Programming for the Loose Forwards in Rugby

TAGS: lower body injury programming, YoYo test, off-season plan, loose forwards, Off-Season Physical Preparation, sports performance, Rugby, Ashley Jones, strength and conditioning, program design, strength training

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Since I have started writing this column for elitefts.com, I have covered many specific positions in rugby. It has been remiss of me not to have included an article on conditioning the loose forwards. This program is divided into two sections: first, the off-season plan for a loose forward, specifically the number 7, who has to be one of the fittest players on the field. I have emphasized a fitness-first approach to this player, whereas the other loose forwards may well place more emphasis on strength. In this case, just swap the AM and PM sessions around. If you use a YoYo test to assess aerobic fitness at the professional level, I would suggest the standards that you set your players to achieve should be around the 18:3 mark for the position 6 and 8 (blindside flanker and number 8), and this would increase to around 19:4 for position number 7, the openside flanker.

The second section of this program deals with programming following an injury to the lower body to ensure that the player is able to maintain high levels of both aerobic conditioning and strength. The specifics of the rehab program are not included but the elements of conditioning are. 

Off-Season Physical Preparation 

Monday

AM – Repeated Speed/Interval Session (see end of document)

PM – Full Body Weights

1 x Olympic

  • Week 1: 4 x 6 with 75%
  • Week 2: 4 x 3/3 cluster with 15 seconds between each cluster of 3 with 80%
  • Week 3: 4 x 2/2/2 cluster with 20 seconds between each cluster of 2 with 85%
  • Week 4: 4 x 1/1/1/1/1/1 with 30 seconds between each rep @ 90%

1 x Squat

  • Week 1: 4x6
  • Week 2: 6, 5, 4, 4
  • Week 3: 5, 4, 3, 3
  • Week 4: 4, 3, 2, 2

 2 x Horizontal Push/Pull Upper

  • Week 1: 4x 6 first exercise, 5 x 10-second exercise
  • Week 2: 5 x 5 and 12/10/8/8
  • Week 3: 6 x 4 and 10/8/6/6
  • Week 4:  8 x 3 and 8/6/4/4

Tuesday

Cross Training Options:

  • Boxing/Wrestling/Martial Art
  • Yoga/Stretch

Wednesday

AM – Speed and weights combo session or just speed first and strength/power after the session if you can not combine the two.

  • 10 Minutes: General movement drills as warmup
  • Fast Feet Footwork Ladders: Use a variety of options with a run out
  • Mini Hurdles: Forward and lateral series, march, skip, and run
  • Harness Work: Forward and lateral series, march, skip and run
  • Gym – Power Snatch: 6 x 3 with 60–80% superset with three knees to feet jumps with DBs held in hands
  • Accelerations: 10 x 15 metres from five different start positions
  • Parachute and Release: 22 or 28 metres with parachute then 28 or 22 metres without it, walk back recoveries x 8
  • Gym – Hang Clean: 4 x 4 superset with 4 x Rebound Depth Jumps
  • Bounds: 4 x 50 metres with walk through to far end recovery
  • Sled Sprints:  6 x 22 metres with a sled + 20kg, full recovery between reps
  • Gym – 1/4 Explosive Squat or Jump Squats or Band Box Squats: 5 x 5 superset with 5 repeat long jumps

PM – Upper Body Weights

1 x Barbell Upper Body Push/Pull Superset

  • Week 1: 6,5,4,4
  • Week 2: 5,4,3,3
  • Week 3: 4,3,2,2

1 x DB Upper Body Push/Pull Superset

  • Week 1: 12,10,8,8
  • Week 2: 10,8,6,6
  • Week 3: 8,6,4,4

1 x BW Upper Body Push/Pull Superset

3 x max reps, nonstop for 6 sets

  • Week 1: Hindu Push-Ups/Fat Mans Chins
  • Week 2: Dips/Chins
  • Week 3: Handstand Push-Ups/Rope Chin-Ups

Thursday

Cross Training Options:

  • Boxing/Wrestling/Martial Art
  • Yoga/Stretch 

Friday

AM – Hill Repeats

  • Week 1: 1 x 5 minutes, 5 x 3 minutes, 5 x 1 minute (1 : 0.5 walk back recovery)
  • Week 2: 15 x 60 seconds/30 seconds (1:0.5 walk back recovery)
  • Week 3: 10 x 60 seconds/45 seconds/30 seconds/15 seconds (1:1 walk back recovery)
  • Week 4: 15 x 30 seconds/15 seconds/45 seconds (1:1 walk back recovery) 

PM – Full Body Weights

1 x Deadlift

  • Week 1: 4 x 6 with 75%
  • Week 2: 4 x 3/3 cluster with 15 seconds between each cluster of 3 with 85%
  • Week 3: 4 x 2/2/2 cluster with 20 seconds between each cluster of 2 with 90%
  • Week 4: 4 x 1/1/1/1/1/1 with 30 seconds between each rep with 95%

1 x Single Leg Option

  • Week 1: 5 x 10
  • Week 2: 12/10/8/8
  • Week 3: 10/8/6/6
  • Week 4: 8/6/4/4

 2 x Vertical Push/Pull Upper

  • Week 1: 4x 6 first exercise and 5 x 10-second exercise
  • Week 2: 5 x 5 and 12/10/8/8
  • Week 3:  6 x 4 and 10/8/6/6
  • Week 4: 8 x 3 and 8/6/4/4

 

Conditioning Options

Bike

  • 60 minutes
  • 1 minute spin with high leg speed
  • 1 minute out-of-the seat climb with heavy resistance
  • 45 minute steady state ride with a burst of speed every 2 minutes for 20 to 45 seconds
  • Mountain bike ride for 60–90 minutes, your choice of terrain and location. Challenge yourself.

Row

30 x 45 seconds on. Try to row greater than 220 metres,then 15 second rest, then 15 minutes continuous. How far can you row?

Interval Ladder — Rest 30 seconds between efforts and 2 minutes between sets, do 4 sets:

  • 1 minute hard @ <1:30
  • 2 minutes hard @ < 1:40
  • 3 minutes hard @ <1:50
  • 4 minutes hard @ < 1:55
  • 5 minutes hard @ < 2:00

Swim

  • Hypoxic 200’s — First 50 breathe every 2 strokes, next 50 breathe every 4 strokes, next 50 breathe every 6 strokes, last 50 breath every 8 strokes. Rest half the time it took you to swim the 200. Do 10 reps.
  • 50-Metre Repeats — Swim a hard 50 metres then using your arms only, drive up and out of the pool then walk back and go again x 30.
  • 45-minute steady state swim

Repeated Speed/Interval Run Options

Session 1 – Lactate Repeats

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 20 x 40 seconds with 20 seconds rest, must run between 175–200 meters each repetition
  • 5-minute run, steady pace
  • Stretch

Session 2 – Speed Ladders

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 6 sets x 40m, 80m, 120m, jog back recoveries with 3-minute walk between sets
  • 5-minute run, steady pace
  • Stretch

Session 3 – Modified 400’s

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 10 x 400m, sprint the bends and jog the straights, continuous
  • 5-minute run, steady pace
  • Stretch

Session 4 – 100/200/300 Drill

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 15 x 200m in 40 seconds with 20 seconds rest, then 100m in 20 seconds with 40 seconds rest, advanced option to include 300m in 60 seconds, rest 60 seconds
  • 5-minute run, steady pace

Session 5 – 100’s

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 30 x 100 in fewer than 17 seconds going every 45 seconds
  • 5-minute run, steady pace
  • Stretch

Session 6 – Fartlek Golf

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 18 Holes of Fartlek Gold Course running, 3/4 pace the Par 5’s, fast pace the Par 4’s, and sprint the Par 3’s. Walk from green to next tee
  • 5-minute run, steady pace
  • Stretch

Session 7 – Half Gassers

  • 5-minute run, warm-up, steady pace
  • 20 x 1/2 Gasser. Start lying face down with chin on sideline, get up, sprint to the other side of the field, go down, get up, sprint back to other side, recover. Go every 60 seconds and try to keep the work time under 27 seconds.
  • 5-minute run, steady pace
  • Stretch

Session 8 – YoYo to the Power of 2

  • YoYo Test
  • 10 x 50-metre sprints with walk through to other end of field, immediate turn and go
  • YoYo Test again, starting at level 8
  • Stretch

 


Lower Body Injury Programming

Six Sessions per Week

  • 2 x Water-Based — Swim and Aqua Jog
  • 2 x Bike
  • 2 x Gym-Based — Strength and Upper Body Circuit

Gym-Based

  • Band Close Grip Bench Press, 8 x 3
  • DB Flat Bench Press superset with Hammer Low Row or DB One-Arm Row
  • DB Shoulder Press superset with Weighted Chins

3-Week Loading Cycle

  • Week 1: 6,5,4,4
  • Week 2: 5,4,3,3
  • Week 3: 4,3,2,2

Bike Sessions

60–90 minutes in duration. Stay flat and don't apply force through the injured area.

Water-Based

Swim

Hypoxic Swim (minimize the number of breaths you take, try to breathe every 8 – 10 strokes)

  • Week 1: 20 x 25 metres
  • Week 2: 12 x 50 metres
  • Week 3: 10 x 75 metres
  • Week 4: 10 x 100 metres

Aqua Jog

  • Week 1: 4 x 25 metres, then sprint 15 seconds, rest on a lane rope for 45 seconds x 20
  • Week 2: 4 x 25 metres, then sprint 30 seconds, rest on a lane rope for 30 seconds x 20
  • Week 3: 4 x 25 metres, then sprint 45 seconds, rest on a lane rope for 15 seconds x 20
  • Week 4: 4 x 25 metres, then sprint for 60 seconds, rest on a lane rope for 30 seconds x 20

Upper Body Weights

Hammer Circuit

  • 6 x 15
  • No rest
  • Incline Chest Press
  • Low Row
  • Shoulder Press
  • High Row

Weights Circuit

  • 4x12
  • Incline Bench
  • Seated DB Lateral Raise/Front Raise/Bent Over raise
  • Shoulder Press
  • YTI’s on Prone Bench
  • Prone Row
  • Pulldown to Chest

Cardio

  • Alternate between seated Grinder and Rope Pull
  • 60 seconds work: 30 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds work: 15 seconds rest
  • Ladder of 15/30/45/60/90/90/60/45/30/15 work with 15 seconds rest between each effort for 4 total sets

iron-rebel

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