Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2021) 20, 721 - 731   DOI:

Review article
Seasonal Changes in Strength and Power in Elite Rugby League: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Kellyanne J. Redman1,2, , Vincent G. Kelly3, Emma M. Beckman1
Author Information
1 School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
2 Performance Science Department, Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club, Brisbane, Australia
3 School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia

Kellyanne J. Redman
‚úČ University of Queensland, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Rm 241 Connell Building St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
Publish Date
Received: 23-02-2021
Accepted: 03-08-2021
Published (online): 01-10-2021
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The ability of a rugby league player to express high levels of strength and power is crucial for success in competition. Although researchers have shown relationships between physical attributes and performance, there is a lack of information related to changes in strength and power across various phases of the season. The purpose of this review was to identify the magnitude of change in muscular strength and power during different phases of an elite rugby league season. Percentage change and effect size were calculated to evaluate the magnitude of changes in strength and power. Meta-analyses were conducted to provide pooled estimates and 95% confidence intervals. Twelve studies were included; six reported changes following pre-season training, two during the competition phase and four examined changes over multiple seasons. Pooled estimates indicated large increases in upper and lower body strength 0.81 [0.43-1.19] and 1.35 [0.79-1.91], respectively, following pre-season training. Studies incorporating predominantly heavier loads (p 80% 1 RM) in training reported greater increases in maximal strength than studies completing lighter loads. Four studies used a wave-like programming strategy to obtain large improvements in strength and power 0.91 [0.36-1.45] and 0.90 [0.22-1.57], over multiple seasons. The results of this review highlight the limited current evidence and provides a preliminary reference point for strength and conditioning coaches aiming to develop and maintain strength and power across various stages, and over multiple seasons. Importantly, the results also indicate that higher loads result in greater increases in strength than lower loads.

Key words: Resistance training, football, professional, pre-season, competition

           Key Points
  • This review presents an evidence base for commonly expected changes of strength and power in elite rugby league at various phases of a season and over multiple seasons.
  • Based on the collective findings following the pre-season, a greater increase in lower body strength was observed when players lifted predominantly heavier loads (≥ 80% 1 RM) during resistance training sessions.
  • The undulating pattern of strength (higher-load) and power (lower-load) training sessions appears to maintain upper body strength and power throughout a competitive season.
  • Based on the findings from three of the longitudinal studies, a large increase in upper body strength and power following multiple (four - ten) seasons of wave-like resistance training programming in elite rugby league would be expected.
  • There is no literature to date examining the effect of the off-season, consequently what it is not yet clear is the impact this time away from structured training has on strength and power in elite rugby league.
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