8 Tips From The Pros For Rugby Players Looking To Gain Functional Mass


If you’re looking to add some extra size in the off-season, whilst not slowing yourself down then these tips are for you…

1.Compound Lifts

Wherever possible you should be focussing on big compound lifts such as squats, pull ups, deadlifts and the bench press. This was you are ensuring that the mass you are building is about functional strength rather than simply just adding size for the sake of it.

2.Vary Your Reps

It’s important to mix up your rep ranges to ensure your are giving your body the maximum amount of stimulation you can. Therefore try to vary week by week the rep ranges, for example week 1 4–6 reps, week 2 8–12 reps, week 3 20-30 reps.

3.Target Weak Areas

Although the bulk of your training should focus on big compound moves, if you find certain body parts are lagging behind, then now is the time to incorporate some strict isolation exercises into your training routines.


4.Track Your Macros

Your nutrition is equally as important, if not more so than your training when focussing on body composition goals. For that reason, make sure that you are using an app like My Fitness Pal to ensure that you are hitting your daily macro targets.

5.Consider Adding Supplements

A protein powder is ideal for ensuring you hit your required macros, particularly on training days, however it may also be beneficial to consider some additional supplements such as BCAA’s, creatine and beta alanine to aid training.

6.Recover Properly

Make sure that you are getting a minimum of eight hours sleep a night, and are regularly incorporating rest days into your training. This will allow you to perform to the best of your ability, and give your muscles time to recover.



Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive to some to incorporate cardio into a training routine focussed on building size it is vital. Cardio will help burn off any excess fat ensuring that any mass gained is purely functional rather than weighing you down.

8.Mix It Up

Consider incorporating training variations such as drop sets and super sets into your routines. These allow you to stimulate your muscle groups in different ways, and in the case of super sets allow you to increase training volume without spending any extra time in the gym.



One comment

  1. Okay my friend Michael asked me to critique this:

    1.Compound Lifts:
    Sure; they’re the most disruptive and therefore the best. If getting stronger at these through good paths with a sound range of motion, we should see the most return.

    2.Vary Reps:
    Not how they’ve said. Periodisation and specificity are a bit too deep for one paragraph, but essentially, over time:
    movement quality —> size —> power and strength

    and then eventually in workouts:
    warm-up/mobilisation —> activation —> excitation —> power —> strength —> size —> cool down.
    [mobility and flexibility work can be “hidden” in rest times].

    3.Target Weak Areas
    Vague…why? Most isolation work is pretty bodybuilder; cool to have bigger arms though sure, but it would perhaps be better to advise lifts that improve posture and/or joint function like a seated facepull for example, and even grip work.

    4.Track Your Macros
    Great advice, nail daily protein, carb and fat targets for better results in terms of fuelling sessions, sustaining performance, recovery and in-turn the strength and attributes that can develop from that plus health and the physique.

    5.Consider Adding Supplements
    Sure. Don’t agree with BCAAs though. They’re like flicking a light switch that’s not been wired up, effectively. Betaine and nootropics show promise, even sodium bicarbonate.

    6.Recover Properly
    Of course. We adapt to what we can recover from. Good. Maybe a mention of active recovery protocols and “sleep hygiene” routines could further help.

    Yes, but cardio for cardio’s sake? No.
    Energy system development as demanded by the rigours of the game? Yes.

    8.Mix It Up
    Not for the sake of it…some of these methods will certainly detract from power and strength output, so shouldn’t be used on all sets, but in the right place some might increase factors that aide size gains working through increased metabolic stress with longer time under tension.

    Hope that helps.

    Alex Ferentinos – Nutrition and Training Consultant
    like: www.facebook.com/nutritionandtrainingconsultant
    site: www.thenutritionandtrainingconsultancy.weebly.com

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