2. TECHNIQUE TRUMPS ALL
Sure, speed is important. But it should never be pursued at the expense of technique, argues Corvo. “If you’re not moving with the right technique you’re at a higher injury risk and the right muscles aren’t activating optimally.” Run through these simple technique cues before every set: eyes up, core braced, shoulders retracted.
3. EMBRACE VARIETY
“The traditional exercises – the bench, the squat, the deadlift – still form the bedrock of our programs,” says Corvo. But most programs will also incorporate Olympic lifts (the clean pull is a favourite), and functional movements, like single-leg squats and TRX exercises. “If you’ve got elements of those three areas in your program then you’re going to be well-rounded athlete.”
4. PLAN AND PERIODISE
Early in the preseason, the players’ programs will typically focus on strength. As the season draws closer, the focus shifts to functional, game-specific movements. “In this period, we use a lot of contrast loading – a technique where you lift a heavy load, then immediately follow that with an explosive power movement. For example, you might superset a squat with a jump squat.”
5. LOVE LEG DAY
“Every movement starts in the legs,” says Corvo. “They’re your base. You can be as powerful as you like through the upper body but if you don’t have that base, then you won’t reach optimal performance.” Although the Broncos four weekly weights sessions are split equally between upper and lower body, all of their the field sessions are lower-body focused. “So if you look at total training time, we’re doing a hell of a lot more training on our legs.”
WORKOUT: BRONCS STRONG IN 60 MINUTES
Rugby league is a sport that demands rock-solid strength combined with detonative power. Build both with this workout from Broncos strength and conditioning coach Alex Corvo
Complete the following pairs of exercises (1A and 1B etc) as supersets. Rest for 60 seconds after each superset. Complete four supersets before moving to the next pair of exercises. Do this full-body workout twice a week. “And rotate your reps week to week,” says Corvo. “Start with 15 reps in week 1. Then drop that to sets of 12 in week 2, 10 in week 3 and 8 in week 4.”
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, a barbell across your upper back. With your weight on your heels, push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, then drive back up as quickly as possible.
1B/ Lunge to press
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders. Brace your core and lunge forward with your right leg, lowering until your right knee is bent 90 degrees. Push the dumbbell in your left hand into an overhead press. Lower the dumbbell and step back to a standing position. Repeat on the opposite leg/arm.
Lie on a bench and grab a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Brace your core, retract your shoulders and lower the bar until it’s almost touching your chest. Pause, then drive it back up to the starting position as quickly as possible.
Grab a chin bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. From a dead hang, pull your shoulder blades together and hoist your chest to the bar. Pause, then slowly lower to the starting position.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, a barbell resting against your shins. Push your hips back and grab the bar with a mixed grip. With your weight on your heels, brace your core, then powerfully drive your hips forward to return to a standing position.
Jam one end of a loaded Olympic bar in the corner of a room. Holding the other end of the bar with two hands, rotate the bar over your head in a fast but fluid axe-swinging motion. Keep your eyes up and your midsection tensed throughout.