gms | German Medical Science

7th EFSMA – European Congress of Sports Medicine, 3rd Central European Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Annual Assembly of the German and the Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

26.-29.10.2011, Salzburg, Austria

Testing and training the strength, power and complex reaction in rugby players

Meeting Abstract

7th EFSMA – European Congress of Sports Medicine, 3rd Central European Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Salzburg, 26.-29.10.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11esm181

doi: 10.3205/11esm181, urn:nbn:de:0183-11esm1819

Published: October 24, 2011

© 2011 Avram et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: The physical demands of rugby players vary, depending on the control of play, the athlete’s position, environmental conditions and many other variables. Therefore, taking a methodical and scientific approach to conditioning is vital.

Rugby games involve fierce body contact at regular intervals combined with explosive force generation as well as spinal stability and core strength which leads to greater body control, awareness, balance and muscular endurance [1]. Strength is therefore a major ingredient for the production of power (speed strength). For the legs and hips, the goal is to develop explosive strength for the hip flexors and extensors, and maintain or acquire balance between the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups.

Athletic performance in rugby players involves the response to an act of an opponent, and the performance is usually dependent, upon the reaction time required to initiate muscular sequence in response to an opponent's act but also of the quality of the response (in terms of strength and power) [2], [3]. While simple reactions are mainly regulated by processes of genetic dominance, complex reactions (which involve an important part of the body or the whole body and are associated with coordination skills) are influenced above all by social factors such as specific training.

The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the effectiveness of proper testing and training for improving strength, explosive power and reaction speed in rugby players.

Material/Methods: Twenty rugby players (18 to 32 years old) underwent measurements of explosive force and power of the lower limbs by performing the Counter movement jump test (using Myotest system, Switzerland) and Complex acoustic reaction test (using Optojump Next system, Italy). The complex reaction was assessed by making a move outside a perimeter and reaching a target located at a distance of 1 meter and 10 centimeters from the floor. All investigated subjects participated in a 10 weeks training camp. The training program was based on the concept of perdiodization, and comprised the following phases: Hypertrophy phase (2 weeks, 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions at 65-80% of 1RM), Maximal strength phase (4 weeks, 3-6 sets of 2-6 repetitions at 80-95% of 1RM), Conversion phase (4 weeks, 3-4 sets of 2-6 repetitions at 40-70% of 1RM, in which the speed of contraction was emphasized). Along with this, on the entire period of training, the reaction speed to opto-acoustic stimulus was trained using coordination and plyometric exercises.

Results: Using the paired t test to compare the data at baseline and at the end of the study, we noticed a significant improvement in reaction time to acoustic stimulus (from 1.69±0.06 seconds to 1.41±0.06 seconds, p<0.001). Improved reaction speed may be related in a certain degree with the increase of leg explosive force (from 21.6±1.8 N/kg to 25.8±3.3 N/kg, p<0.001) and explosive power (from 39.4±7 W/kg to 46.4±8.4 W/kg, p=0.009).

Conclusion: The results emphasizes that even a short period of training (10 weeks) can improve reaction time required to initiate complex muscular sequence, along with explosive power and strength of rugby players.


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