Inside The Super Rugby Camp: Wednesday Is Functional Training
Now for the heavy lifting. Pro rugby players are expected to adapt their practice sessions according to the demands of the weekend at hand. “We see each week as independent of the next,” says Bulls’ strength and conditioning coach, Stephan du Toit. “Players need to become stronger and more explosive through the season, so they can take that physical confidence to the training field. We will always prioritise the big three (strength, power and cardiovascular effort) and work on fundamental exercises that transfer to specific facets of the game, but the best training is on the field itself. That’s why players are tracked on their training load all the time and with the assistance of GPS their numbers need to add up in order to be ready for a weekend.”
Speed is an essential element of my game. I focus a lot of reactive work on my acceleration, to have that confidence on game day. – Sergeal Petersen
For Sergeal, that means sprints, whereas Jesse, as an athletic backliner capable of playing centre, winger and fullback, will go through a range of explosive linear and lateral movements and jumps designed to make him a more explosive athlete – equally adept at motoring through a gap in the midfield as he is at launching upwards to claim a high ball on his own tryline. Jaco, on the other hand, concentrates on agility: “As an openside flanker I focus on bouncing off the ground as quickly as I can, to get to the next tackle.”
Shaun du Toit says the focus of most training sessions will be firmly on functional movements, including power cleans and kettlebell work. “We will also include strength exercises, like various forms of squats and deadlifts, as well as vertical and horizontal push and pull movements. Strengthening of the core and stabiliser muscles also makes up a big part of our training programmes. And we like to fit in at least one burner session early in the week, where we work on cardio to ensure the guys are where they need to be, while giving them enough time to recover before the game.”
Forge Your Own Armour
When you make a living by putting yourself in harm’s way, trying to catch and pass a ball while leaving your ribs and solar plexus exposed, you need a core that can withstand the biggest hits. Try this circuit, doing the exercises back-to-back for a minute each, and then resting another 60 seconds. Repeat for four rounds; build up to six or eight.
1. Russian twist
Sit (or raise your feet and balance on your butt), and rotate rapidly, alternating sides as you touch the medicine ball to the floor.
2. Kettlebell side plank
Rest on your forearm with your top arm holding a kettlebell. Switch sides every round.
2. Standing medicine ball twist
Stand sideways holding a medicine ball at your hip; rotate and throw it hard at a wall. Catch it and repeat. Do 30 seconds per side.
Click on each link for a detailed description of what the athletes do to recover and prepare mentally and physically, on each day of the week.
- Sunday is all about recovery
- Monday: How to deal with DOMS
- Tuesday is Movesday
- Wednesday: Functional training
- Thursday: Analysis is key
- Friday: Preparation before another Big Game
- Saturday: Game Day!