Ashley Jones Q&A Archives Page 3

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    Dear Ash,
    I got my back squat (parallell) up to about 95 kgs for 5 reps. My form though has gotten a lot worse as the weight has gone up.

    I have problems with my back rounding (im working on stretching) and problems with falling over backwards when I go close to paralell/paralell (I hear ham/quad strength imbalance and flexibility)
    I was wondering if it would work ok to switch to Front Squats for a bit (my back doesnt round and i dont fall over on these) while I work on my flexibility and Hamstring strength, and then slowly reintroduce back squats a few weeks down the line or whenver Im able to do them.

    Are front squats an insuperior lift in terms of getting in shape for sport? Does my plan sound ok?

    I can make up for the reduced level of ham/hip/glute involvement in Front Squats by using GHRs/Leg Curls/SLDL.

    My program will look like this (Bill Starrs 5×5):


    Bench 5×5
    Front Squat 5×5
    Seated Row 5×5
    Glute Ham Raise 3 x 8


    Deadlift 4×5
    Military Press 4×5
    Front Squat 4×5 (Light)


    Bench 5×5
    Front Squat 5×5
    Seated Row 5×5
    Glute Ham Raise 3 x 8
    Tricep Pushdown 3×10
    Db Curl 3×10

    Hi there Jaimie, sounds from your letter that you should be qriting this column, you are right on the money, actually there are a lot of coaches that teach the front squat first, I like this approach since as you say, it keeps the person more upright, it also allows in my opinion a person to go deeper into the squat as well, and a major plus of the front squat is that it is the receiving position for the clean so there is a structural advantage in learning the front squat as well as a psychological advantage, since if you can front squat say 25 kgs more than you can clean once you rack the clean you know you have the leg strength to be bale to stand up with the weight, the front squat is not an inferior exercise in any terms and in a lot of ways maybe a superior exercise for athletic performance, cheers, ashley

    Hi Ashley

    I am a Strength and Conditioning coach from St Alban’s College in South Africa. I have attended two meetings of yours here in our country and really enjoyed the simple yet effective approach of your training philosophy and have employed it effectively in to our Rugby Strength and Conditioning Program that plays a dual role as it is also an integral part of our well structured Phys Ed curriculum.

    My question to you is regarding rotator cuff training.

    Which would be a better option for young Rugby Athletes regarding rotator cuff exercises

    1. A circuit type regime?

    2. A pure strength emphasis?

    3. or the 5 x 5 approach?

    Best regards


    Hi Diederick, and thank you for your kind words, in regards to the training of the rotator cuff group of muscles I would use a straight sets approach initially with a higher rep range say 3 x 10 – 15 and alternate this with a lower strength range of 4 x 6 or 5 x 5, I tend to use exercises such as Cuban Press, made popular by Coach Charles Poliquin, and then super set that with overhead shrugs, a range of the Dumbbell exercises are also very useful as are cable and theraband movements, but I also believe that the program shoudl be progressive and that a person should not just stay on the one modality ad infinitum but should experiment with a range of techniques till they find th eregime that works best for them, cheers, ashley

    What do you regard as the ideal sets and reps,rest intensity ratio for a strength power phase.And also the sets and reps for a strongman circuit on pitch
    Realy enjoy your website

    Steve Richards
    Ulster Rugby Academy
    Strength & Conditioning Coach

    Hi Steve, I do not use a power phase but I use power workouts on a regular basis, I integrate power into many elements of the training year, often I will alternate between 3 x 5 with 60% and 5 x 3 with 80%, or will incorporate a plyometric contrast with a heavier attempted acceleration compound movement, say block power cleans to 80% with knees to feet jumps, with strongman work I use usually time say 1 minute on 1 minute off in pairs and then jog to the next event and a circuit usually lasts about 45 mins in off season, do not use in season, cheers, ashley
    Hi Ashley Jones, this is my 1st time on this website and 1st time asking you a question about rugby and rugby strength training, my college has a club rugby team and i will be joining it next year, for right now what kind of strength program should i do to get “rugby” strong? i know there are alot of strength program on this great website, which one would u recommend for me to start doing? before today, i was doing WS4SB by Joe DeFranco (http://, this will be my 1st time every playing or even touching a rugby ball, before i join what
    skills or speed training should i work on? thanks for your time in
    helping me!

    Hi Paul, thanks for your question, the deFranco site is an excellent site for all your strength training information, you can not go wrong by following any of his programs, I work specifically in rugby performance conditioning but the reality of training is that if you improve your strength you will improve your performance so do not try and get too specific initially just get strong, so stick to the basics, and then you can branch out as your training age increases, When you can 1.5 BW bench, 2 x BW squat and Dead Lift, >.8 BW Military Press and Bent Over Row 1.2 BW, you can add some more variety, I find that most trainees want to get too fancy early and move away from what works, as for your other training fitness is important so use any of the interval programs that have been listed on this site and spend most of your time on the skills of the game which will be addressed by your coach, this element is key to your enjoyment and improvement in the game, but most of all have fun, as I have always said in relation to all aspects of life if it stops being fun it stops being, so enjoy, best wishes, ashley
    G’day Ashley i dont have any rugby questions as i am into aussie rules. But i have questions on building up muscle i have a set of dumbells @ home which include 4 x 1.25kg and 4 x 2.5kg, i was wondering what kind of sets i should be doing to take effect? can i also build muscle by doing weights until i can no more? or does that do damage?

    Thanks mate 4 takin your time in answering

    South australia

    Hi Harry, the concept of building muscle is quite interesting in that each person adapts slightly differently, so the reality is that you need a deal of time to go through the trial and error phase to work out what works best for you, but in saying this you must place an overload on the muscles before an adaptation can occur. So irrespective of whether you are doing a one set to momentary concentric muscle failure, or performing what has been used as a beginners program of 3 x 12 on a range of movements, you must gradually add either initially reps or sets and then load onto the training equipment, to improve. So you will need to invest in some heavier DB’s with time, or go to a commercial gym where you have a wide range of exercises to work with. It is okay to work to muscular failure although you will experience a high degree of muscle soreness, it will not damage your muscles. I like to use the basics to build size, Squats, Dead Lifts, Bench Press, Bentover Row and Shoulder Press will be the movements to use, and a set and rep scheme of 4 sets of 6 – 8 reps and see how that goes, cheers, ashley

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