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


Planning for fitness gains during the in-season

The overall aim of an in-season period of training should be to maintain gains made from the pre-season. In practice, this is not always possible (Schneider et al, 1998). Players may detrain if conditioning training is totally neglected (Izquierdo et al, 2007). However, maintenance of strength, power and speed is achievable with a reduced frequency of conditioning during the microcycle (Kraemer et al, 2003). When training was reduced from three maximum strength training units a week to a single unit, strength gains were well maintained and in some cases gains were achieved over a 4-week unloaded period (Schlumberger & Schmidtbleicher, 1998, Weiss, 1988).

In practice, the gains made from a short pre-season (which often may be between 6 and 10 weeks duration) can be well maintained, at least during the in-season when training units are periodised.

Here are some guidelines for ensuring that gains made in the pre-season are at least maintained during the in-season.

Training unit or session

  • Ensure that maximum strength, speed and agility components are trained when the player is fresh/rested. Proper placement for strength, power and speed is important if gains are to be made. Placing strength, power and speed training after high intensity multi-sprint and endurance training is counterproductive (Leveritt & Abernethy, 1999).
  • Place mixed training such as multi-sprint/activity and conditioned games after speed training to avoid interference (Kraemer et al, 1995).
  • Ensure that there are sufficient rest intervals within the training unit. For maximal strength development, ensure that there are 4-5 minutes between sets (Bosco, 1999). Where speed is the component to be developed, ensure that there is ample time between repetitions of speed drills or distance.
  • During the rest recovery periods, rest time can be used productively to train core stability (Hennessy, 2006).
  • Sequence the exercises and drills with the more explosive at the start. Explosive type exercise or maximum strength exercises place a high demand on the central nervous system (Bosco, 1999). Where the central nervous system is stressed, such as in exercises like the clean and snatch, place them before other resistance training exercises. If a player is focusing on strength development and is using four exercises in their training unit, the following sequence is recommended:
  • Clean
  • Jump squat
  • Back squat
  • Shoulder press
  • Ensure that the warm-up selected is appropriate to prepare for the demands of the main content of the training unit. This means that if weight training is the main content, then a 5-minute cycle on a stationary bike is not appropriate. Instead, the player should focus on completing a series of dynamic mobility exercises and progress gradually to light loaded exercises such as those that will be used in the main training unit (Fletcher & Jones, 2004, McMillian et al, 2006).
  • Place static stretching after the training unit (Ekstrand & Gillquist, 1983).