His focus nowadays is fitness. For it’s own sake. But Todd Liubinskas has rugby league in his blood. His dad, Mick, was a leading player of the roughhouse 1970s, turning out for Balmain and Western Suburbs before those great old clubs coalesced into the single entity known as Wests Tigers. His father was past his prime by the time Todd came along, but bestowed on his son a passion both for the game itself and the physical conditioning needed to play it.
“I was doing sandhill training from the age of five,” recalls Liubinskas, who went on to play both league and rugby union at braggable levels. Now 35, he reflects wistfully on those times. “I miss the soreness,” he says. “You’d wake up and think, ‘Hell, I worked hard. I got battered. But we won’.”
These days a rippling 92kg, Liubinskas reckons he played his best rugby league at a hefty 108kg. That extra bulk was essential for absorbing the collisions, he says. “If you’re too lean you’re going to get manhandled and you won’t recover. I was training twice a day and eating a chicken a day with a lot of bread. You have to beef yourself up because you’re basically a battering ram.”
As a leading strength and conditioning coach with ties to numerous NRL players and coaches, Liubinskas knows precisely the kind of training you need to do to be ripped and ready for your own footy, whatever the level. Tackle his fit-for-footy workout – and prime yourself for your best-ever season.
Build An NRL Body
As well as creating big muscle – especially in your lower body, where you need it most to thrive in a collision sport – this workout from Liubinskas will upgrade your engine so you’re still a lethal presence in the dying seconds of play
What to do
After a warm-up to activate your posterior chain, work through your sets of the three strength-focused exercises, resting 90 seconds between sets. Take a 10-minute breather, then do the conditioning circuit, aiming to complete as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes.
With a barbell racked on your anterior delts, chin up, brace your core and sink into a squat (A). Summon all your glute and quad power to drive back up (B). Do 4 sets of 10.
With a bar held out front, scapula back, a slight bend in your knees, stick your butt out to initiate the lowering of the bar to mid-shins (A). Stand back up (B). Do 3 x 8 reps.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
With a dumbbell in each hand, place the top of your left foot on a bench behind you (A). Head up, perform a lunge on your right leg (B). Do 3 sets of 8 reps on each leg.
Hold a barbell at waist level (A). Bend your knees and clean it to your shoulders (B). Do 8 reps.
Lift a ball from the floor (A) to full extension above your head (B). Slam it down. Do 20 reps.
Jump onto a rowing machine and row for 200 metres (A), initiating each stroke with your legs (B).