Rugby Strength & Conditioning: Work Capacity Circuit Training

What do the best teams and players have in common? Why can some teams ramp up the intensity at the crucial time and come away with the score or make the try saving tackle? One big factor is having the conditioning to do this. More specifically they have the ability to repeat high intensity efforts which is ultimately what YOU want to be doing in a game of rugby! They can make not one big impact on the game but multiple as they have the energy systems to recover between them and repeat them for the duration of a game.

Below is a protocol I’ve been experimenting with some athletes with good results. Keys to it are performing as explosively as possible and allowing enough rest to remain explosive and little enough to stimulate conditioning improvements. At first it may feel easy but soon you’ll feel the heart and lungs try to catch up with your muscles! The trick is that it taps into your Alactic energy system, the one that is used to produce those high intensity efforts. Then in between efforts it builds an efficient Aerobic energy system which kicks in to replenishes the alactic system.

Anyway here it is:

Work Capacity Circuits

Perform 2-3 sessions per week

Performed EMOM Style (every minute on the minute)

Min 1 – Quad Dominant Exercise x10-15s
Min 2 – Upper Body Exercise x10-15s
Min 3 – Posterior Chain Dominant Exercise x10-15s


All Performed explosively

Roll two Dice to determine the number of rounds. Minimum will be twice through so 6 mins total, maximum will be 36 mins total! This variety helps to allow you to recover. Enjoy the shorter sessions and attack the longer sessions as a challenge!

Exercise Choices – 

Quad Dominant: Prowler Sprints, Jump Squats, Jump Lunges, Box Jumps, Hill Sprints, WattBike Sprint
Upper Body: Push Ups, Medball Slams, Plyo Push Ups, Push Press/jerks, Rope Pull, Medball Throws
Posterior Chain Dominant: KB Swings, KB/DB Snatches, Broad Jumps

Start on the side of caution with 10s work and only increase to 15s over time when/if you can maintain speed of movement. You can prescribe reps for an exercise so long as you know it meets the times.

If short on time pick an upper and lower body exercise and perform 5 sets of each 10mins total, or roll one dice!

Also if you feel the speed/power drop off can the session and live to fight another day. If you’re not training fast you’re not getting faster!

Give these sessions a go for a few weeks and then take note of your improved conditioning and explosiveness that transfers onto the pitch!

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