Leicester and England centre Dan Hipkiss reveals how to leave the opposition behind…

To maintain your speed throughout the season, you need to work on your leg strength as well as doing speed and sprinting drills.

In the early part of the week once you’ve had a day or two to recover, do a session lifting very heavy weights for just two-three reps. Aim to lift as much as you possibly can.

I do trap-bar dead-lifts and belt squats, and you should be lifting well over your body weight – some of the Tigers boys will lift 260kg! When you’re accelerating, you’re pushing off with much more force than just your own weight, so you need to train with this intensity as well.

I do my speed drills and sprinting sessions on a Thursday. It’s important to warm up properly to get rid of any stiffness in the joints, so I do two sets of 10m ankling, 30-40m A-skips (start at a walking pace, and raise your knees up and down, concentrating on both height and distance), and B-skips, where the object is to kick your legs out in front of you. Look for them on YouTube.

In the main session I do three sets of sled drags, which is sprinting with a weight dragging behind you. Adjust the weight for each set you do. So for the first set, you’ll drag 25kg, followed by 15kg and then no weight at all, over a distance of 20m.

Next up are bag drives. Hit a tackle bag on an uphill gradient, driving it back forcefully.

Work on these drills on a weekly basis to keep yourself sharp and fired up. If I have an evening game, I do a lighter speed session that morning to get my neurosystem firing.

At the Tigers, we work one-on-one with a coach, but we’re trying to introduce an element of competition with other team-mates, because it makes us work harder!

You can set goals to keep yourself motivated, but they need to be realistic, and your recovery is the most important thing when you’re playing week in, week out. It’s important to constantly improve, but if you’ve had a tough game on a Saturday and a hard Tuesday session, you may only be able to do half the number of sets on a Thursday.

Dan’s top tips…

  • Work on leg strength
  • Do speed sessions on a weekly basis
  • Set realistic goals

This article appeared in the February 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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