull  1RM Bench Press: 1RM Pull-up with load (i.e. a 90kg player who can bench press 100kg for one repetition should be able to perform a pull up with a 10kg load) 1:1 
Whole Body:Upper Body  1RM Clean:1RM Bench Press 1:1
Lower Body:Upper Body  1RM 1/2 Back Squat:1RM Bench Press 1.5:1
Lower Body:Body Weight  1RM 1/2 Back Squat:Body Weight 2:1

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