Rugby Training program: No Whitty title here

So here is a general program towards building some muscle mass and some strength. The goal is to lift total body 3 days per week preferably with a rest day between each training day. Take 2 minutes or more of rest between sets on your first exercise and the sets and reps are only the work sets, this does not include the warm ups.

Supplemental exercise A and B are meant to be done as a super set alternating one set of the one exercise and then doing one set on the other. The same concept for the assistance exercises only now it is a tri set (A to B to C then back to A).  Always feel free to add in neck work between your warm up sets on your main exercise and do any extra prehab exercises you need to due to your own injury history and weak points. When performing the exercises do the concentric explosively on the main movements but controlled on all the other movements. On the supplemental and assistance exercises be sure to control the eccentric of the movement (lowering) so that it takes about 3 seconds to do.


Day 1 2 3
Main Exercise Sumo Deadlift Hang Power Snatch Back Squat (moderate to wide stance)
Sets X Reps 3×10 3×5 12/15/17/20
Supplemental Exercise A Bench Press Military Press Close Grip Push ups
Sets X Reps Top set of 10 then drop 10% for 2 more sets of 10. 3×8 3 sets of burn out
Supplemental Exercise B Body Weight Low Row Pull ups DB Rows w/ shrug
Sets X Reps 3 sets of burn out Burn out 1 set then do 75% of that number of reps for the next 2 sets 3×10 each side
Assistance Exercise A Hanging Leg Raises Ab Wheel Ab Choice
Sets X Reps 3 sets of burn out 3 sets of burn out Choice
Assistance Exercise B Bulgarian Split Squats Cossack Squats Back Extensions
Sets X Reps 3×12 each leg 3×10 each side 3×20
Assistance Exercise C Curls/triceps work (choice) Reverse Hypers Grip Work
Sets X Reps 3-4×8-12rep each 3×10-20 3 sets of time, or max reps



Each week try to add weight to each exercise. If you aren’t able to get all of the reps then stay at that weight until you can. After 4-6 weeks take one week easy where you only do 2/3 of the normal number of sets you would do and do them with lighter weights than you would normally do. On the squats you do your first week for three sets of 12 and then the next week you do the same weights for sets of 15 and then bump up to 17 on week three and finish with sets of 20 on week for (this is going to be very brutal).

After following this workout for 2-3 months change up your assistance exercises and decrease the reps per set on the main movement by 2 reps to help yourself start making progress again. If any of the exercises hurt your joints and don’t feel “right” switch them out for something that you think will be a better for your body type and your mobility.


This is simply the strength training side of things, where we are making sure the athlete can have strength in every direction and improve their stability. The power training will come after this and I will start working on that program now. Make sure you are practicing and conditioning outside of these workouts, but this will help improve your overall strength specifically for someone more in the front of the pack that will have to tackle and be tackled.


5 thoughts on “Rugby Training program: No Whitty title here

  1. Hello Mike, with our rugby season coming to an end this week and we’ll be playing our first match again in September, when would be a good time to start this work out? Would you recommend doing in season too?


    1. James, thanks for the comment, I would start this after the season is done (maybe start this a full week after it ends to let yourself recover). I would run this up until the season, and then maybe cut back during the season otherwise if you seem to be recovering well, still do this during the season or only do 1-2 days of lifting as opposed to all three.


  2. Hey Mike, thanks for the reply on the last question. I have heard some folks talking about the bear complex and how useful it is for rugby, with some even saying that it is the only routine you need to do all week. What are your thoughts on the bear complex as either part of, or solely your training program? Thanks


    1. James,
      The bear is a good barbell complex much like Javorek complexes and can either be part of your training program or perhaps the entire thing. The problem with the complex is you can’t overload certain movements as much as you can with just specific exercises ( you can squat more than you can push press). The other issues is those complexes have movements in them that are much more technical like the clean which some folks lack the mobility or skill to do them well. If you like it, feel free to use it, but I would add this in for more of the conditioning aspect of it than for really improving maximal strength or power.


      1. Awesome, thank you for the information. I am just hitting month three of your program and am really enjoying it and seeing some great results, so thank you for creating and i’ll see how it affects my game next month.


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