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The hated routine that made Wales Grand Slam fit
Adam Beard 'manufactures' big, lean players
There's not much that can scare the all-conquering Welsh rugby squad, but conditioning coach Adam Beard has found a way.
Beard's specially devised Wales Anaerobic Test has become the most hated training session among the squad but it's also reaped dividends in terms of performances on the pitch.
"There's a lot of things that they hate but they have to do. It's quite a hard game Test match rugby," Beard told MSN.
For the 'Wat', as he has named it, players start on the ground and must get to their feet, complete an agility circuit, for instance a 10 metre figure-of-eight, and then do a 20 metre sprint. The pain comes from numerous repetitions in a tightly controlled timeframe and, according to Beard, the pressure of having the whole squad performing against each other.
Head coach Warren Gatland has always liked to foster a competitive ethos among his teams. James Haskell described in his blog this week how at Wasps he would be paired against Lawrence Dallaglio after Gatland had told each players that the other had slighted him.
That practice persists in the Welsh set-up, where experienced team-members are often put up against younger players from the same position.
Much has been made of Wales' trips to a Polish cryochamber, but Beard says their success is more to do with introducing training techniques modelled on movements they are required to perform on the pitch: so fewer weights and traditional fitness tests and more dynamic activities.
"I'm trying to get away from fitness tests being the be all and end all and trying to push the conditioning more for actual rugby," Beard said.
"We like big lean players; we try to manufacture guys who are productive in their positions,"
Beard is reluctant to pick out the squad player who performs best in training - "There's no trophy for fitness" - but, when pressed, observes that Leigh Halfpenny's coverage of the pitch in matches is replicated by his energy in the endurance sessions.
Maximuscle, the UK and Europe's no.1 sports nutrition brand, is the Official Sports Nutrition Partner for the WRU. Maximuscle products enable the players to optimise their training and performance. For more information visit www.maximuscle.com
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