Rugby Fitness: Pre-season training programme – Week 1


Welcome to our 8-week pre-season fitness programme, designed by a personal trainer, that aims to get you in shape for the new rugby season. We’ll be releasing it in instalments over the next few weeks, but do remember that they’re just ideas for exercises that are to be completed at your own risk, with guidance if necessary. Remember to warm up before starting.

Before you start, do the test below and make a note of your scores. You’ll complete the tests again after week 4 of the programme, and at the very end of it, to track how much you’ve improved.


Jump Squat – Number of jump squats completed in one minute.
Press-ups – Number of press-ups in one minute. The chest has to touch the floor or a plate beneath your chest for a press-up to count.
Plank – How long can you hold a plank position for. Ensure hips are in line with shoulders and ankles.
Burpee run – Time taken to do 3 burpees: run to the 22, 3 burpees and run back to the try line. Repeat this 3 times (18 burpees and 6 runs).
100m row – Time taken to row 100m
500m row – Time taken to row 500m

Once the test is done, you can crack on with Week 1’s programme below.

Monday: Weights day

 Example weights
Back squat4×10*60kg
Pull ups (Overhand grip)4xmax
SA Chest press3×12*20kg
Shoulder press3×12*20kg BB
Bicep curl3×12*20kg BB
V-sits3×2010kg DB

Tuesday: Row day

1km: Easy row
10x100m (20s rest in between)
2mins rest
10x250m (30s rest in between)
2mins rest
10x100m (20s rest in between)

Wednesday: Weights day

 Example weights
Front Squat3×8*40kg
Chin ups3×10/max
Step-ups (to bench)3×10*2x10kg
SA row3×12*15kg
SA Jammer press3x10ea20kg
BB half moon3×1220kg
sit-ups3×2010kg plate
Side plank3x30s each

Thursday: Row day

1km: Easy row
5km: Time trial
Note average time

Friday: Weights day

 Example weights
Military press3×10*2x12kg
TRX row3×10/max
Glute ham raise3×5
Walking lunges3×162x8kg
Leg Lowers3×12

Saturday: Sprints day

10x400m (leaving off 90s)
Note average time

Sunday: Rest day

Where exercises are paired, perform them as supersets, without a rest in between each, but rest after the second of the two exercises.

* – Should be reaching fatigue by the last 2 reps on the last set. If too easy, increase the weights.
Max – Complete the exercise to failure
SA – Single Arm
BB – Barbell
DB – Dumbell
each – Each side

This 8-week programme has been designed by Sam Tomkins, a personal trainer and veteran of 4 Iron Man events. For more information, or to discuss your training requirements, please contact Sam via

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images