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LTPD Pathway
Functional Screening
Anatomical Adaptation
Game Demands
Conditioning for Rugby
Periodisation in Rugby

Training modes for speed

Secondary training method

This method encompasses two modes of training, namely:

  • Resisted sprint training
  • Assisted sprint training

Resisted sprint training, also known as sprint loading, uses resistance to improve explosive acceleration activities. Strength and power gains in particular during horizontal power acceleration have been reported following resisted sprint training using a weighted sled programme of training (Spinks et al, 2007, Faccioni, 1995). Resisted sprint training methods can be varied and they include:

  • Gravity-resisted sprinting, e.g. uphill running or running up stairs/steps
  • Increased load, e.g. with a viper belt, harness, parachute, weight sled, partner hold, weight vest

An important point to note when using resisted sprint training is that the player should maintain a sound technical model, i.e. not change the biomechanics of acceleration. The 10% rule is a useful one in deciding the actual load to use. If speed is reduced by more than 10% then the load may be too heavy. A maximum of a 10% reduction in speed seems to be most effective in:

  • Maintaining good running mechanics; and
  • Allowing for greater acceleration gains (Lockie et al, 2003).

Further, if using a gradient resistance (such as up-hill training), too steep a gradient will affect the movement mechanics of the player and slow the movement significantly and not allow the player to perform them at a fast speed (Jakalski, 2002, Faccioni, 1995). Sprinting using weighted vests with loads of 15% to 20% of body weight has been shown to increase sprint times for 10m and 30m (Hansen et al, 2005). To maximise the benefits associated with resisted sprint training, the Strength and Conditioning coach should emphasise:

  • Explosive arm and knee punching action
  • Explosive leg drive off the ground

Resisted sprint training is a form of resistance training. When we hear the term resistance training, many often visualise lifting weights in a gym. As outlined, resisted sprint training is a hugely beneficial form of resistance training because the movements performed against resistance have a positive effect on horizontal rugby-specific power movements (Spinks et al, 2007, Hansen et al, 2005).

Training with Rugby-specific movements targets the muscles that are used in the sport but also trains the movement patterns involved. This helps to maximise the transfer of training to a game situation. Resisted sprint training may be performed on two days per week with good effects (Spinks et al, 2007, Lockie et al, 2003). However, the optimum duration of training is unclear with a training period between six and eight weeks showing positive results (Spinks et al, 2007).