In-season maintenance

The physical capacities of strength and power should be targeted in both pre-season and in-season. It is no use to spend a lot of time in the gym building muscle mass, strength, and power in pre-season only to stop the resistance training that targets these physical qualities once the season starts.

Strength and power adaptations do not last indefinitely and if resistance training is stopped or drastically reduced in-season then strength and power levels can be expected to decrease. The aim for in-season resistance training should be at best to continually improve, and at least to maintain strength and power levels over the course of the season. While this is the aim, there are many factors over the course of a season which can impact strength and power levels. For example, Pumpa and colleagues in 2016 found that lower body strength in international rugby sevens players decreased over the course of a season while upper body strength increased over the season. All players continued resistance training in-season, but lower body strength still decreased. Some possible reasons were that travel demands, more tournaments, in-season training being heavy on the legs etc. lead to more fatigue build-up and a loss of lower body strength over the season. While lower level teams and players may not have international travel and factors to deal with, everyday stressors from work and relationships, diet, sleep etc. can all impact strength and power levels over the course of a season. This highlights the need to continue strength and power training in-season to improve or maintain adaptations.

With less time available for resistance training in-season (as the training time is dominated by technical and tactical rugby training) the coach must be smart when looking to schedule it in. With a relatively low volume of high intensity efforts, strength and power adaptations can be maintained in-season. Two resistance training sessions a week is achievable in-season. Table 5. below provides a sample.        

Table 5. In-season Strength and Power Microcycle

Day 1      
Exercise Reps Sets RPE
Box Jumps 5 4 -
Hex Bar Deadlift 6 5 7-9
Bench Press 4 5 7-9
Weighted Plank 30 secs 4 8
Deadbugs 16 4 -
Day 2      
Exercise Reps Sets RPE
Low Load Barbell Jump Squats 5 3 -
Power Cleans 4 4 7-9
Front Squat 6 4 7-9
Weighted Pullups 6 4 7-9
Suitcase Carry 30 secs each side 3 8