In-season Gym Maintenance for the Footy Player

In-season Gym Maintenance for the Footy Player

Brothers Rugby Club
Image courtesy of Brothers Rugby Club

Most of our sporting population in the clinic are our footy players. Rugby is a gruelling sport challenging many aspects of fitness – cardiovascular fitness, balance, endurance, strength, plyometrics and mobility.  Our focus topic this month is on in season maintenance so this blog highlights specifically our recommended gym maintenance for our footy players to ensure they are injury-free.  We recommend these exercises to be done in a gym setting.

1. Mobility

The purpose of mobility exercises is to ensure adequate joint and muscle range of motion. Adequate range of motion leads to improved sporting performance. Mobility exercises should constitute part of a daily gym programme. We recommend a good 10-15 minutes spent on mobility exercises per gym session. Here are good examples of mobility exercises:

Upper limb

  • Pipe stick shoulder overhead rotation.
  • 4 point kneeling wrist flexion/extension rocks
  • Pec stretch rocks
  • YTWL with theraband

Lower limb

  • Hamstring rocks
  • Alternating lateral lunge
  • Hip flexor rocking
  • Dynamic calf stretch


  • Thread the needle
  • Bow and arrow
  • Cat and camel

2. Weekly cardiovascular aerobic exercise

Footy is cardio vascularly taxing on the body. There is a lot of running involved and quite often this is through sprinting. Therefore, cardiovascular fitness must be worked on through season. We recommend doing 2-3 times a week of cardiovascular training. This can be a run, bike, swim or row. At the gym works well but so does outdoors.

3. Isolated Muscle Strengthening

For the body to work efficiently as a whole unit, individual muscles should be strengthened in isolation. In the gym, we recommend our footy players to use machines at the gym using the following parameters: 10-15 repetitions and 3 sets per exercise and working at 40-60% of 1RM per exercise.

We also recommend an upper and lower body split.

Upper body:

  • Chest press machine
  • Overhead press machine
  • Cable row
  • Bicep curl machine
  • Triceps extension machine

Lower body:

  • Knee extension machine
  • Leg curl machine
  • Calf raise machine
  • Glute bridging.

4. Functional Strengthening

We advise our footy players to also incorporate functional strengthening into the gym regime. This is different from isolated training because this comprises of exercises working more than one muscle at a time (compound exercises) and in a functional (relating to the sport) manner. These exercises can be trained using the following parameters: 10-15 reps and 3 sets per exercise and working at 40-60% of 1RMs.

Common functional compound exercises include:

  • Barbell overhead press
  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Bent over barbell rows
  • Barbell squats
  • Dumbbell lunges
  • Barbell deadlifts

5. Balance Training

Rugby is a multiplanar sport with many changes in direction and body positions. This means that balance is crucial. Dynamic balance, which is the body’s ability to maintain its’ centre of mass over its’ base of support which moving, is particularly important.

Some good balance exercises for footy players include:

  • Kettlebell single leg Romanian deadlift
  • Single leg bosu squats
  • Cable pallof press variations (overhead press, forward press, single leg, foam mat surface)
  • Forward jump with one leg landing
  • Lateral jump with one leg landing

6. Power and Plyometrics

Rugby always incorporates fast explosive movements, so plyometrics must be included as part of in season gym maintenance. Plyometric exercises consists of a rapid stretch phase followed immediately by a rapid contraction. This follows the principle that the faster you stretch a muscle, the harder and faster it contracts. We recommend doing a plyometric session once per week, ensuring you are well warmed up before hand and you have a good baseline level of strength. Recovery post-session

Some good plyometric exercises include:

  • Box jumps
  • Vertical jumps
  • Forward jumps
  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping lunges
  • Medicine ball throws – forward and rotational.
  • Clap push ups
  • Single leg deadlift hops

The above exercises not exhaustive but outlines all aspects of fitness needed for a footy player. Each area must be worked on during season to keep up overall conditioning of the body. This avoids injuries and makes for a hassle-free season.

If you are experiencing any niggles on field, don’t hesitate to come see our friendly team. Book an appointment online or call us on 07 3352 5116.

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