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New Post 5/11/2009 12:39 AM
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rugby off season hypertrophy program 
Modified By 1511146@aruba.it  on 7/8/2011 11:36:44 PM)
Dear Experts,

I am a 27 year old rugby player (prop), I played international under 21for Canada and then semi pro in the uk, how ever due to several major injuries I had to take two and a half years away from serious rugby. My injuries have healed now and I played most of last season in good health, so I am now getting ready to begin my off season training with the goal of making the Canadian men’s team for the November tour. My training knowledge is fairly limited as I have been recently discovering that lots of what I thought I knew is just marketing hype,. So I have been trying to put together an off season training program starting with 6 weeks of hypertrophy. I was hoping that some of you would take a look at what I have planned so far and give me some feed back, please don’t hold back if I’m completely barking up the wrong tree, any critique will be appreciated.


Goals gain 5 kg, strengthen shoulders and knees against further injury, strength gains (squat)
Sets 4-6
Reps 8-12/ 4reps 5:0:5
Recovery 30-150 seconds (short in smaller muscle group exercises and early sets of big muscle groups, longer when nearing failure)

Bench press
Side squat
Neck press
Straight leg deadliftt
Bicep curls
Shoulder hyper ext (incline bench)
OH int/ext rotator cuff exercises
Iso Counter lateral plank (20s each side)
Iso prayer (40s)


Supinated cable row
Front squat
Lying over head pull down to tricep ext
Sl ext
Lat dumbbell raise
Barbell front raise
Squatting trunk rotations (cable)
Hanging leg raises
Lumbar ext


OH squat
Uright row
Split squat
Lat pull down
Hamstring curl
Lying reverse flyes
Int/ext rotation (rotator cuff)
Lying leg raises
Fixed legs iso crunch (on bench 40s)
Later fixed legs iso holds 40s

The main questions I have regading what I have planned are:

1. Is the volume of each work out to much?
2. One of my main goals of my off season training is to increase my squat, I plan to target this more in my max strength phase in 6 weeks time, but would it be more beneficial to use a variety of squats as I have for this phase or to perform back squats more then just on my Monday work out?
3. In terms of the repetitions , The standard which I have read is to use 8-12 reps, how ever when I was in England playing I was lucky enough to have an excellent strength and conditioning coach, he used to get us to do 4 reps of 5s concentric / 5s eccentric (40s sets). I have heard a lot of people say that this training will slow me down so ?I am unsure of what is the best method. There for I was planning to rotate between the two methods doing one work out slow and the next conventional, thinking that this will add some extra variety to my routine an negate the risk of slowing me down . What are your thoughts on this?

Tuesday and Thursday evenings

Over the next six weeks in my weekly routine I also intend to train my anaerobic capacity on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, this will consist of 30s/30s work to recovery shuttles over 5, 10, and 15 meters,. 5reps and 5 sets with 3mins recovery between sets. M y current total is 98 meters, by the end of the summer I hope for it to be 105 meters.

Monday and Friday mornings

On these two day I will do 45mins of speed and agility training, mainly over 5-30 meters. It will also include some light plyometrics and agility drills. This is an area in which I need the most work and have the least knowledge , especially on how to improve running form.

So there it is, I would be very grateful for any suggestions or insight about this program. One concern I have is whether or not this will be to much for one week, I do tend to be injury prone so don’t want to over train.

Also If any one could recommend some quality and available reading material I would love to learn more.

Thanks for your time,

New Post 6/12/2011 12:35 AM
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Re: rugby off season hypertrophy program 
I would refer to the Special Strength Training Coaches Manual. Pg 107 (American Football Training Chapter).

Im no "expert", but I can crack at your questions:
1)Youre not doing too much volume. Take adequate rest periods. Neurological recovery is essential between bouts.
2) Variety is good.
3)Pg 8 of the above book. You cant hit the percentages yoiu need with slow reps.

Paul Johnson
New Post 6/28/2011 7:39 AM
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Re: rugby off season hypertrophy program 
Hi JoeScale

I have worked with rugby players before and could make a few suggestions.

1) You have 4 months before the tour, Right?
If your main aim now is muscle hypertrophy your rep ranges look about spot on. The rest between sets for this phase i would keep 90-120sec.
I would also stick with the big muscle group and multi-joint exercises for the next six weeks. These exercises have the best results for increase natural testosterone production as well as the fact that you would be able to load more weight on. Exercises such as side squats and overhead squats are great exercises but you could use them as supplementary warm-up exercises and load on the bigger mutli joint exercises.
2) The interval training on Tuesday and Thursday should be ok, but don't do too much aerobic work as this would affect your hypertrophy negatively. The speed and agility training could also be left out in this phase of the program. You want all the energy you have in the recovery period of the program to go into building muscle in this phase of the program.
3) Resistance training could have an effect on speed production if you train slow, however in the following phase of the program you can use more plyometric type training to train for speed improvements. The most important with regards to plyometric training is however a good solid strentgh base to build your speed training on. So i would recommend holding back on the speed and agility training for the next six weeks and then build the volume of agility and speed work progressively over the next 2-3 weeks and maintain thereafter until the trail. Training with a 5s eccentric phase and 5 sec eccentric phase is good, but you could for example train this method on leg press and work explosively on a squat, 3s eccentric, 1s concentric. This would also assist speed development. (For explosive power it is recommended that you load 30% of your 1 RM) But this type of training i would also recommend in the next phase of the program.
4) 6-8 weeks before the tour i would also recommend more energy system focused training to build sport specific energy system development.

Hope this helps.


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