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Rugby Fitness & Conditioning
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Fuel Mix Fitness > Introduction

Rugby League is not a continuous steady state sport - there are frequent changes in running speed and intensity of effort, plus various strength and power movements like tackling and playing the ball. Players, therefore, require a 'fuel mix' of aerobic and anaerobic energy to sustain performance. The aim of fuel mix training is to develop a capacity to generate energy and resist fatigue, so players can perform effectively for the duration of the game.

The most energy sapping activities are tackling and being tackled, illustrating that simply running long distances is not specific to developing rugby league fitness. It is more appropriate to partake in drills similar to the animated drill to your right, which include footspeed, change of direction, and tackling.

In general, certain activities can be classified as being fueled predominantly by aerobic or anaerobic energy...

Predominantly Aerobic acitivities
Predominantly Anaerobic activities
most tackling and contact situations
walking backwards
accelerating and changing direction quickly
running at speeds less than 3/4's pace
running at speeds greater than 3/4's pace

However, the energy systems do not work in isolation - more often than not players rely on a fuel mix of anaerobic and aerobic energy at the same time

Aerobic Training
A sound level of aerobic fitness provides a platform for fuel mix conditioning. If you are unfit do not start your fitness plan with fuel mix drills - focus initially on aerobic (steady state) exercise and progress to interval training. However, there is a limit to the level of fitness that can be achieved through steady-paced training - this develops the aerobic energy system and as we can see from above, it is vital that training also develops the anaerobic system.

The most effective methods for developing fuel mix fitness for Rugby League are small sided games and interval training. These training modes can be predominantly aerobic or predominantly anaerobic. For example, the main fuel for 10 x 50m sprints with a 2 minute rest is anaerobic fuel, while 2 minutes of hard running seperated by 1 minute of walking relies more on aerobic energy. More examples of fuel mix fitness drills are provided in the Sample Drills.


© Fitness 4 Rugby League 2005. Fitness 4 Rugby League is part of the Fitness 4 Sport network of web sites. The author and Fitness 4 Sport LLP take no responsibility for injuries caused by attempting the exercises presented on this web site. Fitness 4 Sport LLP recommends that you always learn new exercises under the guidance of a professional and consult your GP before you start

Fatigue is often the limiting factor during the latter stages of a match - with a high level of fuel mix fitness, players are better able to perform effectively until the final whistle
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Rugby league players require upper body endurance to sustain repeated tackling and getting up from the floor. Drills such as boxing and hook and jab pad exercises are excellent options.