Rugby is hardcore: the modern player needs power, speed, agility, strength and stamina to perform well throughout the 80-minute game. Sci-MX supports Bath Rugby and we caught up with the team's Strength and Conditioning Coach, Paul Bunce, to find out the secrets of his players' nutrition.
Each lad's nutritional programme is as individual as the player himself, but there are some must-haves. All players use Omni-MX HARDCORE after training; it has the right balance of carbohydrates and proteins. It's a great way to get everything they need into their system quickly in that post-training window. I'd prioritise this after the most stressful session of the day, probably our 60-minute rugby team training, a high-intensity session where they'll end up running around 5km, with 10-15 minutes of full-contact and some technical work looking at specific defence and attack skills. It's critically important for players to recover from their most taxing sessions.
Bath Rugby players also take GRS-5 Protein for muscle gain and preservation, Tri Omega EFA and HMB 3000 (at the start of the day) and BCAAs in conjunction with weight training, to give a bit of a boost. They might also take ZMA for recovery and Immunex Sport. Some players will take CLA, too, but it really comes down to individual focus: our big front-five boys may find it useful when it comes to controlling their weight. We use creatine on a case-by-case basis, if a player needs a little help bulking up, X-Plode sometimes for match day stimulant action, and Protein Flapjacks on game day for good quality, fast energy.
Players will see most success with nutrition when they have consistency in what they do. The right foods at the right times, the correct portion sizes, and the right supplements used in the right way will all have the desired effect. We really value Sci-MX products, and of course eating correctly outside the training environment is key, too. Here are some of our golden rules:
We keep it pretty simple, with a few variables depending on the player's goals or injury background. The gym floor is for compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, cleans, chins etc). We'll work in phases depending on the age of the player, their development and whether or not they're playing. Everything has to be performance orientated and we focus on strength, power and ballistic work, since that's what the game demands. Before training in the gym, we'll do a warm-up focusing on injury prevention. After weights, we'll take each player through personalised work for injury or rehabilitation. The boys train in the gym twice a week, even during game season, with both sessions being full-body. They'll be in the gym more frequently pre-season, as we use this time to maintain strength and build muscle size.
Even our bigger guys are around 10-12% body fat. For instance, take Peter Short. On a big training day, he'll probably take in around 4500 kcals, but he remains very lean. Each player's nutrition is personalised to them and to their goals: do they need to increase muscle size or lose fat (in which case we'd up the amount of cardiovascular work and get them to take in slightly fewer calories). "Energy in equals energy out", but the challenge for us is maintaining body weight, particularly over a long season. All of our back rows have 10% body fat or less, and we have a few sitting at 6 or 7%. Lots of our players not only look ripped but are very strong in relative terms, too. This is the modern rugby player: powerful, well conditioned athletes who are in very good nick. Rugby is a very hard sport and it's tough to maintain good condition consistently throughout the season. A lot of our success in this area comes down to diet, supplementation and one-on-one focus. Of course, a lot is down to training, and good genetics, too! We drive home the importance of quality rest, adaptation and recovery.
Whether we're talking about someone who plays rugby once a week for leisure or someone who plays at the top of the professional game, the same general principles apply when it comes to nutrition and supplementation. Take in quality sources of protein, be consistent with your approach and find supplements which support your training and your goals. At Bath Rugby, we really value the positive relationship we have with Sci-MX. The products have helped us out and we greatly appreciate their input.