Purpose/Aim of the PEP

Outline of Personal Profile:

        The sport that I have chosen for my personal exercise programme is rugby.  I play rugby for my school’s 2ndXV team and we practice 4 times a week including a scheduled match on Saturday against a different school.

        I have chosen rugby because it is my favourite sport and I hope to improve my rugby skills by following an exercise programme.  Another reason why I have chosen rugby is because I am ambitious to play in the 1stXV rugby team next year.  In order to achieve this I must improve several areas of my game including strength and speed.  I expect that following my exercise programme for 6 weeks will give me the opportunity to improve those specific areas of my game and prepare me for a higher standard of rugby next year.

        I play hooker in rugby and so my exercise programme is going to be specific to that position and improving the qualities necessary for a front-row player.  I will be focussing mainly on increasing my maximum strength, which is essential for the position I play in.  Rugby is a very physical sport and strength is essential to any player, but especially forwards.  I also intend to increase my fitness through cardio-respiratory endurance.  This is because as a hooker, I spend the majority of the game running around from one side of the pitch to the other, trying to get to the breakdowns as fast as I can.  This requires me to be able to provide and sustain energy aerobically for a long period of time (between 10 and 20 minutes).

Health Related Components:


  1. Speed: “the ability to put body parts into motion quickly, or the maximum rate that a person can move over a specific distance” - rugby players need to be able to contract their muscles quickly perhaps when they catch a ball standing still and need to move off to avoid a tackle

  1. Strength: - Maximum strength: “to be able to overcome a large resistance   in a     single contraction” i.e. when driving in a ruck or maul 

                     - Elastic strength: “to overcome a resistance rapidly yet prepare the muscle quickly for a sequential contraction”

                         - Strength Endurance: “muscles undergoing repeated contractions and withstanding fatigue”

  1. Cardio-respiratory endurance: “the ability to provide and sustain energy aerobically” (related to longer distance events) – this is necessary for a player to keep going for the full 80 minutes

  1. Flexibility: “the range of movement possible at a joint” - rugby players must be fairly flexible in order to avoid injury if they land in an awkward position.

  1. Body Composition: “relative amounts of body fat compared to lean body mass” - it is necessary for rugby players to be fairly brawny to protect them from hard hits and thus reduce the chance of injury.

All five health related components are relevant to my sport, but some more than others.  The ones highlighted in blue are the factors most relevant to my sport.  I have underlined the reason as to why these components are important to rugby.

Skill Related Components:

  1. Agility – this is the ability to move and change direction and position of the body quickly and effectively whilst under control.  Rugby players need to be able to do this in order to sidestep an opponent or change pace.

  1. Balance – this is required to remain on your feet whilst in a ruck.  It is the maintenance of the centre of mass over the base of support.  This can be whilst the body is still or moving.

  1. Coordination – this is the interaction of the motor and nervous systems and is the ability to perform motor tasks accurately and effectively. In rugby it is applied when passing, catching and kicking the ball.

  1. Reaction Time – this is the time taken to initiate a response to a given stimulus.  Fast reactions are required to react to a kick or a dummy.

Although all of these fitness components are required for all aspects of rugby, by training my ATP-PC system I will not be able to improve them all.  I am just hoping to improve the major ones that will help me when I take the ball into contact.

Fitness Test Outlined:

        At the beginning of the Christmas term we carried out a series of tests to examine some of the health related components.

Here are my fitness test results:

1) Sit and Reach: this was where we sat down and put our feet up against a bench and then had to lean forward and push a ruler along as far as we could.  This was done alongside a ruler so we could see how far we pushed it.  When doing this however we had to make sure we kept our legs straight.

My result = 36cm

2) Grip Test: for this we had to squeeze a grip dynamometer as hard as we could with only one hand; we were then able to read off our grip strength.

My result = 47kg

3) Beep Test: this is a fitness test where you must run a distance of 20m before the beep goes (this is done listening to a tape/CD).  As you continue, the intervals between the beeps get quicker therefore the pace at which you run the 20m has to speed up also.  This is therefore a test of cardio-respiratory endurance and perseverance.

My result = 10.5 laps

4) 30 Metre Sprint: this was to see how fast we were able to sprint a distance of 30 metres from a stationary start.

My result = 4.32 sec

5) Vertical Jump: on this test we had to stand next to a wall and stretch up as high as we could (without going on tiptoe) and make a mark on the wall with some chalk where could reach.  We then turned to face the wall and jumped up as high as we could, making a second mark on the wall where we reached.  We then measured the distance between the two marks and recorded the difference.  This is a test to measure your power.

My result = 45cm

6) Chest Press: this was a test to measure upper body strength by performing your one repetition max on the ‘chest press’ machine.

My result = 103kg

        One of the health related components that we did not test was body composition.  It could have been tested using a body fat analyser but we decided against the idea due to lack of equipment.  

Safety Considerations:

Before doing any piece of intensive sport (e.g. Playing in a rugby match, taking part in a long run etc.), a warm up should be done.  This will prepare the body for exercise and help prevent injury and muscle soreness.

        The warm up should start off with a low intensity jog of about 6 minutes – this will raise the body temperature and increase the heart rate.  The heart rate will increase due to the release of adrenaline and this will dilate the capillaries, speeding up oxygen delivery to the tissues.  Also during this warm up the muscle temperature will increase, therefore easing enzyme activity.  As a result muscle metabolism increases.  The increase in muscle temperature will also decrease the viscosity within the muscle.  The result of this is increased elasticity in the fibres and increased speed and force of attraction.  Another benefit of carrying out a warm up is that the production of synovial fluid is increased which makes impact absorption in the joints more effective.  The final benefits of doing a warm up are that nerve impulse conduction is sped up and that there are also some psychological benefits (e.g. aggression and full preparation on the rugby pitch).

        The warm up should be specific to the activity that follows it, using the relevant muscles and energy systems i.e. if you are about to take part in a swimming race, there is no point warming up for it by going for a jog.

        Having been for the jog and loosened up your muscles, you should begin stretching your muscles to prevent straining or pulling any of them during the activity, which you are about to take part in.  When stretching you should either do static stretching, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or dynamic stretching (this type of stretching however should only be attempted if you are very flexible or if you have done some other stretching beforehand).

Static Stretching – this can be achieved actively by an athlete moving into a position that takes the joint beyond its point of resistance, lengthening the soft tissue around the joint.  The position is held for a minimum of 10 seconds.  In a passive stretch a partner is used to move the joint beyond its point of resistance and holds the person in that position.

Dynamic Stretching (Ballistic Stretching) – this involves the athlete using momentum to move a body part through its extreme range of movement.  The exercises involve swinging or bouncing movements.  This type of stretching should only be undertaken by athletes who are very flexible, as it is very easy to over stretch and damage connective tissue.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) – this method of stretching is extremely effective. The athlete moves the joint just beyond its resistance point and then performs an isometric contraction (a partner can be used to provide resistance).  The muscle is relaxed and then stretched again, and will usually stretch further the second time.

To Stretch…

  • Soleus and Achilles tendons – to stretch these you point the tip of your foot into the ground and rotate your ankle.

  • Calf muscles – for these you bend one leg while keeping the other one straight and push the straight leg down.  The straight leg should have its toes pointing in the air and be at an angle.

  • Hamstrings – to stretch these you either do the same stretch as for the calf, or bend down and try and touch your toes making sure your legs are kept straight.

  • Groin muscles – here you stand with your legs about 1m apart and one foot facing forward and the other sideways.  To stretch you slowly shift your weight to the foot pointing forward.
  • Quadriceps – you pull your ankle up behind your back and then try and push the front of your upper leg forward.

  • Latissimus dorsi – to stretch this you put your arm above your head and then slowly lean over to the side, sliding your hand down the side of your leg.  You can also put your arm behind your head and then push your elbow down so your hand reaches down your back.

  • Abdominals – leaning forward and trying to touch the ground can stretch these.

  • Trapezius – you can stretch these by rotating your arm at the shoulder.

  • Deltoids – these can be stretched by rotating your arm or by pulling your arm across your front, then using your other arm to pull it across further.

  • Neck muscles – these are stretched by turning your neck in different directions or pushing against a force (using your forehead) supplied by your interlocked hands

Having stretched off after carrying out your warm up, you are now ready to take part in your activity.  Once you have completed your period of exercise, it is then very important to cool down.

        The cool down should start off with a short, low intensity jog lasting for about 5 minutes and then having completed that you should stretch off all your major muscles again just like you did after the warm up.  The aim of the jog is to gently lower the body temperature through a gradual decrease in the intensity of exercise.  After intense exercise, a gradual decrease in heart rate is required in order to keep metabolic activity high and to keep the capillaries dilated in order to allow oxygen to be flushed through muscle tissue removing and oxidising lactic acid.  This decrease in heart rate is also required to prevent blood pooling in the veins and to limit the likelihood of muscle soreness.

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        A warm up, a cool down and stretching are all vitally important when performing an intense activity because they prepare the body for what they are about to endure and prevent the likelihood of injury.

        When doing an exercise programme of any sort, it is very important that you take into account all safety aspects.  There are some safety considerations that cover all types of exercise programmes and there are also some that are specific to doing a weights programme, which is what I am doing.

Safety Considerations for Weights Training:

1) Do not do too much too quickly - it ...

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