Intensity and diversity, the keys to good preparation

The players “benefit” this year from a 7-week preparation period, which will allow the sports staff to work calmly before the resumption of matches. But this long time does not mean that the intensity of efforts is limited. Elements of explanation with Johnny Claxton, physical trainer of the club and responsible for the performance.

Started with oppressive heat in the ASM Omnisports facilities, this physical preparation continues with great intensity. Under the watchful eye of many curious people and holidaymakers, Lake Aydat and the infrastructure of the Sailing School allowed the players to close the first week of the season last Friday. Now it’s time for a week of training at altitude, in Tignes.

Johnny, how is this resumption of the season going?

The pre-season has started well. At the end of last season we challenged the players to come back in good physical condition and they honestly met that requirement. Almost everyone has returned to training at their target body weight and the initial results of our fitness tests have been very encouraging compared to previous seasons. For the first 4 weeks of this build, we decided to start sessions from 6:30am onwards, which I think was a little shocking to some players at first, but since then the group has responded positively to this format

The heat bothered the first week, which is just over?

We had anticipated and anticipated that it would be hot for the recovery (which seems pretty normal in Clermont-Ferrand in July/August), but it’s clear that temperatures near 40 degrees require some adaptation. From a physical point of view, training in high heat has advantages and disadvantages. Players have a harder time maintaining the same work intensity because the body is in constant conflict trying to provide enough energy for the effort while also working to maintain an acceptable body temperature. We take this into account by managing things like session length and ensuring optimal hydration. Under these conditions, most players drink up to 5 liters of water a day. However, there are also known physiological benefits of training in the heat, and ultimately we’re not too concerned about these weather conditions.

What are the main objectives of the first days of preparation?

From a physical performance perspective, the first week of preseason typically focuses on developing the major components of fitness (strength, movement mechanics, endurance, body composition, etc.) We also collect a range of data that helps build a profile of each player. to allow physical performance and medical teams to be accurate in the development of individual training programs. This maximizes physical capabilities and minimizes the risk of injury. However, as this is ultimately a rugby program, of course we work closely with the coaches to ensure that we incorporate the elements of rugby development as best as possible.

Who are the staff members most involved in organizing this work and what is their role?

This period is very intense for all staff. As stated, the physical, medical and rugby staff are working hard to ensure the smooth running of the rugby program. At the same time, the personnel responsible for logistics and organization must constantly adapt to the context. Clothing, feeding, preparation of training camps, as well as administrative tasks related to player licensing and coordination with the hopeful program are important tasks at this time of the season. In this context, we are also very grateful to ASM Omnisports and the Aydat Sailing School, who have helped us organize external sessions and allowed us to take advantage of the facilities at our disposal.

This week, you’re at altitude in Tignes… what’s the point?

The main aim of establishing this field is to provide an environment that encourages players and staff to network more and develop internal relationships vital to success in team sports such as rugby. This element is particularly important for us at the moment, because our squad this season has many young players and/or players new to the club. Tignes obviously has excellent facilities for sports teams and the added benefit is that we can train at altitude, which requires physiological adaptations that will improve our performance when we return to Clermont.

What can the “non-rugby” part of the activities (Rafting, Via ferrata, cycling, etc.) contribute?

The purpose of external activities is to take players out of their “traditional” or “typical” environment and challenge them in different ways to see how they react (confidence, leadership, etc.). We also know from experience that the rugby season is long, so it’s important to give players the chance to enjoy each other and make memories outside of the training ground.

In general, what will the program be after your return from the internship?

We have organized the pre-season in two blocks of 3 weeks. When we come back from the Tignes training camp, we have an extra week of training in Clermont before a 3-day break. We will then attack phase 2 of this pre-season which will be organized around more classic weather in view of our two friendlies against Toulon and UBB. During this period, the intensity of training will continue to increase to prepare us for the demands of the matches to be ready to go to Paris in September and start the season in the best conditions.

This well-filled program for both the players and the squad is fully in line with the changes in methods desired and advocated by Jono Gibbes as he approaches his second spell as coach in charge of the ‘yellow and blue’.


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