• Influence of Playing Standard on Upper- and Lower-Body Strength, Power, and Velocity Characteristics of Elite Rugby League Players

      Fernandes, John; Daniels, Matthew; Myler, Liam; Twist, Craig (MDPI, 2019-04-17)
      Background: To compare load–velocity and load–power relationships among first grade (n = 26, age 22.9 ± 4.3 years), academy (n = 23, age 17.1 ± 1.0 years), and scholarship (n = 16, age 15.4 ± 0.5 years) Super League rugby league players. Methods: Participants completed assessments of maximal upper- and lower-body strength (1RM) and peak velocity and power at 20, 40, 60, and 80 kg during bench press and squat exercises, in a randomised order. Results: Bench press and squat 1RM were highest for first grade players compared with other standards (effect size (ES) = −0.43 to −3.18). Peak velocities during bench and squat were greater in the higher playing standards (ES = −0.39 to −3.72 range), except for the squat at 20 and 40 kg. Peak power was higher in the better playing standards for all loads and exercises. For all three groups, velocity was correlated to optimal bench press power (r = 0.514 to 0.766), but only 1RM was related to optimal power (r = 0.635) in the scholarship players. Only squat 1RM in the academy was related to optimal squat power (r = 0.505). Conclusions: Peak velocity and power are key physical qualities to be developed that enable progression from junior elite rugby league to first grade level. Resistance training should emphasise both maximal strength and velocity components, in order to optimise upper- and lower-body power in professional rugby league players.