Rugby Fitness at Home
Is December a yes or no for you? It depends on how you look at it. There is a nice celebration on the 25th (and on quite a few other days too), but when you look at what December does to both the bank and the belly, it sucks. You buy presents for every distant family member. You need a secret Santa gift for some random colleague. And the nights get colder and wetter, meaning less motivation to get out and train.
But, there is a way to get a handle on both your training and your spending this December… with some home workouts! Home workouts are really underrated in my books, they’re a lot quicker and cheaper than hitting the gym. Home workouts can also be better than a run as there’s no risk of you tapping out because of a little rain. Sure, a home workout might not be as impressive as the training montage the England team put up recently. But for busy guys with normal jobs, you really can achieve most fitness goals by training at home.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the things you can work on using nothing but your body weight and some space in your front room.
You might think “I need weights to get strong”, but what you really need is resistance. In my opinion there’s no difference between a 10 rep max on bench press, and a 10 rep max on weighted push ups. The resistance on your body is the same, just one uses a barbell, and the other uses your bodyweight (plus a backpack or something to add weight). The other option for strength training at home is doing one arm/leg exercises. Ever tried one arm push ups? Ever tried reverse lunges with a five second lowering phase? They’re both damn hard and will definitely build both muscle and strength.
*Disclaimer – yes if you want to put on serious muscle and strength, a gym is probably advised*
Circuits are the easiest way to work on your fitness at home. Now this really is as simple as picking a few exercises (push ups, squats, burpees, plank), picking a work to rest ratio (45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest), and picking a total number of rounds (let’s say 5), and there you have it. A 20 minute workout that will surely leave you in a sweaty mess at the end. Yes you can get more technical with exercises and rest times, but all circuits are heavy calorie burners and take waaay less time than driving to the gym and queuing for 5 minutes for every machine (no thanks!).
Plyometrics are the best way to develop power using just your bodyweight. Plyometric exercises include all movements that are performed with rapid contractions. These could be jump lunges, clap push ups, jump squats, broad jumps, burpees, box jumps, hopping etc. If you look at a rugby game, most of the movements involve rapid contractions: running, stepping, accelerating, tackling, jumping. If you want to get faster and more powerful on the pitch, then plyometric exercises are what you want. You can build a plyometric workout the same as a circuit, but as the exercises are more demanding than regular exercises, schedule in a longer rest period.
Here’s a couple of typical mobility issues for rugby players. Big guys are usually less flexible, if you aren’t mobile enough to hold your arms straight overhead, you won’t be very useful lifting in the line out or binding in a scrum. Trunk mobility is also a player wide issue. If you can’t bend or twist into the right position, you are seriously limiting your ability to tackle properly. Setting aside some time to improve mobility will not only prevent injuries from happening, but you should start to see a change into the minor but important rugby skills.
Core is NOT simply doing crunches every day (this can even do more harm than good in the long run). You need to strengthen your core in all angles for it to be effective for rugby. Your core, like plyometrics, works in basically all movements on the rugby pitch, and needs to be strengthened in all areas: front, side, rear, static, dynamic, rotating, standing, kneeling, lying, reactive etc. You can build a core workout like a circuit, just make sure you are hitting all the angles.
We are rugby players, injuries are part of the game. For some of us, injuries stopped us from playing rugby completely *que sad music*. So if you’re looking to keep on the pitch and play for longer, make sure you work on your rehabilitation! Whether it was that dodgy shoulder from a tackle a few seasons back, or that broken foot you never saw a physio for, go and work on it. If you want to keep playing the game you love, you gotta keep yourself injury proof!
I hope this shows you that you don’t need a gym to get fitter for rugby. You can work on your goals in December without even leaving the front room. So now you know, the question is, what’s stopping you??
Thanks for reading, see you next time.