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The 2007 Rugby World Cup produced an average of 19 scrums per game. For the stat counters, that’s an average of 163 phase transitions across an 80-minute match. For front-row forward Bismarck du Plessis, that means one shoulder-crunching pack-down for every four minutes of play.
So how does Du Plessis prepare his body to conquer the high-impact field warfare? “In any position, but especially as a forward, you need a strong upper body,” he says. And is shows.
1. Travelling Shoulder Press
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells level with your jaw. Press them overhead as you step forwards, then lower them while bringing your rear leg forwards. Repeat with the other leg. Do eight to 10 reps with each leg.
This is one of the Springbok forwards’ trademark moves. Hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders and bring your elbows forwards so your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Quickly stand back up. Start by doing six reps, then subtract one rep and add weight each set. Do four sets.
3. Bench Press
Lie on a flat bench. Using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, hold a barbell straight above your sternum. Lower it, pause, then press it back up. It seems like a simple move, but your form is all-important. Remember to keep your elbows tucked so that when you’re in the down position your upper arms form a 45-degree angle to your body.