Reviewed by Talking Rugby Union
James Haskell’s insight into the game and how to keep the fittest you can be through training, nutrition, supplements and recovery tips is a great book for any aspiring rugby player of any age.
James talks us through in a clear and insightful way vital information about warm up & recovery, which is key for keeping fit and to reduce the chance of injury. He believes this has been very important to perform throughout his career to ensure he is keeping at his best condition. He tells us a tip about him doing a ‘pre warm-up to my warm-up’ which involves using ‘band work to open up muscles, or I use a foam roller’.
This fine detail into what it takes to look after your body as a professional is both fascinating, insightful and perfect for rugby specific training.
The plan for the week working around a Saturday game is important for both amateurs as well as professionals. It shows the training you do must revolve around rugby, as well as the core skills needed during the game.
James has really thought about recovery and has set a good amount of time to let your body rest and provided a set plan into stretching, to ensure you are properly recovered before your next game. This is shown in the ‘step 1 what your training week should look like’.
The ‘Pre Training Routines’ gives great information about what he himself takes and what supplements are most important.
He talks about keeping hydrated during the book being one of the things he believes is essential. James also considers getting ‘95% of what you need from balanced, whole, clean foods’. But to be helpful James shows you where products can be bought and reviews about them to make sure you know what you are taking.
Although plugging his own brand nutrition and supplements is prevalent from the start, it’s a fair trade-off with the content provided outside of the bold advertising pages.
The training drills and how they are described are very clear and easy to understand.
However the pictures used could be a little clearer both in resolution and clarity of the movement. There are instances where they don’t convey what is actually happening in the description, poor angles.
In the ‘Leg Session’ it shows alternative examples of some of the exercises which is helpful for people if they don’t go to the gym or have certain equipment at their fingertips or the club gym.
The programme gives a variety of different ways of exercising but all linking into what is specifically ‘needed’ in rugby. A simple but affective skill Haskell has incorporated into his running drills and rugby specific conditioning is ‘down & ups’, this simple but needed quality is something that when in a game situation can get you up and over to another ruck or phase quicker than your opponent.
‘Recovery’ Haskell has really noticed that recovery is needed and time allocated to ensure you can properly rest and stretch.
His long career has given him vast knowledge into what can be done to prevent injuries and a quicker recovery, he shows this in his suggestions ‘Step 11 Recovery’.
Throughout the book there are numerous helpful links on where to buy the products that he uses and recommends.
‘Step 12 Nutrition’ The in depth detail into eating ‘like a rugby player not a cover model’ is excellent.
Having done this before he knows what works best for putting on size, when to eat to keep you fueled for rugby. His portion guide for a meal is perfect for a rugby player, the amount of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fats you will need to fuel yourself during the course of a week.
Overall, this book is very informative, and the knowledge that Haskell has gathered throughout his professional playing career is evident and valuable to anyone that hasn’t had that kind of exposure to high-end coaches and sports experts.
The detail is a little intense at times and not something to be read over a coffee in the morning, but if you’re serious about your goals and are willing to apply yourself, this book will help you reap the rewards.
It shows that having core skills and ensuring your body has enough time to recover using James’s guidelines is vital to being able to play rugby at your best quality.
He combines tips on gym routines and strength training with the finer details of game-play and also some lesser-explored ideas around standing out your trails and optimizing the opportunities you get.
A brilliant addition to any young, aspiring, rugby-player’s arsenal.
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