With Varsity creeping ever closer the Leeds Gryphons rugby team have hit their training hard in order to prepare for the clash against Leeds Beckett. With so many strong athletes competing for a spot in the 1st team, and a chance to play in the Varsity Finale at Headingly Stadium, it’s a struggle just to pick out one. Through one of the most intense months of training one athlete stood out, Alex Bidwell. He managed to answer a few questions for us in between sessions.
What’s your sport?
I play rugby for the Leeds University 1st team, and I have played rugby for around 12 years.
What is your training schedule?
We are currently in pre season and have 4 gym sessions a week, 5 rugby training sessions, and one fitness session at the end of the week. Pre season is designed to be extremely difficult so once we get into the season this will be toned down and we will be training and in the gym twice a week.
What S&C do you do?
The pre season programme has involved us doing one leg pull, one leg push, one upper body push and one upper body pull each week. Each session finishes with a circuit of core exercises, which is absolutely crucial to us as players as it helps with stability and strength in many aspects of the game. For me as a hooker it helps with my throwing as I need to keep a tight core to throw accurately over a long distance. As rugby is a full body sport all this is extremely useful conditioning for us and helps the team grow as athletes as they get stronger across their whole body.
What is your favourite exercise?
Landmine press is one of my favourite exercises as it has helped me develop an effective and powerful hand off that had previously been lacking in my game.
What is your least favourite exercise?
Split squats are an exercise I always grimace at when I see them on a session plan. They normally come after squats or dead-lifts and the constant tension and growing fatigue felt when holding the lunge makes the exercise very difficult.
How do you feel S&C has helped you develop as an athlete?
S&C has helped me develop as an athlete as it has made me far stronger and fitter. In rugby this has meant that I am stronger in the tackle and breakdown area, and have hopefully become a bit faster. The constant work on leg strength has helped me massively with my scrummaging as I’m able to stay in a strong and low position in the scrum for longer. S&C has also made me more resilient to injuries as through these sessions and exercises, muscles around key joints have become stronger meaning they can withstand a higher level of physicality in games.
S&C coach Max has been working with the rugby team since they arrived back in Leeds for pre-season. He told us a little more about Alex:
Alex has been great to work with over pre-season. He leads from the front in the gym, working hard and encouraging others. He really pushes himself, and this has shown the new players the standard that is expected.