Ugo Monye's Six Nations Rugby Power Workout

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You would be hard pressed to find a sportsman with better all-round fitness than Harlequins and England winger Ugo Monye. His combination of immense explosive strength, electric speed and the ability to penetrate defences have established him as a regular in the national side.
"Rugby demands so much of you physically and it’s so tactical – you have to be explosive and powerful, whether you're sprinting, in a ruck or in a tackle," says Monye. Games are played at such a ferocious intensity that he says it takes four days to recover from a match – and it’s getting tougher. "Players are getting bigger, stronger and faster every year," he says.

To build the necessary strength and power to suceed in the Six Nations, Monye does the three-stage workout that follows. "The core stability work corrects your posture so you get maximum benefit from the big lifts," says Monye. "I use the Power Plate to activate my muscles, then I do a combination of lower- and full-body moves that are specific to rugby."

Part 1: Core Stability Warm-Up

1 Glute bridge

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Time 5sec  Reps 10

  • Lie with your head and back on the mat and your knees bent at 90˚.
  • Raise your hips so that your body is straight from knees to shoulders and hold that position for five seconds.

Monye says: "This exercise activates, but doesn't fatigue, your core muscles, which will protect your back during big lifts. I do some core stability work again at the end of my session."

2 Bird-dog

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Sets 2  Reps 5 each side

  • Kneel on all fours, with your hands beneath your shoulders and your back flat.
  • Extend one arm and your opposite leg without tilting your hips. Hold that position for a two-count.

Monye says: "This is more advanced than the hip bridge. You're more unbalanced so your core muscles work a bit harder."

Part 2: Power Plate Stretch

Time Hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds  Reps 2 each side

1 Calf stretch

  • Lower your heel over the edge of the Power Plate to feel the stretch in your calf.

2 Hamstring stretch

  • Stand with your front leg straight and your back leg slightly bent.
  • Lean forward over your front leg and push down on the top of your knee to feel the stretch.

3 Quad stretch

  • Grab hold of your leg just above the ankle. 
  • Pull your heel up towards your backside, keeping your back straight.

Monye says: "I use the Power Plate to switch on my muscles. It's a good warm-up and a way of introducing the exercises you're going to do in the main part of the session."

Part 3: Strength Workout

Build strength and power with Ugo Monye's Six Nations rugby workout. After a core stability warm up and a Power Plate stretch, Monye tackles this strength workout, a combination of rugby-specific lower- and full-body moves 

1 Box squat

Box Squat

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Sets 4  Reps 4

  • Holding a barbell across your shoulders, stand in front of a box that's just higher than knee height or a bench piled with weight plates at that height.
  • Sink into a squat so that you sit down on the box or plates.
  • Push up explosively through your heels to return to the start of the move.

Monye says: "This type of squat is explosive so it builds strength for when you need to accelerate. I also do deep squats to build strength in a big range of movement."

2 Power clean

Power clean

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Sets 4  Reps 4

  • Grip the bar with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart, keeping your back straight and your core braced.
  • Pull the bar up in front of you in an explosive movement, keeping your elbows high and rising up onto your toes to gain power.
  • Bend your knees to duck under the bar and catch it on top of your chest.
  • Stand up straight before resetting and repeating the move.

Monye says: "This is a great full-body exercise in which everything is activated from the glutes. Do power cleans once a week in your main power session."

3 High pull

High pull

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Sets 4  Reps 4

  • Grip the bar with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart with your back straight and your core braced.
  • Pull the bar up in front of you, keeping your elbows high.
  • Let the bar drop down and return to the start of the move.

Monye says: "This builds the kind of strength you need in a tackle where you use explosive power from the glutes. Try to pull the bar up as high as you can."

4 Landmine press

Barbell push

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Sets 4  Reps 4

  • Load a barbell on one side and plant the other end on the floor, with the tip in the central hole of a weight plate you've laid flat on the ground. This will keep the bar stable.
  • Pull the bar up in front of you, keeping your elbows high.
  • Hold the end of the bar with your knees slightly bent and your elbow bent so that the end of the bar is just above your shoulder.
  • In an explosive movement, push the bar away from you by straightening your arm.

Monye says: "This is a good exercise for developing throwing and tackling power in your arms."

  • To progress your training, try this rugby workout to build strength.
  • Add these elite-level rugby drills to your routine to develop speed, power, strength and stamina.
Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.