Look and perform better than ever by thinking like a pro sportsman
Andy Edwards is the Strength and Conditioning coach at Saracens Rugby Club. Here’s how he coaches his elite athletes, and how you can incorporate his knowledge towards your physique and performance goals
Make more of your training time
Pre-season is an exciting time of the year as everyone is recharged after a break and ready to put in the hard work that’s required over a two- to three-month period. It’s the only physical development block the players have without the demands of week-to-week games and the levels of contact that come with that, so it’s important to maximise the time we have in order to get the team in the best shape possible. The key areas the players work on are strength, speed, conditioning, general and specific rugby skills and team-based training.
What you can do:Try and stick to a plan so that you have consistency in the types of exercise or types of lifts in the gym, and progress what you do each week in a controlled manner - never try to increase the workload too quickly. It is key to remember that you don’t have to train every day to see improvements: you have to allow your body to recover in order make improvements.
Work on getting stronger
Strength underpins everything the players do from a physical aspect, so having a foundation of general strength is very important. At the start of pre-season, we run our first main strength block for the squad. The players will then follow a periodised strength plan throughout the course of the season. Each player will have their own strength programme devised by the strength and conditioning coaches. However, there are a number of players that have the same lifts in their programmes which allows us to group players together in similar positions and drives an element of competition in the gym.
What you can do: Whatever your exercise passion, having a basic level of strength will allow you to move forward with your training and hopefully gain confidence in your lifting. If you are unsure of what you should be doing, seek out advice at your gym to find out what basic compound lifts work best for your body. In addition to this, it is a good idea to get a training partner so that you can help push each other during training.
Keep moving forward
Our season runs for nine months so it’s important we push the players during the season as well as pre-season. The players lift weights two to three times a week in-season: one lower-body session, one upper-body session and one whole-body session. Ultimately, every team wants to be involved in the finals at the end of the season so it’s important to avoid having a “maintenance” mindset and look at how we can improve over the whole season, both in the gym and on the field.
What you can do: It’s so important to set yourself a challenging but achievable goal to keep your health and fitness mission on track. Ultimately it comes down to you as an individual and how far you are willing to push yourself in order to improve.
Don’t neglect recovery
Recovering from training or competition has always been an important part of any athletes’ training plan. Different recovery methods are used for different individuals, such as cold water immersion, cryotherapy, soft tissue therapy or pool recovery but, making sure the players are fuelled with the right foods and getting the appropriate amount of sleep are always top of the list.
What you can do: You will never really be able to see the benefits of the hard work you put in if you don’t focus on recovering from training as well. Always make sure you are following a good nutrition plan to support your training and recovery needs along with getting sufficient sleep each night. The basics are often forgotten but always work!
Optimum Nutrition the trusted Sport Nutrition Partner of Saracens Rugby
Saracens Rugby fuels their recovery with Gold Standard 100% Whey protein as part of their recovery process post training and matches.
On leaving the field Saracens give the players a protein shake containing Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey protein and a carbohydrate source, such as milk, blended bananas or other fruits, to begin the repairing and refueling process.