The Complete 2016 Off-Season Rugby Training Manual

TAGS: aerobic test, Fartlek Running, Watt Bike, Swim Sessions, Rugby Training, Rugby Training Manual, physical condition, Off-Season Break, Physical Readiness Program, active rest, rowing, staying in shape, Pre-season Training, Ashley Jones, weight training, speed

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As I enter my 25th pre-season as a strength and conditioning coach in professional sport, I thought I would share with you the actual training manual that all our players received prior to departing for their one-month break. This is a generic manual that primarily covers staying in shape prior to the rigors of pre-season training. Specific players have been tasked with specific targets in relation to key areas such as body composition and aerobic fitness.


RECENT: Programming for the Loose Forwards in Rugby


The manual includes a wide-ranging number of workouts which I have collected over many years. Some are the work of others, so I thank those responsible for the ideas they have passed on as I collate them here for both my players and you, the reader, to utilize where appropriate.

Off-Season Break

Physical Readiness Program

Battle Ready — 2016/17

May 26 — June 26 

The key to this period is to ensure you do not let yourself down by stopping training altogether. Try and not let two or a maximum of three days go by without doing something physical. Remember as the concert pianist is quoted as saying:

“If I do not practice for one day, I know it;

If I do not practice for two days, the orchestra knows it; and

If I do not practice for three days, the audience knows it.”

 

So try and not let two or a maximum of three days go by without doing something physical. There are a plethora of training options included in this program for you.

Stay as active as you can over the time away. All recreational activities will indirectly improve your physical condition, so games of tennis, squash, basketball and activities such as surfing, diving and cycling/mountain biking are fantastic choices, but remember that these are incidental to the training options included in this document; they do not substitute for them. The suggested schedule is simply that: an idea of what to do. Of course, your individual travel plans and access to facilities will impact what activities you do.

Note: The first session back into training on June 27 will be a 2.4-kilometer time trial for all players; these are my expectations for all positions on this running test. Following on from this test you will be assigned into a variety of training groups based around current fitness levels, positional requirements, training age, and individual needs.

2,400-Meter Time Trial

  • Position Standards (with position on field jersey numbers)
  • Loosies (6, 7, 8) < 8:45
  • Outsides (11, 13, 14) < 9:15
  • Hookers & Insides & Fullback (2, 9, 10, 12, 15) < 9:00
  • Tighties (1, 3, 4, 5) < 10:30

To achieve these results a pace chart is imperative so that you know exactly where you are in relation to your goal times.

2,400-Meter Pacing Chart

2,400-Meter Pacing Chart

YoYo Aerobic Test / Aspirational Targets

Position/ Minimum YoYo                                                                                              

  • Tight Head Prop (3)/17
  • Loose Head Prop & Locks (1,4,5)/18
  • Blindside Flanker, Number 8, Hooker (6,8,2)/19
  • Open Side Flanker & Half Back (7,9)/20
  • 1st 5/8, 2nd 5/8, Centre (10,12,13)/18:5
  • Wingers and Fullback (11,14,15)/19

Players will be initially assessed via the 2,400-meter time trial and will also be assessed using the YoYo intermittent recovery test later in the initial pre-season block of training.

Active Rest Options

When you need to do something but it is more as a recovery session than an actual training session, I would suggest one of these options for you to choose from.

AR 1 Circuit Class/CrossFit/Les Mills classes

45–50 minutes, mixture of cardio and muscular endurance.

AR 2  Mountain Biking

45–90 minutes.

AR 3 SPIN CLASS

45–60 minutes.

AR 4 Squash, Badminton, or Tennis

45–60 minutes.

AR 5 Swimming or Aqua Jogging

45–60 minutes, mixture of cardio and muscular endurance.

AR 6 Steady State Running

40-60 minutes at 70-75% (long duration, low intensity at this stage) over varied terrain (e.g. forest, hills, beach).

Running Sessions

Run 1 Long, Slow, Continuous Running

This is a 30-45 minute run at a moderate pace. Run over a course that has variation in the terrain (e.g. golf course, botanical gardens, running tracks, etc.) This run should only be used very early in your off-season or if you have little or no aerobic running base. You will have to build up to this length if you have done little or no running.

Heart rate target during run = 155+ BPM

Run 2 Aerobic Intervals (33 Minutes)

Run a five-minute warm-up, and then stretch. Then run for:

  • 9 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy
  • 6 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy

Heart rate target during hard block = 170–190 BPM

Heart rate target during easy block = 140–160 BPM

Run 3 Aerobic Intervals (34 Minutes)

Run a five-minute warm-up, and then stretch. Then run for:

  • 3 minutes hard, 1 minute easy
  • 5 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy
  • 7 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy
  • 5 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes hard, 1 minute easy

Heart rate target during hard block = 170–190 BPM

Heart rate target during easy block = 140–160 BPM

Run 4 Aerobic Intervals (30 Minutes)

Run a five-minute warm-up. Then run for:

  • 5 minutes hard, 2.5 minutes easy
  • 4 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes hard, 1.5 minutes easy
  • 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy
  • 1 minutes hard, 0.5 minutes easy

Heart rate target during hard block = 170–190 BPM

Heart rate target during easy block = 140–160 BPM

Run 5 Hill Repeats and/or Stairs (30-45 Minutes)

Run a five-minute warm-up and dynamic stretch. Then:

  • 5 minutes hard up stairs or incline (3-minute walk/jog return) x 1, (2:1), 8 minutes
  • 3 minutes hard up stairs or incline (1-minute walk/jog return) x 3,(3:1), 2 minutes
  • 2 minutes hard up stairs or incline (1-minute walk returns) x 3, (2:1), 9 minutes
  • 1 minute hard up stairs or incline (1-minute walk returns) x 4, (1:1). 8 minutes
  • 5 minutes cool down and static stretch. 

Repeated Speed Options

Start and finish each repeated speed running session with a five-minute run warm-up steady pace.

RS 1 20 x 40 seconds with 20 seconds rest. Try to run between 200–220 meters each rep.

RS 2 10 x 400 meters, sprint the bends and jog the straights, continuous.

RS 3 20 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest. Try to run between 150–180 meters each rep.

RS 4 20 x 20 seconds with 40 seconds rest. Try to run between 110–140 meters each rep.

RS 5 12 x 100/200 Drill. 100 meters in 20 seconds with 40 seconds rest then 200 meters in 40 seconds with 20 seconds rest; if you are feeling in great shape try the 300-meter option as well in 60 seconds, then rest 60 seconds and start at 100 meters again.

RS 6 30 x 100 in <17 seconds going every 45 seconds.

Fartlek Running

Start with around 20 minutes of continuous running (build up gradually adding five minutes of running each week). Try to do this in a park area or tracks; try to stay off of the road. Do the Fartlek run at a jog pace and every 1.5 to 3 minutes introduce a much harder run of 30, 60 or 90 seconds. Or, if you can obtain access to a golf course, you can do the following: Sprint the Par 3’s, stride out the Par 4’s and jog the Par 5’s. Recovery is the walk between green and the next tee.

Watt Bike Options

WB 1 15 kilometers: 15 x 1,000 meters as fast as you can. One on/one off recovery

WB 2 5,4,3,2,1: 5,000-4,000–3,000–2,000–1,000 with one on/one off recovery.

WB 3 1 On/1 Off: Ride as far as possible in one minute then repeat after one minutes rest x 15

WB 4 Speed: 200 meters with 90 seconds recovery x 5, 100 meters with 60 seconds recovery x 10, 50 meters with 30 seconds recovery x 15.

WB 5 The Beast: 6 sprints x 6 times through.

  • 10 seconds sprint, 10 seconds active rest.
  • 20 seconds sprint, 20 seconds active rest.
  • 30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds active rest.
  • 40 seconds sprint, 40 seconds active rest.
  • 50 seconds sprint, 50 seconds active rest.
  • 60 seconds sprint, 60 seconds active rest.

Do this six times.

WB 6 Lactate Heaven: 45 seconds as fast as you can. The goal is 700+ meters, rest 3 minutes 15 seconds, and repeat x 8.

WB 7 30/30/30: Complete 30 seconds on air brake 10 then 30 seconds on air brake 1 x 30.

WB 8 1500 to 100: Start at 1500 meters as fast as you can and drop off 100 meters with each successive effort, resting only one minute between efforts.

WB 9 OMG Has He Gone Crazier: 45 seconds as fast as you can then into Beastly Circuit, on a 4-minute clock x 6 reps.

Or instead of Beastly Circuit, do 4 sets of DB upper body push/pull superset to failure. Use DB’s that you can get between 8–12 reps till concentric failure adjust the DB’s when you fail to get 8 reps. Or alternate between the Beast circuit and the DB supersets for 8 total watt bike efforts

Weight Training

A simple upper body/lower body push-pull approach is best here; you want to minimize your time in the gym and get the most out of it, so make choices around the big compound movements. Some ideas are below. Do two or three sessions a week:

Four exercises only each session. Do four (4) sets of 6-8 reps on each exercise.

Choose different exercises for each session:

  • Lower Body Push: Back Squat, Front Squat, Step-Ups, Sprinters Squat, Walking Lunge
  • Lower Body Pull: Power Clean, Power Snatch, Pulls from Floor, Good Morning, Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift
  • Upper Body Pull: Bent Over Row, Weighted Chins, Bench Row, Upright Row, One DB Row, Pendlay Row 
  • Upper Push: Bench Press, Incline Press, Military Press, Push Press, DB or Bar on all option

Circuit options

C 1 Beastly Circuit (6)

  • Deadlift
  • Power Clean from Hang
  • Front Squat
  • Push Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • 3 minutes cardio

C 2 Otago Circuit (5)

  • Row 300 meters in less than 1 minute
  • 10 Full Burpees
  • 10 x 36-kilogram two-arm swing with KB
  • 4 x 15-meter shuttle run
  • 10-kilogram medicine ball slam to ground
  • 10 each side.

C 3 BW/KB Circuit (3)

  • 10 Mountain Climbers
  • 10 KB Floor Press
  • 10 No-Momentum Sit-Ups
  • 10 KB Renegade Row
  • 10 Grasshoppers
  • 10 KB See-Saw Shoulder Press
  • 10 Jumping Squat Lunges
  • 10 KB Alternate Upright Row
  • 10 Rock & Rolls
  • 10 KB Alternating Snatches

C 4 Super Circuit

  • Pull
  • Push
  • Squat
  • Core
  • 4–6 times through
  • 10 reps on all exercises

Group 1

  • Upright Row (40)
  • Close Grip Bench Press (50)
  • Squat Jump (40)
  • MB Russian Twist

1 x Springbok Shuttle: Shuttle run with lines at five-meter intervals from 0 to 25 meters. Payers start at zero and run out to 5 meters and return to zero, continuing in this format for 30 seconds and calculating how far they have run. The full shuttle is 150 meters (30 seconds.

Group 2

  • Hang Cleans (50)
  • Shoulder Press (40)
  • Step Ups (50)
  • Hanging Knees to Chest

1 x Malcolm Drill: Start chest-to-ground on the halfway line. At a signal, get up and back pedal 10 meters, drop to the ground, get up, and sprint 20 meters forward and drop to the ground then get up and back pedal to the start position. The best players will get slightly over two complete reps of this drill (30 seconds).

Group 3

  • Bent Row (60)
  • Incline Bench (60)
  • Overhead Squat (20)
  • Sprinter’s Sit-Ups

Half Gasser: Start lying on the ground on the sideline, chest on ground. At a signal, get up and sprint to the far side touchline, turn and drop down on the line, get up and sprint back to the start position without dropping to the ground at the finish. Best players will do this in around 23 seconds. Distance is 140 meters.

Rowing Sessions

Row 1

  • Five-minute warm-up at 2:00 pace.
  • 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at <1:45 pace x 20.
  • Five minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 2    

  • Five-minute warm-up at 2:00 pace.
  • 15 seconds work, 45 seconds rest at <1:30 pace x 5.
  • 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest at <1:35 pace x 5.
  • 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at < 1:40 pace x 5.
  • 60 seconds work, 30 seconds rest at <1:45 pace x 5.
  • Five minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 3    

  • Five-minute warm-up at 2:00 pace.
  • 30 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at <1:35 pace x 5.
  • 60 seconds work, 30 seconds rest at <1:45 pace x 5.
  • 30 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at < 1:35 pace x 5.
  • 60 seconds work, 30 seconds rest at < 1:45 pace x 5.
  • Five minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 4    

  • Five-minute warm-up at 2:00 pace.
  • 15 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at <1:25 pace x 5.
  • 30 seconds work, 15 seconds rest at <1:30 pace x 5.
  • 45 seconds work,15 seconds rest at 1:40 pace x 5.
  • 60 seconds work, 30 seconds rest at <1:45 pace x 5.
  • Five minutes at 2:00 pace.

Row 5

  • 3 x 8, 100-meter row at maximum pace.
  • 40 seconds recovery between reps.
  • Three minutes between sets.
  • Target pace: <1:26/500 meters

Row 6

  • 3 x 8, 10 second-sprint/10 seconds easy/10-second sprint at maximum pace.
  • One minute recovery between reps
  • Three minutes recovery between sets.
  • Target pace: 1:25–28/500 meters for sprint; sub 1:50/500 meters for cruise.

Row 7

10 x 200-meters rowing sprints with two minutes between sprints.

Row 8

  • 500-meter intervals.
  • Two minutes recovery between reps.
  • Do as many reps as possible and record them.
  • Target pace: Sub 1:40/500 meters.

Row 9

  • 6 x 500-meter intervals, two minutes rest between reps.
  • 3 x 250m intervals, one minute rest between reps.
  • Target pace: Sub 1:35/500 meters for all six 500-meter intervals; sub 0:55/250 meters for all three 250-meter intervals.
  • Maintain a drop-off of less than 10 seconds for both 500-meter and 250-meter intervals.

Row 10

  • Interval sessions of 50 meters up to 500 meters, increasing 50 meters per interval, and back down.
  • Max pace for all reps.
  • 1:1 work to rest ratio.

Swim Sessions

S 1 In a 25-meter pool, try to swim a length minimizing the number of breaths you take. Rest the same amount of time it takes you to complete the length x 20.

S 2 Swim Ladder:

  • 25 meters, rest 30 seconds.
  • 50 meters, rest 45 seconds.
  • 75 meters, rest 60 seconds.
  • 100 meters, rest 3 minutes.
  • Repeat x 4

S 3 Swim continuously for 20 minutes initially and attempt to increase by two minutes on each successive swim.

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