Anyone who’s ever watched rugby, even for five minutes, can tell that it’s a difficult, violent sport that requires quite a bit of physical power and prowess.

After all, you’re expected to push others, shove them, and manage to overpower them at every play so that your team can win. Along with that, you’re required to sprint and move around quickly in order to avoid defenses as much as possible.

Obviously, to become a rugby player, you have to train in the sport, and you need to play it, as there are many intricate skills that you cannot learn in any other way. With that said, if you want to become a professional, or you already know the basics, and you’re looking to improve your athletic ability, then strength training is the way to go.

In this article, we’re going to talk about weightlifting for rugby players – what are the essential exercises, why you should do them, and how can they help you become a better version of yourself on the pitch. So, if that sounds like a topic that ignites your interest, let’s dive right in.

What are the Essential Weightlifting Movements for Rugby Players?

Rugby players, like all other athletes, have to train in a way that’s specifically designed for their sport. That means that in most cases they should stay away from bodybuilding training programs that involve a ton of machines and isolated muscle work. Instead, their focus should be on compound exercises, and below, we’re going to list the absolute best ones for the sport of rugby. The good thing about weightlifting movements is that they typically don’t require fancy equipment – all you need is a lifting rack, a few barbells, and weight plates; everything else is just a welcome addition.


The deadlift is an essential exercise for anyone looking to build muscle and gain strength. It’s a compound movement that targets the muscles across the entire posterior chain, and it’s one of the most effective ones for building raw power. Since the posterior chain (the muscles in the back of your body) are the ones primarily responsible for driving you forward, they’re crucial for sprinting and pushing – two movements often done in the sport of rugby. Along with that, deadlifts are perfect if you’re short on time and want to target the muscles in both your upper and lower body, as they’re all required for rugby.

Front Squats

Typically, when people talk about squats, they’re referring to the back squat, also known as the king of exercises. However, when it comes to training specifically for rugby, the front squat is the one that’s actually recommended. They’re more of a knee-dominant exercise, and so they involve the quads more than the hamstrings or the glutes – a key difference from the back squat.

Along with that, front squats require engagement from the upper body as well, so they’re a more full-body movement compared to the traditional squat. Finally, in order to perform the front squat correctly, you need quite a bit of mobility in the torso and a great range of motion – two traits that are extremely useful for any athlete as they aid injury prevention and make on-the-field movement more effective and efficient.

Bench Press

The squat, bench, and deadlift are the holy trinity of strength training. And so, we couldn’t make a list about weightlifting and skip the beloved bench press. For rugby players, strength in the upper body and especially push strength (which gets developed with this exercise) is key for success as the game requires them to push other bodies out of the way.

Typically, elite rugby players are expected to be able to bench around 1.5 times their body weight, and many can do even more than that. For that reason, if you’re an aspiring rugby player who hopes to make it to the professional leagues, it’s a good idea to start bench pressing as soon as you can.

Barbell Push Press

Another upper body staple is the push press. It’s a critical exercise for rugby players as it enables them to train the deltoids, traps, and triceps, all of which are used on the field of play. And even though all overhead pressing exercises are good for rugby players, the push press is likely the best possible choice.

In order to perform them, you have to use your legs so that you can explode through your upper body, and thus, they target both the muscles in your upper and lower half. Additionally, the push press also trains your explosiveness, making it even more of a stellar choice for rugby players.

In Conclusion

As you can see, weightlifting for rugby players is extremely beneficial, and it’s a must-do if you’re hoping to become a professional. Hopefully, our article gave you ideas on where to begin, and we’d love it if you share feedback and results with us in the comment section.