Wednesday Nov 11, 2015

Rugbydump Training: Bulking, Not Sulking

Size is important in modern day rugby for sure, but there is a tipping point to where that size becomes a hindrance rather than an asset.  Where that tipping point is, relies on your position, style of play, age, training status, athletic ability and physical stature.

For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while, you will know I am a strength guy and promote the development of that physiological component wherever possible, but one of the most frequent questions we get asked on our Rugby Strength Academy is how individuals can increase their mass.  This article explores why you may be struggling to do that.


Meal frequency is important, if you are serious about gaining mass, then you should be tired and bored of eating about a week after you start.  Most people think they eat a lot, but most really don’t.  Yes you may be able to put away a lot in one sitting, but can you do that repeatedly, day after day?

You can use the equation included in our nutrition guidelines to calculate exactly how many calories you require, and fulfil that requirement EVERY day.

If your current deadlift is 200kg, you wouldn’t believe you could up it to 250kg immediately.  It’s the same with your nutrition, if you have been used to eating 2000 calories a day, I wouldn’t expect you to increase it to 3000 the next day.  It may well be 2200 for the first week, 2400 the next and so on.

Hopefully, all of you will be drinking some form of protein shake immediately after your workouts, but how many commit to a complete meal within two hours of their workout as well?  That is a very simple method of increasing calorific intake.


People often comment on how grumpy I look in the gym when I’m training. It’s not because I’m sad, it’s because I’m pushing myself. I’m pushing my limits. I’m pushing a set percentage.

One of the most frustrating things for me as a coach is when individuals are scheduled to complete 5 sets x 5 reps @ 85% for example. After the first set they’ll add some weight, after the second set they’ll add some weight, maybe after the third set they’ll add some weight. 

For the fourth and fifth set they may well be lifting at 85%, so for sets 1, 2 & 3, where was your intensity? My point is, if you can lift that weight for 5 reps in your last set, you should be lifting that weight for all 5 sets, not building up.


I get it, leg day hurts. You struggle to walk and the use of our legs is important in rugby, but think about how much muscle mass there is in the glutes, hamstrings and quads.  Maybe the reason you don’t like leg day is because you skip it all the time?  And your legs and lower body is not where it needs to be!

Having mass in the lower body is hugely important for sprinting, tackling, scrummaging.  Think tree trunks, not saplings.


Stress can have a huge unseen impact on our life, which can affect what we eat, how we burn energy, how we recover, our mood state and application.

Your first line of defence should always be a quality sleep pattern.

The next is your mindset and how you perceive your world. By controlling that you can control and limit a variety of stressors.


  • Instead of “If you have to make more than one trip to carry your shopping you’re not strong enough” try this “If you can carry all your shopping on one trip, then you ain’t eating enough”! 
  • Do exactly what it says on the tin. If it says 85% then ALL of your sets need to be at that! 
  • By completing leg day on a regular basis you will be using large muscle groups and pushing a large amount of kg’s 
  • Embrace mindfulness, and incorporate it into your daily life 

We send out training tips regularly so make sure you’re part of Rugbydump Daily. To welcome you, you’ll get our free workout, ‘Get Bigger for Rugby’!



    Meet Coach Kevin

    Kevin Shattock is a professional rugby strength & conditioning coach from Yorkshire, England.

    He began his career as a fitness instructor in the Royal Air Force. After receiving the Queen’s Commendation award, he left military life and the United Kingdom. He spent his next years training mountain climbers in the Himalayas.

    After returning home to the UK, Kevin became a strength & conditioning coach and developed High Intensity Rugby Training to assist talented players achieve elite performance.

    Kevin is one of our Rugbydump Strength Academy trainers and we’re lucky to have him on board.

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