The Leinster Rugby Star Shows You How to Train & Diet For

One of the Worlds Toughest Sports

By Tim Weigard. Lead Photo By Gabriel Guzman

There is no denying the fact that Rugby is one of the most physically demanding and intense sports in the world today. Think football … without the equipment! Elite Rugby players are modern day on-field gladiators that mesh brute strength with a high level of cardiovascular conditioning and superior skill. On the heels of the completion of the Rugby World Cup 2011, which was held in New Zealand and saw no less than 20 countries spread across 4 separate groups vying for top honours, we are proud to present our first ever Rugby strength and conditioning super feature. Enjoy!

    You plan out challenging gym sessions with plenty of variation to meet whatever goal(s) you’re working towards. However, those workouts are probably quite different from a professional athlete’s routine, given the fact that your goals are likely different and not as performance related. Top athletes meticulously plan very specific training and nutrition programs designed to help them perform at an elite level, as dictated by their sport. If your game could benefit from superior strength and conditioning or if you’re just looking to get into top shape, feel free to borrow from Rob Kearney’s rugby training program. He’s a standout player for Leinster Rugby, the current European champions, and is one of today’s most skilled and best conditioned athletes.


Rugby has a pre-season training camp where athletes elevate their strength, stamina and skills in preparation for the upcoming season. A typical training camp speed work Monday morning, followed by upper body resistance training later that afternoon. Tuesday’s sessions would round out the previous day’s work with lower body resistance exercises in the morning and conditioning later in the day. Wednesday is mostly a recovery day with massage therapy and Pilates. Then, Thursday begins another two days of A.M./P.M. training structured work, much like Monday and Tuesday.



In-season training differs slightly, especially when there’s a match scheduled during the week. The two days on, one day off cycle remains with Monday’s A.M. rugby skills training followed by upper body weight training. Tuesday morning finds Rob in the weight room working the lower body muscle groups, before heading out to the pitch to sharpen his skills with the team. Wednesday is set aside for recovery and Thursday is structured much like Monday, but there’s a change up on Friday with a team run. Saturday is game day, which leads to a well deserved day off on Sunday.

Obviously, maintaining a training routine as demanding as Rob’s will burn a very substantial amount of calories. The average rugby player uses up 1,750 to 2,000 calories during an 80-minute match, so imagine what elite players need to replace just to keep their weight and strength intact. They also need to replenish muscle glycogen with carbohydrates and kick start muscle rebuilding with amino acids from protein.


Work some of these training and diet tips into your routine. Though you might not have the exact same goals as a professional athlete like Rob Kearney, you can still follow his example in the gym, on the pitch, in the kitchen and at the training table!

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