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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rugby Training: 4 Simple Plateau-Breaking Strategies

There comes a time in every rugby player's training life that they hit a plateau. In today's article, Rugbydump Academy Strength Coach TJ runs through 4 quick strategies that you can use in your training to push your results to ground-breaking territory.

We all know that the gym can make us better rugby players.

We also know that none of this is easy. Sometimes you train really hard and see no improvement. Other times you see improvement in the gym, but for some reason it isn’t helping you too much on the pitch.

Clearly this can be frustrating, so today we’re going to run through 4 simple ways to make sure this doesn’t happen. 

Just because they’re simple, doesn’t mean they’re easy - consistency with them will be the key to them helping. Let’s get into it.

1. Build a Strong Core

Core work has seen a bit of stick thrown at it recently. Some people have started to avoid using the word “core”, others say that they get enough stimulation from just doing big, compound lifts. 

Now whilst I don’t think you should be spending a whole session doing crunches and leg raises when you can be shifting some serious tin, there is a LOT of merit to building a strong core. Particularly when it comes to transferring “gym strength” to the field.

Add to that the fact that a strong core musculature can help increase you lift strength and you certainly have a good argument to including some core work into most sessions.

You can get good variety by focussing each session on either torso flexion/extension (planks, heavy symmetrical carries), torso lateral flexion/extension (single arm farmer’s walks) or torso rotation/anti-rotation (chop variations).

2. Perfect Your Technique 

Too often I’ll see posts saying posting a PR of a heavy lift saying “working on technique/depth”, yet they’re clearly chuffed with the weight. This is the wrong way to do things. Form should be the most important thing when you’re lifting as a rugby player. Why?

Efficient lifts and safe lifts usually look exactly the same.

This means that if you fix your lifting technique, not only will you be giving yourself the smallest possible chance of getting injured, you’re also setting your self up to potentially lift the most weight.

A lift with great technique maximizes efficiency and minimizes any energy leaks. This means that all of your energy will be focussed on moving more weight, rather than keeping the bar on track.

In addition to all of this, the better you can move in the gym, the better you’ll be able to play - it’s not just about how much you can lift, but also how you move that will dictate how well you play.

3.  Focus On Your Weaknesses

This comes from Louie Simmons and the crew over at Westside Barbell. This man and his team have produced some of the strongest men the world has ever seen. So when he gives some thoughts, people listen.

I can make this point real simple for you, all of your reading this will have different weak points in gym.

Where you’re weakest is where you’re failing. The reason you’re weak at these points is probably because of lack of attention. Therefore unless it becomes a clear focus of your training, it will remain a weakness and will constantly hold you back.

It takes a good slice of humble pie, and probably some time away from the stuff you love and are good at, but it will help you massively in the long run.

Sometimes these weaknesses may not be obvious to you, it could be a part of a lift, a certain body part or it may show up when you sprint full speed, we will all have weak points. Sometimes it needs an experienced lifter or coach to show you where they are so that you can alter your focus.

4.  Sprint

If you’re currently in-season this may not be necessary for you right now. But for a lot of guys we go from anywhere from 3-6 months of the year not sprinting.

We all know that when you stop training, you start to lose the effects from that training over time. The first of these to go is sprinting speed. Unfortunately for rugby players this means that when you do get round to sprinting again in pre-season, most of your time is going to spent just getting back to where you were when you stopped.

Even (actually especially) if you’re bulking, sprints should be a consistent part of your training so that you can use your muscle effectively on the pitch.

I wrote HERE about how you can sprint and get faster, and HERE how you can sprint and get fitter. Take one of those philosophies and use it once a week to make sure you improve on the pitch, not just in the weight room.

Bringing It Together

You have all the information now you need to break into brand new territory. Here’s a brief round up of what to do:

Start doing some kind of core work every day:

  • Ab roll outs
  • Farmers carries (single arm)
  • Plank Variations
  • Woodchops
  • Palloff Presses
  • Sit Up Variations
  • Turkish Get Ups. 
  • Do every single rep of everything you do with great technique. If that means lightening the weight somewhat so be it. Every rep from your warm ups to your top set has to be spot on. Get someone to watch you (or video yourself) and be as critical as you can. Teach your body that less that perfect is not good enough.
  • Figure out your weaknesses and attack them. You may need to find a good coach (click HERE if you're interested in working 1on1 with me) or an experienced lifter and ask them nicely to check out your lifts or play and get them to tell your what to improve on. I regularly get people tagging me in things to see where they improve, I’d be more than happy if you add yourself to that list. (Tag me in all social media @tj.strength)
  • If you’re out of rugby season, take 1-2 30-50 minute sessions and spend some time sprinting each week.

 Simple. Add this stuff to your training and watch your performance reach brand new heights.

About TJ Jankowski

TJ Jankowski is a former international rugby player for Poland rugby, who achieved their highest world ranking of 23 whilst he was part of the team.
Never the most talented player, he attributes the majority of his success to the hard work he put in at the gym, kitchen and training paddock. 

Priding himself on a system of coaching and creating plans for people in the real world, not robots, TJ has worked with international rugby players from 4 different continents and we are thrilled to announce that he can help you as part of the Rugbydump Academy.

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