The game of rugby asks its athletes to sprint, tackle, scrum, and in general exhaust their bodies for 80 (or 14, if it’s sevens) minutes.
Obviously the demands across the different codes vary, but certain basic requirements permeate them all. Rugby players need to be anaerobically powerful. We need to have brute strength.
We need to be able to resist fatigue and pain unlike any other sport. The entire game is a test of which team is bigger, faster, stronger, and grittier.
What does it take for elite rugby performance?
Just like you prepare on the field and in the gym, you also need to prepare in the kitchen. Good nutrition lays the foundation for biological adaptations, and it quite literally fuels performance. Start with good fats, lean proteins, whole grains, game-day simple sugars, and more water than you think you need.
But once you’ve got the basics down, certain supplements can level up your game.
When considering the best supplements for rugby performance, you should focus on maximizing your training, minimizing injury. And in general, taking care of your energy needs.
Great supplements cover your pre and post-workout nutrition, as well as the many hours you spend away from training, including your sleep. Let’s get to it.
The best supplements for rugby performance
First of all, every athlete should be concerned with competing clean. There’s no shortcuts to success, and cheating with banned substances not only hurts your opponents, but ruins you and your teammates as well.
Even with good intentions, there have been multiple cases of athletes accidentally ingesting banned substances. Whether it was because they didn’t know, or their supplement company wasn’t rigorously testing for quality, they still paid the price.
Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the best supplements for rugby performance. From a brand known for its ingredient quality, purity, and safety for sport – Performance Lab.
They offer elite ingredients for the elite athlete, all safe from additives, synthetics, or anything illegal.
Here’s their top supplements for rugby performance.
When we talk about sports performance, sleep should be the primary topic. You literally can’t perform at your top while running on low battery. In line with nutrition and training, sleep is the most important aspect of becoming a better rugby player.
Unfortunately, too many athletes suffer from a lack of sleep. Science shows that sleep deprivation reduces your mood, attention, and general desire to work hard.
Performance Lab Sleep helps rugby players fall and stay asleep naturally. They include Montmorency cherry extract in their supplement to increase levels of melatonin within the brain. Due to our circadian rhythm, the body associates elevated melatonin with nighttime, and we start winding down internally, without any extra effort.
They also feature magnesium, an electrolyte that can help control fluid balance. Association between this salt and sleep quality have been shown in lots of research. But what’s most important, is that magnesium helps balance out sore muscles. Combined with it’s sleep-enhancing benefits, it’s an amazing intervention for tired rugby players.
Finally, tryptophan unlocks gets your serotonin levels to help you fall asleep. As serotonin in general makes you feel good, it’s sort of a nutritional comfort blanket. But tryptophan (and therefore, serotonin) also increases melatonin production, signaling bedtime.
On the flip side of the sleep coin, sometimes you just need a little extra energy. We’ve all been there – it’s hard entering the third training of the day, a 6 am session, or dragging yourself to late-night practice after work or class.
Performance Lab Energy offers a supplement that’s more than just caffeine. Their ingredients attack the inner-workings of energy production to boost your natural firepower. While traditional stimulants are followed by a crash (mid-practice, no less), this energy supplement promotes energy renewal from within.
Featuring the likes of acetyl-l-carnitine and coenzyme Q10, PL Energy helps your mitochondria breakdown nutrients for energy. These two components play a vital role in cellular metabolism, and the more you have of them, the more efficient your engine becomes. But that’s not all – PQQ, another ingredient, signals biogenesis of mitochondria, literally adding more fuel to the fire.
It’s worth a mention that you have to actually eat healthy nutrients to reap these rewards. Food is still your main energy source, not supplements. But PL Energy helps you breakdown that food and actually use it as fuel.
What’s an athlete without a good BCAA? Missing out, that’s for sure.
BCAA’s are some of the greatest stimulators of muscle protein synthesis. While, sure, rugby is a game for all sizes, the collisions warrant a bit of muscle, simply to avoid injury. If you’re smashing into each other for 80 minutes, it pays to be bigger, faster, and stronger.
Leucine, in particular, triggers anabolic processes that start muscle growth. Performance Lab BCAA has twice the amount of leucine for the strongest peri-workout effect. After your muscles have just been damaged from a strenuous lift, your body is primed to rebuild even stronger. Add leucine into the mix to limit that protein breakdown, and instead, start laying down bricks for the house.
The other two BCAA’s, isoleucine and valine, aren’t weak links either. They, too, work together to prevent muscle loss from a particularly tough session, and help you feel better the next day. Because it doesn’t matter how hard you work if you can’t recover, and these BCAA’s nourish your cells just right.
A great pre-workout does three things – gives you energy, build muscle, strength, or power, and helps you recover. Performance Lab Pre does all of these things
When training for rugby, you’ve got to replicate the demands of the sport. That’s why most S&C programs feature sprints, hang power cleans, heavy squats, push presses, and aggressive pulls. And what’s the fuel for all of those movements? Creatine phosphate.
This pre-workout features enough creatine to replenish your stores, even after intense output. The whole idea is that by filling up with extra creatine, your phosphagen system won’t take as long to recover, and you’ll be able to do more within a workout.
While creatine gets all of the glory, there’s plenty other ingredients in this pre-workout. For example, citrulline converts to arginine after digestion, getting more blood pumping through your veins and starting the muscle building process.
Other amino acids, like glutamine, help fight fatigue. Glutamine buffers pH levels, which is especially important for sevens players. When you’re sprinting for 14 minutes multiple times a day, you tend to build up a little bit of lactic acid. An acidic muscular environment leads to a dramatic decline in performance, not to mention your legs just start to burn. pH buffers clear out that lactic acid so you have more in the tank.
Getting in your recovery is just as important as any other aspect of training. Our bodies take a beating during a game, and refueling the right way makes us stronger. Post-workout nutrition starts with a big meal of lean protein and healthy carbs, but hydration often goes overlooked. Athletes are notorious for “voluntary dehydration” during training and games, which is basically not drinking enough fluids to replenish what we lose through sweat.
Performance Lab Post contains all the right stuff to recalibrate your system. By combining coconut water crystals with Himalayan Pink salt, their pills pack a punch similar to drinking an entire sports drink. That’s great for rugby players who can’t stomach chugging 32 oz of fluid after stepping off of the pitch.
Much like their pre-workout, their post-workout also includes creatine. Research shows that creatine monohydrate, the most bioavailable form of the supplement, can improve maximum strength and lean muscle mass overall. Getting anabolic as quickly as possible after training ensures recovery and a positive nutrient balance. Plus, it helps you become fitter than the person across from you in the scrum.
Whole Food Multi
Last but not least, every athlete needs a good multivitamin. It’s a solid catch-all option for anyone, but athletes need a broader pallet of micronutrients than most. Physical exertion uses up our stores of vitamins, as many of them play an important part in metabolic activity.
For example, B vitamins are intermediaries in energy production, vitamin A helps rebuild broken down muscle tissue, vitamin D fortifies our bones and immune system, and iron facilitates oxygen transport.
According to the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, frequency, intensity, and duration of athletic activity all correlate with micronutrient needs. As rugby is one of the more demanding sports on the body, it’s safe to say a good multivitamin covers your bases.
Succeeding as a rugby player means engineering athleticism, both on the field and off. You wouldn’t show up on game day without having practiced your plays or line outs, and you definitely wouldn’t show up without some sort of physical prep. So why would you neglect the third aspect of athletic performance?
With Performance Lab’s supplement line, you get the full-spectrum of options for elite performance, without having to worry about failing a drug test. While you don’t need to load up on all of them at once, pick and choose which supplements will best serve your training now. With incremental gains over time, you’ll eventually dominate the competition.