Top 5 Exercises For Rugby

Exercises vary depending on position but there are several exercises that all rugby players should perform. The game has evolved over the years and is now more dynamic than ever. Every player needs to be able to ruck, maul and tackle in the open field and this requires a lot of explosive strength, muscular endurance and power. We have developed a top 5 exercise list that all rugby players should perform. You should all perfect the technique for each lift before going heavier, progressive overload is key. Start light and build it up.


Squats are labelled the king of all exercises. The squat requires core strength, balance, power and strong mentality. As a rugby player powerful legs are key to driving through tackles, covering as much ground as possible and being able to use the legs to drive into mauls and rucks. Not only does the squat improve leg strength and development it improves core balance and strength and this is key on the rugby field. You should perform 3-5 sets of squats and go for 3-5 reps 

Side-step squats are performed lunging onto a 45-degree angle. This improves and strengthens the inner groin area, which will improve your side step ability by making you more explosive. Every player can benefit from a quick and powerful sidestep to gain them extra yards or break away across the field. 


Deadlifts are also important for any rugby player. The ability to lift a heavy load from the ground and power through the hips has several benefits on the field. Deadlifting will help your back grow into a strong and powerful back and it also uses a lot of hamstring activation. This is especially beneficial in ruck and maul situations where you will need to use a lot of hamstring and back muscles. Core stability can be enhanced when deadlifting heavy too. Deadlifts should be done in a pyramid style such as 12 – 10 – 8 – 8 – 6. This is the most effective way as doing higher reps will help you improve your grip strength and muscular endurance. 

Power Cleans

Power cleans develop raw power. Power cleans should be performed with 8-12 reps per set as this will increase muscular endurance which is vital on the field. 

Bench Press

Upper body development Is essential in todays rugby. The bench press should be used in a pyramid fashion and you should perform 3-8 reps. 5 reps being ideal for building strength. 

Standing Military Press

Standing military press is used over seated due to the activation of core muscles when standing. The whole body must be able to balance when the weight is overhead and this improves core function. Increasing shoulder strength is important for handling, muscular endurance and to power through tackles or making big tackles. 

We have created a strength training program which can be viewed and downloaded here. It covers all 5 of the main lifts above and comes with a 8 week training calendar that enables you to tick off each day you have done, this helps track progress. Please visit Mark Rippetoes YouTube channel for videos on how to perform each lift or seek out a good personal trainer to help you with them. Form is key and you should only increase weight once form is perfected. 

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