As Gloucester Rugby's first team squad near the end of phase one of preseason training, Mark Bitcon the club's Head of Strength & Conditioning told the club website about the hard work put in to date.
Bucking the trend of recent years, the Gloucester Rugby squad had less time off this close season and reported back for training in the first week of June.
The obvious exceptions were the players absent on international duties and new signings yet to report for duty.
Talking at the club's training base at Hartpury College, Bitcon explained the rationale behind the change in approach:
"We finished a little bit earlier than we'd like last year and they (the players) all had 1:1s with the coaches and with myself and the fitness team and they all had objectives and recommendations made for their time off and targets to hit when they come back."
"Things are slightly different this season as we've given them less time off. They've had three or four weeks off so they didn't come back as de-conditioned as in recent years so we're already starting off from a higher base."
"None of the guys came back in bad shape. They'd all followed the programmes we'd set for them. We're really pleased with them as it means that we can build and push a lot further."
There has also been a deliberate effort to have senior Academy players working alongside the first team squad and two players in particular have caught the eye according to Bitcon:
"One example is Freddie Burns who has been outstanding in preseason and benefitting from training with guys like Carlos Spencer, Tom Voyce and James Simpson-Daniel. His weights have been outstanding and so has his speed work. We have big hopes for him."
"Another one is Yann Thomas who has been working with Olivier Azam and the other front rowers and has come on leaps and bounds. Over the first month, the front rowers were in between 7am and 8am doing fat burning sessions."
"Yann was part of that group and has made massive gains dropping about 5kgs in body fat and enhancing muscle mass by 3 to 4kgs which are massive results."
Phase one effectively concludes at the end of this week with the squad relocating to St Andrews in Scotland next week for a week's training camp before enjoying a well earned week off.
However, Bitcon was quick to quash any rumours that the players would spend the week playing golf on the Old Course!
"It's not going to be Portugal or Spain and playing touch in 30 degree heat! And I don't actually want the guys training in 30 degree heat because I can't do as much work with them."
"Hopefully we will get some decent weather but we will be working extremely hard up there. It'll be a high intensity training camp. The boys will have one afternoon off in eight days so they'll probably be too tired to golf!"
"They'll be up at 7 in the morning and doing about five sessions a day with meetings planned in some of the evenings so it will be hard work physically and mentally."
"It's a marker for our season and a really important week in the development of this squad."
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