Strength and Conditioning Standards for Rugby can seem a bit arbitrary.

Your strength and conditioning levels won’t correlate with your success as a rugby player.

Technical and tactical ability supersede physical ability. Look at Finn Russell…

However, high levels of strength and conditioning allows you to better express your rugby playing ability i.e. you may see a gap in the defensive line but if you’re not fit/strong/fast enough to take it – it’s a waste.

Here are the four key levels with expect for our rugby athletes at JT Performance.

Level 1: The Emerging Rugby Athlete

The emerging athlete is picking the low-hanging fruit of training. Developing foundational qualities which will serve them for the rest of their career. Don’t progress until you can check-off these standards.

Male Rugby Athlete

Squat: Goblet Squat (40kg x 10)

Push: Push-ups (20reps)

Pull: Inverted Row (straight-leg x 15)

Hinge: Perfect hip hinge (technique)

Carry: Farmers Carry (BW for 30s)

Core: Dead-bug (perfect technique x 10/leg)

Conditioning: Resting Heart-rate (below 60bpm)

Power/Speed: Broad Jump (190cm with perfect landing)

Female Rugby Athlete

Squat: Goblet Squat (30kg x 10)

Push: Push-ups (10reps)

Pull: Inverted Row (straight-leg x 10)

Hinge: Perfect hip hinge (technique)

Carry: Farmers Carry (0.8xBW for 30s)

Core: Dead-bug (perfect technique x 10/leg)

Conditioning: Resting Heart-rate (below 60bpm)

Power/Speed: Broad Jump (150cm with perfect landing)

At this stage, a variation of the 1×20 programme would work a treat.

Level 2: The Top 10% Rugby Athlete

The top 10% athlete will be one of the most physically dominant athletes at an amateur level. During this stage the low hanging fruit is still strength development, but we start to look at more specific measures like power, speed, conditioning and capacity measurements for injury prevention.

Male Rugby Athlete:

Squat: Back Squat (1.6xBW for 1)

Push: Bench Press (1.2xBW for 1)

Pull: Chin-up (0.3xBW for 1)

Hinge: Trap-bar Deadlift (1.9xBW for 1)

Carry: Farmers Carry (1.7xBW for 30sec)

Conditioning: Maximal Aerobic Speed (4.12)

Power: Broad Jump (240cm)

Speed: 30m (4.4s)

Neck: Neck Flexion (20kg x 20)

Lateral Strength: BB Lateral Lunge (0.4xBW for 6/side)

Hamstring Health: Nordic Hip Hinge (3 x 10)

Ankle Health: Single-leg Calf Raises Off-block (15/side)

Trunk: Kneeling Rollouts (3 x 10 with full range of motion)

Female Rugby Athlete:

Squat: Back Squat (1.15xBW for 1)

Push: Bench Press (0.75xBW for 1)

Pull: Chin-up (BW for 1)

Hinge: Trap-bar Deadlift (1.55xBW for 1)

Carry: Farmers Carry (1.2xBW for 30sec)

Conditioning: Maximal Aerobic Speed (3.9)

Power: Broad Jump (190cm)

Speed: 30m (4.8s)

Neck: Neck Flexion (5kg x 20)

Lateral Strength: BB Lateral Lunge (0.3xBW for 6/side)

Hamstring Health: Nordic Hip Hinge (3 x 8)

Ankle Health: Single-leg Calf Raises Off-block (10/side)

Trunk: Kneeling Rollouts (3 x 5 with full range of motion)

Level 3: The Elite Rugby Athlete

The elite crew. In my experience and research, by achieving these KPI’s you’ll meet the requirements to play at an elite level. There are obvious exceptions (better players will always win) but you won’t find many pro athletes that don’t meet these standards. My aim is to get all JT Performance Athletes to this level.

Male Rugby Athlete:

Squat: Back Squat (1.8xBW for 1)

Push: Bench Press (1.4xBW for 1)

Pull: Chin-up (0.5xBW for 1)

Hinge: Trap-bar Deadlift (2.4xBW for 1)

Carry: Farmers Carry (2xBW for 30sec)

Conditioning: Maximal Aerobic Speed (4.4-4.8)*

Power: Broad Jump (>250cm)

Speed: 30m (<4.0-4.3s)*

Neck: Prone Neck Bridge x 30sec

Lateral Strength: BB Lateral Lunge (0.6xBW for 6/side)

Hamstring Health: Full Nordic Hamstring Curl x 1+

Ankle Health: Single-leg Calf Raises Off-block (20/side)

Trunk: Standing Rollout x 3

*Position specific

Female Rugby Athlete

Squat: Back Squat (1.5xBW for 1)

Push: Bench Press (BW for 1)

Pull: Chin-up (0.2xBW for 1)

Hinge: Trap-bar Deadlift (1.9xBW for 1)

Carry: Farmers Carry (1.4xBW for 30sec)

Conditioning: Maximal Aerobic Speed (4.1-4.4)*

Power: Broad Jump (>200cm)

Speed: 30m (<4.5-4.7s)*

Neck: Neck Flexion (10kg x 20)

Lateral Strength: BB Lateral Lunge (0.4xBW for 6/side)

Hamstring Health: Nordic Hip Hinge (3 x 10)

Ankle Health: Single-leg Calf Raises Off-block (15/side)

Trunk: Kneeling Rollouts x 3 x 10 (with full range of motion)

*Position specific

Level 4: World Class Rugby Athlete

World class standard athletes require KPI’s that are completely specific to your sport, position and style of play.

Whilst I do have lists of position specific KPI’s, it would be an overwhelming 50 page document. Furthermore, at this stage, style of play is as important as anything. Therefore, you will have regular meetings with S&C and your technical coach to establish what qualities are worth chasing and what are not – based on your style of play and other training demands.

If you want to know what exercises to pick to work towards these standards – 12 Exercises that Should be in a Contact Athletes Programme

Please share these Strength and Conditioning Standards for Rugby with a friend.