Pre-Season Speed Training Program for Rugby: Unlock Your Full On-Field Potential

man in blue and white striped soccer jersey playing rugby

Pre-Season Speed Training Program for Rugby: Unlock Your Full On-Field Potential


As rugby players gear up for the upcoming season, a comprehensive pre-season speed training program becomes paramount. Speed is a crucial asset in rugby, enabling players to outrun opponents, make explosive breaks, and cover the field quickly. In this blog post, we present a detailed pre-season speed training program tailored specifically for rugby players. By following this program, you can enhance your speed, agility, and overall performance on the rugby pitch, ensuring you’re at the top of your game.

man in blue and white striped soccer jersey playing rugby
Photo by Patrick Case on

Phase 1: Foundation Building (Weeks 1-2)

During the first two weeks of the pre-season program, the focus is on improving general conditioning and building a solid strength foundation.

  1. Aerobic Conditioning:
    Perform long-distance runs to enhance cardiovascular fitness and build an aerobic base. Aim for 2-3 sessions per week, gradually increasing the duration and intensity over time. For example, start with 20-30 minute runs and progress to 40-60 minutes at a moderate pace.
  1. Strength Training:
    Incorporate compound exercises to build lower body strength and power. Perform 2-3 strength training sessions per week, targeting muscles involved in sprinting and rugby-specific movements. Here’s an example session:
  • Barbell Back Squats: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 3 sets of 12-15 reps (each leg)
  • Calf Raises: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Glute Bridges: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Phase 2: Speed and Power Development (Weeks 3-6)

During this phase, the focus is on developing speed, acceleration, and explosive power.

  1. Sprint Workouts:
    Incorporate two sprint workouts per week to improve speed and acceleration. Each session should include a dynamic warm-up and proper rest intervals between sprints. Here’s an example session, including technical drills:
  • Dynamic Warm-up: Perform mobility exercises, leg swings, and light jogging to prepare the body for sprinting.
  • A Skips: Perform 2 sets of 20 meters. A Skips are a drill that emphasizes high knee lift and quick ground contact. Focus on maintaining proper posture and arm action throughout the drill.
  • B Skips: Perform 2 sets of 20 meters. B Skips are a drill that combines high knee lift with a powerful extension of the leg and foot. Emphasize the push-off and drive into the ground with each step.
  • Acceleration Runs: Perform 5-6 sets of 20-30 meter sprints, focusing on explosive starts and acceleration. Give yourself adequate rest (approximately 2-3 minutes) between each sprint to ensure quality efforts.
  • Flying Sprints: Perform 4-5 sets of 40-60 meter sprints, gradually increasing speed throughout the run. Start from a jog and gradually build up to near-maximal speed. Focus on maintaining proper sprint mechanics and relaxed, fluid movements.
  • Shuttle Runs: Perform 4-6 sets of 10-20 meter shuttle runs with quick changes of direction. Mimic game-like scenarios by incorporating turns, lateral movements, and quick acceleration after changes of direction.
  1. Plyometric Training:
    Include plyometric exercises to enhance explosive power and reactive strength. Perform 2-3 sessions per week, incorporating exercises such as:
  • Box Jumps: 3 sets of 6-8 jumps onto a challenging height box.
  • Bounds: 3 sets of 10-12 explosive bounding jumps.
  • Depth Jumps: 3 sets of 6-8 jumps from a moderate height, focusing on quick ground contact and rebounding.
  1. Strength Training:
    Continue with strength training, but shift the focus toward explosive movements. Incorporate exercises such as power cleans, kettlebell swings, and medicine ball throws. Here’s an example session:
  • Power Cleans: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Kettlebell Swings: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Medicine Ball Overhead Throws: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts: 3 sets of 8-10 reps (each leg)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats: 3 sets of 10-12 reps (each leg)

This is a great place for any rugby player trying to improve there speed for this season.

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