Rugby Fitness Training

Rugby produces some unique training requirements not seen in other sports. It is a sport that caters for all types of physiques and places demands on almost all the bodies’ physical characteristics.

I will not go into an in-depth discussion of the various requirements of rugby and variations for each position. However, I will briefly review the main requirements for success. The demands of rugby are varied and I could almost list every physical ability and say it impacts upon performance, however the main factors are:

  • Aerobic power – more specifically a high aerobic power over a pure steady state aerobic base e.g. a good 6 minute run test score more important than good 10 km time. (Obviously these two are highly integrated but still are different).
  • Lactate tolerance – The key limiting factor during play, affects both aerobic power and speed endurance.
  • Speed – More specifically acceleration and repeated sprint speed endurance.
  • Agility – The ability to decelerate and change direction or move in a non linear direction.
  • Strength – Both maximum strength and speed strength and as any sport requires a strong core as a foundation.

To add to this you could easily point out maximum speed is important in many situations and you can never be called too fast, but in general it is not too decisive. Muscles size is also not hugely important to success as it is your strength, absolute, relative and fast speed that is more important. Though one factor affecting maximum strength is of course muscle cross section area. I have not mentioned above about flexibility but just like core strength it is a fundamental that needs to be used to restore ideal posture and muscle lengths. How much flexibility is optimal past these ideal lengths is an issue of much debate and beyond the scope of this article.

To effectively cover all the main attributes a rugby player needs to optimize performance he must cover six main types of training methods:

  • Aerobic training – To develop lactate tolerance and aerobic power.
  • Sprint training- To enhance acceleration and repeated sprint speed endurance.
  • Resistance training- To build maximum and fast speed strength.
  • Agility training – to learn effective mutli-directional movements and changes of pace.
  • Plyometric training – To support speed strength in linear and multi directional movements.
  • Core and flexibility training – To create the underlying foundations of all the above training.

Fitness for Busy Moms

Carry your baby with you

Nothing burns calories faster than exercising with weights. You get stronger while building lean muscle that helps increase your metabolism and burn additional calories. Instead of pushing the stroller everywhere you go, consider carrying your baby in your arms or even on a baby carrier/sling. Not only will this help you exercise, it will also help you develop a closer bond with your child. NOTE: When carrying your baby, make sure you have good posture by standing up straight and tightening your abdominal muscles. This will prevent any possible back injury which can result from constantly carrying the additional weight.

Get at least 30 minutes of “real” exercise

Let’s face it, “running around chasing after your baby” is not truly exercise. You need at least 10 minutes of constant physical activity to count it as “real” exercise. While it may be hard to schedule 30 minutes of jogging on that treadmill, try breaking it into three 10 minute daily sessions. This is much easier to fit into your schedule and will still have the effective calorie burning results of a full half hour workout.

Do the housework

Although most people don’t really enjoy doing the household chores, those tedious activities can really help you burn some serious calories. For example, 30 minutes of vacuuming the house burns between 75 and 125 calories. Other common tasks such as making the bed can burn up to 70 calories and even the act of cooking a healthy meal can help you burn off up to 50 calories.

Schedule physical play time for you and the kid(s)

Instead of sending the kids off to watch TV or play video games, try getting involved in a fun game with them that includes physical activity for you and them. Go for a stroller walk, throw a Frisbee, play ball, etc. You can also arrange for play dates with other moms and transform this time into a fun and entertaining social bonding experience.

Get Started In Running

Get proper running shoes!

Lots of people start running with inadequate footwear. I advise you to buy a good pair of name-brand running shoes like Nike, Adidas, New Balance etc. At the beginner level you won’t need the top of the line model either. You should be able to find a good pair in the $50 to $70 range. Visit your local running store for some good advice.

Start Slowly

If you’re new to running, or haven’t run in a long time, then you probably won’t be able to run very far without getting out of breath. By far the best way to start is to alternate running and walking. Run slowly for about 2 minutes and then walk for 2 minutes to recover. You’ll soon be able to increase this to 4 to 5 minute intervals. Then gradually decrease the walking time until you can run 30 – 40 minutes non-stop. It may take you several weeks to get to this point. Be patient!

Set Your running Goals

These should be fairly modest to start with, even if you are quite fit. Don’t try to run a 26-mile marathon in your first year of running! A realistic goal for the first 6 – 12 months would be to reach a point where you can run 6 miles. You might want to participate in a local race or two. These are fun events, and are often community-based to raise money for charity or medical research.

Avoid injuries

Runners are among the most likely to get an injury of one kind or another. This is usually caused by over-use, but can also come from a biomechanical problem like a weak knee joint or over-pronation of the feet. As a beginner runner you need to be aware of this and build a good base of running before you increase your efforts. Don’t be afraid to stop and walk on a run if you are feeling strained.

Run with a friend

Running with someone like yourself who is just beginning is a great way to get started. You can chat as you go along, and the time (and miles!) will go by really quickly.

Take It Easy!

As you get fitter, the temptation is to run further and faster. This is where it’s easy to get hurt. If it’s a serious problem like an Achilles heel injury this could knock you out of your running program, and may even discourage you from running altogether.

Keep a Running Log

This is a great way to keep yourself motivated. The basic items you want to record are the date, how long you were out, and how far you went. You can also note the route you took, the weather, companions, and anything else you feel is important. Your running log can become your daily fitness diary. Another important feature of your running log book is keeping track of your total mileage from week to week. If you increase this by more than the recommended percentage (10 – 15%) then you are risking an injury.

Inversion Therapy

Maybe it’s old age creeping up on me, but I feel a lot better doing it when I first get up. It could also be why I don’t feel the effects as dramatically as doing it during the evening. It’s also recommended to use it frequently throughout the day, rather than one long session. I use it for one minute in the evening, and if I remember, I try to add more one minute sessions during the day. I’ve also found that inverting 180 degrees really doesn’t have any additional benefits. I stopped fully inverting to 180 degrees as it made my head pound, and my eyeballs feel like they were going to pop out. It was also really hard on the ankles, as they were supporting my full body weight when inverted. I found a sweet spot at around 140-150 degrees inverted.

At this setting, my head and eyes weren’t pounding, and it dramatically reduced the pain and strain on my ankles. I felt absolutely no benefit being inverted at 180 degrees than at 140-150 degrees. In fact, at 140-150 degrees, it was much more comfortable, and I didn’t feel like I needed to stop after two minutes. I may try to increase my workout to three minutes. It’s recommended that you can increase your time inverted up to five minutes. I’m still working on getting past two minutes. My Teeter Hangups has proven to be rock solid reliable, with no problems. Nuts and bolts have all remained locked tight, and there are no squeaks or noises. I must admit, it’s a really heavy duty unit that should hold up to years of use. It did need a bit of oil on the ankle clamp mechanism, as it started to get sticky and temperamental. But, after a little bit of oil, it works like it’s on ball bearings. Some like to do exercises while inverted, such as crunches and twisting movements.

At my age, I don’t want to press my luck, so I’ll stick to tried and true inversion sessions. I haven’t had a chance to try out an inversion chair, but I suspect it won’t give you the benefits of an inversion table. With an inversion chair, you are sitting upside down, and only your torso and upper body weight are decompressing your upper body and joints. Your ankles and knees aren’t really getting any benefit from being inverted. If you do a full 180 degree inversion with the inversion chair, you will experience the same throbbing eyeballs and pounding in your head. The inversion table uses your entire body weight to decompress all your joints, giving you a more extensive workout. Since the exact weight of your body is compressing all your joints, using your entire body weight inverted will give it an equal decompression of your joints.

When shopping for an inversion table, don’t be cheap. Spend an extra $50-$100 over some of the no name bargain inversion tables. If you can actually go to a store and physically inspect it before buying, even better yet. Make sure the inversion table you choose is sturdy enough to support your weight. If it flexes and feels wobbly, don’t purchase it. Serious injury to your head, neck, and back can occur if the inversion table fails, or tips over. Check the ankle support system to make sure it’s very robust, and not just cheap straps that hold your ankles with velcro. If they aren’t well padded, and hold your ankles securely, they can remove skin and be a painful experience. They could also fail when inverted, causing serious injury if you land on your head or compress your neck and back. The inversion table has been a great investment, and something I know I’ll be using daily for the rest of my life.

Essential Gym Bag Items

  • Shoes. OK, so this one you may walk in already wearing. I pack mine because I’m often coming from work. The right shoes are an absolute must. What do I mean by the right shoes? This is an excellent question, and I am so pleased that you asked. When I started my CrossFit journey, Inov8s were really popular. They’re a minimalist running shoe, with a zero-drop sole. Merrell made a similar pair that were pretty good too… if you’re interested in barefoot running, which, at the time was just garnering quite a lot of attention in the running/fitness world. Zero drop is actually really important for CrossFitters as well because it allows you to squat and lift with better contact with the ground. A typical running shoe has a lot of squishy cushion in the heel, and not only is it not helpful in CrossFit movements, it can really hinder the proper development of your squat. Luckily, CrossFitters have better options now, that are geared specifically towards CrossFit. Here are my top picks.

The CrossFit Nano 5.0, made by Reebok is an all-around winner. I also loved the Nano 4.0, as well as the 2.0. The 2.0 is still available for sale at reebok.com.

Nanos have a zero-drop sole, and the 5.0s are a little stiffer through the heel, again to better facilitate contact with the ground when lifting. I particularly like the 5.0 because it has a narrower toe box (I have long, narrow feet) than either the 4.0 or the 2.0. It’s super grippy on the sides for rope climbs, and it just looks fantastic (Bonus!). Cost: $129.98 (more for customized options) from reebok.com, As far as an athletic shoe, this is a little on the pricey side, but for all-around useful-ness, this is a can’t-do-without winner.

When the Metcons came out they’d built up so much hype that they sold out immediately, and were back-ordered for months. I’ve never actually tried a pair, but from what I’ve heard they are not durable like the Nanos, especially when it comes to rope climbs. Otherwise, these have many of the same features as the Reebok Nanos in that they will allow you to squat more effectively in your WODs, as well as give appropriate support for running, and jumping movements. These go for $120 from nike.com. I think these are also a great looking shoe. Seriously, I get shoe envy every time I see a pair, but I’m a committed Nano girl… have been for years.

  • Tape Strips. If you don’t keep a pair of ready-made strips in your bag, then at least keep a roll of sport tape so you can make up a pair in a pinch. You can pick it up at any pharmacy, or order it online (my personal favorite). It’s available for $5.75 (on Prime) from amazon.com. There are so many things we do on the bar that can really wreck your hands. You’re already in a CrossFit gym, there’s no need to prove your toughness by shredding your hands. Note: there is a difference between sport tape and powerflex. If you use powerflex on your thumbs it will just hurt because it isn’t flexible enough, and conversely, powerflex would be a poor choice to protect hands because it’s too sticky.
  • And while we’re talking about hands, go ahead and throw a box of Blister Patches from Band-Aid in there. These are not something you will use in a work out (they won’t stay on, although they DO stick much better than regular band-aids), so perhaps they shouldn’t have made the essential list of gym bag items. However, they are like balm on poor ripped CrossFit hands. Imagine being able to put new skin right onto your tear… yep, that’s exactly what these do. You’ll have to replace them fairly often, but it’s worth a little relief when your hands are torn and you still have to use them. I pick mine up at Walgreens for about $7 per box of 6.
  • Pre-wrap tape, or Powerflex. I also mentioned these in my hand-care post. I use this every day, to wrap wrists (when using false grip on muscle ups), thumbs (when you’re using hookgrip on a barbell), or hot spots on my fingers. Definitely a high-use item. I use Powerflex and I order it from ithacasports.com in a box of 24 for $54.99+shipping. I find the 2″ is most useful. I go through a box about every 6 months.
  • Headband. If you’re of the male variety, you may think this just isn’t for you. But, guys, if sweat is running in your eyes, it burns the same way. I’ve seen lots of men wear headbands in the gym, especially if their hair is on the long side. Not only does a headband keep the sweat from your eyes, it keeps your hair out of the way, too. I’m picky about my headbands. It took me forever to find one that didn’t 1) slide right off my head, or 2) give me an immediate headache. I love the Fringe Fighter from Lululemon.com for $18. (please note that they are final sale). I think these Lucy headbands are very similar, at a similar price ($15), but I’ve never found a need to stray from my trusty Lulu. These headbands are wide enough to stay on my head.
  • Jump Rope.I don’t push clients into getting their own jump rope if they don’t yet have double unders locked in. But it’s a great idea, I would say it’s even necessary if you are serious about competing. Every gym is going to stock their own ropes. But it can be a hassle to find the right length, and it can be frustrating when the one you find that is the right length is in poor condition, with kinks, or worn spots where the wire is exposed. You just don’t always know what you’re getting. And when you’re struggling already with double unders, it can be like trying to hit a moving target. If you’re still learning, I highly recommend looking into rxsmartgear.com. Their ropes start at about $36, and once you have the handles, you can just replace the cable. Most people don’t realize that when you’re just trying to learn double unders, you’ll benefit from a little bit heavier rope, which is designed to give you more feedback and therefore allow you to learn quicker. Translation: less whipping yourself, and more actually learning how to establish a good rhythm. You can switch out a lighter cable as you become more and more proficient. Once you’re a double under master you can use their lightest rope, or find another speed rope that you like.

Once I became more proficient at double unders, I found I preferred a lighter, and smaller handle, and I switched to Again Faster. The one I’ve been using, which I’ve really liked, is no longer available, but it looks an awful lot like their Team Speed Rope ($20) – they released the Competition Rope ($30) after I bought the one I’m currently using. Again Faster also offers a Beginner Rope ($12), I like to keep a spare cable in my bag. For those rare “just in case” times.

  • Long Socks. There are certainly ways to minimize burning your skin right off on rope climbs. However, if I’m in a hurry (and when I’m on the clock, when am I NOT?) I don’t often take the time to worry about it. Pants help, but if I’m only wearing pants I usually burn the bare skin between the bottom of my pants and my shoe. Plus, my pants are way more expensive to replace than a pair of socks if I wear right through them.

Improved Vertical Leap

Some call squats the “king” of lower body exercises for strength training, but this only true if it is done properly. The biggest mistake most people new to the squats make is leaning too far with their body. This will hurt your back and make your progress much slower than it should be. While doing the squat, keep the bar resting you’re your upper back, rather than your neck. Always keep your knees above your feet to keep stable. And at first, focus on whether or not you are doing it properly, not how much weight you can lift.

Dumbbell lunges are also great for overall leg strength. Just grab a pair of dumbbells (one in each hand), stand up straight, and step as far as possible while still keeping your torso straight up and down. In the deepest part of the movement, your front leg should be in a ninety degree angle. Now stand up and repeat with the other leg. About a dozen reps with each leg should be sufficient for a basketball player’s purposes.

Of course, you can’t get great vertical leap with strength training alone. You also need to do plyometrics, that is, drills that require you to jump with explosive force. One good example is the “weighted box jump.” To do this exercise, get a box that is anywhere from a foot and a half to two feet and a half high (depending on how high your vertical leap is). Now, with a light dumbbell in each hand, jump onto the box, landing as softly as you can. It helps to bend the knees fully upon landing. Hop off and repeat.

Power cleans are a great exercise to train fast, dynamic movement, but they require a great deal of technique. Doing it wrong might result in no development, or worse yet, serious injury. Definitely consult with a personal trainer before attempting this advanced exercise.

Like in any good exercise program, don’t neglect your cardio. After all, the less fat your muscles have to carry upwards, the farther up you are likely to go!

Components to Peak Fitness

You don’t have to bulk-up your muscle mass to become a stronger person. Successful strength training will be comprised of exercises that are targeted at making your body stronger in specific areas utilized by your sport or activity. If you’re a swimmer for example, your strength training should target your arms and pecks in a way that helps you pull yourself through the water more efficiently. Or maybe you’re a runner who has been experiencing ankle pain. Your strength training should be focused on gradually increasing the strength in your ankles. To achieve peak fitness your strength training should work with, not against, your main activity.

Cardiovascular Exercise for Peak Fitness

The key to achieving peak fitness for cardiovascular exercise is not quantity, but quality. If you’re not constantly incorporating some harder work into your cardiovascular exercise routines your level of fitness will plateau. If you’re doing thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise, after a ten minute easy warm up do two minutes at an 80-90% effort, then slow back down for a minute to allow your heart rate to settle down. Repeat for ten minutes, and then finish with a ten minute cool down. When this pattern becomes easier for you, increase the amount of time you’re exercising at a higher intensity. You can also decrease the time you’re resting in between. To maintain your personal level of peak fitness you’ll need to change the intensity of your workouts every four to six weeks.

Flexibility Training for Peak Fitness

To perform more efficiently as an athlete your body needs flexibility training. The more flexible you are, the less likely you will suffer a performance related injury, and it will be easier for your body to adapt to and recover from hard exercise. Flexibility training is important to keep your muscles loose and will prevent and alleviate cramping. You should stretch for at least ten minutes after each of your strength training or cardiovascular exercise sessions. Like strength training, flexibility training will enhance your body’s ability to perform more efficiently. Flexibility training will also help you achieve your peak fitness level.

Lower Ab Workout

If you want to lose weight, burn fat and tone your muscle, then you want to go with the best lower ab workout aimed at these results. Contrary to popular belief many reps with short time intervals are not always the most effective ways of burning fat, and often slower exercises can be more effective in slimming down. One of the best lower ab workout techniques that is going around the gym circuit at the moment is the vertical leg lift.

This technique is an old one, but it fell out of favor with trainers in the eighties and early nineties when the machine-assisted abdominal workout trend took over. It is actually an extremely effective way of toning or building your lower abs. All you have to do is lie on your back with your legs at ninety degrees to the floor. Cross your feet over at your ankles and put your palms flat on the ground at your sides. Use your stomach muscles to try to push your feet upwards, without pushing down with your arms. It doesn’t matter if you cannot lift them very high, but try to keep them as straight as possible.

This is the best lower ab workout for both building muscle mass and burning fat. If you want to lose weight, this is the best lower ab workout if you do medium length intervals, and several relatively short sets. If you really want to build up your lower abdominals, then keep your feet pushed up for several seconds before bringing them down. Try to do sets of eight reps, if you can!

If you are a member of a gym the best lower ab workout you can do there is on the Captain’s Chair. If you are not familiar with this apparatus, it is a simple back board with a foot rest and two arm rests that should be at chest height when properly adjusted. All you have to do is stand with your back against the backboard and your arms on the armrests for support. Keeping your legs together, lift them up to your chest. Make sure you don’t arch your back or all of the strain will be immediately transferred to your hips.

If you want to build muscle doing this exercise, try to lift your knees up as high as you can go and down again in a total of four to five seconds. For those looking to lose weight, this can be one of the best lower ab workout techniques if you lift your knees up to parallel with your waist, then down again in two seconds. Try to keep your breathing constant, exhaling when you contract your muscles. If you inhale when you contract, you risk developing your abdominal muscles outwards, giving you an appearance of a beer belly.

About Speed Training Workouts

Success in most sports is based heavily on the ability to accelerate quickly and efficiently. This is because most sports primarily require short bursts of speed before the athlete stops, slows down or changes direction. The exception is track and field sprinters, where the acceleration portion of speed development is critical because it sets up the rest of the race. But even sports like soccer, traditionally trained using long slow runs and intervals, require a shift in emphasis to acceleration development. Success in these ‘endurance’ sports still depend on short periods of acceleration in order to get to a loose ball, breakaway from an opponent and get back on defense.

So there’s little point in doing speed training workouts if you haven’t first mastered the ability to accelerate. Here are some basic speed training workouts that you can do in order to improve the ability to accelerate. For our purposes we are talking about runs from 0 – 30 yards.

But before you begin, regardless of your sport or beliefs about training speed, there are some things you need to remember when it comes to acceleration development.

  • Full recovery between repetitions is required.
  • Full recovery means rest approximately one minute for every 10 yards that you run.
  • ‘Don’t train speed every day.
  • The more force you apply to the ground, the faster you’ll pick up speed
  • Make sure that your feet land beneath the hips.
  • The heels should never touch the ground when doing speed work.
  • You run faster when you stay relaxed then when you strain.

I like to start the training season with short runs up hill because this forces athletes to really drive the foot down into the ground in order to gain momentum. The ability to apply force into the ground with each stride is the driving force (pun intended) behind getting faster. I like to use fairly steep hills, that way the requirements in steps 4-7 above really become more pronounced. When you don’t follow those criteria, it becomes extremely difficult to accelerate quickly.

  • 10 x 20y uphill or on a flat surface from standing start. 2 minute rest.
  • 10 x 30y uphill or on a flat surface from (push up down position, 3 point stance or seated). 3 minutes rest.

As you can see, speed training workouts themselves aren’t especially complicated or fancy. The results come from following the 7 rules I mentioned earlier, mastering technique by using speed drills and improving strength by lifting weights. In all, the key is to follow a comprehensive and complete speed training program that will not only teach you the types of workouts that improve speed but also the many other elements of training that compliment your speed work and develop overall athletic ability. By looking for short cuts and quick answers, you’ll see inconsistent and frustrating results. But when your speed training workouts fit into a well designed training plan, you’ll get results that you didn’t realize could occur so quickly and easily.

Choose a Wonderful Racing Bike

Frames

When buying such a bike, future owners have to choose between the frames, made of carbon fiber and aluminum. Most of the aluminum frames excel at driving on a flat surface. However, this option is much cheaper as compared with carbon. Frames made of carbon fiber exhibit improved resistance to stress and maximum effective cushioning during the transport.

Wheels

As already mentioned above, the racing bikes are often equipped with narrow high-pressure tires. The surface of the latter contains a minimum quantity of protectors. Wheels that are tailored to these features would provide a low-level friction from the road surface, which contributes to the development of a high speed.

Pedals

Most of such bikes have no pedals as standard. This is due to the need of suiting the characteristics of riders’ shoes. Competent approach to the choice of the pedals is largely reflected in the comfort of driving and achieving the desired results.

Recommendation

If you are in need of a racing bike, I would recommend the 700C racing bike. This bike comes with the ultra-light aluminium alloy frame, which is anti-static coated. Thus, it looks nice and is durable for use. And the three aluminium alloy spokes provide high strength and speed improvement. What’s more, the racing 46T crankset with exquisite workmanship keeps fast riding.

Specs:

  • Material: Aluminium alloy
  • Load capacity: 150kg
  • Pedal category: Ball bearing pedal
  • Braking system: Double V disc brake
  • Size: 700x52cm
  • Package Weight: About 14kg