You’ve already got your studs on, gum shield in and scrum hat secured (if applicable) – but how fit are you feeling for the rugby season ahead? You know what it takes to take down your opponent, force yourself through the gaps and reach the try-line for points, but do you know there’s still time to get yourself in better shape? By this we mean, getting stronger and developing some further endurance. But how?
Using altitude training of course! We all know that pumping weights in the gym will make you stronger, but doing this at altitude, and as such a more demanding environment, will make the gains even bigger. Even if you’re benching 100 kg in the gym at sea level, the added training stimuli of altitude when benching the exact same weight will recruit more muscle fibers, increase hormone production and release, and give you a strong pump!
A recent study by researchers in New Zealand gave a group of professional Rugby Union athletes 3 weeks of resistance training (12 sessions in total), including a 4-day split of compound exercises. One half of the group completed this in a hypoxic chamber at a simulated altitude of ~2800 m, and the other half in sea level conditions. Before and after the training, strength (bench press and weighted chin up) and endurance (bronco test) were assessed. The results showed that those who completed the training in altitude conditions had greater strength and endurance improvements than those in the sea level group.
So what does this mean for you? As we mentioned above, it’s important to be strong and conditioned for the entire rugby season. After 3 weeks of resistance training, you can improve both strength and endurance – but greater improvements are found only if you do this in altitude. Once you achieve the strength gains during our circuit sessions – it will all be about keeping your strength as high as possible until the last game of the season! If you want to charge your way through the front row, and then maintain this speed until the try-line now is the time to get started!
Mayo et al. (2017). High Altitude Medicine and Biology, 0(0).