T Nation

Adding Rugby Preseason Sprint Work- Need Suggestions


To anyone who routinely does track workouts:

I just started my Rugby pre-season sprint training, which I typically get going about 1-2 months before the first match of the year. I have used the same basic protocol each year, but I don't feel like I have ever really hit the nail on the head regarding days off between workouts. In the off-season I have been following Wendler's 5/3/1 program and I planning to continue that through the pre-season. I will be doing the "I'm not doing jack" protocol, meaning I go to the gym and knock out the main lifts, and leave without doing much assistance work (maybe 1 assistance lift). I am doubling up my lifting days on 5/3/1, and this has worked great so far as my lifts are still progressing very well and I have more days off to work on conditioning and Rugby specific skills/agility, etc.

My question relates to how often I should do my sprint workouts. When I get closer to the season, I start doing shorter sprints to build acceleration, but now I am doing sprints for conditioning/energy system work. Those of you that have played rugby know why this is key to a successful season! Right now I am doing the following:

Monday- 10x 60-80 meters sprinting with 2 minutes rest. I need to measure the field I am using, but it is in this range.
Tuesday- Rest
Wednesday- Deadlift 3 sets heavy, Overhead press 3 sets heavy. 3 sets chin-ups (neutral grip).
Thursday- Rest (I can't workout Thursdays as I am in a nighttime MBA program and have class)
Friday- Rowing machine 6 sets of 500 meters at a medium to high effort level with 2 minutes rest.
Saturday- Squat 3 sets heavy, bench 3 sets heavy, 3 sets dips, 3 sets DB rows.
Sunday- Rest

Would anyone have a recommendation for a better way to organize my week so that I am maximizing my conditioning? How often should I be sprinting? Would it be better to scrap the rowing machine work and add another sprint session, or would 2x weekly be too much sprint volume? Thank you for any suggestions!

For info, my stats are:
Age: 27
Height: 6'4.5"
Weight: 225 at about 10% BF
Squat: 335
Dead: 455
Bench: 245
OHP: 165


Personally I try not to take more than one day off in the week during pre-season, unless really needed. Even then, it can be a good idea to go for a gentle cycle or swim to loosen off. The rowing machine can be brilliant (i.e. horrendous) for conditioning

In my humble opinion, what you want are two hard days of conditioning (hard sprints of varying distances with lots of turning and little rest) and another day to do with as you want, whether that is a focus on maximal speed or endurance.

Happy training!


What about your shorter sprints, 5, 10, 25 metres, directional changes, soft sand running, cone drills etc? If you want rugby specific conditioning, you should be aiming for "work sets" of around 38 to 45 seconds, as that is the average length of play before a breakdown.

Coming into the preseason, you aren't doing any power work like cleans, snatches or plyometric work?
add your conditioning to the end of your strength work, or vice versa.
Use the rugby field and do your sprints 25, 50, 75, 100 s, 200's.
my 2 cents.


If you want to do 2 days/week then I would suggest one day of speed work and one day of anaerobic.
Speed day is strict sprinting form with full recovery. I usually will just use a slow walk back and that is plenty of recovery.
You anaerobic day would be periods of work with active recovery, as well as drills like suicides.

Or you could have one day of short work (under 25m) working on acceleration, and the second day working on top speed(50m, 110m, etc.)

I also think that in preseason you shouldn't have more than 2 days of rest each week.


What about team training, preseason games? If it's preseason wouldn't you be doing fitness and speed work with your club? If it isnt that organised, do some sprint work before or after training..?
If you wanted to do 2 days, i would use the start of the session for speed work and once form starts to go, turn it into cardio, being careful to keep it game specific and keep out of the endurance stuff as it will affect your speed.
Use a ball. Fitness with a ball in hand not only affects your running, it works your ball skills, which nobody has enough of, even at elite level.


I had put up some links to pretty good sources of information, but they have been blocked in case I am trying to advertise anything! If you google "getstrength" you can get information from Ash Jones, who is heavily involved in the strength and conditioning of the All Blacks! Also, google "jingle jangles" for some joyous anaerobic running hell.


Thanks for the feedback guys, the information is appreciated.

I am re-structuring my sprint days partially on your feedback, and partially through some additional research I have done since the initial post. I am going to sprint 2x weekly, with one max-effort day and one speed-endurance day. I have drafted up an 8-week training outline

The max effort day will be targeted at training the creatine phosphate system and will consist of work done between 30m and 100m with a total of under 400m per workout.

The speed-endurance day will target the anerobic energy system; I will be using CT's running man program for this. After the initial 8 weeks, I will be switching to 300m work rather than the 400m utilized in CT's program. This is mainly because I anticipate modifying my goals at that point from overall fitness and body-comp to pure energy system work. A few sources from the Track & Field community whose work I have read seem to support the idea that 300m runs are more efficient than 400m for training the anerobic energy system.

TimmyO and MissingLink, I left out that I am training with the team 2 days a week, so I really do only have 1 true rest day a week. Pre-season games start in about 2 weeks and are weekly until our playoffs begin in April. Our regular season is August-November here in the states, so the spring is just one big buildup to the playoffs. We do quite a bit of work on agility and ball-skills at team training, but very little direct conditioning work. I am a slightly undersized Number 8 at 6'4" and 225, so I aim to maintain a higher level of pace than the other forwards (and most of the backs) on the field.

00thomi- I looked up the Jingle Jangles, those look brutal! I will definitely find a way to work those in. May I will try them every 2-3 weeks to gauge my fitness level?


Seems a reasonable idea! They're a very handy way of simulating the type of running you do in a game (particularly in the forwards), at a high tempo and little rest. Enjoy your training.