Game related high intensity interval training

High intensity interval training involves periods of high intensity work (around 90% of maximum effort) followed by a rest period. Rest periods can vary in time from 10 seconds - 4 minutes, and sets and repetitions are usually kept fairly low (Hoffman et al, 2014).

For rugby, we can match the distances and times used in the high intensity intervals to match that of game play using the data from time-motion analysis and GPS studies that were previously mentioned. This can start to turn regular high intensity interval training into game-related high intensity interval training.

High intensity interval training has been shown to be a time effective way of improving endurance which is important when training time is limited (Hoffman et al, 2014). It also reduces the total volume of training on the player which may be beneficial for recovery and adaptation. High intensity interval training can be used with a variety of training modalities. Running, rowing, cycling can all be used by the rugby player. Cycling and rowing give the extra benefit of being “off the feet” which means there will be less impact loading through the body compared with running. This can be useful to maintain conditioning training while reducing the impact on the joints, a valuable tool in a contact sport like rugby.

In addition to matching distances and speeds to the game of rugby, the coach can include different game-related activities to make the high intensity interval training more specific to the demands of the game. The activities that can be completed include any of the activities that are evident in match play. They include: opposed power accelerations, controlled tackling, down to the ground and up, holding a player to the ground, heaving a player away, wrestling and grappling work. The most challenging periods in a rugby game will involve a period of high intensity running coupled with one or more of these activities. Therefore, by combining them in training we are physically and specifically preparing players for game play. Some examples of GRHITT are presented in the following videos. The following videos show one interval which could be repeated in variations of sets and repetitions depending on the fitness levels of the players.