Top training tips for muscle gain

Rugby players are big, strong, intimidating athletes who use their size for effective collisions on the field, but how do they gain those muscles?

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Weight training

To bulk up and gain size, you need to tear and build muscle. This is done by lifting heavy weights in the right set and rep range. There are three different types of weight training: Endurance, Strength and Hypertrophy.

Endurance is best for fat burning and lean muscle and entails lifting weights in a high set and rep range.

Strength is best for building overall strength, with low sets and reps allowing you to lift as heavy as possible.

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Hypertrophy is building serious muscle that is required for rugby training using a middle set and rep range, lifting as heavy as possible and completing all sets and reps. Try to increase your weight every couple of weeks. Break down your body part training by devoting each day to a different area.


Your diet is very important for muscle gain; it has to be 100 per cent clean. Your diet needs to be prominent in carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates will fuel training, so eat fruit, vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes and oats. Protein, meat, fish, poultry and eggs will repair and build torn muscle. Keep your body well hydrated at all times and get those eight to nine hours of sleep per night.


There are three ways to develop some muscle hypertrophy in the weight room.

Muscular tension: When you create muscular tension, you switch on genes responsible for producing new muscle and slow the breakdown of existing muscle.

Muscular damage: When you create muscle damage, the tissue is flooded with white blood cells that promote inflammation responses. This triggers the release of chemicals stimulating growth. The swelling of muscle cells also influences the building of new muscle.

Metabolic stress: Molecules such as creatine and lactate stimulate the release of hormones like testosterone that build muscle.

A good rugby drill using hypertrophy should be sets of 6 to 12 reps. This will strike a balance between a load that is heavy enough to tap into all muscle fibres with one that creates a high amount of muscle damage and metabolic stress.

Rest periods of 60 to 90 seconds are considered optimal for hypertrophy training, creating a happy medium between muscle tension and metabolic stress.