To Be A Professional Rugby Player By James Leadbeater

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Posted: 02/01/2014 Print

To Be A Professional Rugby Player By James Leadbeater


Guest Blog By James Leadbeater

What Does It Take To Be A Professional Rugby Player?

Professional rugby demands a range of physical attributes, most notably, strength, speed, power, aerobic & anaerobic fitness.  In addition to this, it’s vital to be able to repeat bouts of strength, speed and power throughout an 80 minute game, therefore muscle endurance is very important.

Season's Training

During season, my training involves a lot of explosive movements using weights, sleds and sprints.


A typical weights session would include large compound lifts such as the power clean, hang clean, squat, deadlift, RDL.  My sets, reps and load vary throughout the season depending on the training emphasis.  I work anywhere between 3-6 sets and 2-5 reps for these exercises.

The load I lift can vary between 55% to 95% of my one rep max – depending on what cycle I am in (Max strength/speed strength/speed/power).  I add plyometrics (exercise that involves rapid and repeated muscle stretching and contraction to increase strength) into these sessions to develop explosive power.  I also perform upper body exercises after my main lifts.  These exercises are usually large compound lifts which require pushing and pulling.  For example, bench press, dumbell press, bent over row, prone pull, chins, push press, shoulder press.  The sets and reps can vary from 3-6 sets and 3-10 reps.


My speed sessions involve sprinting using a running sled with a 10kg load. I work to around 8 reps and then perform a few reps without the sled. I also use SAQ drills, agility drills and hill sprints in other speed sessions.


The other main component of my training is Crossfit. I make this rugby specific by using explosive lifts, power movements and sprints. I enjoy the variety of Crossfit and don’t have to use the same session twice.  I find it effective for developing repeated speed, strength and power under fatigue. On top of all this I also spend time developing flexibility and core which helps to prevent injury.

The Importance Of Diet

My diet consists of high protein from meat, fish, eggs, nuts, protein shakes and a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit. I only take on carbohydrates around training to maximise gains and recovery. I find that not taking in unnecessary carbohydrates outside of training helps to keep my body fat low.

I also look to take on a lot of good fats through coconut oil, fish, fish oils and nuts.  Contrary to popular belief I have found that by taking in a lot of fat (good fats) doesn’t increase my body fat – but has actually helped reduce it. By using coconut oil for cooking allows me to take on healthy medium chain fatty acids.


You can follow James on Twitter @JLeadbeater9

A Note From Lucy,

James is a Welsh rugby union player with professional and semi-professional experience playing for Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport RFC. My thanks to James for sharing his training regime with us X

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