Can you train for rugby while on a business trip?

Unless you are a professional rugby player, you probably have to work for a living, and that often means business trips. Business trips could provide you with an occasional and welcome break from training, but if you are a frequent business traveler, those trips could seriously disrupt your training, lowering your fitness.

Combined with eating in restaurants, drinking more alcohol than usual, and long hours of work, frequent business trips could also mean unwanted fat gain too. Make sure you get adequate protein during your trip by packing whey protein in your suitcase.

However, if you a committed rugby player, you can still train for your sport despite being away from home and your usual training facilities. Here are some tried and tested training options for ruggers who have to travel for business.

Local gyms and rugby clubs

Using the power of Google, scout your intended destination and seek out training opportunities close to where you’ll be staying. Local rugby clubs usually welcome visiting players with open arms, and many gyms offer short-term memberships for casual users. Email or call well in advance to find out what is available and when, but be prepared to adjust your workouts to fit in with what is on offer.

Hotel gyms

If you can, try and stay in hotels that have a gym. Hotel gyms can vary from very well equipped to barely adequate, but any gym is better than no gym at all. You’ll need to be flexible with your workouts depending on the equipment available, but you should be able to do at least some form of training in even the most badly-equipped gym.

Hotel gyms are often not set up for serious strength training, but you should have no problem maintaining general fitness and muscular endurance. With nothing more than a treadmill and a light set of dumbbells, the minimum you should find in most hotel gyms, you can create a short but intense circuit that will help keep you rugby fit, e.g.:

  • Run 200 meters
  • 20 dumbbell thrusters
  • Run 200 meters
  • 20 walking lunges
  • Run 200 meters
  • 20 renegade rows/push-ups combo
  • Run 200 meters
  • 20 dumbbell snatches
  • Run 200 meters
  • 20 single leg Romanian deadlifts
  • Repeat 1-2 more times

Swim your way to fitness

Whether you have access to a pool, the sea or a lake, swimming is a great way to maintain and develop fitness for rugby. Long, slow swims will build basic aerobic fitness, while short, fast intervals will improve anaerobic fitness and strength. Swimming is easy on the joints, works all major muscles, and also teaches good breath control.

Good swimming workouts include:

  • 1000-1500 meters, mixed strokes, easy pace
  • 10 x 100 meters, 60 second rest between intervals
  • 4 x 300 meters, two minutes rest between intervals

Not much of a swimmer? Don’t worry; deep water running is every bit as effective to maintaining and developing fitness.



Gym in a suitcase

If you travel a lot, and often find yourself staying in hotels without gyms or pools, it may be worth investing in some portable training equipment so you can stay in shape on the road. Good options include:

  • Resistance bands
  • TRX suspension trainers
  • Waterproof bag liners – fill with water to make portable sandbags
  • Jump rope

The out and back run

One of the best ways to explore any new area is on foot. Walking is okay, but to combine some sightseeing with training, try this out and back run workout.

The premise is simple; run out from a set point, e.g. your hotel, for 15 minutes. Take it easy and enjoy the sights as you warm up. Your heart rate should be around 60% of your maximum, which equates to a rating of perceived exertion of 5-6 out of 10. After 15 minutes, stop, stretch, and get your breath back.

Then, when you are ready, retrace your steps but, this time, treat the return leg as a race and see how much you faster you can complete the distance. You should reach your starting point in considerably less than 15 minutes, and feeling like you gave it your all.

Hill sprints

This workout provides another great opportunity to explore the local area. Go for an easy run, continuing until you find a steep hill, ideally around 50 meters long. Sprint up the hill and then walk back down five times. Rest 2-3 minutes and repeat twice more. Jog back to your start point and then stretch to cool down. Pump up the intensity by banging out a quick set of push-ups, lunges, or squats at the top of each hill sprint.

The pull-up bar workout

This modified CrossFit workout is a great way to maintain both fitness and strength in no-time flat. It works all your major muscles and will also elevate your heart and breathing rate, making it an efficient one-stop training session that takes only 20mins.

Starting at the top of every minute, do 20 sets of the following exercise triad:

  • 5 pull-ups or chin ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 squats

Do each exercise as dynamically as possible to really target those all-important fast-twitch 2b muscle fibers. Rest until the top of the next minute and repeat. The faster you can complete the three exercises, the longer you get to rest between sets.

No pull-up bar? No problem! Just do this simple variation:

  • 5 burpees
  • 10 push-ups
  • 15 squats

Alternatively, instead of starting each set at the top of each minute, see how many laps you can complete in 20 minutes. CrossFitters call this workout Cindy.



Broken hundreds

This sprint workout can be done anywhere you can find 20 meters of space. You can do it in a hotel carpark, a patch of wasteland, some clear pavement, a stretch of beach – anywhere! It’s very rugby specific because it includes sprints of a variety of distances and lots of changes in direction. Each sprint totals 100 meters.

Place markers five meters, approximately six strides, apart, as shown below.


Sprint out to the first marker and then back to your start point. Immediately turn and sprint out to the second marker and back. Turn and sprint out to the third marker and back, and then out to the fourth and final marker and back.

Do ten sets going every second minute to total 1000 meters/20 minutes.

Deck of cards workout

This workout can be done anywhere you can find a couple of meters of space – even your hotel room. It’s great for general fitness and local muscular endurance. All you need is a regular deck of cards including two jokers.

  • Values: 1 to 10 = 1 to 10 reps, picture cards (jacks, kings, queens) = 12 reps
  • Red cards = squats
  • Black cards = push-ups
  • Jokers = 20 burpees

Take your deck of cards and give it a good shuffle. Place the deck face down. Turn the top card face up and perform the exercise allocated for the value of the card e.g. six of hearts = six squats, queen of clubs = 12 press-ups.

Work through the entire pack as fast as possible but only move on to the next card when you have completed all of the reps of your current card. If you get a run of high cards or same-colour cards … bad luck! 

Pump up the intensity of this workout by doing “power reps” for cards of five or lower i.e. squat jumps and plyo push-ups in place of regular squats and push-ups.

Burpees and jump rope pyramid

This is another workout you can do in your hotel room, or anywhere else you can find a few meters of space. You need nothing more than a jump rope and a willingness to work hard for ten minutes or so. Jumping rope is also an extremely good way to avoid muscle cramping in games. Just storm through the following as fast as you can:

  • 10 burpees
  • 50 jump rope turns
9 burpees

  • 50 jump rope turns
  • 8 burpees
50 jump rope turns 

  • 7 burpees

  • 50 jump rope turns
  • 6 burpees 

  • 50 jump rope turns 

  • 5 burpees

  • 50 jump rope turns
  • 4 burpees
  • 50 jump rope turns
  • 3 burpees

  • 50 jump rope turns
  • 2 burpees
  • 50 jump rope turns
  • 1 burpee

  • 50 jump rope turns

See this workout demonstrated here:


Traveling can be disruptive, but doesn’t have to mean your training goes on hold. With some imagination and determination, you should still be able to maintain or even increase your fitness for rugby even if you don’t have access to a decent gym. Your body doesn’t know facilities, it only really knows effort and intensity.

So long as you train hard, and recover properly, you can get fitter and stronger for rugby, even on a business trip. Grab a container of our new post-rugby formula for your next trip, it’s easy to pack into carry-on and check-in baggage. 


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