STEVE McINTYRE on how to implement an in-season strength and conditioning
Contact causes bruises, inflammation and damages muscle fibres. This will obviously hamper the ability to train the affected muscles and slows down the player’s ability to recover normally, as ruptured blood vessels and muscle fibres need time to heal.
Early in the week you are still recovering from the Saturday match, so high or maximum intensity training is not recommended less than 48 hours after the match. The central nervous system needs 48-72 hours to recover from high speed, force or contact in training, so don’t do this type of training on consecutive days, as you will create a lot of fatigue, which reduces the effectiveness of training and increases the risk of injury.
If your pre-season strength work has been adequate, then incorporating a strength maintenance programme, based on using the big compound lifts, should be adequate to maintain your strength, providing the correct training intensities and volumes are applied.
One can expect a slight loss in muscle mass and strength in-season, simply because the nature of the in-season does not allow for the frequency, intensity and type of training needed to keep it at 100% pre-season levels. Hence the importance of a solid pre-season, excellent nutrition and in-season strength training.
Supplementation should be considered if the player cannot meet his dietary needs and requirements through a healthy whole-food diet for whatever reason. The convenience of supplementation often makes it popular for players, especially in-season.
Here are some basic guidelines for the structure of an in-season training programme:
Morning: Video review and recovery work (swim, massage, stretch).
Afternoon: Light rugby session, more emphasis on skills and technique/flush.
Morning: Gym power and strength work.
Afternoon: High-intensity rugby session with conditioning element, scrumming.
Day off or light gym session (upper body, higher reps, no failure) with light aerobic conditioning component.
Morning: Gym power and strength work (plyometrics, medicine ball throws and weights; lower volume and more upper-body emphasis).
Afternoon: Shorter high-intensity rugby session (game-related plays, run-throughs, short central nervous system activation work prior to start of session).
Light captain’s run.
Recovery (swim, light off-feet aerobic flush, relax).
– McIntyre was the Springboks’ conditioning coach when they won the 2007 World Cup