6. Maximise your time – Use the big lifts – You can train every major muscle and movement pattern if you use the compound lifts (those that use more than one joint) like squats, deadlifts and standing presses.
Not only will this save you time it trains the body to co-ordinate the use of all the muscles together which is what you need to do on the pitch. Avoid machines if you can and use free weights which promote balance, co-ordination and overall strength rather than isolated strength.
7. Maximise your time – Active Rest. Don’t sit around chatting between sets, use your time productively! Use time between exercises to work on any weaknesses you have such as balance, catching, passing or stretching (e.g. stretch your tight hamstrings out between bench press sets as this will not interfere with that lift).
8. Positions, movements, speed, weight – With any lift particularly when you are learning something new use this progression.
- Positions – Spend time learning and adapting your body to the correct position for each stage of the lift e.g. the bottom and top of a front squat.
- Movements – Reproducing the correct movements between those positions e.g. keeping your knees out over your toes and back flat when moving from the bottom position to the top position of a front squat.
- Speed – Once you are happy with the positions and movements you can increase the speed between positions remembering to be under control at all times. Rugby is played at speed and you need to be able to move weights at speed while maintaining correct technique.
- Weight – You can then progressively add weight to the bar as long as you are able to maintain your positions, movements and speed.
9. Limit the gimmicks – kettlebells, sleds, fat bars, chains and resistance bands added to the barbell are just a few of the diverse range of tools being seen in gyms. Many have come from the world of Powerlifting where the athletes need the variety to break plateaus. You need to be so strong that straight strength training is no longer effective before you break out the chains and fat bars!
10. Be safe – Always check the equipment and environment each time you train. The last thing you want is to be squatting 180kg and the sleeve of the barbell to be loose and fall off or to slip on a wet floor! Try to train with partners who can spot you on lifts, particularly the bench press. Remember training in the gym is supposed to make you a better player not put you in the Medical Room!