Crossfit gets a bad rap from many in the strength and conditioning community and some of it is warranted. But when used correctly Crossfit can provide an effective training approach for rugby players. There are several reasons why but first lets look at what Crossfit is.

What is Crossfit?

Crossfit can be defined as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains”. When you see this definition you can understand why it may be a good training approach for rugby. A rugby match has a variety of functional movements, is high intensity, and requires all energy systems to be developed for you to be successful.

No matter how much research we do into game demands, you never know exactly how far you are going to run, how much force you need to produce in contact how many times you need to get of the floor etc. Ultimately the game is random and chaotic and part of your training should be able to simulate that.

The constantly varied part of Crossfit is often criticised and not without merit. You see to adapt and get better at something you need to repeat it and overload it. For instance if you want to get stronger you need to perform the same exercise and try to lift more weight or perform more reps. Make sense?


Well, if you constantly vary what you do, you limit the potential for you to adapt. But the irony is most crossfit gyms, athletes and programs use basic strength progressions and then vary the MetCon (metabolic conditioning) part of the workout. Lets have a look at a typical Crossfit session to explain the point:

Typical Crossfit Session

Warm Up – Movement Prep & Mobility

Skill – Technique work on “crossfit exercises” or core lift

Strength – Basic Strength program as used by anyone who wants to get stronger

WOD – workout of the day – metabolic conditioning that can include any combination of the above plus regular conditioning modes performed at high intensity for time or for reps/rounds

You see the majority of the session is very similar to a regular strength and conditioning session and the WOD is really just a finisher.


The WOD has many benefits for rugby players. Here’s just a few:

  • Can be adjusted easily depending on the goals/needs of the athlete
  • Can be manipulated to build any physical quality
  • Challenges the whole body
  • High intensity – simulates game intensity
  • Scoreable – gives you something to improve/beat
  • Creates competition
  • Builds mental toughness
  • They’re FUN!

The biggest benefit is that if you know what you are doing you can manipulate them to whatever athlete you are working with and whatever physical quality they need to improve. And, you can repeat them and see improvement, remember that adaptation we were talking about earlier?


Crossfit for Rugby

So lets put it all together and show you a typical crossfit for rugby session that we use at Rugby Renegade for lower body strength & power:

Warm Up – Movement Prep

Plyo Prep – Excite the nervous system, develop speed

Knees to Feet 5×3

Explosive Strength – Olympic/Loaded Jump Variation

Hang Clean x5/4/3

Compound Lift – Main Strength Portion

Front Squat 4×5 @80% 1RM

Assistance Exercise – to build muscle balance and prevent injuries

Split Squat 3×5 each leg

Nordic Hams 3×5



5 Rounds for time

5 Hang Snatch @50/35kg

10 Wall Balls @9/7kg

20 Calorie Row

1min rest

Wrap Up

So I hope I have explained why Crossfit isn’t all bad and has many positives. Also I hope I’ve gone some way to explaining why Crossfit for rugby is an excellent way to get fit to meet the demands of the game and dominate the opposition.

If you are interested in an online strength and conditioning program for rugby that uses Crossfit as well as the latest injury rehab and prehab methods check us out at Rugby Renegade.