T Nation

Bulking or Fat Loss

I am a 26 year old Rugby player trying to become the best player I can be and play at a national level. I have 10 weeks until games for my season start with the Denver Barbarians. In 4 weeks I start team pre-season conditioning with Velocity Sports. I have set goals to gain 5 lbs of muscle and loose 7 lbs of fat in this time period. This would put me at 198 lbs and 10% body fat. I am currently 200 lbs and 13.4% body fat. I have just completed a 12 week program and lost 17 lbs of fat and gained 4 lbs of muscle. As well as greatly improving my athletic ability.

Should I continue to concentrate on cutting weight and then try to get SWOLE or take the opposite approach? Also how important do you guys consider lowering body fat percentage to improve athletic performance in comparison to other goals such as improving speed, agility or size and strength?

My bulking program will be the growth surge project and my cutting program will be athletic full body workouts and Sprints.

T-Nation 4-Live 4-Rugby

What position do you play? I am assuming a back of some sort.

I think that your bodyfat percentage probably has very little to do with your gameplay, and so you might want to concentrate on improving your sprint times, or something of that nature. Remember that form follows function. If you train your body to be faster, then it will adapt to a faster physique.

Best,

RIT Jared

I’d keep trying to increase strength and bulk up us much as possible in the 4 weeks before pre-season. If your club has got its act together their training program should be able to get your conditioning right in the 6 weeks before the games begin.

During your pre-season I would start trying to focus on developing power from the strength and muscle base that you have built up. I only got to play one season of rugby when I was 20 and then a knee injury stopped me from continuing. If I had been able to go on I had planned an off-season program that would have gone in this order:

  1. Fixing up weaknesses/imbalances
  2. Bulking
  3. Strength
  4. Power

The conditioning side of things would be developed in a similar way:

  1. Endurance (long,slow cardio)
  2. Increase intensity (shorter runs at faster pace)
  3. Sprints/Interval training/GPP drills

The power development is important no matter what position you play. If you are a back you really need to be able to explode through gaps in the backline with acceleration (a tip I read once said that you should get the ball at about 90% pace and then accelerate to 100% past the defender, it makes you harder to tackle when changing speed. Power is all important here). You also need it so that you can drive into an attacker and dump him on his backside when you are defending.

Sorry if I’ve been rambling, I hope you got something out of that, but I love my rugby! Best sport in the world for a T-man!

Ben

Your fat percentage is pretty irrelevant on the rugby field. While I like being lean myself, and fit and fast, the heavy I get the more tackles I break. I hit harder too. You may lose a yard of pace. Rugby is a difficult sport in this regard. It’s a trade-off. Size for speed and vice-versa. I play No8 these days and I like to carry a bit more weight during the season than I do out of season. When I was a 7, my speed and mobilty were No1, so I sat around 180-190 pounds. With the extra muscle I gained from training and getting older, I now play at 220 or a fraction heavier. That’s definitely a better weight for running the ball up in the forwards.

Thanks for the input guys. There seem to be a lot of Rugby players at T-Nation.

My best position is #7 open side flanker because I have naturally good endurance and I’m a good tackler.

I think the consensus is that body fat % is not all that important. I think I’ll have to agree with that. You can’t tell who is going to be a good player by just looking over how a group of guys look. I know my speed and power were hurting when I ballooned up to 20% body fat. But now I think you guys are right that I should concentrate on improving performance and my body fat should take care of itself.

So far I have done a twelve week program working on weight loss, bulking, general physical fitness and doing medium length conditioning runs of intervals under a mile. I had great success with optimized volume training from Thibaudeau.

So now I think my best progression would be to go on a strength and bulking plan for 4 weeks. Then switch to lifting for power with Plyometrics and O lifts and training for quickness, agility and speed.

Do you guys have a good suggestion for a training program focusing on quickness, agility and max speed. I have been reading some of the Charlie Francis stuff here and have been using some workouts from the national sevens team plan. But I have just been putting things from many different sources together in a speed training hodge podge.

Thanks for the Help. Go Rugby.

[quote]BlakeRugby wrote:
Thanks for the input guys. There seem to be a lot of Rugby players at T-Nation.

My best position is #7 open side flanker because I have naturally good endurance and I’m a good tackler.

I think the consensus is that body fat % is not all that important. I think I’ll have to agree with that. You can’t tell who is going to be a good player by just looking over how a group of guys look. I know my speed and power were hurting when I ballooned up to 20% body fat. But now I think you guys are right that I should concentrate on improving performance and my body fat should take care of itself.

So far I have done a twelve week program working on weight loss, bulking, general physical fitness and doing medium length conditioning runs of intervals under a mile. I had great success with optimized volume training from Thibaudeau.

So now I think my best progression would be to go on a strength and bulking plan for 4 weeks. Then switch to lifting for power with Plyometrics and O lifts and training for quickness, agility and speed.

Do you guys have a good suggestion for a training program focusing on quickness, agility and max speed. I have been reading some of the Charlie Francis stuff here and have been using some workouts from the national sevens team plan. But I have just been putting things from many different sources together in a speed training hodge podge.

Thanks for the Help. Go Rugby.[/quote]

I played as a flanker myself and the main thing I learnt after playing a few games was that I had to be able to pick myself up the ground a very quickly after diving into a ruck and then having to chase the ball carrier to where the next ruck had formed. I found that doing this was the most exhausting part of the game.

To train for this I invented a drill where i would sprint for a short distance, say about 20 metres, then drop to the ground to do some sort of GPP exercise, like 5 pushups, situps, burpees etc. Map out a course on the rugby field or at your local park where you have designated stations to do each of the exercises. Ensure that the sprint direction changes constantly so that you simulate moving around the field like in a game e.g. sprint in a straight line on one leg, side-skip the next leg, run backward on another etc. Set up a leg with markers to run around so that you are running in a zig-zag direction. Have another leg where you have to pick up a ball on the run, run a few metres and then drop to the ground to simulate placing the ball on the ground in a ruck, then hop up again as soon as possible to move on.

If you have a training partner you can incorporate some exercises at a station such as using a small punching bag for 1 minute or doing medicine ball drills. One of the exercises near the end of the circuit, when you are tiring could be to have the partner grubber-kick a ball along the ground for yo to chase and practice securing a loose ball. There is endless variety as to what you can do.

If you plan a good circuit it will improve your condtioning and agility very quickly and you will be training in “match conditions” as much as possible, which is the most valuable thing.

Hope this gives you a few ideas.

Ben

PS I hope rugby’s profile and standard in the US improves so that we can have Australia-US Test matches regularly. Imagine Aussie and Yankee T-men going head-to-head in the ultimate T-game! Awesome!

Thanks for the good advice Ben that sounds like a very good drill. I have also thought going through a heavy strength and power move like rucking, driving a maul or hitting the ball up hard followed by a run to the next phase was also the hardest and most tyring part of Rugby. I like your drill and will give it a try. Hopefully I can get a scrum sled or just set some dumbells out so that I could do a driving or strength drill followed by a run and then some general GPP exercise.

I think the US will have to do better against Italy and Ireland before we move on to Australia. I think the game is going the right direction. Younger and younger kids are playing and there are more teams developing.

Thanks for the good drill.

Blake

[quote]bg100 wrote:

PS I hope rugby’s profile and standard in the US improves so that we can have Australia-US Test matches regularly. Imagine Aussie and Yankee T-men going head-to-head in the ultimate T-game! Awesome![/quote]

That would be great! I desperately want some more competition in rugby - beating the aussies all the time gets a bit predictable and winning the world cup was far too easy :wink:

(Jonny returns this weekend - be afraid)

[quote]Breakdown wrote:
bg100 wrote:

PS I hope rugby’s profile and standard in the US improves so that we can have Australia-US Test matches regularly. Imagine Aussie and Yankee T-men going head-to-head in the ultimate T-game! Awesome!

That would be great! I desperately want some more competition in rugby - beating the aussies all the time gets a bit predictable and winning the world cup was far too easy :wink:

(Jonny returns this weekend - be afraid)

[/quote]

Well, we beat the poms last week (ahh, revenge is sweet!) but it is good that the northern hempisphere teams, at least England & France, are now a challenge every time we play them. As an Aussie, beating New Zealand is of course the highest of all priorities each and every year in Test matches. Beat them in a Test match and the whole of the country goes into depression for a few weeks, it’s great! Although the same thing did happen to us when we lost the world cup last year. I was watching it on a big screen in the centre of Sydney in a crowd of thousands of people. When the poms won at the death and all of their fans started going crazy it was one of the worst feelings you can get as an Aussie sports fan! But it was a great match and the atmosphere was fantastic, wouldn’t have missed it for anything! Bring on France 2007, England may have Johnny, we have Matt Giteau, by then he will be a superstar!