Training and Nutrition for Rugby Sevens

A Guide to Training and Nutrition for Rugby Sevens This year a brave bunch of men chose to join the ranks of the thousands at the annual rugby 7s tournament in my old University town of Aberystwyth. A hotly competed contest every year with players of all skill levels playing in both social and professional leagues. A weekend of good spirits, good people and good rugby is always guaranteed however, it's the build up to it that is the most important! So take a look at this guide to training and nutrition for rugby sevens. First, to understand how hard 7s truly can be, I think it's best if I fully explain it.  Quite obviously rugby 7s is a game played on a full sized rugby pitch with only 7 players playing for each side, with 7 and a half minute halves culminating in a 15 minute match.  The full pitch coverage with under half the players is what truly will exhaust you, this becomes even more exhausting when you see how many matches you can have per day on a tournament, some teams were lucky enough to have 3-4 whereas some had 6-7 matches on the first day of the tournament alone!  An exhausting day which you need to be able to recover from quickly so you are ready to play day 2 where the titles are won and lost. Training started early doors and I approached Cardiff Sports Nutrition to help so I could perform to my utmost.  Retaining as much muscle as possible whilst lowering my body fat and increasing my cardiovascular ability was what I needed to do and Marc helped me with this by providing me a gruelling workout routine and helped me by providing me a supplement list to go with it! jonorugbyTraining As well as my weight training Marc implemented some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into my workouts to be undertaken 3 times a week.  This sounded a simple thing to do after a heavy weights session and an easier way of getting my cardio done, and Marc told me it would only take 15 minutes? Surely this had to be a joke, 15 minutes to improve my fitness hugely and to help burn fat? Why haven't I cottoned on to this before? The HIIT started with sprints, I would do a 5 minute warm up on the treadmill, 2 minutes on a boosted 16KMH, 3 minutes of active recovery on 10KMH, back to 2 of sprinting and 3 of recovery.  Needless to say this absolutely killed me but was completely worth it, I felt my fitness rising and having the challenge of beating a set amount of calories burnt or a certain distance within the 15 minutes is a great way to go about it, and how else will you burn upwards of 300 calories so quickly? After I'd been on this for a while I then got given a 3 minute burpees challenge to do, i did this twice a week and it's just non-stop burpees for as long as you can go for.  Just when I thought training couldn't get much harder I was given a full body circuit to do at the end of each workout that put me through my paces every session with brutality and killer DOMS every day! To sustain such an intense training programme to allow me to perform at my best for the 7s tournament though, eating clean and training dirty was not enough, I needed the right supplementation to make sure I was recovering efficiently and not going to pick up an injury before I even arrived at the tournament. Supplements As previously mentioned when preparing to get into shape for this tournament the training regime I was set on was harsh to say the least. To keep muscle at a relatively high level so I kept power whilst trying to make sure my cardio was intact I had to carefully consider what I was taking. The ins and outs of losing fat and not muscle are outlined here. Pre Workout To ensure I had enough drive and the right mentality when hitting the harder workouts I found the right pre workout could make all the difference, there isn't much to be said about these, if you are more focussed and have more energy you perform better therefore, it is not only great to fuel you whilst lifting the heavy weights and performing the intense HIIT but also before any match so you can truly get that pump and drive necessary to truly destroy your opposition! Creatine When you are shopping for supplements that you want to aid you in rugby or any aspect of training, you will notice that the market is heavily saturated with many products with false claims that will empty your pockets and provide little results.  Fortunately enough for me I had some expert advice and I was safe in the knowledge that CSN provide only the best products around.  Creatine is a well known supplement with well known positive effects. Creatine can be beneficial to rugby, be you a forward or a back, especially when hoping to gain explosive power whilst still brining size and strength onto the pitch.  This is crucial for any rugby player, the ability to scrum and smash the opposition off of the ball, to ruck over with power to allow the backs to make their paced runs, to shrug off hits by having that upper body strength and continue with pace down the pitch to score that full pitch try, to smash try saving tackles that make the sidelines gasp and to be able to accelerate with explosive power on to any ball are all bonuses of the effects of creatine.  This dangerously useful supplement comes with one other bonus, it's a cheap supplement in terms of others and has definitely got all the 'bang for its buck' you could possibly want.  I mixed it in with my pre workout shake and found it mixed smoothly without the gritty taste some are known to have! I found the strength gains I was making whilst on this were fantastic and it was allowing me to really bang out those few final reps which are the ones that really make the difference. Definitely a product that should be added to any training routine where you want to get that explosive muscle and power. Protein It is well known that when we train and lift weights we tear and damage our muscles and when preparing myself for 7s my training was increased dramatically meaning I needed to be sure that I was doing everything I could to help the muscle tissue repair and repair stronger.  Although a lot is put down to diet a quick way to fuel your body with protein is a protein shake, a crucial part of anyone who trains post workout nutrition I'm sure! I needed to make sure that my body was getting enough protein to repair whilst also allowing myself those extra calories to give me enough energy to be able to get back at it the next day fully recovered and ready to hit those brutal post workout body circuits/HIIT again!  A post workout shake and making sure I was getting enough protein during the day was more than essential and I did it with one of the greatest flavours known to man kind, I used the great iForce Nutrition Protean. Extra Supplementation A key part to my supplementation was Anabolic Designs brilliant product, 'Matador'.  Matador is a glucose disposal agent that I found helped me in many ways by helping me maintain lean muscle mass without losing the size or gaining too much body fat from my cycling of carbohydrates, it is a great product that really works.  This is a truly great product that when added to any cycle can really help maximise all of the perks of carbohydrate intake without being so scared of those carbs! To help my recovery as well I also used reflex nutritions' multivitamin is designed specifically for anyone who participates in highly active sport, it was brilliant specifically with my hard intense training to make sure I didn't become ill or fall to weaknesses and failed to perform to my upmost.  Multivitamins are brilliant for any training routine as in some nutrition plans you may find yourself becoming lower on certain vitamins and this helps to cover you from where you will undoubtedly be exhausting yourself.  I used the reflex multivitamin Nexgen® + Sports which comes with an amazing guarantee; 'use Nexgen® + Sports as directed and if you are not happy for any reason we will refund you in full.' Winner winner! All in all an effective cycle that left me very prepared for the upcoming tournament, I arrived full of explosive energy, willpower to score a multitude of tries and to out perform every player on the pitch as I'd been training so damn hard, all of the above are elements I am adding in to my full time training and nutrition for rugby sevens now and looking to hit 7s bigger and better next year proudly sporting the CSN logo across our tops once more, I just hope I can make it more than 3 and a half minutes without injury next time! Jon O'Shea