Rugby Fitness Tips for Aspiring Professionals

Rugby is popular and most demanding physical sports in the whole world. It requires several months effort and determined diet to get in shape for rugby season. You will need to consider several components for increasing endurance by healthy weigh plan and training management.

Rugby is a sports game that involves playing with a different rugby football. It was introduced by William Webb Ellis and started in 1845 in the Rugby school in England.

Later rugby was divided into two different sports in 1895 as Rugby League and Rugby Union.

You need to tailor the rugby training programmes according to your capabilities and the position you play.

However, strength is important for every sport. Strength in the sense your ability to easily manage the opponent force. Staying strong enough will help to prevent the injury risk, and muscles tension. When two players have equal skills and size, then they will predominate each other.

Recently, the strength gaining for rugby has changed to the bodybuilding sport.  Surely bodybuilding helps build your muscles in a large way, but you may not know whether those muscles are strong enough or not. Bodybuilding only focuses on the show, not the strength. There is nothing wrong with bodybuilding if you focus on muscle growth with the strength to get training in a better way.

Often professional rugby player touches rugby to make sure players are clever and stay active by weight training. The recommendation is to touch and play rugby which makes your body to use your toes.

Hypertrophy training helps to strengthen your muscles, but it can happen unexpectedly. The muscle’s cross-sectional size helps to increase strength, but large muscles are not as strong as they appear. However, strength training helps to increase muscles size.

To become a professional rugby player, you will need to follow a variety of fitness plans. Here are the important things which can make you physically fit.

Cardio Training

Rugby players also run same as soccer players, but those players are stronger and larger enough for switching quickly while running. The running changes which require a mix of sprints and 1000-meter shuttles will help to burn the fat without altering on muscles.

To become a trained rugby player, you will require a cardio workout for 20 minutes three times per week. There should be five sessions of 30 minutes every week. Many runners recommend you to clock up for 20 to 30 miles every week to improve your fitness. Do you think it’s right?

Long-Slow-distance training

Long-slow-distance training also describes as LSD which helps to builds your general fitness and aerobic base. Being anaerobic without affecting rugby, you can do start-stop sport which will reduce your fatigue and recover fast between sessions of a high-intensity workout if you keep average aerobic fitness.

To perform this workout you can do cycling, running, swimming, maintaining effortless pace or row. Try to do for 20 to 30 minutes. You need to maintain maximum heart rate around 60% of your age which should balance around level 5\6 on an RPE scale of 1 to 10.  You can slightly go out of breath, but need to feel comfortable and manage the conversation.

Try to perform slow distance training for 40 minutes and hold the temptation. Doing work out for a longer time will not help your fitness.

30-30 intervals

During a rugby sport, in spite of playing the game for 80 minutes, at a time you will be active for rounds of 20 to 30 seconds which are generally varied with same length rests. You can change it to 30 – 30 intervals.

After doing a warm-up, row, run or do cycling for 30 seconds and then recover for 30 seconds by slowing down yourself, for example, walk or sprint. Repeat similar activity 20 times to complete 20 minutes. As you become more comfortable with this workout, include more intervals. You can perform this workout up to 40 intervals which stimulate complete half of rugby.  This workout focuses on the lactate energy system.

Reverse Tabata

The reverse Tabata exercise focus on the ATP-CP energy system. Performing traditional Tabata training helps your type 2b quick twitch anaerobic muscle fibers. It will promote your ability to max the sprint and recover fast and continue overall again.

You can do exercise bike, rower and sprint outdoors. Do as much as hard you can do for 10 seconds and take rest for 20 seconds. Make sure to repeat this workout for 6 to 10 times. Do not worry, if you don’t wind during this workout.

The Rectangle

The rectangle is a cardio program of rugby training, and basically, it is designed for flankers and also referees, junior players, and props. As a flanker in rugby, you need to have mixed abilities and skills. You need to adjust the hooker strength and endurance.

Stamina, fitness, and endurance are important for rugby to perform high-intensity levels for a complete 80 minutes game. While the rugby players need to do this on the pitch, it is possibly important for flankers also.

The flanker is a part of the training and helps to remove the gap between forwards and backs. Rugby players need to do hookers hook, props prop, and scrum, as well as flankers also require to run and support all stages of play.

As much as agile, strong, fit and mobile the flanker is will be a rugby all-rounder.

Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic fitness is a vital ability to utilize the oxygen in the entire body which also describe as cardiovascular fitness. Without oxygen, rugby can be an anaerobic sport, but still, aerobic fitness is necessary for rugby. Having aerobic fitness helps in fast recovery anaerobic exertion bouts. In other words, you will be able to breathe quick.

Additionally, having high levels of aerobic fitness provide higher lactic acid which means you will play harder without getting fatigued.

Being a rugby player, you should not get trains like bodybuilders or marathon runners. Remember, low intensity and extra-long duration cardio cause to reduce strength gains. Therefore, you will need to do intense aerobic exercise to increase fitness without wasting your energy.

Anaerobic Fitness

Rugby is mainly an anaerobic sport. It is made up of short periods of scattered explosive breaks, and a rugby players training should consider it. You need to have a good practice of circuit training, interval training, sprints and stimulated match practice which is a start and stops methods for developing anaerobic fitness.

Having a good base of aerobic fitness helps to recover faster from anaerobic exertion bouts.

During a match, work intervals can be short such as a few seconds or few minutes. If you need specific intervals, then you will need to replicate the demands.

Mental Preparation

To become rugby professionally, you need to be mentally prepared for hard challenges. Having a right frame of mind helps to catch the training and motivate for better performance and relaxation before and after a rugby game.  Taking rest to relax can helps to lower your stress levels and diminish the risk of burnout.


Making a fitness plan and sticking with it in a disciplinary manner can be hard. To become a professional rugby player, you will need to learn discipline with self-habits to get trained according to game demands and give excellent results. Make sure to follow the fitness programmes you plan to attend.

Weight Training

Weight training during rugby provides different benefits such as power, better speed, and injury prevention. It also benefits mentally to know your body weight and understand where you want to be in the game time. You will require to work on your whole bodies such as upper body, legs, lower body and muscles groups.

Warm up and Cool down

Before starting training or game, you should always do a warm-up because it activates your muscles strength which helps to use your strength at right time.

Stretch your muscles properly to enhance your flexibility and endurance during games and training. You can do a simple exercise to warm up such as jogging and sprinting.

After training take some time off to relax and cool down your body to quickly recover your lost strength.


The rugby game demand incredible speed nowadays and players should be ready with good speed to run during the game to catch the quick changes. The speed is an active component for back play and players needs it to perform vigorously to compete best during weekly training. You can increase your speed with activities such as sprinting, shuttle running and jogging.

Ball skills

Timoci Matanavu looking right and passing the ball

To become an expert rugby player, you need to have regular practicing of ball skills. You can improve good ball skills by practicing activities such as passing, handling, kicking and catching the ball which helps to reduce field mistakes.

Strength Training

Rugby training requires strength to compete in many aspects of the game. The recommendation for strength training is to perform strength activities three times every week. The players should perform back and forward training adversely.

Forward training helps to develop upper body strength, legs which increase disrupting power.

Back training helps to train endurance and strength. It also helps to gain strength required while defending and running.

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is a major part of your rugby fitness. It helps to improve your fitness levels and helps to become professional. You can limit injury with the following tips.

  • Do warmup, stretching and cool down.
  • Wear guarding headgear.
  • Drink lots of water and other liquids and stay hydrated.
  • Discuss with your physiotherapist to know specific constant pain and aches.

Diet and Nutrition

During rugby training, you need to give equal importance to your nutritional values. Right food intakes help to benefit you mentally as well as physically.

Nutrition is an important part of every sport, and there is no exception for rugby. Rugby put a huge demand on its athletes for high impact plunges and raw physical. Nutrition adds great help during rugby training to reach the goals.

Here are helpful diet and nutrition tips for a rugby player


Hydration is requisite for good health as water make every function work smoothly. You can also take nutritionist help to plan properly to fulfill the sufficient need for water.

  • Rugby player requires to drink enough water because 3% of dehydration causes to reduce 10% strength and 8% speed and make prone to injury.
  • Rugby player gets a recommendation to drink at least 3 liters of water every day which needs to monitor with a water bottle.
  • You need to drink 250ml fluid after every 15 minutes while training.
  • Try to skip fizzy and carbonated drinks which contain more sugar and cause bloating.
  • Drink 1.2 liters water to lose 1 kg body weight.


Rugby is different from a distance based, and endurance sports and it requires high degree bursting power. Add carbohydrates to increase energy levels in your training program. Carbohydrates break down fast and get absorbed quickly. Make sure to check your glycogen levels if it already has a sufficient store, then it may cause fat gain.

Add unrefined carbohydrates in your rugby training diets such as vegetables, brown rice, wholemeal, wholegrain, and fruits because these foods take a long time to get digest due to the content of fiber. Fiber foods help to slow down the sugar release into the blood.

Eating refined carbohydrates such as white pasta and white bread release the sugar in the blood quickly and cause excess insulin production. It also causes to effect on your weight and fat loss plan of rugby.

How to eat carbs?

Eat unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, oats, brown rice, and fruits.

Consume complex carbs 3 hours before your training.

Eat high fiber foods such as



  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Artichokes
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes


Culinary fruits front view

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Mangoes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Beans and legume: kidney beans, Navy beans, white, peas, lentils, and garbanzo.

Eat Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin

Avoid heavy carb meals which increase excess calorie consumption.


During rugby training eat protein to get better block building in the body. Natural protein consumption support muscles growth.

You should consume around 2.2 grams of protein for every 1 kg of body weight. An individual with 80 kg requires to consume 176 gram of protein every day.

Protein takes time to get digested, therefore divide your protein intake throughout the day. You can eat proteins such as nuts, eggs, lean meat, and fish.

Consume lean protein without fats.

You can have low-fat protein snacks such as cottage cheese, houmous, and hard-boiled eggs.

You can consume extra protein with sports supplements such as rebuild range and Maxinutrition.

Consume protein supplement all days to manage muscles.


Everyone avoid eating fats, but there is good fat which body needs for nutrients absorption. The good fats are polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 to get essential fatty acid. Avoid saturated fats which are chemically altered with trans fats.

You can follow the tips to choose good fats:

  • Choose olive oil – cold pressed.
  • Get vital fat from fish oil and eat at least two meals with fish per week.
  • Make sure to eat 15 to 20% fat of total calories.

Rugby players should follow their diet plan and lifestyle to have proper nutrition. Here are some important tips.

Replace oily snacks with healthy protein snacks such as pancakes or peanut butter with a sliced apple.

  • Aim to have protein of 2.5 to 3 grams per kg of body weight.
  • Eat four meals every day to build mass.
  • Eat different carbs before and after training.
  • Drink enough water before a day of the game.

Rugby fitness myths

Fat burning

As a rugby player don’t get confused fat burning with weight loss. Performing low-intensity rugby training will burn more fat and calories. Whereas a high-intensity rugby workout of equal time will burn even more calories and result in quick weight loss.

No pain, no gain

The rugby player should not worry about the pain while getting fitness improvements skill. Either you can change the workout intensity or rugby training session length, but you should not change both at the time.

Muscle gaining truth

The rugby players looking to increase weight around 12 – 15 pounds from a diet plan and weight training will be able to bulk up. But remember you cannot add muscle weight and play rugby at the same time because both the training programme are different.

A rugby player should try to add muscle during the off-season. You can also take a supplement but make sure you understand and manage it carefully. Taking expert coach help can be useful.

Do fitness programmes continue for the long term?

A rugby fitness not come in a week or two, if so happen, then you will perform poorly and result in injuries. A better rugby fitness programme should cover the entire season and beyond. Its coach responsibility to guide the player to perform strongly in limited time.

Rugby training can efficiently work in the morning

Rugby training can be done any time in the whole. There is no strong evidence to recommend a specific time of the day for better training.

The most important thing is for the player to choose a time which suits them better. The time they can completely focus on training mentally as well as physically. If you are falling asleep at school or work because of early morning runs, then you should change your routine.

The above rugby fitness tips may help you gain the required strength and maintain your physical health strong. Practice as much as you can to get professional but do take care of your health.

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