Rugby off-season is prime time for strength gains. As a rugby player, it’s not about muscle definition or 1 rep maxes. You’ll have your own goals for a structured and successful off-season.
Off season always flies by faster than it should. Those 12+ weeks seem like an eternity when you first come off the pitch, but they’ll soon disappear. There’s not really much time to make those gains in strength, power, and recovery. Getting your plans in place will really help you hit every off-season goal – and your plans should include nutrition. It makes sense to support your entire off-season with some well-chosen sports supplements. Just make sure they’re designed to help rugby players rest, recovery, and get stronger. Check out our rugby off-season guide to weights room training here. Now let’s talk supplements.
3 Key Goals For Rugby Off-Season
Rugby off-season has three clear goals for any player, regardless of the position you play or your experience level. You need to recover from the competitive season. You need to build strength (and fill any gaps in your physique, or rehabilitate any injuries). And you need to work on adding power to your rugby performance.
Your Off-Season Checklist
Before you stock up on supplements, make sure you’ve got all the basics covered. Can you say “yes” to every item on our off-season rugby checklist?
#1 Sleep: are you getting 7-9 quality hours a night? Do you have a regular bedtime, a good wind-down routine? Are your sleep hygiene habits good (no phone in the bedroom, minimal light and noise)?
#2 Nutrition: do you have an off-season nutrition plan, and do you stick to it at least 90%? This should include adequate calories, balanced macronutrients, vegetables and fruit, and plenty of water.
#3 Recovery: is recovery programmed into your off-season training? This includes recovery sessions, low level cardio or other activity, sleep, rest days, and deload periods
We’ve identified three simple sports supplements to support those goals. They’ll help you have a productive off-season so you rock up to pre-season training stronger, faster, and fitter.
Rugby Off-Season Gym Supplements
Recovery: Protein Powder
A quality protein powder supplement is the most convenient way to get enough protein into your daily diet. Use post-training, and any time during the day (breakfast is a popular time to incorporate protein powder). The high levels of key amino acids will help you build and repair muscle. Amino acids are the constituent parts of protein, and they support recovery, repair, and growth.
What’s the best protein powder for rugby players? Whey protein is cost-effective and widely available. It has a high biological value, and contains a good spectrum of amino acids. It is digested well so your body can put the protein to use quickly. Whey protein isolate (WPI) is the purest form of whey protein, with minimal lactose, fats and carbohydrates. It has around 90-95% protein. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is less filtered than an isolate, but still gives you around 80% protein which is adequate for your off-season needs. Be sure to choose a quality whey protein powder with clear ingredients and no unnecessary extras like fillers and thickeners.
Using branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) before training or intra-workout will help you with protein synthesis, boosting your body’s muscle gain and recovery abilities. The three amino acids in BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are key amino acids for muscle mass, immune health, and hormone health. All protein contains amino acids, and a quality whey protein powder will include the BCAAs. So why take a separate BCAA supplement? Free form amino acids are more quickly digested and absorbed than the amino acids in food.
BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis, reduce the rate of protein breakdown, and help you retain muscle mass to stay stronger during off-season. BCAAs may also reduce the amount of serotonin produced by the body, which means you may experience less fatigue during training. Using BCAAs in off-season will boost the amount of key amino acids you take in, supporting your recovery and helping you grow and retain more muscle.
A simple creatine monohydrate supplement helps increase ATP stores which will boost your training performance with short burst of high intensity lifting. You need to work hard during off-season to make any appreciable gains in strength and power. Creatine is a no-brainer for rugby players. It’s natural, easy to take, and comes with a ton of research to back it up.
Creatine supplementation can boost training performance, accelerate muscle mass growth, and increase overall strength. The benefits are obvious for high-power output like tackles, sprints, and scrums. Creatine decreases fatigue between bouts of high intensity exercise, and may even reduce acid build-up in muscles. There are a few forms of creatine on the market but a quality creatine monohydrate will be adequate for off-season rugby players. It can be added to protein shakes, fruit juice, or water. Simple!