Inside a Wests Tigers Training Session with Marcus Kain

Article | Josh Scully

This week we chatted to Wests Tigers Head of Physical Performance, Marcus Kain about tailoring the training to different players/positions.

Hey Marcus, thanks for chatting to us. How does training during the season look different to training in the off-season?

The biggest difference is the amount – for example, in regards to strength training, during the pre-season we lift up to four-days a week. But once the competition starts, it changes and depending on the turnaround between games, it‘s generally a minimum of two sessions a week - but depending on the turnaround it could be one session a week.

Our strength coach runs a very individualized program – so training in-season will look different for every player depending on their shape and their size.  

Every session starts with a 15-20 minute activation. We use the rollers, massage balls and trigger equipment to get all those muscles and ligaments activated.

From there the players all have a tailored program they’ll go through their key lifts – and then generally at the end they’ll have another reactivation session to stretch down.

What are some of the most common workouts that you’ll see in the Wests Tigers gym and how do they help prepare players for a sport like rugby league?

Activation Work

We use a lot of activation exercises along with massage equipment and trampolines here at the Wests Tigers.
The trampoline is used for proprioception improvements and maintenance. Ankle, knee and hip joints are the target areas in this instance. The massage equipment allows us to release and activate all muscle sheaths and joints before and after training and games. Rugby League is arguably the most total body intense sport in the world. Preparing correctly for this, by using the correct equipment, at the correct time, ensures an athlete is ready to perform.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are a good complete functional movement for the whole body. Both Upper and Lower limbs are used alternatively and individually depending on the exercise choice. This is important for the Rugby League player as the sport requires all moving aspects of the body to perform at all times throughout the game.


We use the sleds to do A-marching which is great for the player's running mechanics. The resistance of the loaded sled helps to simulate the resistance of a tackle.

Medicine Balls

Medicine Balls get so much use and can be used in a number of different movements.  You can throw this way, that way to target different muscles – you can do single arm movements, you can go against the wall, you can crunch with them.

Peg Boards

Peg Boards are used for upper body functional strength. We incorporate these exercises to train the players natural body weight strength. The main benefits of the Peg Board is that it makes the player move laterally whilst maintaining their body weight. This is a good variation compared to traditional upper body strength exercises.

Air Bikes

Air Bikes are a favourite amongst the strength & conditioning coaches. With these, a full body workout is achieved. Aerobically, the Air Bike ensures the arms and legs are both worked at once. We find this particular piece of equipment gets the players HR raised very quickly. This is extremely important for the 80 mins duration required for Rugby League.


SMAI are proud strength and conditioning partners for the Wests Tigers.