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Get Rugby Strong


There are plenty of strong rugby players, but only one Jamie Roberts. Not only a gifted sportsman, he’s also a qualified doctor, earning a medical degree while playing for Cardiff and Wales, plus a pair of Lions tours. We asked him to tell us the key things men must know if they want to get stronger, even if they don’t play rugby.

Train smarter

“Overtraining causes problems. Many people who want big muscles or to become pro rugby players think they need to be in the gym five times a week, but coaches say rest days are just as important. Relaxing lets your muscles adapt and grow.”

Consume the right fuel

“Too many people don’t drink enough water. It’s crucial. Have 500ml of water as soon as you get out of bed and keep drinking through the day. You can do all the training you want, but if you’re not eating correctly you won’t get results. The experts talk about a 20 to 30-minute window after you finish weights to get protein. When training with Wales, there are ready-made protein shakes for us as soon as we finish an intense workout. You want that quickly if your aim is big gains.”

Try the ultimate pre-workout breakfast

“After your 500ml of water, eat a four-egg omelette with spinach and ham, and a whole avocado – I think they are magnificent. Because I’m living in France at the moment, I like to eat a bowl of natural yoghurt with crème de marrons – chestnut purée. Wash this down with a glass of orange juice and a coffee.”

Time your workouts

“As a rugby player, the sort of weights I do vary depending on the point in the season. For example, if I’m doing upper-body weights looking for big size gains and hypertrophy, it’s more often during the off-season. You get fatigued and sore quite easily so you don’t want to be doing that sort of work before a game. Bear that in mind if you’re going to be doing other training in the gym or you play other sports.”

Know when you’ll grow

“Rugby players do their growing ahead of the season. From then, the training depends on the point in the week and if you’re playing that weekend. For example, on Tuesday you may do a session where your reps are three sets of five to seven on a heavy weight. Thursday and Friday before a game, you may do three sets of three in a slightly heavier weight, but explosive. If you’re doing lower-body work in the run-up to a game, do three sets of three, because any more than that and you’ll get fatigued.”

Get the right weights

“For the dumbbell incline bench press, if you’re doing sets of five to seven, use 60kg per dumbbell for a total of 120kg. If you’re doing sets of two or three, use 130kg. It’s the same with a floor press – a bench press, but on the floor where your elbows can’t move past 90 degrees – do 140-150kg. In relation to bodyweight, your max when you’re on a push exercise is one and a half times your body weight. I’m 110kg, so my max is about 165kg.”

Under Armour is the official technical partner of the Welsh Rugby Union

(Image: PA)



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