Week 1: Getting a Pro Rugby Player STRONG!

I have been involved in the Fitness Industry for Seven years, working with Professional Athletes has always been my number one goal and what better sport to help someone prepare for than Rugby League.

Rugby League is a brutal contact sport which requires a number of physical attributes in order to compete at the top level. Without a doubt those physical attributes would include strength, power and speed.

Every week for the next 6 weeks I’m going to post weekly updates on how I’m going to get a professional Rugby League player bigger, stronger and faster than he has ever been before in preparation for his 2013 season in the English Super League.

Player Profile

Played 150+ games in both the NRL and English Super League
Position- Five-eight/ Stand Off

Weight- 96kg
Height- 6’1
Body Fat% – 12.73%

Strength testing 3 RM;
Front Squat= 90kg
Dead Lift= 110kg
Barbell Incline Press= 100kg
Max Rep Mid Grip Chin up= 10

Past Injuries include; Shoulder reconstruction and knee reconstruction.

Goal; Strength, Power, Speed

After looking at the strength test results it really excited me as to how much we could improve. I believe that some ‘Professional Rugby League clubs’ are behind the times in regards to methods of training and this was my chance to put my knowledge to the test, so I began to prepare.

And prepare I did, knowing this athlete has no issues with his cardiovascular fitness and is up there with the best of them skill-wise I began centring my program for him around power and strength.

With 6 weeks preparation time, I broke the program down into 2 x 3 week blocks. Four sessions per week in the weight room concentrating on progression as the 6 weeks goes on. Two lower body and two upper body sessions per week to ensure the athlete gets the rest/recovery needed. Every weight and every rep is recorded to ensure performance is increased on a daily basis.

The exercises that will be performed during this period are the big compound lifts (Squat, Deadlift, Bench press) as well as Olympic lifts which will recruit more muscle fibres and increase his power output when executed with correct form.

Not having to concentrate on any endurance type activity will defiantly benefit our cause in search for overall strength. To this day some club coaches continue to persist with long, slow aerobic activity which data proves only hinders a Rugby League player’s performance. You don’t run 4 laps of a pitch in 5 minutes during a game, why would you do so in training?

During Week 1 and throughout the program we will be concentrating heavily on our ‘Pre-Hab’ exercises which means for this athlete due to the injuries he has sustained in previous seasons we will be working heavily on;

·         Shoulder mobility and strength via the seated internal/external rotation using a dumbbell, external rotation with a thera-band focusing on tempo and also Cuban presses. Obviously the shoulder is heavily relied upon in Rugby League and the stronger the athlete is in that region the more confident he is going to perform.


·         Lower limb flexibility using the A.R.T (Active Release Technique) method with a foam roller focussing on hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, ITB’s and quads- you don’t build strength/speed without flexibility.


It is Friday of week 1 the athlete is experiencing heavy DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) but is progressing already and will reap the rewards of this tough program.

That is all I have time for this week, thanks for reading. Next week I will outline a full session for you and exactly how we are progressing towards the 2013 English Super League season and in coming weeks we will have a look at the athlete’s nutrition and supplementation plan’s. STAY TUNED!