Maro Itoje’s Workout Will Build Explosive Strength – Men’s Health


Posted: August 16, 2020 at 6:50 am

Maro Itoje is not your average rugby player. This is the standard way profiles of the Saracens and England lock and flanker begin. Despite his size and talent, the reader is asked to marvel at his brain more than his biceps. Its well known that his burgeoning rugby career dovetailed with a politics degree. He is revered as a gentle giant with a penchant for poetry. Hell, its even a trope we ran with ourselves after he arrived for a previous Mens Health shoot carrying a book about the Nigerian civil war.

But to gloss over his physique is to miss half the picture half of what makes him a sporting powerhouse. Talking to the website Rugby Pass last year, Itojes Sarries colleague Alex Goode recounted a one-rep max test for chin-ups during one training session: He came in, first day, and started on 20kg. He proceeded to go up and up and up. He was so unaware. He ended up having 74kg around his waist and doing a chin-up with ease. This is a guy a couple of days out of school. Goode neglected to mention his own score.

Left to his own devices, Itoje likes beach weights. Training for fun means abs exercises and 21s, the quintessential biceps-building protocol. But disco muscles alone have not propelled him to the top of his sport. At Saracens, Itoje lifts three times a week. Monday is lower body, Tuesday is upper body, while Thursday is total body.

Mondays are most interesting because Andy Edwards, Saracens head of strength and conditioning, tweaks Itojes routine depending on where they are in the season. His two main lifts are the trap bar deadlift for strength and the concentric squat for explosive strength, he says. Low rep ranges are key. If the priority is building strength, well start with deadlifts. If the priority is being more explosive, its the concentric squat. Alternatively, if Edwards needs to maintain intensity at the business end of the season but reduce neural fatigue to avoid burnout, We swap heavy deadlifts for weighted CMJs [counter-movement jumps], where Maro is jumping with a barbell on his back.

Still, eventually, its Itojes mind that returns to the fore. Ive been at Saracens for 13 seasons and watched Maro develop from a kid, says Edwards. Hes always been the one to challenge me and ask: why? That craving for knowledge is unique to top sportsmen, and hes got it.

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Maro Itoje's Workout Will Build Explosive Strength - Men's Health

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