Fitness for rugby
With the 2019 Rugby World Cup in full swing, we thought it was a good idea to offer up some tips on rugby fitness. To get some expert advice we called on two England super stars, Lewis Moody and Emily Scarrett.
Preparing your body for the physical challenge posed by playing rugby is key to remaining as injury-free as possible. This is why rugby players will spend a lot of time on a good warm-up. Not only does a well-structured warm-up get the body ready for the inevitable knocks of a match, but it is also a chance to get the brain ready.
Lewis Moody, former England international, suggests a 10-15 minute warm-up, no matter what level of rugby you are playing.
The Lewis Moody warm-up
Five minutes should be spent jogging and doing loosening exercises. He suggests 25 steps lifting knees as high as possible, followed by 25 steps flicking up the heels as close to the buttocks as possible.
Follow this with 25 walking lunges and 25 walkovers – where as you walk you bring one leg up and out to the side, rotating it before putting it down and repeating on the other side.
Stand facing a training partner and hold each others shoulders. Swing first your right leg and then your left leg across your midline and then out to the side. Coordinate so you do not end up kicking each other! Repeat 10 times on each side.
Now do some short faster runs – 10 metres or so – increasing your speed each time. Keep this going until you are sprinting flat out.
Explosive practices for rugby
To prepare for the actions that take place during a rugby match you can do the following explosive practices which will help your running and tackling.
1. Start with one hand on the rugby ball, or a similar sized light weight. Pick it up and spring for 20 metres. Do a jog back recovery. Repeat five times.
2. Repeat the above practice but with a rope attaching you to a tyre. Alternatively, you can have a team mate holding a band or rope around your waist, adding resistance and improving your leg power.
3. Get two team mates to stand 10 metres apart facing each other. Each holds a tackle pad and you stand between them. As one team mate moves towards you, you run at him and push him back. Once you have moved him backwards, turn and do the same with the other team mate. Repeat 10 times on each side, then swap with a team mate to recover.
You’ve got the power
To develop power, do 8-10 reps of each of the following exercises.
Bodyweight pull-up. Hold a bar with an overhand grip with your hands wider than shoulder distance. Pull yourself up so your chin is level with the bar. Lower back down with control.
Squat. Hold a barbell across your shoulders and, keeping your back straight and upright, bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Woodchop. Stand to the left side of a high cable pulley and hold a ‘D’ handle with both hands. Pull the cable down and across your body, making sure you keep your arms straight. If you do not have access to a cable pulley, use a weight and go from a low hold to high – in other words, reverse the action.
Strength is core to success
Emily Scarret is a multi-capped England women’s rugby star. She says that working the core is vital to help rugby players avoid injury and perform their best. She suggests adding a rotation to any work on the muscles that comprise the core. Russian twists with a medicine ball or hanging off a glute-hamstring raise machine and twisting the core are both great ways to work the abdominals and obliques.
Scarrett adds that changing the exercises and incorporating something new is a good way to raise fitness levels.
In an interview with The Telegraph’s Mark Bailey, she said: “We’ve been doing things like flipping big tyres and lifting atlas stones which you pick up in a squat position and drop back down again. Rugby is not an up and down sport so using odd muscles is good for us. We do ice skater stuff, using a slide board so you can imitate an ice skater going from left to right, which is really fun.”