Five myths about rugby fitness

Rugby coaching tips to dispel some fitness and conditioning myths.

1. The “Fat Burning Zone”

Make sure your players don’t confuse burning fat with weight loss. A low-intensity rugby training session will use up more calories and fat. A higher intensity rugby coaching session for the same period will burn up even more calories, leading to a quicker weight change.

2. No to no pain, no gain

Players should not see pain as a way of measuring fitness improvement in skills or fitness. If you need to change the intensity of the workout as your players become fitter, change the length of the rugby coaching session or the intensity, but not both.

3. The truth about gaining muscle

Players who want to bulk up will be able to add around 12 to 15 pounds of weight from a good diet and weight-training programme. But you cannot effectively play rugby and add muscle weight at the same time, because the two training programmes are so different.

Muscle should be added during the off-season. Legal supplements can help, but I advise you make sure your players understand that these need to be carefully managed. They should not be taken without expert advice.

4. Fitness programmes are for the long term

Thinking that you can turn around the fitness of your team in a week, or even two, is more likely to lead to greater injuries and poorer performance. Good sides will have a rolling fitness programme that covers the whole season and beyond. Your players should understand their role in this rolling programme, because you can only influence them directly during your limited time in training.

5. Players can only train effectively in the morning

Your rugby players can train any time of the day. There is no substantial evidence to suggest that one time is any better or worse than another.

More important is for the players to find a time that suits them, in terms of their off-field commitments and how they feel after training. If they’re falling asleep at work or in school from early morning runs, then this might be a signal to change the routine!

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