Conjugated training applied to team sports

The conjugated method for team sports

What is Conjugated training?

Conjugated training means that several abilities (e.g. absolute strength, speed strength, rapid force development, muscular endurance, hypertrophy, etc) are trained together throughout the training week.

When athlete’s repeatedly use the same method (and exercises) of training to raise their strength level, they will eventually stall. Many of us have the belief that to squat bigger weights then we better squat more often. Louis Simmons believe this is wrong. He states, “if the same exercises are done longer than 3 weeks, the central nervous system will cease to adapt. How many of us who tried getting a bigger bench hit the wall after a few weeks and our weight’s stagnated I see this every time I go back to my old gym in Wales where guys I used to train with are benching what they did 10 years ago!!!

Louis got the conjugated method from his research on studying Eastern European methods of training and in particular the famous Dynamo Club in the former Soviet Union which was for Olympic Lifters. They were introduced to a system of 2-4 special exercises per workout and were rotated as necessary to make continued progress. They soon found out that when they became stronger in exercises like the good morning, glute ham raise, various extension work and pulls, so did their Olympic lifts even without Olympic lifting.

I remember having a conversation with Charles Poliquin a few years ago and him telling me about an athlete he had taken who had been Power Cleaning the same weight for a number of year’s and simply couldn’t improve - Charles stopped him from doing Power Cleans for around 12 weeks and the guy smashed his PB.

Louis also states” the more advanced the lifter-the more tasks he needs to stimulate further development. The training is linked together, and although the exercises change regularly (to prevent accommodation), similar exercises are done in many different ways. Special exercises are also done within a workout to work on weak muscles which are inhibiting your progress in the core lifts and these special exercises are also switched when progress halts.

Now how do I apply conjugated training with my players, firstly our season is 9 gruelling months and at this present time we are 6 month’s into our season. If we have played on a Saturday we will do our first weights program on Monday late afternoon (if the player is so beat up he won’t train on my recommendation) if he is still alive this will be a typical program which changes every Monday and also Backs & Forwards have different programs and if a player has a real weakness after he has completed the core lift he will then work on his weak areas.

A 8 X 1 - 3 CLEANS

We will then do our second weights program Wednesday late afternoon which again changes every workout.


I used to use primarily the power lifts as my core exercises obviously having been influenced by Westside but like everything else if you want to keep improving yo have to keep evolving and I primarily use the Olympic lifts as my core lifts and have seen fantastic improvements in my players physicality and mentality.

Phil Richards

Worcester Warriors


the book
The coaches strength training playbook, by Joe Kenn explains exactly what you are looking for. Good luck


Could you tell us what else you do during the week, rugby drills etc. Also if you did anything “aerobic” ?


Hi Seanjos

We don’t do any aerobic work in or out of season. Player’s will do a lot of work on improving their work capicity if we feel that is what’s letting them down during games, for this I will use a lot of anaerobic shuttles as well as kettle bell work.

All our program’s are individulised so you could have one player doing a hypertrophy session while a player in the same position might be on an olympic lifting program.



I think you are right on the money. Rugby is high intensity intermittent work requiring mainly strength, speed and power (depending on position). There is too much emphasis on aerobic work in rugby (especially in wales). The aerobic system will be stressed during recovery from the intermittent work and, therefore, will improve as a by product of the anaerobic work.

I should have a study published very soon on this very issue and will give you the reference when available.

Phil, what did you make of a certain winger who used to play for you (also ex wasps and england). He was a top class sprinter, winning the english schools championships, as an under 20, in a wind-aided 10.55 I think.

I was in the Welsh system for 4 seasons with Swansea Rugby club and we were the only team that didn’t do any aerobics and I was slated by many for that. But we done alright we won 2 league title’s out of 3 because we couldn’t enter 1 season we went into the English league for a season which we won. We also won the Welsh cup by the biggest margin ever in the history beating our old enemy Llanelli by 37 - 10.

Oh those were the good old days

I agree that most team sports don’t need aerobic work either in or out of season.

Though I don’t agree with this complete anti-aerobic attitude that many in the strength community seem to have.
‘Aerobic-type’ Tempo-style runs have a place in the programme

I am trying to establish a good periodised model for developing the athletes work capacity without negatively affecting their speed and power elements.

I don’t think I’ve got it right though.

I do use anaerobic shuttles but I feel I’m not using them effectively.

I also have found that using shuttles too soon can have negative effects on some (e.g. older, less flexible, poor core strength and heavier) players.

If ur training every element during the week and playing a game…how do your players recover?! How can can they train for absolute strength and hypertrophy and still have the muscular and nervous system freshness to properly train RFD?
I agree that the ‘system’ has to be challenged to keep adaptations going and that the body becomes stale if the same routine is used week in, week out. But how can every element be challenged every week w/out causing massive fatigue and injury. What is your recovery and regeneration program?
I do agree that one can improve one’s clean without doing any cleans at all…in my experience, the better my squats and deads the better my power cleans will be…given that i am fresh.
I know that CF believes in vertical integration basically all year round. But, to an extent, as one element is increased the other necessarily has to be decreased.
Have you heard of unidirectional training? It can still have variative means; but each block emphasises one element; ie. absolute strength, next block, explosion and acceleration, next speed, then speed endurance.
There are pro’s and con’s to all types of training systems and philosophies, But perhaps your training is good for the ‘blood and guts’ approach to team rugby, but not necessarily refined enough for the requirements of top-flight sprinters.

Not speaking for Power but i think he gave just an example - but one solution to cover the various elements would be to use a 10 or even 14 day training ‘week’.


Sorry Power…i know that i am in a team sport thread; but i still wonder how your players can possibly undertake all the elements in a training ‘week’ and recover, adapt and improve; G.A.S. principles would apply across all types of training, no?
Also, in a different thread(planning and periodisation) you stated (if im not mistaken) that the conjugate method was the best method of training, and that Bompa’s methodology wasnt the right way.
I’m not trying to be clever or sarcastic…but i’d like to know how your players can train all elements every week and not be mashed!

coach, how do you adress speed developement?do you use sled runs?

Anaerobic whenever I plan a training week for my players the first consideration is how much stress can I apply. Trust me buddy when your livlihood depends on results the last thing you want is players to go into games in a fatigued state.

All my players get individulised strength & conditioning programs depending on needs. And if I feel a player won’t benefit from doing a session because he is to fatigued then he won’t train. Recovery & regeneration is a huge part of our program.

Though I don’t agree with this complete anti-aerobic attitude that many in the strength community seem to have.
‘Aerobic-type’ Tempo-style runs have a place in the programme

I am trying to establish a good periodised model for developing the athletes work capacity without negatively affecting their speed and power elements.- No23

Well unfotunately mate I am the most “anti-aerobic” man you’ll ever meet. Tempo runs are recovery runs. Their effect on cardiovascular fitness along with any other ‘steady state’ actvity is marginal compared to what is achieved in properly conducted strength sessions. ‘Aerobics’… stay away.

Power, I actually knew the answer to my question but I hoped you’d reveal some vital flaw in your training philosophy so I could call you out on it… LOL …should’ve known better.


ANAEROBIC I’d like to ask you a question do you make your living training professional athletes?

Personally, I don’t see Power’s program as too recovery challenging for pro players…

For istance, I read Anaerobic’s comments before reading Power’s program and I was expecting much more volume.

I don’t see it extremely challenging too,but we should have a complete sample week, with speed drills and so on to have an idea of the weekly demands…It would be also interesting to lay down the path of your training, how it progresses form offseason to late inseason.

No i don’t…relevance?
i didnt mean to offend you by giving my opinion. Debate is a good thing n’est pas?
You are employed to do the conditioning for a rugby team; thats good for you…does that make you believe you have nothing to learn or discuss. We might agree on lots of things.
Im sure Charlie would agree that people who are paid to coach dont necessarily know anymore than the person who isnt.
This site is great cos of all the opinions and debates therein…u see, thats how it works power.

Good for you.

What’s your point exactly?

You don’t do Aerobic-type or Tempo-type training? Is that what your saying?

Great for you.
I hope you’re not a sprinter or rugby player… or better still … not training any.