OLLIE KEOHANE, in the first in a series of articles, talks to 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok Conditioning Coach Steve McIntyre on pre-season strength and conditioning.
When chatting to Steve McIntyre about the effectiveness and necessity of a pre-season programme, he highlighted three key factors players and coaches need to be mindful of when entering that phase of the year. These are: planning, execution and nutrition/rest.
SA Rugby magazine brings you the basic overview of a pre-season plan, as explained by McIntyre.
‘The old saying, a programme is only as good as its application, is pertinent. When entering the pre-season, understanding the nuances of what lies ahead is important for a player.
‘This requires an understanding of where they want to be and why. Coming off the end of the season, it is important for a player to know where he wants to be the following year. This involves some basic testing, giving the players a foundation, which allows for the setting of certain physical goals.
‘A player needs to have clear objectives and understand the principles involved in achieving the set goals. Know exactly what the objectives are and apply the training programme accordingly.
‘This requires the players to educate themselves on how to train effectively and consistently in order for the desired result to be achieved and how to maintain a certain level of conditioning.’
‘It’s difficult to gym during the season, due to the intense recovery needed after matches. The pre-season offers a dedicated conditioning block, which is the only one you get in the year.
‘The major goals within the ‘golden block’ are to increase size, meaning one aims to gain muscle mass, increase one’s strength and work on explosive speed.
‘While one must continue to have a conditioning base, it is far more important to focus on building strength and muscle during the extended break, and then to slowly begin working up the fitness levels closer to the beginning of the season, as it only takes a few weeks to regain fitness, whereas muscle building takes a bit longer.
‘Body composition is also something a player needs to focus on during the process of improving physically. This means keeping an eye on body fat. Much of the time when guys build muscle, they add bad body fat too. A player should aim to increase his foundation while maintaining his conditioning.’
NUTRITION AND REST
‘In my opinion nutrition is 80% of muscle building, while training is 20.
‘Muscle building is essentially the minor tearing and rebuilding of the muscle fibres. Having a good diet means this process is aided significantly. Nutrition also plays a role in the body fat percentages, so eating correctly allows for not only an increase in performance in training but also negates the effecting role body fat can play on athleticism.
‘Along with nutrition comes rest and recovery. I always say less is more, if you are training and eating correctly, you need to allow your body time to recover and rebuild the muscle.’
Below are examples of some training exercises.