How to train like a rugby player

Stephen Macconville Stephen Macconville Fitness Lead for Flagship Programmes
Stephen Macconville, personal trainer and ex semi-professional rugby player, offers popular gym exercises to help you build strength, muscle, power and endurance.

Whether you're on the pitch or off, the training techniques that rugby players use can benefit anyone. Try incorporating some of these into your gym workout to help you develop your physique and improve your fitness.

Compound and strength exercises - for building muscle and getting stronger

Rugby players are muscular athletes. Performing compound exercises with heavy weight helps them build muscle to protect their bodies on the 'battlefield.'

After you've warmed up, start your workout with compound exercises. They use up lots of energy, so you'll want a full tank to complete each exercise with maximum effort to get the most benefit.

Best compound exercises

How many? 2-3 per workout
For how long? 5 sets of 5 reps (per exercise)

  • Bench Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Military Press
  • Squats
  • Dead Lifts
  • Romanian Dead Lifts
  • Pull Ups
  • Walking Lunges

Explosive exercises - for power and speed

A rugby game can turn quickly and players need to be able to make a fast move. Performing explosive exercises helps with agility, speed and power.

Best explosive exercises

How many? 2 per workout
For how long? 5 sets of 5 reps (per exercise)

  • Broad Jump
  • Vertical jump
  • Clean and Press
  • Kettle Bell Snatch

Fitness exercises - for endurance

Depending on which position they play, a rugby player can run between 5-8 kilometres during a match. So it's vital their body can perform over long distances.

Best fitness exercises

How many? 2 per workout
For how long? 6-10 reps for 3-5 sets (per exercise)

  • Thrusters
  • Burpee Pull Ups
  • Sled Push & Pull
  • Parachute runs
  • Farmers Walk

As with any workout, make sure you warm up and cool down properly and pay attention to your form.

Compound, explosive and fitness exercises are the bread and butter of a rugby player's training plan. By following a similar programme you'll be able to build a strong and functional body. The beauty of following a workout like this is the flexibility to pick and choose your exercises and still get a balanced workout.

Last updated Tuesday 5 November 2019

First published on Wednesday 18 September 2019