Starting Your Rugby Off-Season. Personal Training Chichester

It’s the end of April here in Chichester. Summer rolls around, and with it the end of competitive Rugby Union 15s. For many of you, the first week or two of the off-season is going to be filled with relaxing and avoiding any exercise that stresses those tired muscles and sore ankles (I include myself in this group). After a tough season here at Chichester RFC, the last thing on my mind is vomit-inducing fitness sessions or sprints over rock solid ground. My personal training for the next week is going to be based around exercises that don’t hurt, it’s a short list.

But over the next week my aches will dissipate and my soreness will reside, and I will want to get back into some serious training…because the start of the next Rugby season is only round the corner.

So, if like me, you are looking to come into the next season a little stronger/bigger/faster/fitter (delete as appropriate), you are probably wondering how best to structure your personal training to achieve all that. Well here are a few ideas that may help…..


Prioritise Low Impact

Your ankles, knees and hips have most likely taken a tremendous beating from all the running, jumping and tackling involved in Rugby; use the first month off to allow them to heal up. This isn’t to say not to do anything for a month, just reduce the amount you are doing. And if you are including impactful exercise (jumps, running etc) then just try to decrease the degree of stress. I would avoid entering any dunk contests right about now (easy to do in Chichester), but a quick game of hopscotch isn’t going to hurt.

Key Takeaway: Try to get “off feet” 5x per week. Limit your running to short distances (5km or less), and if you are playing sport, aim to keep it brief and make sure you where proper footwear.



Make Those Gains


Hypertrophy training (building muscle tissue & size) is a great addition at this point in your training. The lower weight, higher reps will help to develop the strength in tendons, whilst reducing the stress placed on your nervous system. It’s likely you have lost a little bit of muscle during the season, so try to pack some back on.

Key Takeaway: Higher rep sets of 8-15 work brilliantly at this stage, keep the tempo slow and avoid going to true failure too often. Prioritise compound (multi-joint) lifts like presses, squats, rows etc in your personal training, but don’t be afraid to include some isolation/machine based work in your training to really build those muscles!


Get The Calories On Board

With the extra hypertrophy work, I recommend you  bump up the calories for your nutritional planning. You have to be in a hyper-caloric state to gain weight; so if size is the goal then you need to be eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between! A balanced diet of carbs, protein and fats is essential; pair good food with training hard, and something magical happens!

Key Takeaway: Add 300kcal (approx.) to your normal intake, don’t be afraid of those carbs!


Sometimes the calories won’t come from chicken, rice and broccoli!


Maintain Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic conditioning is essential, and can be fairly low impact (so we don’t break rule 1!). Your aerobic system will contribute to better recovery between sets, between exercises, and between days. Having a robust aerobic system will make sport easier (from a fitness standpoint), and is easy enough to maintain. The worst thing you can do now is just lift weights until pre-season comes around.

Key Takeaway: 1-2x per week try to get 30-45 minutes of aerobic work in your personal training (heart rate 120-150bpm). There are multiple ways to do this, but using a bike/rower is ideal right now due to the low impact nature.



Enjoy Your Exercise

Unless you are playing 7s during the summer, or you are a professional athlete, I see little reason to still perform specific rugby training straight away. If you fancy a break from it all, then leave the tackle shields in the shed and the balls in the kit room, and pick up something different. I plan to spend my weekends in Chichester playing 5 a side football or pick up games of basketball. These are great ways to build athleticism and fitness, and are (for me at least) incredibly fun. I will work back into Rugby training eventually, but some time away will give my mind a rest.

Key Takeaway: Pick a sport or activity you like; it doesn’t matter what it is, and invest your time in that. Your evenings and weekends during the season will be taken up with playing rugby in awful English conditions, make the most of your Summer on something you love. Catch up on all the episodes of Gilmore Girls Game Of Thrones you missed, get out in the sunshine and play Frisbee….you’ll return to Rugby with renewed motivation.


Putting It All Together

So what does your week look like if we take all those things into account? Well it’s entirely specific to the individual, but here’s an example:



MON Upper Body 30 mins on the bike High
TUE No – Have a day off the gym Moderate
WED Lower Body After lots of squats? I don’t think so High
THU Nope – Let your legs rest up Badminton Club (Why Not!)
FRI Upper Body 30 mins on the rower High
SAT Beach Weights Bike ride in the country side Moderate
SUN Nope Not today Not too much, don’t take the mick

So there we have it for now. Don’t forget to check out the series of #askAaron videos we are running on the Facebook page and if you have any questions you want answering, just drop them onto our social media page. Get in touch with Davies Training for all your personal training, health and fitness answers.

And a thank you to Jamie Thompson of Osteosprit ( for all his work keeping us together during the season.

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