Rugby is a very physical game. To dominate during the contact phase of playing, whether that’s tackling, ball running, cleaning out or scrummaging you need to have a strong back that will allow you to maintain structurally sound positioning and be capable of unleashing huge amounts of power. It is time to show you the exercises that will make your back so wide you will struggle to fit through doors.
Why Do You Need A Strong Back For Rugby?
Rugby players need to have a strong back to reduce their risk of injury. Upper and lower back rounding is a major cause of back and neck among rugby players. Players with strong backs are less likely to suffer from rounding. A strong back also helps players with maximum power transfer during contact.
What are the best back exercises for rugby?
The best back exercises for rugby which will add huge amounts of muscle to your frame and help you increase your ball running ability and tackling power are:
- Conventional Deadlift
- Bent Over Rows
- Pull Ups
- Incline Dumbbell Rows
The deadlift is the king of back exercises. If you are looking for an exercise to pack on the most amount of muscle on your back in the shortest amount of time then you need to be deadlifting.
The deadlift is an all over body movement which allows you to use the most weight of any exercise. As you can use so much weight you are able to sufficiently stress your muscles which causes them to grow to handle future perceived shocks.
Now being able to use so much weight is a double edged sword. Yes, it will cause rapid muscle growth but it also places you at increased risk of injury. However, if you perform a proper warm-up, keep your back straight throughout the movement and make sensible load choices you regularly perform the movement with little risk of injury.
Deadlifts will help rugby players build rock like backs, particularly lower back. When tackling and running into contact it is incredibly important rugby players maintain a straight lower back. Lower back rounding places rugby players at risk of back and spinal injuries and also reduces the amount of power they are able to transfer from their legs to their opponents.
If you want to maintain a straight lower back and bump of would be tacklers and increase the amount of big hits you are making on the rugby field then load up some plates, put some chalk on your hands and get deadlifting.
Here is a video demonstrating how to perform a deadlift
Bent Over Rows
Bent over rows are a great back building exercise for rugby players. While the deadlift uses the legs, bent over rows focus solely on the back. You also can use much less weight on bent over rows making them a safer exercise than deadlifts.
Bent over rows will add thickness all over your back. If you want to be able to smash opposition players on the rugby field with your newly developed rugby muscles then start bent over rowing today!
To perform a bent over row deadlift the bar to your knee height, then bend over the bar until your chest is in line with it, pull the bar towards your groin by pulling your shoulders back and driving your elbows backwards.
Here is a video demonstrating how to perform a bent over row
Pull ups are a staple exercise for athletes from a variety of sports football players, boxers, wrestlers and rugby players. If athletes from a bunch of different sports are using pull ups to grow their backs then you know you need to add this back exercise to your training regime.
Pull ups will cause your lats and upper back to explode. It is not always easy to find exercises that specifically target the lats and upper back but the pull up is one of those few exercises.
You should start by performing them with just body weight. However, once you can pump out sets of 15 you should start adding weight. Once you start adding weight you should experience tremendous growth in your lats and upper back.
On the rugby field keeping a straight back or suffering from upper back rounding can be the difference between making a dominant tackle or being bounced off and eating a face full of grass. To ensure rugby players keep a nice straight back when tackling all athletes need to be performing pull ups.
Here is a video demonstrating how to perform a pull up
Incline Dumbbell Rows
Rugby players don’t just need a strong lower back, they also need an iron upper back. Upper back rounding when tackling or running into contact can place you at greater risk of back and neck injuries.
Not only is your injury risk increased but the power you can deliver is lessened as your body is not in an optimal position for maximal power transfer. This means your tackle break and made percentage will go down, making you a less dominant rugby player.
To help you maintain a nice straight upper back throughout a rugby match you need high levels of muscle strength and endurance. It can be hard to develop upper back strength as in many exercises such as deadlift your lower back will take over the bulk of the work, giving your upper back a rest. Due to this your upper back doesn’t develop as it should.
Incline dumbbell rows are a great exercise because by lying on a bench at an angle your lower back is taken out of the equation. Even though your lower back wants to help out it is incapable due to the angle. This forces your upper back to do all the work, resulting in rapid upper back growth.
To perform incline dumbbell rows lie with your stomach on the bench, pick up two dumbbells and focus on pulling your elbows back towards your chest. Keep your arms relaxed and focus on just using your back to pull the weight.
Here is a video demonstrating how to perform a incline dumbbell row