Study offers clue to Championship clubs: Lose fat

A new study has potentially provided Championship coaches with a clue as to how they can better match Super League opponents in future.

The key to greater success could lie in the amount of extra fat that a team is carrying around out on the pitch.

As the Super 8s – The Qualifiers approaches, much of the focus has been on how Championship clubs like Leigh or Sheffield can hope to overcome the power and fitness of Super League teams.

The study, which closely examines body composition differences between Super League and Championship players, reveals that the size of players in the two divisions is not significantly different.

What is different, however, is the relative composition of the players’ bodies, and the ratios of fat to lean mass and muscle.

The full title of the study is: ‘Anthropometric and Three-Compartment Body Composition Differences between Super League and Championship Rugby League Players: Considerations for the 2015 Season and Beyond’.

Carried out by Ben Jones, Kevin Till, Matthew Barlow, Matthew Lees, John Paul O’Hara, Karen Hind. It was edited by Marie Lof, of Karolinska Institutet of Sweden.

It can be read in full HERE.

The survey concludes by stating:

“Body size was well-matched between Super League (SL) and Rugby League Championship (RLC) forwards, and SL and RLC backs, although distinct differences in body composition exist.

“Specific to the findings of the current study, RLC forwards and backs might benefit from reducing overall fat mass and increasing lean mass, specifically in the trunk in order to match the body composition of players at a higher standard.

“RLC backs may benefit from reducing fat mass in the limbs. The effects of body composition discrepancies between teams on injury occurrence represent a valuable avenue for further research.

“An individualised approach should be adopted to optimise the body composition profiles of players in line with on-field performance indicators.

“In addition to the skill level and collective experience of a team, a greater lean mass and lower body fat for some players might be of value for consideration by RLC teams if they are to physically match SL teams following the 2015 RL league restructure.”

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