rugby union training program

Rugby Union Training program tips from the Brumbies Super 15 Rugby Union Team.

It can be difficult for rugby union players to build or maintain muscle mass during the Super 15 Rugby season due to the high volume of running and rugby conditioning performed during a training week. In order to maintain muscle mass the Brumbies athletes will perform two to three resistance (weight) training sessions each week as part of their rugby union training program.

These rugby union training sessions consist of a combination of lower-repetition maximal strength and power activities along with higher-repetition hypertrophy training. If players are identified as requiring additional bodyweight, then these individuals may need to perform extra higher-repetition resistance training sessions aimed at increasing lean muscle mass (hypertrophy).

Below is a list of the top ten resistance training exercises (in no particular order) that are included in the Brumbies Rugby Union Training Program in the Gym.

  1. Back Squat – Arguably the best exercise for developing lower-body strength.
  2. Bulgarian Squat – Similar to the back squat, the Bulgarian squat is great for developing lower-body strength but has the additional benefit of being a unilateral (single-leg) exercise. This means it is a great exercise for identifying any strength imbalances between legs.
  3. Romanian Deadlift (RDL) – When done correctly the RDL is used for developing the posterior chain (Hamstrings, Gluteals, etc.) which is extremely important for sprinting and integrity of the hip and knee joints.
  4. Power Cleans and Variations – Particularly useful exercise for improving rate of force development i.e. the ability to move a load quickly. The catch or racking portion of the clean also provides a relatively safe way to rapidly load the lower body in through an eccentric contraction.
  5. Drop Jumps/Depth Jumps – Used for developing fast stretch shortening cycle. The fast stretch shortening cycle is utilized during high speed running.
  6. Countermovement Jumps – Used for developing slow stretch shortening cycle. The slow stretch shortening cycle is utilized during the acceleration phase of running.

    [quote_center]Tomane: “As a winger I need to be explosive. Power cleans and plyometrics (jumping exercises) are my go-to exercises for developing power and explosive capabilities.”[/quote_center]

  7. Bench Press – The Bench press, Chin-up and Shoulder press are three very good exercises to develop upper body strength and shoulder girdle stability (a common area of injury in Rugby Union players). These three exercises should form the bases of an upper-body strength program.

    Ben Mowen: “Chin-ups help me to develop my upper-body strength. I find them particularly important for maintaining shoulder stability. This stability gives me confidence when going into contact (tackles, mauls, etc.).”

  8. Chin-up – See 7.
  9. Shoulder Press – See 7.
  10. Press-ups and Variations – A simple exercise used to develop upper-body strength and power. It is also useful for developing scapular control.


Following a weight session our Brumbies players will supplement their diet with either Vitalstrength Whey or Rapid Protein. This helps to ensure athletes are getting the fuel required to achieve their goals.

For athletes looking to maintain muscle mass, the Brumbies high performance team recommends that each player have a serving of Vitalstrength Whey Low Carb Protein following each training session. Following very strenuous training sessions or for athletes who are aiming to increase lean muscle mass, the Brumbies recommend that players consume a serving of Vitalstrength Extreme Rapid Bulk Gain Protein. The additional carbohydrates in Rapid Protein help to ensure that athletes get the required energy intake  especially when aiming to increase muscle


mass. Brumbies players also use Vitalstrength Creatine for athletes wanting to increase high intensity efforts both in the gym and on the field.

Christian Leali’ifano: “It is sometimes hard to eat enough throughout the day due to all my training commitments. Therefore, I use Vitalstrength Rapid Protein to make sure I get the energy required to keep me on track.”

Matt Toomua: “On big training days, I take Vitalstrength 16:00 NITROXL. It gives me the kick I need to continue to train at the high intensities required of me.”