GPP – Strength & Cond

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    I am designing a programme for my Academy level rugby athletes in a GPP ‘getting back on the horse’ phase for their Strength & Cond for next season. It is a work in progress so I will update with where I am at and let everybody in on my thought processes..

    No matter who you are, what level you work at, I’m sure everybody here has an opinion or some advice that will be valuable for somebody so post any thoughts you may have.
    I’m only new to this field myself having been in my current full-time role for less than a year so any other up and coming S&C coaches feel free to comment and offer thoughts as well as those of you who have been in the game for a while.

    Everybody can take what they want from the proposed format and any suggestions also, try it out and find out what works, what doesn’t. I’ll certainly be getting into it and trying it out before I deliver it to the players and tinkering slightly as I go along no doubt.

    Basically its a 6 week programme leading up until a 3 week christmas break where the athletes will have a training plan to follow while we aren’t together.

    The format is 4 Training days per week, 3 days of strength training and 1 day of GPP focused conditioning work.
    1 day on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off(weekend).
    Its based around a traditional working week as most of the guys will be working over summer.

    Variation is a major component in there as well as utilising some outdoor training for strength and conditioning days in the spring weather and get the athletes out doing some different things after the last few of months of academy commitments being based solely in the weight room around their representative training commitments.

    As well as using variation I also want to utilise the opportunity to:

    1. Teach the basics of a number of different styles of exercises and some new movements so that I can utilise them effectively within their training plan next year as they will already have the knowledge of how to perform them.

    2. Work the guys really hard after their 4 week break at the end of the representative season and build a solid general base to build upon across different areas

    3. Enable them to realise just how hard they can push themselves and recover well to work hard again, without having to work things around performing at the weekend.

    The overall format i am looking at is:
    (can’t paste my table format in so I’ll do my best to outline)

    Monday- Kettlebell Strength
    Tuesday – rest and recovery
    Wednesday- Combat/Strongman Strength
    Thursday – Barbell/Dumbbell Strength
    Friday – GPP Conditioning
    Sat/Sun – rest and recovery (active and passive flexibility)

    Kettlebell day
    swing option
    turkish get up
    clean and press
    windmill or side press
    predetermined sets of max reps in each exercise with good form and control

    Combat/Strongman day
    sandbag option (eg clean/clean and press)
    lift and carry option
    heavy push-drag combo
    hanging pull option
    push option
    mix of predetermined set/rep max rep and timed efforts

    Barbell/Dumbbell day
    olympic option
    squat option
    unilateral option
    superset horizontal push/vertical pull
    superset vertical push/horizontal pull
    prescribed progressive set/rep protocols

    GPP Conditioning day
    sledgehammer-wheelbarrow combo (tabata protocol)
    push/drag (timed intervals)
    overhead throw/slam (timed intervals)
    bodyweight exercise circuit (5 exercises, max reps, continuous circuit x5)

    sledgehammer-wheelbarrow can be substituted for cardio machine/skip/punch bag circuit done within tabata protocol.
    All the rest can be completed inside in some shape or form

    I am also toying with fitting some speed in there somewhere, maybe just for those whom speed development or maintenance in the off-season is a priority, main focus on power/acceleration to compliment some of the work they will be doing.



    Image of programme format attached..


    Hey Simon
    You know you guys were lucky at the weekend haha…, thanks for your hospitality.
    That programme looks awesome mate. I defiantly am going to use some of that stuff you posted. I thought i would share some of my experiences over the last 3 seasons. You tend to get a lot different training ages and goals (Set by the coach or athlete etc). I have found the first years have very little training base and I normally run a concurrent type regime to address all aspects of conditioning (Speed, anaerobic, aerobic conditioning with some basic strength work). Its important not to initially super saturate this group with conditioning or you will get niggles. I like how you included 2 on one off. 3 weeks for loading with a week off or really light week has worked for me.

    My year 2-3 generally have more tolerance to volume and are progressed. I try and individualise these athletes more by including training options (which i empower the athlete to pick haha) . To do this successfully you need to run maybe 3-4 different sessions throughout the day. More work on your part but you gain greater credibility and results from your athletes. Below is an example of what the academy will do before Christmas. I hope this stimulate some more ideas.

    Year 1 Goals
    · Foundation lifting (technique/volume)
    · Acceleration/Agility Develop
    · Other Energy system Develo


    Speed 30mins

    Lower 30-40mins
    Bilateral Squats
    Unilateral Squat


    Upper 40mins
    Body weight


    Skills only
    (Rest from Conditioning)


    Short Interval

    Full body Strength/Endurance

    Sled Complex/strong man (1 exercise) Jungle gym

    Conditioning Option (Athlete dependent)
    Hill Run Or Hill Repeats Or Cross Train

    Year 2-3 Goals
    · Strength or Size (athlete dependant)
    · Speed/Power Development
    · Other Energy system Develop

    Speed Power Complex Or More traditional Speed then Strength
    10×10 off ground
    Speed squats 5×2

    Hurdle jumps 5×5
    Accelerations 30-40m

    Cleans Or Snatch 4×4
    Sleds or Prowlers x4

    Max effort squat or deadlift 3×6 (marsh)


    Upper 40mins
    Body weight

    Skills Short Interval

    Short Agility 20mins
    Med ball throws

    Full body Strength
    (Squat push pull) Jungle gym (high reps BW)


    Strong man (3exercise circuit) Jungle gym (high reps BW)


    Conditioning Option (Athlete dependent)
    Hill Run OrHill Repeats Or Cross Train



    A lot and maybe too much variation for such a young training age group, I would include more quality gym based strength work and maybe rotate the other options one day a week, say 2 full body strength days and one variation day on say Wed to break it up, say week 1 – Kettlebells, week 2 – strongman, week 3 – body weight exercises and repeat this cycle twice over 6 weeks, I would also put in a solid speed session and some repeated speed after it or move that to after the GPP, as well as the GPP day you has as well, cheers, ash

    Monday – speed session then full body strength
    1 x Olympic
    1 x squat
    1 x hamstring/lower back
    1 x horizontal push & pull super set

    Wednesday – Variations Day
    week 1 – kettlebells
    week 2 – strongman
    week 3 – body weight exercsies

    Thursday – GPP session repeated speed session

    Friday – full body strength day
    1 x Olympic
    1 x unilateral squat
    1 x hamstring/lower back
    1 x vertical push & pull super set


    Cheers Luke, mate I’m not sure about lucky, the Giant Killers strike again!!
    Thanks for the advice and options mate. Yeah my 1st years will be mainly fundamental lifting and baseline work with speed development, I’m looking at this type of programme with the variations for the guys with more training history.
    Still have to incorporate the skills etc in where appropriate but some good ideas within your programme outline, and yeah the download/light weeks have worked well here this year also, so thanks again.


    Also thanks for your thoughts and suggestions Ash,
    that was another format that I was playing around with for use after we get back together after the christmas break, along with possibly using it as a variation week, ie. fundamentals in the gym for 4 weeks, variation week, fundamentals in the gym for 4, variation week.
    Variation day will probably be the way to go.
    It will probably vary per athlete training level, how much and how often the variation training is utilised.
    My 1st years will be strictly basics first and getting competent in key funadamental exercises in the gym with occasional variation for sparking extra interest and freshening them up.

    They would certainly enjoy the weekends rest and recovery after the Wed, Thur, Fri smash.

    Thanks again for your input

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