Before we start: It has come to my attention that there are people out there who still want to read. I’ve long believed that to truly become a better athlete, you need to understand certain ways how. I actually have a pretty deep, developed theory on this that I’ll save you all for another time, but the main point of this introduction is probably a message to myself. “Rugby Muscle articles are coming back in a BIG way”
The purpose of this blog though isn’t to reintroduce you to the blog, that’d be weird. Instead, I want to introduce you to a type of conditioning training that you’ve probably never done before.

High Intensity Continuous Training

HICT is probably the most under-utilised training method out there, and I’m not sure why it isn’t popular. Maybe it’s because it’s fairly new? But I think there’s more to it than that…
It’s not because it doesn’t work, if done correctly not only is it incredibly effective, but it’s also pretty time-efficient. It’s not because it’s fancy or complex, you need very little equipment (if any) to create an effective HICT session. Perhaps the problem with HICT is just how simple and effective it is, in a world where people are told they need ridiculous ladders, bands and strongman circuits, it might be hard for people to buy into just how brutally effective HICT can be.
Not only is it effective, but it’s not too gruesome either!
I’m aware that you probably think I’m over-selling this, so let me outline exactly what to do so that you can give it ago and judge for yourself.

How To Do It

  • Pick any cyclical movement (anything that’s continuous in nature). Common HICT methods include walking lunges, step-ups, spin bike, versaclimber and sled pushes and/or drags. I’ve seen great results from all of these so just pick based upon preference and what you have available
  • GO. What you want is 1 complete, explosive, deliberate movement followed by a quick pause at the top for 1-4 seconds. Try to keep a steady pace of around 20-30 reps per minute breathing freely throughout.
  • At first, it will seem pretty easy, but as time goes on you will start to really feel it. Be sure to keep it aerobic, inevitably some of you will go too hard and need to stop but that just is what it is.
  • You can go for anywhere between 8-20 minutes for 1-3 rounds, starting at the low end and building up the volume as you get better. I like to build from 2 sets of 8-10 minutes with a few minutes rest in between.
  • You should notice that you’re working, but are capable of doing it without dying. The major result you should feel at the end of this training is sweat! This is because the fast-twitch fibres in your muscles will produce a ton of heat from their energy burn… which brings me to why this training is just so damn effective!
Note the spin bike example

Why It Works

To put it simply without getting into deep physiology, we are targeting the fast-twitch muscle fibres and their ability to use oxygen. This oxygen isn’t used to perform the movement per se, it is used to clear out the fatigue in the muscle (created by performing at a high-intensity). This clearing out of the fatigue is what allows you to go again, and again… and again. That’s why we’re pausing at the top of each movement, to create space for this clear out. If that was still too sciencey – essentially you’re just training your muscles to quickly and consistently recover and go again.
Why You Should Do it You don’t need me to tell you that your fast-twitch fibres are going to make a huge difference in how you perform in a game of rugby. You probably don’t need me to tell you that the less fatigued your fast-twitch muscles are, the better you’re going to perform, not only after a long phase of play, but after 75 minutes of intense rugby.

Wrap Up

If you’ve seen any of my stuff before, you know I hate any random approach to training and planning your HICT should be no different. Even though HICT is fast-twitch, it’s fairly low stress and can be done on either low days or medium days. Where and how you fit it into your training is up to you but I would suggest 1-2 sessions a week for a block or two is great. Unfortunately, I see the huge benefits start to slow down after a couple of months of training this way – which is when you’d switch it out for a different method.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear any questions, comments or feedback you have and love responding to them all personally. Probably the best place is to ask in this post on the Rugby Muscle Athletes Facebook group.

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