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.

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.

Stages of a Proper Workout Session

  • Start with a warm up.
    Warm-up is not stretching, as what we have been taught in schools. Start with light cardio work to warm up those muscles. Take about 5 to 10 min of lighter workout at the bike or treadmill.
    When you stretch when your muscles are cold, you may end up spraining it.
    After the warm up cardio, you may stretch if you wish.
  • Actual Workout
    You may now start with more intensive cardio workout. You should not do intensive cardio for more than an hour as it will deplete the critical glycogen storage in your muscles. After cardio, you may perform a bit of weight training.
  • Cool-down- (light cardio)
    When you do intensive cardio or weight lifting, lactic acid may accumulate in your muscles. The only way to get rid of it from your muscles- is by movement & circulation- so, just like your warm-up, you do light cardio for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Stretching
    Experience sore muscles or stiffness after your workout? Or having to endure sore muscles for few days after workout? I strongly recommend that you incorporate stretching in your post workout. Do not underestimate the power of stretching. Incorporate stretching after your workout and you will feel great- you’ll walk easier and it will lessen your muscle sprain or injury. I speak from my personal experience- this really works. For a good cool down, spend about at least 10 minutes.

Weight Training Routines

Weight training can also improve overall health. You’ll gain strength, which can help you avoid injuries. A weight training routine also increases bone density, which helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Finally, weight training is and excellent exercise routine for older folks. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass. The only way to even maintain the muscle you currently have is weight training. Also, people who train with weights tend to have fewer falls and better overall balance. And of course, older women should pay special attention to the paragraph above about osteoporosis.

You may ask, what type of is right for me? The simple answer is just about any routine that provides resistance against muscles. Heck you can even begin your weight training routine right now (you don’t even really need weights). Try this – bend your left arm at the elbow so that your forearm is parallel to the floor with your hand facing the ceiling. Now put your right hand on top of your left. Try to touch your left hand to your shoulder (pivoting only your elbow) while pressing down with your right hand.

Congratulations! You’ve just begun your first weight training routine.

Why do women tend to shy away from weight training routines? Look in just about any gym and you’ll see mostly women in the aerobics classes and mostly men pumping the free weights. Maybe its the idea that if women do weight training they will become muscle bound freaks.

Well ladies, if you want a drop dead figure then weight training is for you! Trust me, you will not look like a muscle bound freak, just very toned and totally sexy. You’ll look and feel better. And, as you age, you’ll be much less susceptible to problems like osteoporosis and bone fractures.

I know it can be a bit intimidating going to the gym and walking over the free weight area (not to mention the cat calls). You can easily get started with dumb bells, weight machines, and even body weight exercises (like pushups). The key is to start your weight training routine as soon as possible.

There are a few great weight training resources for women, but here’s a hint – you can use any of the one’s listed above. Just don’t tell you boyfriend, brother, or husband, because pretty soon you’ll be able to bench press more than they can.

Critical Leg Squat Steps

Simplistic and easy to perform, the leg squat will be done engaging in other activities as well. Standing in front of the stove cooking, talking on your cell phone or having a conversation with your children are prime times to perform leg squat bodybuilding moves. You must be careful how your technique is performed.

Many exercises in bodybuilding lend themselves to mult-tasking.

When performing leg squats, comfort is critical. Not being in the mood, tired and overstressed is no excuse for not performing the squats. If done incorrectly, it can be dangerous with pulled muscles and ongoing pain. It is better to do nothing than experience the damage of the muscle.

These are the steps to a successful set of leg squats:

  • First, stand with your legs apart. The width of your shoulders is the key to the proper width of your leg placement. Loosen up your body with stretches and bends.
  • Breathing deeply during each set should be done from the stomach instead of the chest area. Many successions of deep breathing should follow.
  • Remember to relax and concentrate on the way your body feels. This will gauge how well your body is able to take the exercise. So go slow and think and feel.
  • When beginning the leg squat, gradually lower your body while gently bending down at your knees. Remember to exhale when you are going down and inhale when you are going up.
  • When you reach the lowest point, stop and hold on at this point for a few seconds. This is the most important part in the exercise as a whole. Again, inhale when you raise your body from the squat position.

Over time, your leg muscles will tighten. This bodybuilding exercise is incredibly beneficial. It is also an easy exercise to perform.

Do not start with a large number of repetitions at first. This could cause damage in over working the muscles. The number of reps will increase as you gain strength and endurance. As you progress, slowly increase the number of reps. You will soon realize the simplicity of the exercise. Even though it is simple, the muscles are being taxed quite a bit and therefore will grow bigger going forward.

After beginning with leg squats, the use of small weights and advanced work out routines will mean shoulder and arms will follow. The legs love to be worked out and will respond by getting much bigger and stronger over time.