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Top 5 Exercises For Contact/Collision Athletes

Tips and Advice

Pre-Season in any sport is the time in which the foundation qualities needed for the long season ahead are established. In a collision/contact sport like Rugby or MMA,the intense physical challenges of the game need to be not only mirrored but exceeded in this period. This will allow the player to feel confident to face any of the many trials that may be presented to them. This period can make or break your season, so programs must be designed carefully, pushing players to the limit of their capacity without going over the line. Pre-season training differs from the off pitch training carried out during the season in as much as periodization during off season should be based around strength work, power work and finally conditioning as the season gets closer. The on-season training should concentrate around maintaining strength, power and conditioning levels whilst bulletproofing the athlete with injury prevention work, rehab and recovery. These 5 exercises develop the qualities of strength and power in a progressive, challenging manner applicable to a fast, aggressive contact sport.


The squat is a massive compound move designed to elicit a huge hormonal surge of both testosterone and growth hormone. The squat really does hit the whole body particularly if you use a variety of squat methods such as back squats, front squats, goblet squats, uneven squats, dumbbell squats, overhead squats etc. The real key to “getting the most bang for your buck” is in the technique. Aim to squat to or below parallel with each rep and also use a variety of foot positions.


For me, this is the “king” of weight exercises, again a compound exercise that will hit the entire body but with the most emphasis being on the posterior chain. This area of the body is too often over looked but is crucial to a fully balanced powerful athlete. The Romanian Deadlift is also a very good derivative of the full deadlift and should also be used, however, not in the same workout.


When developing upper body strength it is essential to develop the upper-lower body strength transfer. The Landmine Press emphasizes triple extension through the ankles, knees and hips, transferring the strength into an upper body vertical pushing action whilst also stressing contralateral trunk strength and shoulder stability. For those of you that don’t know how to perform this…………… Using a barbell loaded at one end, place the unloaded end into a corner so that it will not slide. With the barbell held in one hand at shoulder height and feet staggered, perform a quarter squat and drive upwards through the lower body, pressing the barbell overhead.


All sports need power. More power means more strength. More power means you can achieve higher speeds faster. Olympic lifts develop power. They teach you to explode under the bar. Power Cleans are an Olympic Lift.
The power or Olympic clean is probably the king of explosive power output moves. This is a more technical lift, as are all Olympic lifts, than the squat or deadlift, therefore, coaching is required to prevent injury or poor technique.
There are many derivatives of cleans that can used such as squat cleans, hang cleans, kettlebell cleans etc. Learn how to do these correctly and you will be a more powerful athlete.


This exercise helps develop single leg power and postural strength in a more specific movement pattern crossing over with the type of drill performed within speed development sessions. This exercise can be progressed by adding bar or band resistance around the hip or shoulder area to further improve hip drive and trunk integrity essential for speed development.
Alternatives to these could be power hops or box jumps.

These Top 5 exercises should make up the core of your off season gym training. Off course there are many other exercises that should be done within your various periodization cycles that will compliment these to give you a balanced, powerful physique that will stand up to the rigours off contact or collision sports.

At the Athletic Performance Training Facility in Fairfield, Bromsgrove, we drill these with all of our athletes including our track and field athletes to prepare them for the season ahead. If you would like to speak to us about your training program as an individual or a team and how you can improve, or if you need coaching on the various lifts so that you can take away some invaluable coaching points in a workshop, then please get in touch via Facebook, email or phone.

Mark…… 07930 753784