Surprising gym secrets of rugby pros

Melissa Shedden
February 22, 2017

Twenty years ago your average rugby pro’s physique wasn’t anything to marvel at. But have a look at the Wallabies squad and it’s clear those days are long gone.

You’ll find every man on the playing field in 2017 is built like a tank – a steam-rolling, lightning-fast, indestructible kind of tank.

Hooker Stephen Moore is 1.86m and 112kg, full back Israel Folau is 1.93m and 103kg and even flanker Michael Hooper is 1.82m and 101kg.

It’s called lean weight – and here are the four secrets on how to achieve it. Go on and tackle them.


SECRET 1: Go heavy and often

Like all major athletes, rugby players aren’t shy of resistance training. Well-structured strength and conditioning programs contain exercises that resemble the movement patterns in rugby, to make you stronger and more powerful on the pitch. Instead of bicep curls, think big, compound movements that recruit lots of muscle groups and stabilisers. The key exercises for power and strength in rugby include:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Bench Press
  • Sled Sprinting
  • Single Leg Movements (Squats, Lunges, Step Ups)
  • Cleans

Players do pyramids for their big exercises, which means they’ll do a set of six reps, then rest, then do a set of five, then rest, all the way down to a single rep set. Then, they’ll work back up. Your new weights routine sorted.

Swisse Tip: Post exercise, try Pure Warrior Extreme Bulk, a mass gain protein formula that helps build muscle mass. Naturally high in anabolic amino acids for fast absorption and optimal muscle growth, Pure Warrior Extreme Bulk is rich in Leucine, a branched chain amino acid known for its vital role in protein synthesis to help build and repair muscles.


SECRET 2: Don’t skip cardio

Plenty of guys on the gym floor are guilty of making time to lift, then conveniently forgetting their cardio. Not so for rugby players – whose running training includes everything from distance runs, to 1000 m shuttles (hello beep test), partner runs to sprints. The variety is key because it keeps your body guessing – reason to alternate your standard Saturday 6 km with endurance, speed and stamina sessions.

Swisse Tip: Amino Acids are a bit like apps. Whatever type of session, there’s one to help out. Check out the Pure Warrior Amino Acids range to learn about the benefits of BCAA, Creatine, L-Carnitine, L-Glutamine and Pre-Workout.


SECRET 3: Test yourself

Pushing yourself in the gym means you can push yourself on the pitch – and in life. These guys are knocking themselves unconscious, so give yourself a goal to beat to help keep you motivated. You may not have a coach or squad to rely on, but you can keep yourself accountable by setting up your progression so you test your maxes every month.

Swisse Tip: Try the 50-burpee challenge. Start a timer and do 50 strict burpees – that means your chest has to touch the ground on the pushups, and you have to jump at least 15cm at the top. Repeat the test once a week and try to improve your elapsed time with each attempt. You can do it – use your brain to build your muscles.


SECRET 4: You can’t out-train a bad diet

Determined to bulk, end up pounding the pasta – then looking anything but athletic? Turns out, eating more fruit, which has carbs that come from natural sugars, may be a better way to gain weight. Add a couple of extra bananas to your diet rather than overdosing on bread. If you’re like a rugby pro and training multiple times a day, consuming protein across 6-7 meal is better for maximising protein intake. This increased protein intake, should be combined with meeting your calorie requirements – a positive energy balance is important for muscle hypertrophy. Your ideal target is an energy surplus of approx. 300-500kcal per day. Easy enough to achieve – adding an extra meal or a bit more to the rest of your meals.

Swisse Tip: Want more info? An Accredited Practicing Dietitian can help tailor an eating and supplementation program for your specific goals.