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The Effect of Complex Training on Physical Performance in Rugby League Players

Scott, David J.; Ditroilo, Massimiliano; Orange, Samuel T.; Marshall, Phil


David J. Scott

Massimiliano Ditroilo

Samuel T. Orange


Purpose: To compare the effects of variable-resistance complex training (VRCT) versus traditional complex training (TCT) on strength, power, speed, and leg stiffness (Kleg) in rugby league players during a 6-week mesocycle. Methods: Twenty-four rugby league players competing in the British University and Colleges Sport Premier North Division were randomized to VRCT (n = 8), TCT (n = 8), or control (CON; n = 8). Experimental groups completed a 6-week lower-body complex training intervention (2×/wk) that involved alternating high-load resistance exercise with plyometric exercise within the same session. The VRCT group performed resistance exercises at 70% of 1-repetition maximum (1RM) + 0% to 23% of 1RM from band resistance with a 90-second intracontrast rest interval, whereas the TCT group performed resistance exercise at 93% of 1RM with a 4-minute intracontrast rest interval. Back-squat 1RM, countermovement jump peak power, reactive strength index, sprint times, and Kleg were assessed pretraining and post-training. Results: VRCT and TCT significantly improved 1RM back squat, countermovement jump peak power, and 5-m sprint time (all P < .05). VRCT also improved Kleg, whereas TCT improved 10- and 20-m sprint times (all P < .05). Between groups, both VRCT and TCT improved 1RM back squat compared with CON (both P < .001). Additionally, VRCT improved Kleg compared with CON (right leg: P = .016) and TCT improved 20-m sprint time compared with CON (P = .042). Conclusions: VRCT and TCT can be implemented during the competitive season to improve strength, power, and 5-m sprint time. VRCT may lead to greater improvements in reactive strength index and Kleg, whereas TCT may enhance 10- and 20-m sprint times.


Scott, D. J., Ditroilo, M., Orange, S. T., & Marshall, P. (2023). The Effect of Complex Training on Physical Performance in Rugby League Players. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 18(3), 240-247.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 23, 2023
Publication Date Mar 1, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 24, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 16, 2023
Journal International journal of sports physiology and performance
Print ISSN 1555-0265
Electronic ISSN 1555-0273
Publisher Human Kinetics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 240-247
Keywords Variable-resistance complex training; Traditional complex training; Force–velocity relationship; Strength and conditioning; Competitive season
Public URL


Accepted manuscript (430 Kb)

Technical Information
Accepted author manuscript version reprinted, by permission, from International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2023, 18 (3): 231-239, © Human Kinetics, Inc.

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