Strength and conditioning training based on muscle movements rather than muscle groups
Many gym-goers base their strength and conditioning training on muscle groups (legs day, chest day, back day, arms day etc) but this is a flawed plan as muscles need to work together to produce movement. So really we should train movements not muscles, writes Simon Nainby.
There are six basic movement patterns that we all use in our daily lives and when playing rugby. They are:
Squat, Bend, Push, Pull, Twist and Single Leg
We group these movements together to perform skills on the pitch such as scrummaging (squat, bend and push), rucking (squat, bend, push, pull) and mauling (squat, single leg, push, pull).
Practising good form in these patterns in the gym will allow the moves to become second nature so that when under pressure in a game, you will find it second nature to hit a ruck with a flat back or land from a lineout without turning your knees and ankles in.
Knowing these movement patterns and the exercises that train them will help you plan your training sessions to ensure you are efficient in what you do on the pitch.
Here are some rugby strength and conditioning sample exercise videos:
Strength and conditioning: Squat
This is a key movement pattern for virtually all sports. It builds strength primarily in the legs and hips (but also core strength) but importantly it develops balance, co-ordination and even flexibility. Done properly squats will help prevent injury as they strengthen the hips, knees and ankles to stay in the correct alignment.
Strength and conditioning: Push
The upper body movement of pushing an object away from the body or the body away from an object such as a hand off. There are 2 forms of push – horizontal (arms in front of the chest) and vertical (arms above the head) and they can be done with one hand or two.
Arnold Shoulder Press
Strength and conditioning: Pull
An upper body movement pulling the body towards something or pulling something towards the body. Again this can be horizontal or vertical and one hand or two.
Strength and conditioning: Bend
Bending at the waist is something we constantly do in rugby as we pick up a ball, tackle, hit a ruck or scrummage or before we jump. It is also a major source of injury and back pain so learning to keep a natural curve in the lower back as we bend and shoulders squeezed back is very important.
Strength and conditioning: Single Leg
Anything done on one leg which for the most part is running but also includes the following exercises:
Bulgarian Split squat
Strength and conditioning: Twist
Rugby involves not only twisting through the torso such as when passing but also resisting twisting movements such as props resisting each other in a scrummage.
Twists: Medicine Ball Twist
Push Up and Rotate
Strength and conditioning: Combos
Once you have good technique in each pattern you can start putting them together in combination exercises that work more than one pattern just as happens on the pitch.
Deadlift – Pull & Bend
Powerclean – Pull, Bend, Squat
Glute Band – Squat & Push
Press/Push Press/Jerk – Push, Squat
Burpee – Push, Bend, Squat
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