T Nation

Conditioning for Rugby Union


I am a No. 8, I not played in 2 years (because of other commitments), and I am looking to play again next season (starts September).

I played in a few games, for a local club, and its fair to say, I was BLOWING - I was feeling pretty unfit to say the minimum.

In May, I am looking to begin Off-Season, and I am looking for some advice in terms of Conditioning for Rugby Union.

In terms of Strength, I will be performing SS (Starting Strength), as it’s presented in 3rd Edition of Mark Rippletoe’s book.

I understand the use of L.S.D. (Long Slow Distance) is somewhat frowned upon, due to the nature of the game being anything but slow, or controlled, with multiple changes of speed. So I guess I should be looking towards H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training).

So what I am looking for, is if you guys had any programmes, preferably with some kind of progression, that you have used (or know of), that you might be able to post or direct me to?

Is there any well established programmes, like SS, 5/3/1, WS4SB, etc. which are directly aimed at Conditioning?

Thank you,


The best thing that you can do is approach the club that you are going to be playing for. They will take you under their wing and have you speak with their strength and conditioning coaches; who in turn will set you up with a program. If I were you and wanting to play at a high level I would be training already. It would not surprise if your club mates are not already doing some form of pre season training… so hook up with them. Your progress will be much faster under the eye of a club trainer. I’m sure that they will have specific skill sets and targets for the loose forward sub group which as a number 8 you will be part of.

Mate, getting fit for rugby without playing rugby is near impossible, and you will have to accept that you will blowing out of your hoop for the first few sessions - no training can replicate playing, unless your conditioning involves running into brick walls and getting groups of 17 stone men to jump up and down on you between sprints (in which case you may be better suited to a different kind of forum…). Having said that, the best prep is to get used to that horrific feeling where you can’t breathe, so that means lots of threshold runs, short ME sprints with limited rest etc. Most time should be spent running rather than trying to bluff your case with other forms of conditioning such as cycling (made this mistake myself one pre-season). Nothing replaces running. Throw in some of the power and strength stuff that you’ll be expected to do and you’ll be fine. As 8 you need to really be the all round athlete - fast enough to cover ground and challenge at rucks like 7, powerful enough to break the gainline like a centre, quick enough to support the back 3 in defence, and tough enough to mix it in the rucks and mauls like the locks, so you can’t afford to neglect any aspect.

In terms of a specific programme I think that Chad Wesley Smith has trained some rugby players with a TJM variant. But Google it and I have seen some stuff out there.

And make sure that you’re on the Prowler at least twice a week.

Have fun in the oxygen deficit zone.