Search icon

Fitness & Health

22nd Nov 2018

Prolong your performance with this rugby cardio endurance workout

Improving your endurance is essential, whether you're looking to burn fat or boost sports performance. This workout will have you enjoying cardio

Alex Roberts

Improving your endurance is essential, whether you’re looking to burn fat, boost sports performance or just get fitter

Sportswear brand Canterbury have teamed up with fitness coach Colm Manor to produce this cardio endurance plan to get you #RugbyFit.

England take on Australia at Twickenham this Saturday in the final round of Quilter Autumn Internationals.

Exercise 1 – Sprints (Dcceleration Drills)

Sets & Reps: 4 sets of 15 metre sprints

Why: Acceleration is how fast you can go from a starting position to near max speed. To do that you have to generate as much horizontal force as possible, as fast as possible (without falling down). This particularly benefits the muscles of the lower limbs – glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and will help build explosiveness. It also will help improve your sprinting technique making you faster. Sprinting drills are best performed on the pitch, after a thorough warm up.

How – the key things to look out for good acceleration:

  • A synchronised explosive leg and arm action
  • Posture: imagine as if you are sprinting up a hill, stay long
  • Leg action: drive your knee low and forward like your punching something with it
  • Push the ground away when you strike it
  • Arm action: snap the arms down and back overall in a powerful piston like motion

Exercise 2 – Conditioning Runs

Sets & Reps: 16 sets of 50 metre runs (with 15 second breaks in between)

Why: Conditioning runs are about building up your cardiovascular fitness and endurance in the muscles in your legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Unlike ‘acceleration’ above, we are trying to run as fast as possible over a long distance in ‘absolute speed.’ When you are running at a slow pace around the pitch this technique isn’t as important, but if you’re sprinting 40-60m it’s essential. The best place to perform conditioning runs is on the pitch or on a treadmill. Make sure you do a thorough warm up first. The adaptations in the muscles in your legs, your heart and your ability to deal with lactic acid is what will make you a fitter player.


  • Start by picking a distance that you can comfortably cover over 15 seconds. We’ve taken 50 metres as an example
  • Synchronise your leg and arm action to maximise front knee lift (hip flexion). When your foot strikes the ground it should strike as close to your centre of mass as possible to maximise vertical forces and minimise breaking forces
  • Posture: keep tall
  • With the front leg keep high heels and knees up
  • With the back leg spin the earth as if you are running on a ball
  • Whip arms down and back continuously

Endurance Conditioning Run Sprint

Exercise 3 – Cycling

Sets & Reps: 20-30 mins duration

Why: This is beneficial for building the endurance in the muscle of the lower limb: quads glutes, hamstrings and calves. The nature of this type of training will allow you to build endurance in your leg muscles and their ability to deal with lactic acid to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

How: These can be performed on a stationary bike in the gym or on a road/mountain bike. Hill training, or cross county mode is a great way to build conditioning for rugby. On your bike in the gym select hill/cross-country mode. From there adjust your resistance to something manageable. The lowest resistance should be very, very easy, it should be almost total recovery. The highest resistance should be an effort level of 8/9 out of 10.

  • Start off on resistance 2
  • Every 30 seconds, increase the resistance by 2 until you reach level 10 or an effort level of 8/9 out of 10
  • Drop the resistance back down to 2 and repeat the climb back up to 10

Exercise 4 – Rowing

Sets & Reps: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest interval training. Follow for 10 minutes, repeat for 2 rounds

Why: This works the calves, hamstrings, quads, back and biceps and is another great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Like with the bike, rowing allows you to offload the joints (ankles, knees and hips). If you are doing a lot of running and picking up running injuries this is a great way to improve your fitness and reduce your risk of injury.


  • On the Main Menu, choose Select Workout
  • Select Custom List
  • Select 30/:30r—An interval workout of 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest, repeated until you stop rowing (your last complete interval is the last one recorded)
  • Start with 10mins work time, followed by a 5-10 minute rest, and repeat for a second set

Read more: