If you want to play rugby at a high level, you need to be fit. Strength is undeniably important, but you need to be able to keep up with the flow of play so you can put that strength to good use – and that means fitness.

Most of your conditioning work should take place outdoors, and preferably on the rugby pitch. After all, you are a rugger and lots of treadmill jogging or cycling won’t do much for rugby-specific fitness.

However, many rugby players have other commitments outside of rugby that mean pitch-based training is not always possible or practical. Bad weather can also make outdoor training less than appealing. Gym-based training is sometimes inconvenient too.

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Does this mean that, just because you can’t make it to the pitch or the gym, you can’t get rugby-fit? Hell no! Here are six workouts that you can do almost anywhere you can find a few yards of space. Just warm up, put on and turn up your favorite training music mix, and get to work!


1. Band sprints

Training indoors usually precludes any type of sprinting. And forget about “sprinting” on a treadmill; that ain’t nothing but fast running, brother!

However, you can sprint indoors, in as little as five yards of space, using resistance bands to hold you back. This not only provides you with an awesome rugby-specific conditioning workout, it may also improve your acceleration from a dead-stop.

Grab two strong (and we mean REALLY strong!) resistance bands and loop them together to form one longer band. The best type of bands are the loop-type that you might have used for accommodating resistance training e.g. combined with a barbell for deadlifts.

Fix one end of the band to an immovable object such as a pillar or metal balustrade. Loop the other end of the band around your waist. Sprint forward until the band stops your forward momentum. Run backward, resisting the pull of the band, and repeat.

You can use this exercise in several ways including:

  • Tabatas – 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of recovery, eight sets
  • Reverse Tabata – 10 seconds of work, 20 seconds of recovery, eight sets
  • 30/30 intervals – 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest, ten sets
  • Timed sets – max number of reps in a predetermined time e.g. three minutes
  • Pyramid – do one sprint, take a breath, do two sprints, take a breath, do three sprints, take a breath etc. up to ten

Check out this short video to see band sprints in action:

2. Prisoner burpees challenge

This leg workout is so-called because you could do it in the confines of a prison cell. All you need is a couple of yards of space, and the willingness to work hard.

You start out doing a set of 20 burpees. On completion, rest just long enough to catch your breath, and then do 19 reps. Rest again, and then do 18 reps. Continue counting down until you finish up doing just one rep. Rests are intuitive; rest long enough that you’ll complete your next set, but not so long that you reduce the training effect of the workout.

To do a burpee, stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Squat down and place your hands on the floor outside of your feet. Jump your feet back into the push-up position. Do one push-up. Jump your feet back up to your hands, and then leap into the air. Land on slight bent knee and repeat.

Make burpees a little easier by dropping the push-up or the jump. Make the workout less challenging by starting with a lower number of burpees, e.g. 15.

3. The kettlebell triad

For this workout, all you need is a kettlebell and a few yards of floor space; you don’t even need an exercise mat. It combines three great moves into one effective full-body workout: kettlebell swings, goblet squats, and push-up planks. Here’s how you do it:

Storm through the following list as fast as you can. Rest when you need to but don’t dilly-dally. The aim of the workout is to complete it in as short a time as possible.

Set

Exercises

1

1 swing

20 seconds push-up planks

20 goblet squats

2

2 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

19 goblet squats

3

3 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

18 goblet squats

4

4 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

17 goblet squats

5

5 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

16 goblet squats

6

6 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

15 goblet squats

7

7 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

14 goblet squats

8

8 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

13 goblet squats

9

9 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

12 goblet squats

10

10 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

11 goblet squats

11

11 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

10 goblet squats

12

12 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

9 goblet squats

13

13 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

8 goblet squats

14

14 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

7 goblet squats

15

15 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

6 goblet squats

16

16 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

5 goblet squats

17

17 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

4 goblet squats

18

18 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

3 goblet squats

19

19 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

2 goblet squats

20

20 swings

20 seconds push-up planks

1 goblet squat

The exercises:

Kettlebell swings – hold your kettlebell in front of your hips. Bend your knees slightly, push your butt back, and lower the weight to about knee-height. Drive your hips forward and, keeping your arms straight, swing the kettlebell up to shoulder-height. Lower the ‘bell and repeat.

Push-up planks – drop into the push up position with your arms and legs straight. Brace your core and hold this position. After 20-seconds, jump back up to your feet and move to your next exercise.

Goblet squats – hold your kettlebell in front of your chest. Stand with your feet hip to shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and squat down without rounding your lower back. Stand back up and repeat.

4. Deck of cards

This workout is like having a personal trainer in your pocket! Take a standard deck of playing cards, including the jokers. Allocate an exercise to each suit in the deck. For example:

  • Spades – push-ups
  • Clubs – lunges
  • Hearts – jump rope (x10)
  • Diamonds – burpees

Shuffle the deck and then turn over the top card; do the exercise and number of reps indicated by the card e.g. seven of hearts = 70 turns of the jump rope, five of spades = five push-ups. Once you have done your first exercise, discard the used card and turn over the next one. Keep going until you have completed all the cards. For picture cards, do 12 reps, and for jokers, do a set of 60-second planks.

Feel free to select your own exercises, but avoiding choosing too many similar ones.

5. The Spartan circuit

This super-simple workout will pump up your heart rate improve both your upper and lower body endurance. The name comes from the fact you need next to no exercise equipment, and has nothing to do with the famous Greek warriors.

However, it’s a workout they would probably have enjoyed – the crazy masochists! Can’t jump rope? You need to learn! If you really can’t jump rope, do step-ups, or jump jacks instead.

Follow this sequence from start to finish to total 24 minutes:

Interval

Exercise

1

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute squats

2

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute push-ups

3

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute squats

4

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute push-ups

5

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute squats

6

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute push-ups

7

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute squats

8

2 minutes jump rope
1 minute push-ups

6. Sledge hammer training

Sledge hammer training is unconventional training, and therefore perfect for ruggers; it’s a full-body exercise that will also develop your core, grip, and conditioning. It’s a ton of fun too; who doesn’t enjoy hitting things and not being red-carded for it!?

You can get a sledgehammer from any building supply store, and an old SUV tire makes the perfect striking target. You can definitely do sledgehammer training indoors, but it’s probably best if you do it in your garage, rather than your living room.

Good sledgehammer training workouts include:

  • Tabatas – check out this video for a demonstration
  • Timed challenge – do as many reps as you can in a predetermined time e.g. 10 minutes
  • Reps challenge – see how quickly you can complete a predetermined number of reps e.g. 500
  • Descending sledgehammer swings – start out with 20 swings, rest a moment, and then do 19. Keep going until you reach one swing. Check out this video for a demo:

Finally

There is no reason for lack of time, bad weather, or poor facilities to stop you from getting rugby fit. Superior conditioning is all about working hard, and not fancy equipment or complicated workouts. Make sure you support your training with good nutrition and plenty of rest, kick starting your recovery with Post Rugby – our newest recovery-enhancing supplement.