What Are The Best Ab Exercises For Rugby

Rugby requires all body strength. If you want to be a complete rugby player you can’t just have strong legs or a strong back you need to have the entire package. The secret to being an all round strong rugby athlete is to have an iron core.

Your abs are what allows your whole body to move together and helps you generate maximum full body power. It is time to look at the best ab exercises which will take your rugby strength to new levels.

Why Do Rugby Players Need Strong Abs?

Rugby players need strong abs to efficiently transfer their power from their legs to their upper body when making tackles, running the ball into contact and competing at the ruck or breakdown. A strong core helps players maintain an ideal body position of low body weight, bent legs, straight back and neck.

What are the best ab exercises for rugby?

The best ab exercises for rugby that will give you a rock like core are:

  1. Walrus
  2. Ab Wheel
  3. Medicine Ball Slam
  4. Front Squats With A Pause


To perform the walrus ab exercise place both of your feet on two different furniture sliders. Assume a pushup position where your weight is on your hands and the balls of your feet. Walk forwards by dragging your feet along the ground and using your arms to carry you.

 This exercise is great for developing your abs for rugby because you practice maintaining the optimal rugby position of having your legs bent while your back and neck are flat and straight. You need to maintain this position when tackling and running the ball into contact. This position keeps your neck and back safe while also allowing you to generate maximum force during the collision.

Ab Wheel

To perform an ab wheel you first need to purchase an ab wheel. They are a small wheel with two handles. They are pretty and cheap and definitely worth buying if you want to take your core strength to new heights. 

To perform the ab wheel exercise get on your knees and place the ab wheel in front of you. Grab the two handles with both hands and then roll the wheel out in front of you while keeping your knees in the same place. Roll until you are fully extended and then pull the wheel towards you until you return to the starting position.

The ab wheel is great for rugby because during a match you will often find yourself in an extended overhead position. Whether you are lifting in the lineout, placing the ball after being tackled or diving and scrambling to take possession of a loose ball building core strength in this overhead position will improve multiple areas of your rugby game.

Medicine Ball Slam

To perform a medicine ball slam, pick up the heavy ball, extend your arm fully and then throw the ball as hard as you can into the ground. You want to keep your knees slightly bent and want to focus on contracting your abs as you slam the ball into the ground.

You can also add a rotational element by instead of moving straight up you can rotate your torso before slamming the ball to work differing core muscles.

The medicine ball slam is great for rugby players because it can help develop athlete’s speed strength and is one of the few effective dynamic ab exercises. Rugby players need to be able to explosively and aggressively contract their ab muscles to generate power on the field, the medicine ball slam effectively mimics the explosiveness.

Front Squats With A Pause

I know you probably think including front squats in a list of top ab exercises for rugby players was a mistake, but trust me it belongs here. The front squat is not only a killer back and leg builder but it will give you rock like abs. The pause only turns the ab involvement up a notch as to hold the weight you need very strong core control.

When carrying a heavy weight in front of you, the only way for your body to handle that weight is to tighten its core. The front squat is a sink or swim exercise for your abs. If your abs are weak you won’t be able to perform the movement.

However, the strain that this places on your abs will force your body to adapt and if you are consistent with this exercise you will emerge with a ridiculously strong core.

When performing a pause you will want to perform at or just below parallel. This will place the most strain on your abs. Make sure you keep your back as upright as possible and your core tight. After pausing for a few seconds you want to drive explosively upwards and contract your core to give you that extra power.

The front squat will give you great core stability, strength and explosiveness. If you could only pick one exercise to improve your core strength for rugby paused front squats should be your go to option.


As rugby requires all body strength and power if you want to dominate on the rugby field you need to have a strong core. The best ab exercises for rugby athletes are paused front squat, ab wheel, medicine ball slams and the walrus.

If you add these 4 core exercises to your training regime you will see a big increase in your power during rugby matches. Don’t be surprised if your abs start popping through your jersey and you start breaking tackles with ease.

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