WHATEVER YOUR chosen position on the field, and your level of competition it’s likely that you’ll need to improve your stamina. This is especially important in pre-season, but is something you should keep on top of throughout the rugby season.
Whether running in training, on the roads after work, or cycling at the weekend there are a variety of exercises you can incorporate into your weekly fitness routine to improve your stamina on the rugby field.
Any activity that elevates the heart rate to between 60 and 80% of its maximum level for 20-40 minutes will build aerobic endurance; an essential element to give you that extra edge towards the end of your matches.
You don’t need to be a cycling expert with all the gear, knowing your Sram chainsets from your Shimano groupsets, to get the benefit from two wheels. If you have your own road bike great, if not you can incorporate some time on the exercise bike into your gym routine. The key is to involve interval training to build endurance. Switch between four minutes of high-intensity riding, followed by three minutes of lower effort cycling. Repeat this three or four times, remembering to warm up and cool down with each session. This is a great starting point to improve your rugby endurance.
It’s clear that you don’t have two wheels when on the rugby pitch, so cycling can only take you so far. The key to really building up your stamina is through running and mirroring the movements you’re going to put your body through on the rugby pitch.
Again you need to bring interval training into the mix. If you work your muscles for periods of two to four minutes, with rest periods of between 30 seconds and two minutes, with your heart rate at approximately 90% of its maximum capacity, you’ll be working both aerobically and anaerobically. This means that your endurance will improve in terms of your running capability and your strength, which is essential when undertaking tasks such as chasing back after a line break and defending. Lasting the full 80 minutes of competitive rugby, you clearly need to work on both these areas; which brings us on to our next point.
In order to last the distance you need to be able to run, tackle, maul and generally have your wits about you. Basically you need endurance across all these elements; making combined training essential.
This involves both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, mimicking the movements you make in the game. You may think small sided games are the answer; however, you don’t always get the required anaerobic workout. In order to mimic the actions your body will go through in the game, exercises such as tackle-bag drills, getting up and down from the floor and wrestling need to be included.
These exercises combined with interval running in training, and cycling in your own time could be the difference between going at full tilt for 80, not 70 minutes.