Mitch Nienhuis will be providing insight for elite rugby players on improving strength and conditioning.  Mitch will be covering a variety of topics for the National Rugby Post at the Players Network Column.

Topics will include:

  1. Strength and Conditioning: Why Education Matters

The human body is a very complex machine and it takes a very skilled mechanic to know how to fine-tune it so it runs at peak efficiency. Unfortunately, in the field of strength and conditioning, there are no real regulations or expectations/minimal guidelines for strength coaches. In this topic, I will discuss what strength and conditioning looks like in the US compared to other countries and why it is of the utmost importance to make sure you have a qualified professional working with your players.

  1. Strength and Conditioning: It’s All About Specificity

If you want to become a better competitive cyclist, you need to train on a bike. The same principle holds true for rugby. If you want to improve athletic performance in a sport, your training needs to imitate, in whole or in part, the movements seen on the field.

  1. Rest: Why Less is More

Adaptations are achieved when your body is resting. In this topic I will cover how much rest you really need and why I would elect a recovery session over training during the season.

  1. Nutrition: You Get Out What You Put In

Just like you wouldn’t try to drive your car with no gas in it, you shouldn’t expect your athletes to train with no or improper nutrition. In this topic I will discuss what an athlete’s nutrition should look like and it may surprise you.

  1. Strength and Conditioning: What Does “In Season” Shape Really Look Like?

Does having washboard abs, vascular arms, and 3% body fat mean you are ready to play? No. Everybody is different and performs optimally at a different weight. In this section, I will talk about why it is important to throw body composition “standards” out the window and listen to your athletes and look at field test results to determine what “in-shape” really looks like.

  1. Strength and Conditioning: How to Program Conditioning for Rugby

Since rugby is a collision sport, most strength coaches will tell you that your weight room sessions should incorporate some hypertrophy and power phases to build explosive power as well as develop muscle mass to help absorb and cushion the body from inevitable impacts. Where the disagreement comes is when determining how to develop the conditioning side of training. I will discuss what the research says about the metabolic demands of the sport and how we can imitate that during training.

  1. Position Breakdown: Needs Analysis for Each Position

Should you train your full back like your half-back? Your forwards like your flankers? Just like sport specific training is important, programming specific to individual positions is just as important for a well-developed and prepared team.

  1. Strength and Conditioning: How to Prep for the Combine

Trying to reach the next level? In this topic I will go over some of the drills you can expect to see at the combine and how you can prepare for them

  1. Strength and Conditioning: The Importance of Prehab

As a strength coach, I don’t care about how much my players can bench or squat nearly as much as I care about how healthy they are. In my eyes, I consider myself to be a successful coach if I can keep my guys healthy and out of the training room for the whole season. There are injuries that cannot be avoided due to collisions with the ground or other players but doing certain exercises can prevent a lot of injuries that are seen in sports. I will talk about what these injuries are and how we can work to prevent them.

  1. Strength and Conditioning: What is functional?

Piggybacking on the previous topic, I will talk about what functional really looks like as it relates to athletic performance and why it is important to work on function before force.

  1. Strength and Conditioning: The Core of Athleticism

About Mitch:

Mitch graduated from the University of Miami in 2016 with a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology with a specialization in Strength & Conditioning. While working towards his degree he worked as a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Miami Hurricanes athletic program. He gained experience working with football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and swimming.

Mitch uses the practical experience he gained while working at Miami and combines it with his knowledge of physiology to create effective programs that are specific to each sport. He has studied the sport of rugby and has both watched hours of film and read countless research articles in order to provide you with high quality and accurate professional advice.