I ate and trained like a professional rugby player for six weeks
Train like a rugby pro
The game has changed
Twenty years ago, your average rugby pros physique wasnt anything to write home about. Forwards carried some bulk, certainly, but it came courtesy of beer as well as barbells. A scrum half could err on the svelte side and still survive 80 minutes. Wingers didnt have to be stacked. Just pacy.
Those days are long gone. Watch an international rugby game in 2013 and youll find every man on the pitch, from fly half to flanker, is built like a tank. And not a looks-good-but-can-barely-move kind of tank. A lightning fast, brutal, near-indestructible, all-guns-blazing kind of tank.MHchats to three Harlequins stars about training hard, nutritional tips and how you can improve your game whatever your position.
What are the most important areas of strength for someone playing in your position?
Ollie Kohn lockYou need a high work rate, plus to enjoy contact and the physical side of the game. Also, playing your specific role in securing set pieces [particularly line-outs] for your team.
George Lowe centre(pictured) As a centre you need to be both strong and fast. In defence you have to make big tackles and with the ball you need to be able to expose the space. Good vision is key for all of this. We have sessions in small groups to work on our perception skills,improving hand-eye co-ordinationand visual awareness.
Nick Easter No. 8Pure power and physicality.
What kind of training do you do to hone your body for your specific role on the field?
KohnEach session begins with 10 minutes warm up on the bike followed by 20 minutes pre-hab: concentrating on stretching areas of weakness. Then its on to the power exercises: Olympic lifts or squats, some single leg work, and upper-body supersets. This year we have also done quite a few sessions with weighted sleds either pushing or pulling them. This is great from a cardio perspective, but also increases muscular endurance whileimproving gripand body angles. On the pitch this is crucial: if you can get your body at the right angle you'll be in a much more powerful position to take contact on your own terms.
Lowe(pictured) A hard pre-season fitness session normally includes a few 'Hennie Mullers' (running a figure of eight of the pitch) followed by some wrestling, which builds upper-body endurance. During the season I spend a lot of time doing pre-hab and rehab: often using cables to strengthen my rotator cuff and correct my posture. Theres also a focus on flexibility and lots of use offoam rollers rolling the soreness out of muscles.
EasterWhen I focus on power, I like to do explosive exercises. Weights-wise, this typically involves power cleans, or high pulls (explosive full-body movements) supersetted with plyometric exercises such as box jumps, lateral jumps, or one-legged bounds. I mix it up from day to day.
What would be your number one nutritional tip?
It’s all about timing. Eat carbs within a 30-minute window of an intense workout, whether it’s in the gym or on the field.
Drink green tea. I have at least one cup a day. Also, in between sessions I eat Power Bars – great for providing energy for the next session.
Easter(pictured) Water. Lots of it.
What drills would you recommend to those who play in your position and want to improve their game?
KohnSince locks are the target at line-outs, you should do lots of overhead work with different sized balls. This helps to focus and improve hand-eye co-ordination. Also concentrate on your contact skills: how to offload when youre hit and carry the ball effectively.
LoweHandling and decision making skills are key for centres. A good drill is simply working on 2 on 1, 3 on 2, and 4 on 3 situations. You start with both the attack and defence together. The coach then calls a number of attackers and defenders and the attack go around one cone and the defence round the other so that they meet back in the middle. This is brilliant as it doesn't allow you to prepare and creates situations that you find yourself in during a game.
Easter(pictured) The No. 8 and scrum half link is vitally important to work on. Try replicating different scrum angles with your scrum half and communicate how to deliver quality ball in case your scrum doesnt give you the intended angle. Practised enough, this should become second nature.
What do you know now that you wish you'd known at the start of your career?
(pictured) The mental side of sport is just as important as the physical side. Visualisation is a good tool that a lot of players use. Picturing in real detail in your own mind catching a ball or making a tackle can have a really positive effect on your performance.
For young players I think there is too much emphasis on weights and the physical side of the game.
Video: I Trained Like a PRO ATHLETE For a Day (NFL, RUGBY) | Strength and Conditioning Workout
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