The Ultimate Guide to Supplements for Rugby Players

Rugby Supplements

Whilst most rugby players will be using supplements, many won’t have the first clue about what half of them do or the best way to use them to maximal effect. You’ll hear a lot about the benefits of the likes of BCAA’s and Creatine without actually understanding what they do so we’re here to help give you a better understanding of what are the best supplements for rugby and where to get them from.

If you’re looking for more detailed information about supplements for rugby then there’s a more comprehensive guide below, however this summary section should help give you a quick start;

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Recommended Suppliers

GoNutrition – if you’re working on a bit of a budget then GoNutrition have a fantastic range at really good prices.

MaxiNutrition – for those of you looking for a more premium brand, MaxiNutrition have a solid grounding in rugby and have some truly stand-out products.

Basics

Protein Powder – ideally look at a whey 80 protein or a whey isolate 90 for a good clean source of additional protein. Isolate contains fewer carbs and fats then whey 80 for those looking to manage their weight.

Bulking

All-in-one – Maximuscle Cyclone is an excellent option if you’re looking at increasing your lean mass as it contains the likes of creatine along with a healthy dose of proteins, fats and carbs to aid muscle growth.

Oats – if you’re looking at increasing your calorie intake then adding some fine oats to your protein shakes can be an effective way of upping your calories with a clean carbohydrate source.

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Increasing Strength & Power

Creatine + Beta Alanine – personally this is my favourite supplement combination of all. By combining the two products together you can help reduce fatigue whilst upping your exercise intensity improving performance in training and games.

BCAA’s – take a BCAA supplement to help increase muscular pumps during exercise and to avoid muscle breakdown.

Recovery

Fish Oils – still the most effective way of ensuring your joints remain healthy and to help avoid the inevitable wear and tear on them caused by playing rugby.

ZMA – magnesium has been shown to be an effective method of reducing muscle soreness after exercise so consider taking a ZMA supplement to avoid DOMS after a game/training.

Greens Powder – whilst protein powders are great for building lean muscle mass, a greens powder is still the most effective way of ensuring your body is receiving the required nutrients to cope with intense physical exercise.

For more information about general nutrition check out out interview with rugby player and nutritionist Ben Coomber.

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The Essentials

If I’m completely honest the use of supplements for rugby aren’t essential by any stretch, a solid diet should be the foundation of any nutritional plan. However, were supplements do come in handy is in trying to up consumption of your macros (think protein, carbs, etc) and in helping assist in the bodies recovery.

To this extent there are two key supplements I would recommend for rugby players to consider when making their next purchase;

Protein Powder – it’s pretty obvious really, in order to be at your optimal level on the rugby field you need to have functional muscle mass. In order to achieve functional muscle mass you need a combination or carbohydrates and protein. Whilst eating chicken breasts and eggs all day may sound like fun it’s often pretty expensive.

This is where a good quality protein powder comes in as it helps you to add additional protein into your diet in a relatively inexpensive way. Protein powders also offer a convenient method of consuming protein after training sessions and games when it’s hard to eat a proper meal.

The most common type of protein power is whey which is widely available and relatively cheap. When purchasing whey try to aim for a powder with at least an 80% protein content. For a relatively cheap and inexpensive option I would recommend GoNutrition Whey 80 which comes in an excellent range of flavours at a great price. A good whey 80 will provide you with a decent hit of protein with some carbs and a little bit of fat to give you all the nutrients you require for building lean muscle mass.

If however you are looking to reduce your body fat percentage then you may wish to consider a whey isolate powder which is very similar to to whey 80, but has a higher protein content (90%) which cuts down on the extra carbs and fats in a traditional whey. Personally I like this option more than a whey 80 as it helps me manage my calories a little better and you can always add some extra carbs if you feel they are required.

Alternatively you could look at a diet whey powder although as rugby players we should probably be steering well clear of anything that says diet. Frankly the only real different between diet whey and whey is that the diet version has some extra fat burning ingredients although the additional cost far outweighs the minor benefits you could see.

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Creatine – this is one of those supplements that people either swear by or are haven’t heard enough about to really contemplate buying. Whilst I don’t think it is completely essential in anyone’s diet I do believe that if you are serious about performing at your very best then creatine is an excellent and relatively inexpensive supplement.

Essentially creatine helps to reduce muscular fatigue allowing you to perform at your optimal level for slightly longer. The easiest way of describing the effect of creatine is that it will help you crank out an extra rep at the end of the set which could have untold benefits depending on your training routine.

Whilst many supplement companies will recommend a loading phase with creatine you’re best ignoring this advice. Simply add half a days recommended does to a shaker to consume before a workout/game and then consume the second half of the days does immediately after a game/training in your protein shake.

Magnesium – A slightly random one to many here, however the benefits of magnesium have been extolled by the likes of Ben Coomber for it’s ability to aid the recovery process. Whilst it’s not going to completely stop the aches and pains after a game it will help reduce muscle soreness (DOMS) and allow you to get back to training that little bit quicker.

If you feel like treating yourself then it’s well worth looking at investing in some magnesium bath salts which you can use after a game. However, if like me you can’t be arsed messing around with a bath then a ZMA supplement is the ideal option. Generally you take three capsules on an empty stomach before bed to help ease muscle soreness ahead of the next day.

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Other Supplements to Consider

This section could frankly go on indefinitely so I will try and focus in on some of the main supplements I have found to be effective over the years but do feel free to leave a comment below with questions on anything I haven’t covered.

Greens Powder – it’s all well and good ensuring we have plenty of protein in our diets for building muscle mass, however it’s also important to take care of the rest of our body as well. This is where a greens powder is ideal as they essentially allow you to consume all of your recommended 5 a day in an easy to consumer shake.

I’m not going to lie, even the flavoured ones can taste like ass however if you spend all day on the go then it can often be hard to get enough fruit and veg in your diet so a greens powder offers an easy alternative that’s pretty inexpensive.

Fish Oils – there aren’t too many sports out there that put as much stress on players joints as rugby so it’s important to ensure we are looking after them to avoid future difficulties. This is were a fish oil supplement comes in very handy.

Simply take the recommended number of pills each day with food to ensure that you are keeping your joints healthy, especially if you are training hard.

Beta Alanine – beta alanine works in a similar way to creatine helping to buffer lactic acid thereby improving performance. Combining both beta alanine and creatine can be a very effective method of improving your overall performance, to do so split your does of both before and after games/workouts.

Pre-Workout – if I’m completely honest I’m still yet to find a pre-workout that I genuinely notice when working out, however this may be down to a caffeine resistance built up over many years. I would therefore recommend trying only a small sample of any pre-workout before committing to a larger purchase in order to test its effectiveness.

BCAA’s – to help aid muscle recovery and reduce muscle breakdown during games and training BCAA’s can be taken. They also provide an effective energy source for the body during exercise.

Oats – if you’re looking to add serious bulk during pre-season then you need to ensure you’re consuming a solid amount of carbs in addition to your protein. Whilst you could look at a mass gainer I would recommend looking instead at an option like fine oats to add to your shakes to give you a clean source of carbohydrates and up your calorie intake.

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Recommended Suppliers;

GoNutrition – if you’re working on a bit of a budget then GoNutrition have a fantastic range at really good prices.

MaxiNutrition – for those of you looking for a more premium brand, MaxiNutrition have a solid grounding in rugby and have some truly stand-out products.

If you have any specific questions then please leave them in the comments section below and we’ll try to answer them as best we can.

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