Canterbury Training Hub

Rugby Training: Bulking

April 14, 2015 Nutrition 3 min read BACK

As a rugby player in the modern era, you need to have bulk and muscle to compete and play at your best. For the most part, gone are the days when players with slight builds like the great Barry John can survive: regular big hits from massive opponents mean that you have to be bulked up to survive.

There are two aspects to creating bulk: physical training and nutrition. Here, we’ll focus on the gym. In weight training, it’s reckoned that to build size you should train heavily with low repetitions in several sets. You should probably be aiming at about five sets with enough weight in the first to do, say, six repetitions, adding weight after each set so that by the last one you can manage only three reps. However, before you rush off to the gym, be sure to get some advice from your coach first and remember that you should always have a training partner just in case of accidents. Let’s take a look at some of the best bulk-building exercises.

Squats
Very few players enjoy doing squats but, of all the exercises in the book, they are probably the most effective and complete compound exercise you can perform. Squats train virtually the whole body (particularly the legs and lower abdomen and back) and help develop bulk, core strength, explosive power and balance.

Support a loaded barbell across the top of your chest and, with legs shoulder-width apart and keeping your back straight, lower your body down till your knees are about at right angles whilst moving your hips back. Then raise yourself back to your starting position.

Bench press
Anyone who has been to a gym is familiar with the bench press. It is a great upper body exercise that mainly works the chest muscles (notably the pecs), the shoulders (anterior deltoids and trapezius) and the arms (triceps).

While lying on a bench, you hold a loaded barbell or dumbells above your chest and push up till your arms are straight. You then lower the weight to your starting position. By varying the angle of the bench and the width of your grip on the barbell, you can change the muscles that are primarily worked. For example, the greater the incline, the more emphasis on the shoulder muscles.

Bulking up

Pull-ups
Great for working the upper body, pull-ups help develop the arms, shoulders and upper back.

Using an overhand grip (palms facing away), simply hold an overhead horizontal bar and, keeping your body straight, pull yourself up till your upper arms and forearms are touching. Then lower yourself till your arms are straight and repeat. You can add weights to your body to make the exercise even harder.

Bent over rows
Another excellent, bulk-building exercise for the upper body, bent over rows can focus particularly on the upper back muscles (latissimus dorsi) and the shoulders (deltoids).

Bent over rows should be performed with a barbell or dumbbells in each hand. You simply stand with your legs comfortably apart, your back straight and your arms hanging down. You then pull your arms up to your chest.

Dumbbell step-ups
This is a simple exercise that develops leg strength and balance. It particularly focuses on the quadriceps, gluteals and calf muscles.
With a dumbbell in each hand and a block about knee high to step onto the block with one leg, straighten that leg and raise the second leg till the knee is at right angles. Then step down again and repeat. Change legs after a few repetitions or alternate.

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A warning
Get expert advice before you start an exercise regime so that you know that it is right for your and to help avoid injury. Never train alone and stop if you feel an injury.

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