In-Season Rugby & Rowing Training

Hey in september im going to be training tuesdays wednesday and playing a match on saturdays for my school rugby team so I obviously won’t beable to carry on training six days a week as I am now. I don’t really have much knoledge of on season training but Im thinking that rugby and american football on season training would be simular so if there any article that are relevent or if someone has experience of this then can you please give me a hand.

Im also a rower and am going to be moved up to the junior men’s team, but the problem is that I see them training in the gym doing things like high rep power cleans with awful form, rows that once you complete the concentric part the weight is dropped then that is one rep leaving the excentric part out. They also do lots of row variation, and leg press, as they belive that they need not do presses and other bodyparts as it is not the muscle groups used. This means that they all with no exeption at my club have huge muscle imballences in there shoulders, triceps and chest due to only training them once a week in a high repition circuit. As well they peform, hours and miles of steady state cardio.

As my personal goal for training, are muscle hypotrophy, muscle symerty and strength. I am reluctante to train like this as I will not reach my goals. I am unsure how to deal with this though and just say to the coachs what your doing is stupid but as a 16 year old trying to get into the rowing squad saying this to a mid aged coach who belive in only his way, probally isn’t the best way to get into the squad. How do you think I could get around this problem without just training as they say and giving up on my goals for there methods?

What are your coaches credentials? If hes experienced and has achieved success, then listen to him. There is so much more to sports peformance than weight training.

Well he’s a pritty good rower appart from that nothing, he will be training us how he was taught by his coach, so im thinking bad habits have been passed down by genaration of coaches, and this traing style is old school that isn’t really as effective as possibly new methods. But I’ve seen him do a power clean I find it had to belive he has had any coaching in strengh training and technique.

I am currently nearing the end of my rugby season in Australia. I play first grade rugby here and have managed to keep on top of my training through out the season and have even seen some reasonable gains during the season.

I went from training 5-6 days a week during the off season to training 3-4 days during the season. My current schedule looks something like this:

Monday - Shoulders & Back (Split into two sessions)
Tuesday - Legs & Rugby team training
Wednesday - Chest & Arms (Split into two sessions)
Thursday - Back & Rugby Team training.
Friday - off
Saturday - game
Sunday - off

I sometimes skip the thursday session depending on how my body is recovering from the other sessions. Having the friday off ensures Im still fresh for the game on saturday but allows me to do each body part at least once a week.

As for Rowing training… My younger brother is an elite junior rower here in Australia. He and his rowing mates generally do alot of heavy squatting, deadlifting and leg pressing combined with a mixed whole body program to avoid the imbalances you have spoken of. Having a significant muscle imbalance will hinder your performance as you will be unable to have the flexibility needed to perform a full stroke.

Sherro is definitely more experienced than I am, but here’s my opinion on the on-season rugby training:

On-season training is generally for you to maintain the strength you gained in the off-season, not to actually get noticeably stronger. I’m approaching my own rugby season and this is what I did for my off-season, season prep, and what I will be doing for my in-season training:

Off-Season (Westside variation, a lot like WS4SB, but RE day is heavier and exercises are different) - after a week deload after the season, I jump right into this, usually doing a 4-5 week cycle followed by a deload week and repeating that (deload weeks are essential, if you feel like you’re being lazy, do a bit more conditioning, but don’t overdo it)

Sun off
Mon ME Squat/DL
Tues conditioning
Wed ME Press
Thur off
Fri RE Squat/DL
Sat RE Press
Sun conditioning

If you want specific exercises, I can write it out but basically this is what I did:

Monday - deadlift alternated with box squat each week, 3x3 (80% of working weight, 90%, 100%)
Wednesday - flat bench press, 3x3 (90%, 95%, 100%)
Friday - back squat 3x5 (80%, 90%, 100%)
Saturday - standing barbell press 3x5 (80%, 90%, 100%)

Each day I did 3-4 assistance exercises (hams/lower back/quads/abs on Squat/DL days, shoulders/tris/upper back on Press days). Conditioning stays at a moderate intensity. The goal is to stay in decent conditioning shape. I’ll switch things up between running (steady, intervals, hills, etc), sled drags, farmer’s walks, car pushes, and hitting a tire with a sledgehammer. As a guideline, if you have significant DOMS, you probably did too much.

Season Prep (again, based off of WS4SB) - two 4 week cycles with a deload week in between cycles and after

Sun off
Mon ME Squat/DL
Tues conditioning
Wed ME Press
Thur conditioning
Fri conditioning
Sat RE Press

Here I replace the RE Squat/DL day with a extra conditioning workout and all the conditioning workouts get more intense. I make sure to run for one of the conditioning workouts at least once a week, if not twice. The other conditioning workout gets more intense as well. I want a prowler to push, but I’ve been pushing my car which works as well (just throw more shit in it to increase the weight). The weight training stays the same, although I progress slowly (2.5 lb jumps instead of 5 lb jumps, don’t progress on assistance exercises - this is me purposefully doing that so that I can keep from getting burned out, I’m not a gifted with great genetics so I have to be careful).

In-Season - the length of the season, you obviously can’t take a week off in the middle of the season, but you could stop weight training for one week if you’re getting fatigued

Sun off
Mon Squat/DL - practice
Tues conditioning
Wed Press - practice
Thur conditioning
Fri practice
Sat game

Workouts consist of a squat (on Mon) and bench press (on Wed) for 3x5 with 5-10 less than your 3x5 best from the season prep. I will add weight in 1-2 lb increments throughout the season, until I’ve reached my old best, then I drop back down to the start. Remember the goal is maintenance. I’ll do only 2 assistance exercises (squat - posterior chain - abs, and bench press - military press - upper back) and keep overall volume low.

I have a friend who’s a rower (again - not a elite rower like Sherro’s, but the info might be helpful). He basically focuses on getting these 5 exercises stronger: deadlift, front squat, barbell row, high pull, and overhead press. Assistance stuff he does include: back raises, good mornings, reverse hypers, leg presses, dumbbell rows, upright rows, and flat-incline dumbbell presses. I don’t really know his program exactly, but that’s what I’ve seen him do and what he talks about.

If your coach has you doing all the pulling and leg work you need, and then just high rep circuit pressing work, I would say go into the gym once a week and do the following workout:

Bench Press 3x5 (straight weights or 80%, 90%, 100%)
Military Press 3x8 (straight weights)
Triceps or shoulder exercise 3-4 x 10-12

Also, in your free time I would do a bunch of shoulder and hip prehab work. If you’re doing high rep light weight cleans and leg presses, it doesn’t seem like you’re getting much hamstring/glute work. There are a lot of articles on here for prehab and rehab work, so check them out. I might throw in some GMs, RDLs, or pull-throughs (3-4 x 8-10) at the end of you lower body workouts if you haven’t done any exercises for your hams/glute/lower back. I doubt your coach would get mad at you doing that - he might even he impressed at your hard work.

If you do this extra workout you MUST eat more (which you should be doing anyways because you said your goal was size and strength) and you MUST sleep more. You’re adding in an extra intense workout (albeit a short one - you should be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes) and you’ll need the extra rest.

Hope some of that was helpful and I wish I could help more on the rowing.

Hey thanks alot to both of you, has helped alot. I think for the rugby season im going to follow simular splits to what you’ve described keep the volume low but use big compound exersizes like, DL, RDLs,overhead press and bench press, and im gona be starting my pre season prep work soon so that stuff help too.

As for rowing stuff I think the prehab stuff is a good call I need all the flexibility I can have. I think im gona just have to use the rowing workouts as just conditioning, and add in the heavy muscle work in my own time, because it doesn’t seem like were gona be doing much if any at the club. I don’t know why though surly being able to apply maximal power explosivly in the boat will be a advantage instead, of just the endurance muscle fibers that they are obsesed with training. And as you said your brother is at a elite level and he is doing heavy exersizes so there for it must be effective for rowing. I have been training strength and size methods for the last year and the truth is that I am much larger that the rest of my squad, and have just as much endurance with more power so training strengh must be doing some good. But my main problem with the training is the fact that they push you past the point of technical failure so you are doing potentially dangerous exersizes with poor form and many people have not been taught how to do them properlly so when you have poor form at the beguining and when they get tired this is going to be potentially a disaster, and the dangers deffinatlly out weight the advantages. But I do not want to simply refues to do certain exersizes because it may give a bad impression to the coach that enventually picks the team.

In terms of the endurance vs strength thing, think about this:

Each stroke is a certain percentage of your maximum back/leg strength right? Let’s say each stroke is something like 30% (completely random) of your max back/leg strength. Now, if you increase your max back/leg strength, each stroke is a smaller percentage of your max (say 20% now). Which means you’ll be able to do more of them.

Now this is only a small component of it. If you fail to train for endurance, you’ll get screwed. But my point is just that strength training, even for lower reps, does play a part in endurance sports. To avoid overtraining, I would take a very low volume approach to training for your rowing.

Day 1
Deadlift 2x5
Overhead Press 3x5

Day 2
High Pull 3x5
Front Squat 3x5
Dumbbell Row 3x6

Something like that. Do each workout only once a week so you get enough rest along with your heavy conditioning.

Just another suggestion. I don’t know how well you recover or anything, but heir on the conservative side. It’s better to underestimate than overestimate.

I would not suggest trying to do both rowing and rugby at the same time. Been there before and maybe you have heard the saying good at everything, great at nothing?

Thanks Enkiduu that does seem to make sence so training both does seem to be the way forward fromw what you have said over training for one or the other, but surly I won’t gain much in the way of muscle on such a low volume workout though?

And CrewPierce i understand what you are saying but as rugby is at school im pushed to play because im good. My school rugby season is from september to january and rowing prep training is the same time so I will not be racing and playing rugby at the same time I will probablly be able to miss some rowing land training days due to having conditioning days in my rugby aswell.

I read an interview with Billy Slater (Rugby League genius) about his in-season training. It looked a lot like Westside dynamic effort work, including bands.

Personally I’ve not had too much trouble training for PL and rugby, but I am s#it at both and don’t get much time on the field. The injuries are an issue. I play in the backs so even at training I don’t have to do much.

Surely the phrase “Rugby League Genius” is an oxymoron.

[quote]sherro wrote:
Surely the phrase “Rugby League Genius” is an oxymoron.[/quote]


Anyway, I’ve been both a Rugby and Amercian Football Player and find that you just have to go with your body - if you’re still sore don’t overdo it after a match. A bit of active recorvery work the morning after a game can do wonders - I’ve felt like I’d been run over on a monday morning, doen an hour or so of light CV and mobility work then managed to get a decent session in later in the day.

As for the rowing - it’s something I’ve seen a lot of friends go through since I’m at a major rowing Uni, there can be an excessive focus on one or two key lifts, but the really good guys tend to sneak in some extra work afterwards to iron out the imbalances. A mate of mine is on here but I can’t rememebr his username (I’ll try to find it) and he was a youth international rugby player, then an elite level Student Rower and is joining Leander RC next year so he knows hsi way round it.

Unfortunately several of the people I’ve known row with an international coaching staff have said after their Rowing commitments ended their training got better…

First your a back and your on T-Nation go eat some more and start playing with th big boys ; )

and I think your right about training I’m gona have a plan but when it comes down to it I’m just yona have to see how I feel on the day

Given it takes about 5 days to recover from a game of rugby, you need to train intelligently in-season.

Most of the super 14 teams for example do a variation of this.

Monday Full Body Strength
Thursday Full Body Power

Some might split Monday into Upper and Lower over Monday and Tuesday.

Not only is this setup good in terms of training volume but it has been shown to produce gains in power and strength during a season.

[quote]11kamita wrote:
First your a back and your on T-Nation go eat some more and start playing with th big boys ; )[/quote]

Too True.

In reference to the comment that it takes 5 days to recover from a rugby game. I don’t believe that. I have often found I can smash out a big workout on a sunday night after the game on saturday afternoon. It all depends on your individual abilities to recover. Ive found as the season progressed i could fit more into a week as my body adapted to the ruff and tumble life of a tight head prop. Experiment with what works for you and always be willing to change up if its not working.

[quote]sherro wrote:
11kamita wrote:
First your a back and your on T-Nation go eat some more and start playing with th big boys ; )

Too True.

In reference to the comment that it takes 5 days to recover from a rugby game. I don’t believe that. I have often found I can smash out a big workout on a sunday night after the game on saturday afternoon. It all depends on your individual abilities to recover. Ive found as the season progressed i could fit more into a week as my body adapted to the ruff and tumble life of a tight head prop. Experiment with what works for you and always be willing to change up if its not working.

I agree with this. We play on saturdays and practice monday-thursday. The farther into the season the easier it is for me to make it to the gym.

Yea tight head prop fucking rules. We were playing a team with a shit scrum so I switched to flacker and kept killing the scrum
half and center when he got the ball out. It’s always fun putting props where they shouldn’t be if the tram your against isn’t up to par.

I think the strength and power slit may be a plan I’m know I’m probably not gona gain much size but what about strenght i’ve been doing 8-12 reps for the last 4 months so if I switch to 4-6 I should gain some strengh and hopefully some size due to shocking my muscle with soming different.

I’ve got one other problem 2 to cut or not to cut. De franco says that the quickest way to improve performance in a sport is to loss body fat. I’m 13st at 5 ft 11 and at around 15% body fat so should I cut down to 7 Bedford the rugby season or keep my weight up?

I know 13st isn’t alot for a prop but I’m only 16 and at 5ft 11 think that’s alright. Most people that weight the same or more than me are really fat or really tall.

[quote]CrewPierce wrote:
I would not suggest trying to do both rowing and rugby at the same time. Been there before and maybe you have heard the saying good at everything, great at nothing?[/quote]

Agreeing here- I rowed and played lacrosse at the same time for a bit; cut it out when I got pulled from the A boat. Don’t get me wrong- each helped me with the other in several aspects of performance (especially endurance), but the downside was that I couldn’t get out of lightweight- at 22 y.o. I was 6’2" 170 lbs.

The best thing I can say about the gains in size and strength that came with concentrating on one sport: the feeling I got the first time I used the 85-lb dumbbells.

If the gaining’s not an issue, then the fact that each is a team sport and you can’t let the boat or the side hanging- and with trying both you’ll have to make that choice some day soon.

Best of luck in the meantime; looks as if you’ve some outstanding programs you’re looking at and I can hardly find fault with those-

Thanks I know what you meen but as this will be the first year that they have clashed so I will see if it’s do able if not then I’m gona have to choose one.

Yea all the programs people have sergested are great and I’m very greatfull for the help that’s a lot.