Rule of 24 by Ashley Jones Crusaders

Ashley Jones

Crusaders Head Strength Coach – Super 14 RugbyMany years of talking and reading have led me to the conclusion that 24 reps in whatever combination you wish to program is a valid method of increasing size and strength. The only caveat placed on this is that the percentage of maximum loading used must be relative to the rep ranges used. The only exemption to this would be a beginner where you could take two methods, one; since a beginner has very poor strength endurance a large number of sets with a small number of reps should be used when teaching complex technical lifts such as snatch and the percentage of maximum is irrelevant and two; go to the other end of the set/rep continuum and have the beginner perform a large number of reps with bodyweight exercises to establish a base upon which to build future gains.

Whichever method you choose and there are justifications for both the Rule of 24 after a qualifying period of lifting regularly will greatly enhance your gains in strength and size and keep intensities relative. This method will also fall into the old Fred Hatfield philosophy of varying sets, reps and load to ensure that all energy systems and fiber types are trained in the one workout. You could also add 12 sets of 2 to this table as well, with excellent results, maybe with an Olympic lift, repetitive sets of low reps with high intensity is essential in establishing technique with heavy loads or you could utilize a Westside protocol and establish the 8 and/or 12 set exercise as your speed exercise and perform at the correct percentage of maximum for you to ensure optimal speed of performance.

Also if you are still employing a traditional periodisation approach to your programming you could work from the high rep/low set end of the continuum and over a period of weeks work towards a peaking phase utilizing high sets and low reps. Of course, if you are employing conjugate methods, based on the philosophy of Louie, “whatever you do not train you lose” then you would be employing an array of different set and rep patterns to ensure continued improvement in all strength qualities.

As a rugby strength coach I employ a conjugate method of strength training specifically because the game of rugby is a hybrid sport where, speed/strength, strength/speed, maximal strength, position specific hypertrophy, and strength endurance are all essential in the development of the player for the modern game.

Number of Sets     Number of Reps     Percentage of Maximum
          8                           3                                90+
          6                           4                                85+
          4                           6                                80+
          3                           8                                75+
          2                         12                                70+
          1                         24                                60+

Utilising a four day a week training schedule with whichever training days work best for you, a plan could look like the following, of course any combinations could be used, my own training biases are obvious from the exercise selection.

  Saturday Sunday
 Block Power SnatchOver Head
 Split Jerk Good MorningBand Bench
 Power CleansFront Squat Push Press Glute Ham RaiseIncline Bench
 Bent RowBox Squat Shoulder Press Romanian DLLow Incline DB Press
 Seated DB SnatchKneeling Squat Seated DB Press Reverse HyperDips
 ChinsSprinters Squat Dips Single Leg Back ExtWeighted Hindu
 Fat Mans ChinsSuper Yoke Walk HandStand Push Up Tyre FlipsPushUps

The sets, reps and loads used follow the table from above top to bottom, so a total of 24 sets per training day with a total volume of 144 reps.

Or if you prefer a slightly abbreviated program per training day and work Monday to Friday with your weekends free you could try this program, the workout time is approximately 40 minutes, get in train hard get out and recover and gain the benefits.

Block Power Snatch Band Bench 45 cms Box Squat with Weight ReleasersRack Split JerkSafety Bar Good Morning with Chains
 Power CleanIncline Bench Front SquatPush PressBand Glute Ham Raise
Bent Over Row3 Board Press30 cms Low Box Squat with Cambered BarMilitary Press with Trap Bar Romanian Dead Lift
 ChinsLow Incline DB Press Kneeling Squat Seated DB Press ReverseHyper

Exercise 1 each day is either 12 x 2 or 8 x 3, exercise 2 – 6 x 4 or 4 x 6, exercise 3 – 4 x 6 or 3 x 8, exercise 4 – 3 x 8 or 2 x 12.

Good luck with your training, stick to a program and give it a chance to work then review and keep exploring, enjoy the journey,


Ashley Jones

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