Upper Body program for Wheelchair Rugby (Murder ball) – Opinion Piece

Recently I listened a radio broadcast of an amazing athlete who while playing able body Rugby was badly injured and now is in a wheelchair, but it has not dampened his enthusiasm and I decided to research about Strength and Conditioning Programs for Murder Ball and I found that the wheelchair version of the sport is all about the upper body power, strength, endurance and stamina.

Wheelchair players need power in the scrum (reading the rules 3 players from each team, in a single file line go head to head with the ball placed between the two front opposition chairs in order to contest possession), strength to drive through tackles, endurance to sustain that strength output throughout the game and stamina to last the full 80 minutes of fast paced, crashing action!

The aim is to develop the strength and power in the major muscle groups involved in the pushing action of the chair, including the deltoids, pectorals, trapezius and latissimus dorsi. Then train and build on the endurance of the assisting muscles like the biceps and triceps.

Most importantly if possible it is creating a strong and resilient core will be key to gaining an edge to score that all important try!.

For any readers feel free to try out the following upper body workout

Warm up

Hand cycle bike on a medium resistance to start for 3 minutes then turn up to high resistance for 3 minutes.

Follow this up by completing 20 reps of curl and press with a light pair of dumbbells to fully warm up the working muscles.

Once warmed up start with the major muscle groups first so to not tire out the assisting biceps and triceps muscles.

Complete 4 sets of the following exercises with 8-12 reps in each set, ensuring you use the appropriate weight to fulfil the rep count: Each Sets should last no longer than 30secs 50-60secs rest between sets, 2 mins rest between each exercise. Each rep should be explosive with control, the way we want to play our Rugby.

  • Shoulder press
  • Lat pull down
  • Bench press

Rear row cable machine

Follow this up with a circuit of assisting muscle group exercises completing 4 sets of 12-15 reps for each exercise:

  • Dumbbell triceps extensions
  • Dumbbell Bicep curls
  • Dumbbell Front and lateral raises

Finish off by having a round on the rower by positioning the chair in a stable position to allow for the upper body movement and row for a 10 Minutes or the equivalent distance, maintaining a steady pace to work on your stamina and fitness levels approximately 1 minute for every  250 Metres.

Starting a Medium speed every 2 minutes then at 8:30 minutes up ½ level then at 9 minutes ½ level then every 10 seconds  up by ½  level until 9:50 take it down to medium speed and cool down for 2 minutes.