If you’ve been following the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, you know that Argentina’s Pumas are having an impressive run at the title, as they make their way into the quarter finals after an explosive 25-7 win against Georgia last weekend. This World Cup has showcased the impressive return of their star kicker Felipe Contepomi after a brutal rib injury that kept him sidelined for two weeks. Throughout his time off he was still able to train and maintain his fitness despite his injury using a TRX Suspension Trainer. Recently, the Pumas’ head of strength and conditioning, Simon Fathers, took few minutes to talk about how he has used TRX Training to take on the unique challenges presented by the grueling demands of the scrum, in a league where on average there are two injuries per-club per-match.
“Rugby is a game where you are either resisting rotational force from impact, or your trying to transfer rotational force,” Fathers says, “it’s a wrestling contact sport, its repetitive and ongoing, so the ability to do that and do that powerfully and explosively, in the best coordinated way that you can really makes a big difference between our athletes and other athletes is that they have really good multi-segmental movement.”
The two biggest challenges Fathers faces are building multi-directional strength, and training athletes around injuries. Fathers’ athletes need to stay stable while dealing with unbalanced resistance coming at them from multiple angles, yet still remain mobile in order to deflect and transfer this resistance into momentum. Imagine trying to perform a squat while simultaneously being pulled and pushed in two different directions. Fathers feels that imbalanced resistance is where conventional training falls short. Typically athletes fail to integrate three-dimensional movement, they don’t transfer force in a multi-plainer direction. As he sees it, “generic training programs tend to train for muscles and not movement.”
To address this issue, Fathers worked with TRX Head of Human Performance Chris Frankel and developed a program in which a TRX Suspension Trainer is incorporated in almost every training session. This way even when performing a simple dynamic warm-up stretching routine, his players are constantly engaged in a balancing act.
One key progression Fathers has had tremendous success with is the TRX Front Squat. After warming up with the standard TRX Front Squat to activate triple flexion, the athlete moves the straps to the outside of their arms (like performing a TRX Chest Press) and performs squats with one arm extended and one arm abducted to create an unbalanced load. The final step of this progression involves performing the movement while another player is pulling a 2.5 inch rubber band wrapped around their waste. This one progression covers triple flexion, resisting rotational force and explosive power: one economic movement.
To tackle Fathers’ second issue, safely training through injury, TRX Director of Rehabilitation Brian Bettendorf, showed Fathers the sports medicine side of TRX Training. Fathers sees the scalable nature of TRX Suspension Training bodyweight exercise as an ideal solution for pre-hab and rehab, “it’s just so universal. The ability to load and unload an athlete is so easy. Rugby is a contact and collision sport, you need to still train injured athletes, you can modify the exercises by unloading them, so they still get the full range of movement but they get assistance from the TRX.” Perhaps nothing speaks to the efficacy of the TRX as a training tool to maintain fitness while working around an injury, than Argentina’s star kicker Felipe Contepomi’s outstanding performances over their past two matches. This weekend the Pumas go up against New Zealand’s All Blacks to determine who will move out of the quarter finals in what could be the most exciting game of the Cup.
What other progressions do you think have the range of modifications the TRX Front Squat has?