Off Season Exercises


For most of us, the off-season is usually a time to rest, relax and repair. The problem is for most players and coaches is that R&R gets taken too far. We binge on everything and between the barbecues and brews, we forget about next season until we end up battling our way through the first 8 weeks of pre-season until we’re in playing shape again. 

Then there are a small number of players who didn’t forget about the off-season and it shows. These are the players that often get picked because they’ve been working on their pass, their fitness and most importantly themselves as a whole. 

So how do you put in the work this off-season to make sure that you’re ready to go when you’re hitting the pitch this pre-season? We’ve written this blog post to give you everything you need to be in the best place when summer finally finishes instead of starting at the 22 from the 5 m line and wishing you’d run more in the break. 

1. Set A Specific Goal To Work On This Off-Season

The hardest part about making any significant change to your day-to-day life is learning how to make the tough decisions easier. Here are just some of the sacrifices you’re going to have to make to get the goals you want:

  • Going to bed at a consistent time every night and sleeping for a minimum of 7 hours a night

  • Saying no to a social brew and saying no to the weekend blowout

  • Switching off your phone and not watching Rugby Bricks highlights an hour before getting some shut-eye

  • Turning down the shit food that all of your mates are having when you’re out and about, or worse, telling your other half “No, I’m good with salad and some lean protein for dinner babe” while they consume half a cheesecake in front of your face

These are just some of the scenarios you’re likely to face, but you can overcome this with some smarter goal setting and working on your goals with a mate. Here are the do’s and don’t of goal setting: 

DON’T set goals like these: 

  1. “I want to look like Sonny Bill or Ruby Tui”; or

  2. “I want to be fitter for pre-season”.

Both goals as you can see have little to no relevance to achieving anything specific because they have no observable metrics when things get tough. Measuring progress is the best way to see how far you’ve come and what will keep you going when everyone else is boozing up and you’re out there pounding the pavement. 

DO set goals like these: 

“I would like to lose (X % of body fat) in 10 weeks and experience a lower number of shitty sessions on and off the pitch and hit a 5.5 second 40 m time. 

By losing (X% of body fat) and nailing this 40 m time it will allow me to become a better flanker and better teammate.”

If we break this goal apart you’ll see there a lot of measurable parts and there are parts that actually mean something for your in-season: 

    • “I would like to lose (X % of body fat) - this can be measured

  •  In 10 weeks - you now have a time frame to measure your progress within
  • Hit a 5.5 second 40 m time - this can be measured

  • By losing (X% of body fat) and nailing this 40 m time it will allow me to become a better flanker and better teammate. - this is tied to a mindset goal for the in-season

  • Whatever your goal is for the upcoming off-season if it’s written out in front of you like this it makes it a lot easier to measure how far you’ve come when you see all your mates who obviously haven’t been training. 

    This goal setting section has been taken from the Rugby Bricks Freeze Lifestyle Program if you want to get the full kit and kaboodle of how to set goals that stick, getting mates on board and changing your mindset you can check out the full program here.

    2. Make Sleep A Priority 

    Out of all the factors out there that determine your success as a human and an athlete, it’s sleep. There is literally no supplement, diet or training regime that can correct poor sleep. 

    Numerous studies have shown that one night of poor sleep (less than 6 hours) can decrease your athletic performance. One study found that an athlete’s performance can decrease by up to 30% after six hours or less of sleep. This means that if you’re able to run a 10KM in one hour and you had only 6 hours of sleep the night before, you’re only going to be able to run 7KM in an hour the day following that poor sleep. 

    With this in mind let’s deep-dive into the recommended sleep guidelines: 

    • Adults over age 25 need 7.5 hours of sleep as a minimum baseline.

    • Adults over aged 19 - 25 need 8 hours of sleep as a minimum baseline.

    • Teenagers from 13 - 19 need 9 hours of sleep as a minimum baseline. 

    These are the national sleep foundation guidelines, and although these may differ an hour each side for different individuals these are an absolute must to achieve the athletic goals you’re after this off-season. Not only will your physical health improve, but your ability to think more clearly academically and at work will skyrocket.

    Let’s look at a real-world scenario after a night of sleep deprivation: 

    You wake up to go to work or school and while you’re there you may be tempted to reach for coffee or energy drink and something sweet from the diary for a pick me up. Later in the day, you’ll get a craving for more shit food and then following that, it may become easier to skip the gym because you’re wanting to catch up on sleep, but you can’t sleep because of the excess caffeine and crap food you’ve consumed causing the cycle to continue again and again.

    A night of sleep can wreak havoc on your body for two reasons: 

    1. Sleeping 6 hours or less a night will throw your hormones way out of whack. These are the hormones that regulate your appetite, willpower, libido and almost all other aspects of your athletic performance; and

    2. Your metabolism is unable to process the fuel it is taking in because of this hormone imbalance which means you’re going to be storing more fuel as fat as opposed to burning it for fuel

    So here’s a quick guide on how to rectify your sleep: 

    1. 90 minutes before bed - play Tetris. You read that right. Play Tetris.

      This is known as "visual overwriting" this can help overwrite negative visualisation, which has seen to have applications in addiction disorders, preventing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and most importantly for us, onset insomnia.

      This was researched by Dr. Jane McGonigal who claims the highly visual nature of the game occupies the visual processing centre of the brain so that you can't imagine or obsess over those issues that have plagued your day.

      You can get this as a free download on your phone.

    2. 60 minutes before bed - turn off all devices that can deliver notifications, messages or alerts. It probably won't come as shock to many of you that your cell phone, laptop, and tablet are preventing you from sleeping.

      Using cell phones in bed, interferes with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Functionally, cellular phone use shortly before bed has been linked to a number of negative outcomes.

      Turn off all of your gadgets every evening if you want to sleep better. Watch TV, read or talk with your family and friends but for your sake get off of the gram. 

    By making these two changes you’ll set yourself on a path to a much better sleep each night and hopefully start putting you in a better sleep cycle.

    This goal setting section has been taken from the Rugby Bricks Freeze Lifestyle Program if you want to get the full sleep routine that has another two exercises to improve your sleep hygiene you can check out the full program here.

    3. Getting Your Diet Sorted

    One of the things most athletes cheat on is their diet. It’s one of the harder things to tackle and most often the food you need to eat requires prep and avoiding eating out which is also hard. So where do you start?

    • Low Carb / High Fat
    • Keto 
    • Carnivore Diet
    • Paleo
    • Vegan
    • Vegetarian
    • Pescetarian

    There are so many options all touting their benefits over one another but we’re going to offer you some basic guidelines to follow for this offseason: 

    1. To gain weight eat more calories than you burn per day to figure out what this looks like using this calorie calculator
    2. To lose weight eat fewer calories than you burn per day to figure out what this looks like using this calorie calculator

    Here is an example of what my calculations look like:

    Calorie Calculator Resutls

    Here is an example of what my results look like: 

    Calorie Calculator Results

    Now if you’re wondering what foods should I be eating and how do I figure this out I’ll do some more quick guidelines for you in terms regarding macronutrient intake.

    Here is what you need to have to gain muscle and drop some fat (again this will differ for each individual but these guidelines are applicable for most: 

  • Protein: 25 - 30% of your daily calorie intake 
  • Fat: 25 - 30% of your daily calorie intake
  • Carbs: 40 - 50% of your daily calorie intake 
  • So for someone of my size this would workout to be and I’m looking to gain some size (3500 calories per day): 

    Total Calories from protein per day: 

    • 3500 * .25 = 875 calories from protein
    • To figure out how much this is in grams I need to divide my total calories by 4. 
    • 875 / 4 = 218.75 grams of protein per day which would be equivalent to roughly 500 grams of chicken breast and a couple of protein shakes 

    Total Calories from fat per day: 

    • 3500 * .25 = 875 calories from fat
    • To figure out how much this is in grams I need to divide my total calories by 9 for fat
    • 875 / 4 = 97.2 grams of fat per day which would roughly be 2 avocados and 100 grams of almonds for all of my fat needs 

    Total Calories from carbohydrates per day: 

    • 3500 * .50 = 1750 calories from carbohydrates
    • To figure out how much this is in grams I need to divide my total calories by 4 
    • 875 / 4 = 437.5 grams of carbohydrates per day which would look 1.5 kgs of wild rice throughout the day 

    Now this would give me a meal plan that looks something like this: 


    • Protein shake 
    • 500 grams of rice
    • 100 grams of avocado 
    • 160 grams of chicken 
    • 33 grams of almonds


    • Protein shake 
    • 500 grams of rice
    • 100 grams of avocado 
    • 160 grams of chicken 
    • 33 grams of almonds


    • 500 grams of rice
    • 100 grams of avocado 
    • 160 grams of chicken 
    • 33 grams of almonds

    Now this would tip me over on total calories because of the protein and carbs that are also found in every ingredient list above and again this is a very simplified picture of what I’d need to eat but this would allow me to gain the mass needed to put on size. I’d also add some vegetables and some other supplements to this to make sure my body got what I needed but this is what it takes for me to gain muscle. 

    This basic template though gives you what you need to get what you need from your diet. You will notice that there are none of the following: 

    • Energy drinks/sodas 
    • Sugary foods
    • Fast foods

    If you want to get the results you need to eat what your body needs not what you want you to eat so stay away from the crap. I’ve included a recipe here from the Freeze Lifestyle Guide that you can add to whatever training you want to tackle this off-season. 


    This is another simple recipe. Pancakes - they taste about 7/10 so not bad, but not the ones you’re going to find in a cafe either. The difference? - These pancakes are going to make you lean. Let’s jump in. 

    SHOPPING LIST - These are the ingredients you will need to prepare your breakfast:

    • Raw Oats 
    • Egg Whites (You’ve already got these)
    • Protein Powder 
    • Cottage Cheese 
    • Peanut Butter
    • Slivered Almonds (Optional)

    EQUIPMENT - What you will need to cook your meals

    • Nonstick Skillet (Pan)
    • Stick Blender or Blender
    • Plastic Spatula
    • Mixing Bowl




    • Egg Whites (½ Cup)
    • Cottage Cheese (¼ Cup)
    • Protein Powder (½ Scoop) - Note: I use Ascent Protein, Muscle Pharm is good too
    • Raw Oats (¼ Cup)
    • Peanut Butter (1 T)

    COOKING - This will be the step by step method you follow for each recipe.

    1. If you’re using a stick blender - pour all of the following ingredients into a bowl and mix the contents of the bowl until you have a smooth textured batter. It will still be relatively viscous so don’t worry as long as you can stir it with ease - you’re at the right consistency. 

    If you’re using a blender - pour of the ingredients into the blender and hit blend until you’ve got a batter of the same texture. 

    1. Make sure your pan is non-stick otherwise you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to get your pancakes out of your pan. Set your pan to medium heat (5 - 7). 
    1. Pour in the batter and wait until bubbles start rising and popping and the edges begin to brown this is approximately 2 - 3 minutes. You’re just about ready to flip. 
    1. Here is the technique to master to avoid spilling your pancake batter everywhere. Slide a thin spatula under your pancake, lift about three inches, and then briskly turn your wrist. 
    1. The second side will take approximately the same amount of time to cook as the first. Check it at 2 minutes as the edges start to brown. 
    1. Place the pancake on a plate. Paste half a tablespoon of peanut butter on top of the pancake and repeat with the next pancake you’re making. 
    1. Once you’ve stacked your pancakes, cover them with slivered almonds and serve. Quick, easy, and healthy, not to mention relatively tasty. 
    1. Snap those stacks - send them through to your buddy or tag us on the gram @rugbybricks. 


    How many pancakes should I eat? 

    These bad boys are packed with a whole lot of good calories so if you’re going to have an active day, I always start with two and dial-up to four if you’re looking to last longer in the day or you’re just a bigger human. 



    PROTEIN: 38.5 G 

    FAT: 11.3 G 


    This recipe has been taken from the Rugby Bricks Freeze Lifestyle Program if you want to get the full recipe and snack guide you can check out the full program here.

    4. Training 

    Hey guys Pete here and I’m going to share the intro of the Freeze Program with you here.

    When I was starting my career I was lucky enough to be coached by Tony Brown, All Black, Highlander, and Legend. A great coach.

    I always remember his outlook on was being in top physical shape. I wasn’t very big, I wasn’t the fastest or strongest so I needed to make the most of what I had.

    “As you go up through the grades the game gets quicker, you don’t want to be carrying around any shit weight.”

    From there I always try to keep my skin fold low and my fitness high to be ready for every game and opposition.

    The off-season is a combination of working on the skills that needed the most work from your last season and making sure you are match fit when pre-season starts. I’ve pasted the first week of the 8 week Freeze program here for you to take a look at the work that you’ll need to put in this off-season to make sure you’re building muscle and dropping shit weight. 

    This shit is hard.  

    First Week of the Freeze Program

    So if you're looking for a full off-season program check out our Freeze program here but most importantly start putting in the work whether it's going for a run or just practicing your passing get out there and get after it. 


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