Standing tall at 6”5, playing on the back row for Gloucester Rugby, the versatile Tom Savage has took some time out of his busy schedule to talk training and nutrition with the team here at USN…

How does your gym work compare to other players?

As a second row I am targeting carrying lots of functional lean mass and having very high strength levels. We tend to stick to big compound movements such as box squats, bench press, and weighted chins to achieve this.

Does USN supplements have a key factor in your growth as a player?

First and foremost, it’s about getting my daily food intake right from whole, nutrient dense foods which help me recover and keep improving in the gym and on the rugby field. The few supplements we use complement this. I find the 100% Whey Protein useful after heavy sessions or between sessions when there is a short time, and eating is tough. I also find the casein protein useful before bed, and to help me meet my protein targets for the day. I use creatine at different points in the year to help my capacity to do lots of repeated high intensity work efforts on the pitch, and maximise the volume of lifting I can get done in the gym.

What rep range are you working on?

Now we are working on speed of movement in our main lower body exercise to develop strength and power. The reps in our box squat here change weekly, but our target is to move the weight at a minimum speed each rep. To maintain my lean mass in my upper body we are currently working higher rep volume of 4 sets of 8-10 reps in our main lifts.

How easy is it to go from the gym to working on the pitch?

There are normally adequate breaks in the day between sessions and meetings when we can get a meal or snack in. When the gaps are short having something easily digestible such as a fruit smoothie with whey protein and enough carbohydrate in to refuel before the next session makes it easier.

Credit: Martin Bennett / Gloucester Rugby

How does your diet work? You obviously need to be replacing a lot of calories?

Yes, I can certainly eat! I try to ensure I get 5-6 portions of quality protein rich foods in spread across every day, even on recovery days. This will mean I get between 200-250g of protein over the day and this will vary depending upon the time of year and my physical goals. My energy needs will depend on the amount of training we have, and this will mean the amount of carbohydrate I need each day will vary the most. It’s the mentality of ‘fuelling for the work’ so if I have a heavy day with a lot of high intensity work my carbohydrate needs will be high, but on rest days they will be much lower. My fat intake focuses upon sources of fats and how they are contributing to my recovery as well as energy intake. I may have a few more portions on rest days when my need for carbohydrate is lower. 

What tips do you have for recovering quickly?

I suppose the best tip is don’t neglect your carbohydrate after a big training session or match! Protein is important, but you can easily get what you need without overdoing portion sizes. Make sure if you have emptied the tank, refuelling this is the focus over the first few hours.  After the match I try to get a recovery smoothie in with a mixture of easily digestible whey protein with fruit and milk. We also have snacks in the changing rooms such as bananas, homemade flapjack or muffins to meet our carbohydrate needs. After showers, ice baths and any medical needs, we have a meal together cooked by our chef. Again, there will be plenty of options to get enough energy from carbohydrate in, and quality protein shakes before resuming normal habits the following day.

Do you have any stretching routines/tips?

I do Pilates through the week to keep me moving well and muscles around my hips and glutes firing. A few of us in the squad do a group studio session on reformers during the week on a recovery day. I also use my foam roller at home in the evenings to make sure any tight spots are ironed out!

That’s all from Tom this week but keep up-to-date with all the latest news, training tips and nutritional advice with USN Life!

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