Rugby fitness is big business.  The sport has taken to strength and conditioning because of the benefits that rugby fitness can have on performance.  One concept that covers all levels of rugby is the Tower of Power (TOP).  TOP is a term commonly used within coaching to describe the desirable body position to be achieved in many technical aspects of the sport.  More specifically, contact situations require players to execute the TOP.   Contact aspects of the game of rugby inherently represent a risk of injury.  The TOP appears to represent a safe and effective body position from which to execute tackles and engaging in rucks mauls and scrummage.   In this blog leading London strength and conditioning coach, NK Fitness describes Top and its key features.   We also touch upon exercises that could be used to help players develop it.

Achieving the Tower of Power

The TOP body position is characterised by flexion at the knees and hips, weight distributed evenly  between heels and balls of the feet.  The spine is kept ‘flat’, with no flexion, and the shoulders are higher than the hips.  In order to keep the whole of spine in alignment the chin is off the chest.   Players are encouraged to look upwards towards the target area, without excessive extension of the neck.  The shoulder blades are drawn back to give a tighter upper back, with the elbows flexed and drawn upwards.

Why is the Tower of Power important to rugby fitness?

The key aspect of the TOP is that it promotes complete alignment of the axial spine which reduces the risk of injury when force is transmitted through it upon contact.  This ‘spine in line’ position maximises force transmission through the spine from the legs to point of contact.  Players often make contact with the shoulder.  Flexed knees and hips provide a biomechanically strong position to generate maximum force from the strong muscles of the legs. The ‘scaps on’ position places the arms in a strong position to drive forward dynamically to grapple the opposing player, whether contesting the ball or executing a tackle.


Elite rugby strength and conditioning and rugby fitness in London
The Tower of Power is a specific element of rugby fitness the is important to injury prevention and performance.

With a safety first approach, the TOP cannot be emphasised enough. All players must devote adequate time and preparation to ensuring that they can adopt the TOP position quickly and effectively.  Once mastered in isolation, suitable development of technique under pressure must take place, as the ability to adopt a safe, effective TOP in game situations is critical.

Building the Tower of Power

In part 2 we will look at the muscles involved in generating the TOP.  We will explore how these can be developed as part of training schedule.   Therefore improving strength and control in developing and executing the TOP body position. Please note, that whilst every opportunity has been taken to ensure that the information provided is correct, this is not intended as an instructional text.  However it is designed to raise awareness of factors considered by the author to be important in developing TOP.   In conclusion those looking to practice the TOP must seek appropriately qualified coaches and enter into an official and organised development programme.

This article was written by personal fitness trainer Nathan Kelly – find on Google+

Part two can be found here