• Mike Alvarez

Interview With Ryan Gallop - Lead Performance Coach for Rugby Nation

Full interview with Ryan Gallop - Author of Rugby Nation's RugbyX Strength & Conditioning Program.



Get The RugbyX Strength & Conditioning Program Now! Click Here.


Transcript:


Mike Alvarez:

Hey, how's it going, Ryan?

Ryan Gallop:

Are we doing Mike? [inaudible]

Mike Alvarez:

It was great to hang out with you in San Diego for a little bit.

Ryan Gallop:

Yeah, always a good time down here. Uh, obviously world's in a crazy stage right now, but it was good. You got to come down and visit for it, gutsy hectic and, uh, able to work together a bit,

Mike Alvarez:

You know, not only that, I was just thinking that maybe the LA this was probably the last largest rugby gathering, uh, that happened since, uh COVID-19.

Ryan Gallop:

Oh, for sure. Like, I mean, they've gotten it going super rugby, going again in New Zealand and Australia, but like as far as, uh, on North American soil. And, uh, yeah, I definitely think in that was a pretty good sized gathering and, uh, everything kinda, I mean, he had pretty soon after that, I remember quarantine only hit like two weeks after that and I was like, Whoa, we were, we were in the mix for sure.

Mike Alvarez:

Yeah. Um, and that was so much fun. It's so crazy to think that we didn't worry about any of that kind of stuff. We were all packed into the rugby nation party. We were all just, just having a good time and, uh, times have changed.

Ryan Gallop:

Gotcha. On the radar that time, for sure.

Mike Alvarez:

Well, I'm, uh, I'm super excited too, and I'm just gonna change my mic, change my microphone ear to make sound, but I, uh, super excited to have you, and, and to have this conversation with you about strength and conditioning about what we're doing at, uh, at rugby nation, uh, I would love for people to get to know you better. Uh, so it's, it's really interesting that strength and conditioning coaches are usually lesser known and they're kind of in the background, but they're actually such a critical component to, um, uh, to athletes and to their performance and to success. Um, so let me, let me do this real quick. I'm going to introduce you to our audience. So Ryan Gallop was the lead performance coach for remyelination. Um, I was introduced to him by Todd Clever former team captain for USA sevens and fifteens, um, and, uh, and, and also Carlin Isles.

Mike Alvarez:

And they, uh, they speak very highly of, of Ryan Gallop. Um, and as I got introduced to him, we started talking and we, and we realized how, uh, how incredible it would be to actually create a relationship and a partnership so that, uh, the goals for rugby nation could be, uh, uh, could happen the goals for recommendation. Just, just to remind people, people who don't know about this as I started a rugby nation, I think of seven or eight years ago, and never really knew what was going to come of it. I remember interviewing Carlin Niles, uh, with, with my little iPhone on one side of the room while the ESPN was on the other side of the room with an entire crew. And I was just so passionate about rugby and I wanted to grow the sport of rugby. I just didn't know how to do it.

Mike Alvarez:

So I started a reputation, started building it. Then I finally realized at some point that the way to build it is to sponsor, uh, Olympic hope hopefuls and the sponsors support Olympic hopefuls and, uh, pro athletes, and was able to generate some income for, uh, for Carlin Isles before he went and played in the Olympics in Brazil. I'm super happy and excited about that. But now, uh, the focus has been on, uh, on, uh, on something that I've seen in rugby. That's, uh, there's a big gap. You have a skills coach, but you don't have a strength and conditioning coach most times. And if you do most likely, they, they're not as well qualified as somebody as, as Ryan gallops. So the purpose for recommendation is to help to grow the sport of rugby through fitness, through strength and conditioning training. Um, Ryan, I would love to hear your story about how did you get into rugby first of all, and then let's get on to other topics

Ryan Gallop:

For sure. Well, I'm from Island New York. Um, it's actually a really good, really good Montauk rugby. And they, they, they had a high school club that they had created and myself and a lot of our friends, we all played the high school sports. So, you know, football in the fall, either wrestling or basketball or track in our winter and then track or baseball in the spring. But, um, you know, as I got through high school going into in junior year, you know, I was, I was very serious about football and track. I loved them. I trained for them as much as I could with the limited manner coaching we had. But I also, you know, I was a physical late bloomer. I was always fast and quick and like athletic, but I was small and I was realistic enough to know like college football. I think I probably had the skills, but not the body junior and senior year.

Ryan Gallop:

And I filled out eventually, but not in high school. And I love track. I love long jump, but I did not really want to do that year round at a college knowing how challenging the academic side or even how fun the social side could be. I wasn't sure I love track enough to do a year round, but I, I didn't know any of that until junior year, a bunch of us in my grade. And we knew some of the older kids playing. We went out and played rugby. Now, almost all of us junior and senior year, we're doubling up in the spring. We had our full time school sport of either track or baseball. And then twice a week after those practices, we'd go into the park and he stamped in town and practice for two hours playing rugby. I wish I had that energy nowadays.

Ryan Gallop:

I was literally sprinting for by like four and a half hours straight and was not tired. It was crazy. But what I learned through rugby is, man, I love this sport and it was a new sport. Most of the sports I'd grown up playing and wanting to play. So all of a sudden discover sport at like 16 years old and you know, the team atmosphere of it, I was playing with all my friends or we didn't, there were no outsiders. We all knew each other. And senior year we played again and it was like my, I have a twin brother, Mike, he fell in love with it to senior year. You know, he's the scrum half, I'm the fly half. We're like running the show, having a ball. We were a decent team. We were just a bunch of good athletes. So we really know how to play rugby.

Ryan Gallop:

Well, at that point, but I started thinking like, this is what I want to do in college. And a big part of that was the men's club. And we played sevens with them in the summers and touch rugby. But those guys were like the beasts of our town and they're still playing high level sevens. They're going to nationals. And they're all like in their twenties and thirties. And I was like, that's what I want. I, I, at that point I was like, I'm not going to be a pro athlete, but I love sports. And I want, I don't want to play a sport, like track where at 21 years old, if you're not going to the Olympics, you're retired. Like that didn't appeal to me. Football I knew was out of reach, um, just from my natural limitations. So rugby became it. I was like, I'll play it through college.

Ryan Gallop:

I'll chase it after college, like I saw it had longevity and that, that, that was powerful to me. Like, and I knew these guys how serious they treated it there, no one's getting paid it's club, but these guys were, they trained hard. They had their fun, but you know, they wanted to win and they represented our town and it was our town, even people who didn't know any of the players or even go watch games, but everyone knew like, Hey mom, rugby clubs, no joke. And those dudes are bad ass that like appealed to me. I was like, Oh, I'm one of those guys someday. So, and in a twist of fate, our high school coach rich, he was at a, um, he was at some random Northeast. I think it was the seventh tournament in the beginning of the summer after I was graduating high school.

Ryan Gallop:

And he met up there, it was a college and men's tournament. And he met up with guys from university of Delaware. I was like, Hey, I got a good kid who just graduated, who's gone. And he wants to play there. So those guys got my information and we interacted that summer. Cause then, you know, at that stage, Cal was like the only thing that was even close to a varsity college program, everything else was club and every other, you know, there's [inaudible] and seriousness levels and party levels were all over the place. But like I interacted with one of the captains who was an older guy and was like, Hey, you rich spoke highly of you. And if you, if you want to play here, like here's where we're going to practice. Here's our first one, you know, and we had a little context. So when I showed up, they knew who I was, most other freshmen were like creeping onto that.

Ryan Gallop:

Grassfield like, what the hell am I doing here? I don't know anybody. And typical to this day college programs. They want people who have experience in youth or high school. Cause a lot of colleges are just starting fresh with all their new people. So myself and a couple other kids from the local area, I went to university of Delaware and it was actually a really good high school club there. So it was me and a handful of other guys who had played in high school. So like the older kids, all of a sudden were like, wow, we have a crop of freshmen who actually already know how to play. And we helping the team get back onto the map over the next couple of years. And a lot of that was because we had that experience. We weren't just, you know, football players who were like, well, I'll figure it out. You know, we had that, we knew the game a little bit, but that's started.

Mike Alvarez:

What I really enjoyed about when I met you is, is I like Ru's passion for strength and conditioning. And you are, uh, an expert, a professional strength and conditioning coaching and training. Uh, and you do from athletes from all different sports. You absolutely love the sport of rugby and you've played it for years. What got you into, um, at the strength and conditioning and give her a little bit of background on your education and, and, um, qualifications,

Ryan Gallop:

For sure. So typical, uh, was it like working out as a kid? My dad had me and my brother Leo doing Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding crap cause were getting ass kids. So it's not like it made a huge difference, but, um, and you know, I would do some lower body lifting and like sprints and flyers with track and football was all for body. We just didn't have great strength, conditioning coaching in high school. But, um, I actually went to college for civil engineering. I was good at math and technical drawing, but like, you know, didn't take more than a couple of weeks before I was like, well, I seem to hate the thought of being in front of a computer on my ass all day long, which is I soon realized is what engineering is. And I was falling in love with rugby at a higher level.

Ryan Gallop:

Cause we were playing more and I was playing with better people and older people. But even then, I wasn't sure yet I, I was like training, but you know, two years into college, I already bailed on engineering. I'm taking business classes. Cause when you don't know what else to do is just like business classes and literally a one winter session, which we used to have at our school. Cause we had like a two month gap where you could either go home or take a mini session. I took like a health and exercise science like elective just to get some easy credits and it could fit into a general ed category. And it was like the first time I like without hesitation went to class, it was like the easiest day ever. God, it wasn't necessarily a tough course.

Speaker 3:

It gave me a little while

Ryan Gallop:

Feeling of, Oh crap. Like it's possible to not dread going to class and just studying stuff that you think you're supposed to. And now it's kind of it. Like I was at a crossroads of like, I know I don't want to do business, but I need to figure something out soon. And I love a lot of my passion. We're starting the new year. That's why I chose to be in the athletic performance world. It's because I love sports. And that's like, what drives me, working with athletes, being involved, whether it's individual or team based sports, but the like the planning and putting in the work for like pretty clear cut goals, as far as like achievement, like succeeding in a season, winning a title, whatever those things that drives me. Like I got into training, like everyone else does like a personal trainer mindset to help people with weight loss or looking better.

Ryan Gallop:

That's a lot of people's goals, general population people. But after I got a degree in health and exercise science worked at home a little bit, play it as summer of sevens and then a fall season with Montauk rugby. And then I'll, I had a good friend from college who was like, Hey, I'm going to check out San Diego or you want to go. And I was like, yeah, let's do it. I knew training was big out here. I knew rugby club rugby was really big out here. Um, so those were, there were reasons that drove me. I did the personal training thing for a little bit, but once I started, like I got my certified strength conditioning specialist, cert, which is the CSCs, that's kind of like the gold standard. If you're going to work with athletes in America, the NSCA is the organization. You do that cert.

Ryan Gallop:

And when I figured out I want to, I want to learn this stuff for myself. Cause I was playing for the on back rugby club and I was working my way up, but I knew like, all right, there's some, a lot of really good athletes here, but also, um, some guys are just bigger and stronger than I am. And if I'm going to catch up, I gotta change what I'm doing in the weight room. So I got certified in that, like it was like twofold. I wanted to improve myself as a player. And as I did that, it was like, you know, light bulbs kept going off of crap. This stuff works. Like I was getting stronger and faster in my mid late twenties when every, almost every one of my friends had already retired from rugby and I'm just getting warmed up. That was like my vibes in my late twenties was they hung it up after college and they're missing out.

Ryan Gallop:

And a lot of that though, was preparing the right way, knowing the difference between how you train off season pre season in season. And I still made a ton of mistakes when I'm younger, because you can get away with it. When you're younger. When I went back and played sevens last couple of years, I was, I was way smarter about it because I understood if, if I ever did it, you know, playing, uh, you know, national level teams when I'm in my late thirties, if I trained too hard during the week and I got no gas in the tank on Saturday, then that pretty much turned point. But um, knowing that like proper training really good, I felt it. I, in my, like when I was training myself, I started volunteering for USA rugby. That's how I met guys like Todd, Matt Hawkins. They really helped me get into the USA system.

Ryan Gallop:

And a lot of that was me putting an extra time. They were playing for all back. I'd run extra sessions for them. I contacted the 15 strength coach at the time was like, Hey, I'll help with the guys at San Diego. I was definitely like, I wanted to learn. And most people in the sports world and the athlete world, we learn better by doing than reading. And I had done, you know, the, you study for the tests and whatnot, but I needed to learn hands on. So were getting my hands on their programs, helping those athletes with them, pulling some from myself, questioning some things. But that's always good. Like you always want to question what you see, you want your stuff questioned. There's no, no. That's what we realize now in strength conditioning is there's not a lot of secrets left. Like a lot of it is the basics and the fundamentals and honestly the planning and the execution and the consistency is really what drives it.

Ryan Gallop:

Exercise choice and arguing over reps and sets. Most guys who've been in it long enough know, like you can make arguments for a lot of different things, but it's more of how you use it and why that makes the biggest difference. Right? And I just think, you know, my passion is still here to this day because it always, it affected me in both like my personal and my professional life. Like I've seen it work for me and I've known in the last couple of years. There's no way in hell I could have survived those seven seasons if I didn't prepare the right way in the spring. And when you get older and any veteran player will tell you, especially if we're talking sevens or if you play in the back row or say nine or hooker and fifteens fitness is key, you can do. And that's I was the guy and all back, I take pride in that, that we had a good strength coach and then he left and then it was kind of up to the players. And the one difference I made in the two years I helped is we had a, we ran a lot in the preseason because everybody was what's that

Mike Alvarez:

Well, Todd Clever speaks very highly of you. And he was team captain for both sevens and fifteens played in three world cups. What I mean? And you've done some incredible things and work some with incredible athletes, other athletes that people people's names, they would recognize that you've worked with in the past.

Ryan Gallop:

I mean, rugby is where are you going to get like guys, like I was with the USA 17 for years or a year and a half, but help some of the guys before and after it privately. So like Carlin Isles, Todd Clever, Matt Hawkins, Zach Tests. Those are just a few of the big name, rugby guys I was working with at the time Chris Wilde was with Todd for a year with on back. And he was a longtime USA and one of our best backs. And he wants some championships at Saracens over the years. It was great. Like he was one of those guys who I already looked at as a pro. And he wasn't much older than me and Todd was younger than me, but when I got to help them and they were like the two brightest faces on the USA Eagles, it really helped me like it.

Ryan Gallop:

A lot of it was like realizing my voice. Like, Hey, these guys, I'm a good player. They're great players. And I might not share the same pitch with them all the time, but if I can speak passionately about what, why we're doing things and you know, run a good session, but you realize a lot of this is relationship driven, right? Like a lot, almost every opportunity I've had in rugby is because I made relationships with the right people and genuinely helps people when I wasn't getting paid for it. You know, that's some of the advice that I give to the young guys who want to get into rugby, I'm like, well, we talk about it. We'll probably talk about it later about, you know, the lack of a lot of strength conditioning in rugby in America. And it's because those resources aren't there for every club team or every high school team or most college teams even to have a strength, conditioning coach in place for that team, they just don't have the funds for it.

Ryan Gallop:

So what inevitably happens is some, one of the older players doubles as the strength coach, which I did a little bit when I was playing for back or an assistant coach who just loves the weight room, we'll write programs for guys to do on their own. And what you realize is like, like you can like players can have different styles of training, especially off season. Some guys want to get big and strong and some guys want to get super fit with the weight. So, you know, they're doing CrossFit or like bootcamp type stuff. Some guys are, look good, dudes. We're in San Diego. Dudes want to look over their shirt off. You know what I mean? Instagram now has changed everything. Everybody, you know, that world, everybody wants to be on the gram training, hard and looking good. And the argument with rugby is a lot of that stuff can work during the off season.

Ryan Gallop:

If your goal is building muscle feeling good, looking good, you know, you have time to ramp into the season. What changes and what I learned a ton, both for making my own mistakes and from being around smart people when I was helping with fifteens or sevens guys, is that like, as you ran close to the season, like realizing what a priority practice sessions and field sessions and games really are, and the training always needs to be designed and implemented. And a lot of times changed and varied to feed into that. And if you're, you know, it's one thing, Hey, if it's pretty seasoned and we're playing a couple scrimmages and we're tackling a lot in practice, but yeah, we're going to run our asses off and we're still gonna lift a lot because we're trying to build up a big base of strength, power, fitness, and rugby skills under duress in the preseason before games start actually counting and any early season, you might, yeah.

Ryan Gallop:

We might not be fully recovered every Saturday. You know, in the first couple, in the first month of club season, cause we're training hard. We're ramping up, we're looking at the whole year. And I feel like that's where planning and organization becomes a big thing. And even listening to your players, you know, old school coaches who say, this is how I did it. So this is how we're going to do it. That shit doesn't work. There's so many more advances. Even if you're not using tech like GPS or heart rate variability stuff, you can still listen to your players. You can have the couples captains who can show up Thursday at a session and the game Saturday and be like, Hey coach, like we're smashed. Like we, the money lift was really hard and we ran our asses off Tuesday. We tried to do upper body recovery yesterday and we are still smashed and it's up to, and this is at all levels like youth all the way to pro coaches need to listen to that and be like, alright, we'll do is, you know, sharp, crisp, you know, maybe, um, like skill and uh, offense, defense flow session kinda mimic mimic game scenarios, but we're not hitting, we're not covering a lot of distance, nothing to high speed.

Ryan Gallop:

And we're going to flush it out at the end with some recovery work and Friday we rest and eat and drink a ton of water. And then we play Saturday. But that communication side that's where like I feel the biggest changes I've seen in rugby over the years is in the smart organizations, is that the player feedback, the data that you can pull, if you are doing any kind of metrics and just knowing that, you know, you can have this perfect in a bubble wrap program, it looks freaking amazing on Excel. Or if you're doing handouts, we have the, you know, we use the app and the Koa, it looks all great in there. But if you are married to that thing and you don't think that that thing can change time, then you're, you're screwed. And that's why even, I know we're going to talk about it later with rugby X, but in the end season thing I've built in, you know, volume variabilities and exercise selections.

Ryan Gallop:

Cause a lot of that feeds into the human element of training and playing sports is we're not robots and you can't program perfectly for a whole team and you can't even break it up by position there's needs that obviously scrum players need more isometric strength and total lower body, you know, maximum effort work versus your outside backs, but you can't give the same volume. So one proper. So the other one guy might thrive off of, you know, really heavy squats, like every single session and another guy's sore for three days. Every time he goes above 85%. So if you have them doing the same thing there, one guy's not working hard enough and the other guy's destroyed. So getting learning the, you know, that's what I've loved learning. And you asked me earlier about other athletes. The other demographic I'm very well known with is action sports, which honestly couldn't be more polar opposite of rugby, but that's taught me a shitload.

Ryan Gallop:

Pardon my French about how to work with humans because you know some of these guys, I mean, I've got guys that one X game gold medals have Olympic dreams, skateboarding, snowboarding, I've gotten pro surfers on tour and these guys have all become my friends and my little brothers over the years. But because I have them in more of a private setting in Nicola, I can have more of those one on one conversations with them. And you start realizing like it's easy to infer a coach to make guesses about how people feel based on, you know, and even now they're doing daily monitoring and stuff, which some of that has a lot of value, but you can't put everything on it cause you don't know what's going on up top. You don't know who just got into an argument with their girlfriend. Who's stressing out, losing a sponsor, you know, and rugby is such a violent sport.

Ryan Gallop:

You know, sometimes the, you know, I was just having a good chat with a really good strength coach the other day, he was going to be taken over for the Legion gig. And he was like, the mental recovery is way more powerful than the physical recovery. A lot of the times, if you can't clear your head at whether it's after a loss or maybe you're battling for your position. I dealt with a lot of that when I was at all backed like the constant all want to be the starting nine at this level. And then all of a sudden, you know, the foreign guy shows up two weeks before the season. Now you got new competition. Like I was stressing club rugby more than I was stressing my job or my girlfriend at the time. Like literally that's how serious it was. And I wish I had had people telling me back then you gotta do stuff to recover your mind and whether it's unpack or meditate or just even sleeping well and always falling the lifestyle stuff.

Ryan Gallop:

But if you can't, you can't find some women pro athletes as well, right? What's that you've also trained women emails and all those sports to professional skaters. Um, some professional surfers from Hawaii, big names. I mean, I don't know if the rugby world would known, but they're pretty big on Instagram. And but if you get, when you work with a diverse group, which I prefer, I don't think I ever would've loved just working with rugby because I would never want it to get monotonous. And like, cause the team team world is stressful. You've got more people relying on outcomes. There can be politics and blame and this and that throw it around in a team environment. So I, luckily whenever I've helped in the team setting, I've also had Nicola and our private business where I worked with different types of athletes. And honestly I learned a ton from each like I'm better at working with the action sports individual athletes because they're built to be selfish and I can teach them from my unexperienced and from the rugby world, what selflessness is like and like training your ass off for the sake of other people, even when you don't feel like it.

Ryan Gallop:

Cause that's a big part of rugby in their world. It's all about them. They're the one who has to practice. They take a lot of risk, you know, action sports is dangerous. We all know that they're, they, they sit on all this stuff individually and I've told them what it's like in the team environment. And sometimes you feel like crap, but it doesn't matter. You don't have a choice. Like you show up that day, you're training with your mates and that's just how it goes. And vice versa. I've been able to get some rugby players in here and actually train them in a little more of a laid back setting, like a private setting, like I do with say a group of surfers and they actually love it because it gets them out of that like regimented team environment where like, I mean the energy can be great, but if everyone's beat up or you coming off of a loss, the energy can suck.

Ryan Gallop:

And just giving them that feeling of like, Hey, we can, you can have fun with, you can train. That's a big part of my philosophy. Cause I've, I've lived on both sides of that world where I make myself train when I don't want to, but I have to. And then other times where I've, I've created some kind of fun environment. A lot of times when Zack tests was making a comeback years ago, he hit me up for help. And I was like, dude, I need an excuse to get after it. This fall, let's just train together. And we worked out together and now it was, we were doing field sessions, gym sessions here. And it was, we both trained harder and laughed our asses off, you know, two or three days a week for a couple months. And that we both needed that. Zach's and a phenomenal who's now the coach or lesion, but Zachary will be the first one to laugh and tell you, he's not a weight room guy.

Ryan Gallop:

Zach's a freak. He played college football and had a cup of coffee with the NFL and is one of the best sevens players we've ever had. And he never loved the weight room. And that's the reality with a lot of really good athletes. So if the environment isn't fun and also a big thing is they have to know what you're doing. Translates. If you're smashing people in the gym or out in field sessions where you're just gnarly running or rugby based conditioning, people have to have, buy-in like, please show me how this helps. You know, granted, hopefully they feel it because once the adaptations occur and you know, practices start or game start and you're like, wow, like I'm recovering quicker between tackles or I can get it positioned better. I don't get winded ever on the field, whatever it is, people have to feel the improvement. If you're a coach just telling people you're getting better, you're getting better, but they don't feel it on the field or on a surfboard or whatever. Then it doesn't matter. Like the powerful thing,

Mike Alvarez:

Some of the biggest, biggest mistakes that, uh, sports coaches make for athletes and training stream.

Ryan Gallop:

I think, um, a big one would be just chasing numbers in a weight room, just, you know, whether it's the old high school thousand pound club for your three lifts. Um, you know, there are standards, you can look at our rugby player and say, all right, if you're really strong, you can trap our deadlift two and a half times your body weight. That's a good number, but there's going to be, you know, some stocky Polynesian boys who can do that without even training. So what are you saying? They don't need to work out. And then it's going to be skinny ass, fast dudes who, if I put my effort in a dead lifting two and a half, my body weight, I am sacrificing everything else to chase that number. And I'm probably going to get slower and possibly get hurt in the process. So is that really worth it?

Ryan Gallop:

If the name of the game is to be better at your sport? So I think chasing numbers is a problem. And also the classic thing I mentioned earlier and it lives in every world and I I've had to keep up with the times to make sure I don't become that guy of this is how we used to do it. And it's like, well, sports science and sports psychology and just data collection and analysis over the years has changed the way we train athletes for the better. And it's going to keep going. But if we say, you know, well, this is how we did conditioning when I was in college, like I'm immediately an idiot cause that was 20 years ago. And we were a bunch of kids training ourselves. And it's a thing that there's not a better way to do that now is it's absurd.

Ryan Gallop:

And a lot of, I think that's the biggest mistake when sports coaches lead training is they want to lift super heavy in the gym and they just want to make people puke on the field. And guess what? Rugby never played in either of those worlds really there's, you know, in nowadays in the scrum, the scrum hit is a big amount. It's like a name it's like a power impact. And then it's isometric. There's not a lot of movement. So where we always thought you have to have a huge squat or deadlift there's ways to do like mid thigh poles or isometric squats where you're getting the push. That's similar to a scrum front row. But it that if you're working on the gym, you can show them how it translates this, this impact and this positioning of your joints without any movement is what you're experiencing during the scrum.

Ryan Gallop:

So that's why we're doing it in their gym, giving people that mindset. I mean, forever, we believed if you could, squat heavier, you'd get faster. And I intuitively never really believed that. And luckily science recently has disproven it cause a lot of really fast guys are not great squatters. Like not everyone's Carlin Isles. He's one of the small fast guys who can squat 500 pounds. That's not normal. There's skinny twitchy guys who were never good in the weight room who were the fastest quickest, shifty his players out there and their coaches love them. Are you going to tell me, you know, if you grabbed one of the Fijian boys on the seventh circuit, who they do mostly outdoor, crazy functional training and a little bit of weight room, if you said, every guy on this team has to squat 400 pounds, you know, in the next six months, guaranteed you'd have injuries and some players playing worse.

Ryan Gallop:

So then what was the point? And that's where like you can have standards, like, you know, those like strength standards of you can squat this much, your weight, you can deadlift, but those should just be loose targets in my opinion. And it can drive programming a little bit, but you have to get that ongoing feedback. Like I've worked with athletes who, as they got stronger, told me they feel worse on the field. They never feel like they can warm up and granted they might not have been whether their techniques not great or the programming wasn't right. And this is our job to look at the programming. It's like, shit, we're doing too much volume or he's just not built. Like, that's another thing to buy biomechanics and Arthur Prometrics, which is like limb lengths and whatnot. Not everyone's built for certain lifts. I'm super tight in my shoulders from all the rugby injuries.

Ryan Gallop:

I was just telling some college kids. I train yesterday, I suck it back to squatting. It like hurts me to back squat. If I'm going to do something really heavy, I could do like a safety bar or like an upright trap bar, dead lifts where I can drop it. If I'm going to fail, that takes my postural tightness and limitations out of the equation. But if you have it in your head that I only use these lifts on these athletes, some athletes aren't going to fit those lifts. So that's where exercise variation and knowing like what's the movement. If we're looking for a lower body push on two feet or one foot, there's a bunch of different movements that can achieve that same action. And if you can get athletes to buy in, because you give them a little variability and also that doesn't make them feel like crap because it's, I've been there where it's demoralizing, where you're like, all right, I'm on phase two of the program.

Ryan Gallop:

And I wrote this great thing and on day one, a back squat, and I think I've improved my mobility, whatnot. I did this two summers ago, getting ready for sevens. I've back squatting on my third set. And the freaking my mid back felt like I might've been seasoned up. Cause my low back wasn't in a good position. All my ankle and hip tightness that I've built up over the years. And I thought I'd made better, was get me in on day one. I went in and changed it. I was like, I can't back spot cause I'm making progress everywhere else. But if I chased this back squat in this four week program, the way I have it written, I'm gonna, I'm going to backslide if not get hurt. So let's make some smart decisions here.

Mike Alvarez:

Yeah. These are great points. And now, so as rugby nation, we launched a rugby X strength and conditioning program about a year and a half ago. And you have helped that completely recast it and start from zero and built the entire thing. There's some really interesting things that you've put in there and I'd love for you to cover. I know you've got about 10 minutes left, but what is in the new rugby X program? And we're going to relaunch that next week. What is it in the new red BX program? How should athletes use it? And I know just, just to preface that the reason for the rugby X program and what I've asked you to create in there is so that rugby players from all over the world for less than a dollar a day can get your expertise and to be able to do straight to increase their power and speed on their own without having to pay for, for a PR professional strength and conditioning coach that would cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars a month or a year. And instead of just less than a dollar a day, they can get all of these programs, the video demos, the workouts, anything that they need for preseason in season post-season and all those kinds of things you want to go ahead and just give a brief overview of what it has in it.

Ryan Gallop:

So basically, um, have you said where you at broke it up into the kind of the season phases as you look at? I mean, it could fit, um, anywhere from a youth high school college club, even some pro um, seasons would look very similar, but basically looking at off season, transitioning to pre season and then in season, and the idea is creating it that so people, I mean, you could even right now everyone's off. And a lot of people because of COVID don't know when their season's going to start up, which actually makes it it's, it's stressful to not know when your season is going to start, but you do know you have plenty of time, cause there's a good chance in Australia, New Zealand, you're not playing rugby in 2020, which we should, they be doing right now, the off season, they would be jumping into the off season.

Ryan Gallop:

The beauty of the off season is it starts with what we call general physical preparation. And the idea of that is you're not looking so much as like what position you play or what, what do you, what are your individualized weaknesses or strengths, general prep training or GPP is targeting everything that we need. So proper mobility and flexibility is always going to be hitting the warmups. Um, your strength work. It's a little more, um, strengthened Durance and work capacity. So getting a good amount of volume with all your primal patterns, your squat lunge hinge, push, pull all the different variations. And typically during that, you're going to get better at those movements cause you're not necessarily prioritizing heavyweights. So I, you know, a lot of people have used quarantine as a reason to get out of shape, or if they've been doing anything, they've been doing body weight, very simple stuff at home.

Ryan Gallop:

They haven't been really challenging themselves. General prep preparation is a great place to start because whether you're at a shape or you're fit, there's rep ranges that can allow you to challenge yourself. And you, you know, a lot of places are still closed down in general prep. We're relying on minimal equipment. You don't need, you know, trap bars and Olympic lifting platforms and all the big stuff in your first couple, um, phases of a general prep we're using dumbbells or kettlebells. A lot of body weight, your field work is simple. It's outside it's movement. You don't need any equipment. You don't need any training partners. So it's a pretty easy place for most people to jump off, especially if they've been somewhat sedentary over this time. Like a lot of people have. Um, and the idea with off season is to really prepare your body, to get into, uh, preseason, which is when you to at least start thinking of like rugby based field sessions, that that's part of your mindset, even if you're not practicing, but you're getting to that point of now I need a weekly schedule of I'm going to be doing gym sessions, field sessions.

Ryan Gallop:

Um, I know that if, if say games, we're going to start in January. We're looking at November and December being preseason where we're actually going to start practicing twice a week. You can, you obviously, during the preseason, the difference between off season and pre season would be an increase in running volume. But everyone has to kind of play that game. Some teams, if they're going to be practicing, they're going to be running their asses off. So you shouldn't be doing a ton of extra running. You might do a speed session, agility session for more skill based work. And then you have off feet options where you might be hitting row a row or workouts or spin classes, or, you know, VersaClimber all feet conditioning. So you're not adding more pounding on the joints because you know, you're already running a ton in the practices. You're going to get a little more into the strength and power where we call linear periodization in the preseason, which is that basic, you got your first block is hypertrophy.

Ryan Gallop:

So now you're taking all this general prep, you've got a pretty good base. And now you got a month. You're trying to pack on muscle because the reality and I've lived this the last couple summers, once you start running, you're going to lose weight everybody. So if you can do a good hypertrophy and hopefully that's built on some muscle, you already built up in the off season plan. When you start increasing more of the running during your maximum strength and power phases, essentially because you're practicing, you're not going to just drop all this weight a lot. You know, obviously there's some positions, props or whatnot who might be trying to lose some belly fat maybe, but we're talking about muscle mass and there's no player who wants to lose muscle mass going into a season. Cause that's essentially hard to hold onto when you're running as much as you're doing rugby, no matter how much you eat that work capacity, the calorie expenditure is huge.

Ryan Gallop:

So build the muscle and keep it while you can. Then you get into a maximum strength where you're really trying to basically optimize your, you gotta look at your max strength for rugby is really your engine for power outputs. Rugby is a violent collision sport and it's a high speed sport. So if you have a strong strength base, whether it's in context situations or bursting, as far as accelerating or making a tackle, cutting, changing direction, you want to be strong. And we always say, strength is your best form of injury prevention. So if you're strong and moving well, you can never eliminate injuries, but you can lower the risk of them. And obviously in rugby, there's always constant risk of it. The stronger and third area you are going in and seasoned the better, you know, better your foundation is it's higher. You have a, if you go into a season out of shape, you just open yourself up for more chance of injury because your body's not prepared for what you're about to get into in games and practices

Mike Alvarez:

And the good thing. And the good thing is the inside of rugby X, everything is organized for them or they need the warmup, how to increase your speed, how to increase your power. Um, and everything is completely organized.

Ryan Gallop:

And we built out because I know just like I said earlier about people in our field are usually better at learning by doing athletes would also rather watch something and read something. So even though we have it all figured out, we have videos to go along with everything. As we have the movement preparation and speed and agility drills from the books, we have, um, exercise, technique, video, all our major things. We even have a couple of tutorials on some of the more specific things that people might not have experience with, but I've done this for a long time before I've had college buddies who send me a program. I've had family, friends, I've had athletes. I used to work with, Hey, text me a program. If you don't have videos to go along with it, you have to keep it so simple that they really screw it up.

Ryan Gallop:

But I knew I didn't want, you know, whether it's our eBooks or rugby X, I didn't want to have to oversimplify it just cause people were going to have to guess. And the last thing I wanted to do is set to go on YouTube and find 10 different crappy examples of what I wrote down. So we have videos that go with everything. People recognize guys like Todd and Carlin. One of my old coaches, Derek who played for the Legion and on back, he's a beast in the weight room and he he's, uh, he's the training motto and a lot of the videos, perfect technique. Um, the idea is we want people, like I said earlier, great programs are, they're a dime a dozen, but if you do them for the right reasons you do them let the right time of the year. That's where the planning comes in.

Ryan Gallop:

And if you do them the right way, the how that's the biggest key. And if people can watch the videos, understand the technique, there's extra verbiage on the more technical stuff. And then we're obviously always available to answer questions, but I w I've always, ever since I was helping with getting programs done or what me and Carlin did back in the day, I wanted people to actually be able to use it. I didn't want people to pay and buy some spreadsheet for me of an Excel doc. It could be the NASA program for rugby strength finishing, like, just so science-based and amazing, blah, blah, blah. But if your average person can't follow it, then it's useless to me. And the whole point of doing this is to help people. And I've always had the passion to grow rugby in America and knowing how much we're missing is the strength component.

Ryan Gallop:

I didn't want this to be something that was so advanced that people open it or like, what am I supposed to do with this? I'm not a health and exercise science major. I don't have a certification. Like this is something that a teenager could open up, follow along and improve with and not feel, not feel like they can't handle it on their own. The exercise progressions are pretty straightforward and linear. You know, I'm huge on like earning it, even in, in Nicola with our action sports, they see all the coolest stuff on Instagram. Hey, what am I going to do that I'm like when you earn it, and if you can't do a good goblet squat with a dumbbell, then you're sure as hell not ready for your own weight on your back with a bar bell, earn it. So it works for anybody. Who's a beginner all the way to pro is that right?

Ryan Gallop:

That's the idea is the off season general prep. I mean, beginners could do it with body weight and get their butts kicked and whooped themselves into shape for the first one to two months, and then start easing load in. If you're already fit, you could still start with the off season general prep. You would just be loading things earlier. And if you're working those rep ranges with moderate load, you're going to get a heck of a lot of work capacity and probably some hypertrophy, which is muscle building out of it. But the whole idea is looking at it like what's the real goal is to get to end season and feel good and ready to dominate, and also last the whole season. So the one they got in at the end is in the end season phase, we have two things that I've, I've learned from myself and working with a lot of veteran athletes who know how much you have to prioritize the sport over the training when you're in season is exercise variability, and then also, um, um, variable volumes.

Ryan Gallop:

So what that means to say in season your rep schemes, you have like an option. You could have three to five sets and say four to eight reps of something. The idea being, Hey, you played your ass off and you're beat to hell and it's Tuesday. And you got training that night and you're supposed to do a lift. Here's the moderate to low volume version of it. It's better than nothing. You can continue to adapt and improve, but you're not smashing yourself. Or you're the weight room junkie. Every, team's got a couple of them or you barely play last weekend. Maybe you had an injury. Maybe you just didn't get off the bench. And you're super pissed. You can still train your ass off that next week. You don't have the wear and tear that the other players who played more do. So that's where the variability of volume comes in.

Ryan Gallop:

Right? And then also that autoregulate, or that's the autoregulation excuse me. And then we have the volume vary or excuse me, exercise, selection. So this is where you create buy-in when I'm sore as shit. And you tell me I have to back squat and I freaking hate back squatting. Guess what? If I'm an athlete and I'm not in front of my coach, I'm not going to do it. So, but if you said you can do a goblet squats for a little more volume and just use a heavy dumbbell and I can get four to four sets of six, have a really good squat. I'm still doing a, a knee dominant pushing exercise. So just cause it wasn't the exact, um, variation of set lift does not mean it doesn't help. And that's where exercise variability I've noticed. And that's become a big trend in all pro sports is these guys are not robots.

Ryan Gallop:

If you give them a little bit of options or these guys, these girls give them some options, you know, you can do an overhead med ball throw, or you can do a kettlebell swing, or you can do RDL for speed. All three of those is a high speed hip hinge. They seemingly to athlete's minds might be all different exercises. They're just a different version of the same movement, right? You get a little say within that, then all of a sudden they're not so pissed at their strength coach for giving them that movement on a Monday after a game because they realize, Oh, I can do three sets of five, just med ball throws. I can handle that versus like, I freaking hate RDL. So now I'm just going to skip it altogether. So that, that in season is meant. This training is meant to make them continue to progress in season, but to understand the mental and emotional stress is going to be ramped up because you're playing games and the practices are more intense, cause you're earning your spot in practice.

Ryan Gallop:

So you want their workouts to be like de-stressing and something they actually looked forward to. And if they are more of the same as the preseason, and if they're too hard and if they're too rigid, then it's easy for people to say, you know, F it, I'm not even going to do it. So that's part of why we created that is that the, the soft side of training, as far as if there's no buy in from the athlete, that it's kind of, they might train there. And I I've been on teams like this, train their ass off until the first game. And then players just going into survival mode. They lift whenever they feel like it. And they think they're just going to run enough in practice to keep their fitness up. And you see the guys who stay on it, get better as the season go. And then all the other survivors it's like this off a cliff. And obviously the whole point is to have success. And most success is earned at the end of seasons. So if you're not training consistently through it, you increase your chance of injury, but you also decrease your chance of like team success. And that's all point,

Mike Alvarez:

Hey, I'm super grateful that you came on today so that we could, we could go through this. I wanted to rugby nation to get to know you better. And I also wanted to, to, for you to explain what's in rugby X, what the benefits and all that stuff. I know you've got a training session starting right now, but I, um, uh, but seriously, the passion that you have for rugby and the passion that you have for strength and conditioning is unmatched and so happy to be working with you. And, and, uh, so happy that we can actually help rugby players from around the world to be able to make them better, uh, better athletes to be able to perform at a higher level.

Ryan Gallop:

That's the plan, Mike? I appreciate it.

Mike Alvarez:

All right. Well, have a good day. Take care. See ya.


2 views