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Rugby - Not just for boys!

Rugby - Not just for boys!

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Published by Caroline Sandry
Women's Fitness writer Caroline Sandry was lucky enough to train with the Welsh Rugby Team, and here she descibes how to 'train like the boys!'
Women's Fitness writer Caroline Sandry was lucky enough to train with the Welsh Rugby Team, and here she descibes how to 'train like the boys!'

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Published by: Caroline Sandry on Sep 28, 2009
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feature rugby fitness

Train like the boys!

When Caroline Sandry Was invited tO train With the Welsh rugby team at their training grOund in Cardiff, she Was On her Way befOre yOu COuld say ‘gavin hensOn’!


Getting to grips with kicking the ball!

rugby has traditionally been considered a man’s sport, but women’s rugby is gaining in popularity and there are more and more women’s clubs all over the country. i was excited to be asked to train with the Welsh team because rugby is such an intense sport, and i wanted to know how these awesome athletes manage to have such speed, power and stamina, in spite of their size and bulk. as a trainer and writer i have had the good fortune to train with many people and athletes and i am always keen to understand what makes the difference between good and great. i’m no stranger to hard work – most days i work out two or three times as i run and walk with my clients, and then i aim to run once or twice a week for myself. however, i rarely push myself really hard; most of my sessions are fairly easy pace with the odd hill interval, which is why i was nervous about the task ahead! my nerves were increasing as the Welsh rugby team’s training ground came into view, and they intensified when i found out that my competition on the day was already a rugby player – and i was the only female in sight! i was met by John Williams – the team’s nutritionist – who greeted me with a sample bottle to test my hydration level before training. fortunately the sun was out, so i wasn’t in for a mud bath and there was plenty of Powerade on hand to keep my hydration topped up for the challenge, which i nervously glugged while team trainer rhodri laid out lots of marker cones with a wicked glint in his eye! The session Our session consisted of a good warm-up and then 3 x 7-minute anaerobic drills. • the first set involved me lying flat on my stomach to start, then pushing up to sprint up to the first cone, running backwards to the start and

Caroline’s anaerobic system is given a thorough workout in training

back down to the floor as quickly as possible, then sprinting to the second cone, side-running back to the start, back on the floor, up for a sprint, back on the floor, a diagonal sprint and then a slightly slower run back to the start. We had 30 seconds’ rest and then started all over again. this was repeated for 7 minutes. • the second set seemed to look a bit easier. how wrong could i be? martin Williams – Wales’s most capped player (and rather huge) – stood in the centre of a circle with a big pad, and i had to try and push him out of the circle (kind of like sumo wrestling!). Of course, i was completely ineffectual and very quickly had jelly legs! the recovery time was just as ineffectual and was over far too quickly before the pushing commenced again. • the final set was a killer. With a harness on, and a player holding me back as i tried to sprint, i felt a bit like a wind-up bath toy whose legs and arms whizz around without getting very far! i had to run to the first cone like this, then the player released me and i had to sprint to the next cone, hit the deck, run fast diagonally to the final cone and then jog home for a 30-second recovery, before starting again.

72 www.womensfitness.co.uk | October 2009

rugby fitness feature

© istockphoto.com

Training benefits this type of training – that involves short bursts of speed and maximum effort – works your anaerobic system. this is the energy system that uses fuel other than oxygen for energy, such as glycogen. When training at this higher intensity, lactic acid is a by-product that quickly builds up to give heavy legs, or ‘jelly’ legs and prevents exercise continuing. although this is a challenging way to exercise it has such good benefits, as it improves your fitness level, your lactic threshold and your speed and power, which is why the rugby team train this way. another benefit is that it burns a lot of calories both during and after the session. i burned 298 calories in half an hour! The after-effects i found the session hard, as i don’t usually train this way. i normally run a couple of easy-pace sessions a day with my clients, and so have good aerobic fitness, but do not train often enough anaerobically and so was breathing really hard and feeling the lactic acid in my legs. it was a pleasant surprise to feel my abs were sore a day later (due to all that sprinting) and even my arms ached from pushing myself up off the floor! Want to give it a try? Women’s rugby is a fast-growing sport, and will give you a good social life, a great feeling of team spirit and a challenging, quality workout. visit www.rfu.com for all the information you need. if you don’t fancy the game itself but like the sound of anaerobic training, both boxing-for-fitness and circuits are great classes, or you can head out to the park and sprint between the trees. you should build up gradually to this type of training, though, and remember to stay hydrated; research has shown that as little as a two per cent drop in hydration can affect performance.

‘With a harness on, and a player holding me back as I tried to sprint, I felt a bit like a wind-up bath toy whose legs and arms whizz around without getting very far!’

POWerade is the OffiCial innergear Of the Welsh rugby uniOn and the Welsh rugby team. tO find Out mOre visit WWW.poWeradegb.Com/rugby

October 2009 | www.womensfitness.co.uk 73

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