Get rugby fit with these beep test variations

Beep testing is usually used to test Vo2 Max in athletes. Today though, we're going to give you four beep test variations that can be used to develop functional rugby fitness. We've added movements that you'll use on the rugby field in game-specific situations. Get ready for the most brutal beep testing session you've ever attempted!


BEEP TESTING EQUIPMENT

One of the great things about using the beep test in order to increase your functional fitness is the lack of equipment required. You don't need fancy cardio machines. You don't even need a gym. Just head out to a local park or get to training a few minutes early and you can run any number of these beep test variations.

Beep Fitness Test App

One thing we really do recommend is that you grab a beep test app. Testing with a huge stereo isn't usually very practical. But there are a range of mobile app around that can get the job done. Our favorite is called the Beep Fitness Test which can be downloaded for just $0.99 from the iOS Store (can't find an Android link sorry folks). 

4 Distance Markers 

Why do you need 4 distance markers? Mostly because of the 'Reversal' shown variations below. We firmly believe in creating training programs that are rugby-specific. Running 20m shuttles back and forth and back and forth isn't terribly useful for developing rugby-specific fitness. Using 4 markers gives us the ability to create two new beep test variations that focus on real rugby movements. 

Stop Watch 

The stop watch is used in the Programming section at the bottom of the page. We suggest using your stop watch to time your rest periods between the 'Blocks' of effort. This will become clearer as you read on. 

Endurance + cognitive supplements

Beep testing is a real test of both cardio-vascular endurance and mental strength. If you're familiar with our range of nutritional supplements for rugby players, you'll probably have read up on our flagship cognitive enhancer, 80 Brain. Its a balanced nootropic supplement that promotes both mental clarity and focus. We take 80 Brain about 20 minutes before starting the program. But that's only half of our recommended supplement intake for beep testing. If you have access to some No2 Max, this is the time to use it! For anyone hearing about it for the first time, No2 Max is an L-Arginine-rich blend of BCAAs which may increase endurance. L-Arginine is metabolized into Nitric Oxide. Elevated levels of NO in an athlete's blood stream have been shown to provide circulatory and oxygen-efficiency benefits. 

Hate reading? Watch the video instead!

 

Other Training Resources

Beep testing requires quite a bit of mental strength. In order to really benefit from this kind of training, you'll need focused attention and some serious personal drive. Before you throw your time at these beep test variations, we suggest checking out a few of the more basic training programs we've written about previously. In particular, 'The Rectangle' has been hugely popular. We've received around a dozen emails from amateur rugby players who have incorporated 'The Rectangle' into their pre-season training programs. Here are a few other resources that might be of interest:


BEEP TEST VARIATONS

standard beep test variation

Standard beep test variation

The standard beep test is probably the best pure test of aerobic capacity that can easily be performed by the average rugby player. Its essentially a repetitive shuttle run between two points exactly 20m apart. The catch is that the intervals keep getting shorter and shorter, requiring you to run faster and faster throughout the test.

How to do it:

  • Run forwards 20m
  • Turn and repeat

The standard beep test is a common tool used by athletic trainers to measure an athlete's Vo2 Max. So its great if you're looking to benchmark yourself or practice for a combine. But how often in a game of rugby will you run 20m, turn around, pause and run back another 20m? Rarely if ever. So by all means use the standard beep test to see where you're at athletically. But don't make this a staple of your standard cardio training. 

reversal beep test variation

Reversal beep test variation

During a rugby game you're going to be repeatedly changing direction depending on the game situation. You'll need to get off the line quickly in defense and hurry backwards in order to get on-side for the next phase. The Reversal is a beep test variation that focuses on regular directional changes to simulate a rugby game.

How to do it:

  • Run forwards 20m
  • Jog backwards 10m
  • Run forwards 20m
  • Turn and repeat

The first few levels of the reversal beep test variation will seem quite easy. But once you get up to levels 4 and 5, the quads are going to start really burning on the reversals. This variation will give you the perfect kind of fitness for defending for long periods of time. You'll need to burst off the line, back up quickly and then burst off the line again. It's basically like defending for 8-10 minutes straight without actually making a tackle.  But we'll get to that next. 

down up beep test variation

Down-Up beep test variation

In the words of one Joey Malanka, "it takes absolutely zero skill to get off the ground." One of the most basic things you'll need to do as a rugby player is stand up. Sounds super-easy, right? But when you've just made a tackle, or been smashed carrying the ball or gotten crushed as the bottom of a maul, standing up is harder than is sounds. 

How to do it:

  • Run forwards 20m
  • Turn around
  • Get on the ground
  • Stand up and repeat

The down-up beep test will give you a taste of what its like to be in a game situation on the rugby field. You won't be getting tackled, but you'll still be practicing getting up off the ground, a lot. As Joey points out, it doesn't take any skill to do this. But practicing doesn't hurt either. The more flexible you are, the easier the down-up beep test variation is going to feel. So if you're really struggling with it, we suggest putting some effort towards improving your flexibility before you try again. 

down up reversal beep test variation

Down-Up + Reversal beep test variation

Now we're going to hurt you. Or more accurately, you're going to hurt yourself. The final variation combines the Down-Up and the Reversal beep tests into one monster. In this variation, you'll be practicing getting on the ground as per ruck and tackle situations. At the same time, you'll be running both forwards and backwards in order to simulate a long period of defensive effort. If you don't get past level 4 or 5 in this beep test variation, don't stress at all. It's designed to be pretty brutal. But as with all beep tests, try to push through as far as you possibly can. The higher you push your Vo2 Max, the better you'll perform the next time around. 

How to do it:

  • Run forwards 20m
  • Get down and up
  • Jog backwards 10m
  • Get down and up
  • Run forwards 20m
  • Turn around
  • Get down and up
  • Repeat

PROGRAMMING

Because a beep test requires you to reach your Vo2 Max, its difficult to repeat this process many times in succession. We don't suggest doing any of these beep tests in isolation as the basis of a cardio training program. But they can be used in combination to create a pretty challenging 40 minute cardio session.

In the program below, we've suggested you should run "until max Vo2 is reached". But in reality, you're unlikely to reach your max Vo2 on tests 3 and 4. Because you need to get down on the ground and up again, you're probably going to drop out much earlier than on tests 1 and 2. But not to worry, its still a great training tool even if you don't get up to your max Vo2 threshold.

Here's how to structure our four beep test variations as a single cardio workout:

BLOCK 1 - Standard Beep Test

Run until max Vo2 is reached - rest for 3 mins

Time: ~15 mins

BLOCK 2 - Reversal Beep Test

Run until max Vo2 is reached - rest for 3 mins

Time: ~10 mins

BLOCK 3 - Down-Up Beep Test

Run until max Vo2 is reached - rest for 3 mins

Time: ~10 mins

BLOCK 4 - Down-Up + Reversal Beep Test

Run until max Vo2 is reached - rest for 3 mins

Time: ~10 mins

Get rugby fit with these beep test variations


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