The importance of Pre-Season Rugby Training

August 18, 2022 4 min read

Every year, pre-season rugby training around the world starts in mid-July. It’s a time of intense workouts and preparation for what lies ahead, but you could get the edge on the competition with a powerful training tool: the Wattbike.

Rugby pre-season generally lasts around 12 weeks, but there can be 14-16 weeks between the end of one rugby season and the start of the next. In order to prepare for therugby season, athletes use resistance training with a combination of anaerobic and aerobic conditioning in order to get the body ready for the demands of rugby matches.

A 2010study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences set out to evaluate the effects of a short-term pre-season training programme on the body composition and anaerobic performance of professional rugby union players. They observed small decreases in fat mass and small increases in fat-free mass, upper arm girth, and increases in strength and body composition.

Why Cycling is the Perfect Pre-Season Training Partner

Cycling, especially on aWattbike indoor smart bike, is a great way to kickstart your rugby pre-season training. In a recent case study with Aled Walters, Head of Physical Performance at Leicester Tigers, he talks about theirpre-season training programmes with Wattbike.

“When I worked with the Springboks, we used the Wattbike during pre-season. It was all about repeat speed work, and a lot of training camps at altitude really helped with this.” The team had 12 Wattbikes at the training camp and they formed a big part of the pre-season training programme. Aled had his players on the bikes 3-4 times a week and noticed that the players could see and feel the perks of using the Wattbike.

Using a Wattbike is the perfect way to maximise youroff-feet conditioning. According to Aled, “In pre-season, every week is slightly different. We try to keep it varied on purpose but we’ll be consistently using the Wattbikes three times a week to complement any on-feet training. Wattbike is the perfect training tool to gradually increase the total volume of work up until the start of the season in a safe manner. “

Pre-Season Workouts to Improve Rugby Fitness

As part of Wattbike Summer Sessions, you can find the following indoor training workouts to improve rugby fitness on theWattbike Hub App under Wattbike x All Blacks.

The four workouts in this category were created by Nic Gill, Strength and Conditioning Coach of the New Zealand All Blacks. Nic knows a thing or two about Wattbike workouts and his team have been using Wattbikes - or ‘Watties’ - for more than 10 years.

Increase Cardio with The Hurt Box

The Hurt Box cycling workout focuses on increasing your capacity for repeated high intensity efforts, as well as your ability to recover between efforts. If you're looking to develop your cardiovascular system and improve your ability to tolerate hard efforts then this one is for you.


The workout starts with a 5-minute incremental warm-up, with 2 x 15 second sprints to get the legs and heart rate going.

Main Session

The main session is simple but requires effort, and consists of 10 intervals that build in intensity with each effort increasingly harder than the last. Every interval adds an extra 5% of your FTP to the power target so that by the last interval, you’ll be aiming for 135% of your FTP.

As the efforts get more intense they reduce in duration very slightly, with the final effort lasting 1 minute. There is 1 minute recovery between each effort; enough time to catch your breath, allow your heart rate to recover, and focus before the next one.


After the tenth interval you’re finished and can enjoy a 4-minute cool down.

Improving VO2 Max

VO2 Ladder is all about getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. The intervals are long, so stay focused as they slowly get shorter but more intense throughout the session. The workout will improve your ability to perform at or just above aerobic capacity. The workout focuses on improving your VO2 max and therefore your ability to perform at or above your aerobic capacity.

Improving aerobic efficiency

Aerobic Engine is a great workout for anyone wanting to increase their aerobic endurance. This will improve your ability to maintain moderate intensities for longer periods of time, which should enhance your ability and enjoyment in many sports and physical activities.

Main Session

The session starts with a 13-minute warm-up. You'll then complete 2 x 5-min efforts at 85% of your FTP. The session finishes with a 4-minute cool down.

Improving athletic performance

All Blacks Burner aims to improve your VO2 Max and overall athletic performance by working you close to and above your FTP.

Main session

Starting with a 18-minute warm-up, you'll then complete 4 x 2-min efforts at 115% of your FTP. The session finishes with a 8-minute cool down.

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