Davies: Special workouts get us ready for battle
SPECIAL Forces training can help Gloucester's stars smash pre-season strength and speed test records, believes Nigel Davies.
Kingsholm's top dogs have battled through severe mental and physical endurance tests devised by military personnel in their first phase of pre-season training.
Rugby director Davies has pitted his men against weekly day-long extreme challenges, to steel his stars for the season ahead.
The Cherry and Whites will return to training on Monday after a week's rest, to face their second set of comprehensive fitness and power testing.
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Gloucester's strength and conditioning team tested the Kingsholm squad on their first day of pre-season, on Thursday, June 27.
And now Davies' squad will go through the same challenges again, in order to gauge overall progress.
After Monday's tests Gloucester will fly out to the French Alps for their pre-season training tour.
Davies' men will spend eight days in Tignes, before travelling directly down to Toulon for their opening warm-up match at Stade Mayol on Friday, August 9.
The former Wales centre explained: "Those challenges have been extremely testing, both mentally and physically, up to the point where on occasion players fail.
"We knew they would, and then when that happens we look into why they failed, and looking to move on and progress from there.
"Invariably in the challenges that came after, more and more people passed and got through, as a result of growing mental toughness and resilience.
"Through the course of the last few weeks all the players have grown a great deal on that front.
"A lot of it was military-based, and we were very privileged to have access to and to have been out with some Special Forces units, and some of the tests that they do.
"And it has been extremely challenging.
"We've been fortunate to be allowed to work with these people, and for them to give us their time and expertise.
"And the specialists we've been working with don't want to talk too much about what we've done, they've asked for discretion around what we've done.
"So now the players will be tested on Monday, after a week's rest where they were doing a lighter programme.
"We'll be able to see the gains they have made in pre-season so far.
"You don't actually feel the full benefit while you're training, it's when you rest and then pick it up again.
"We'll expect all their times to be better than when we tested them on their first day back."
Gloucester capitalised on the benefits of altitude training last summer with their first pre-season trip to Tignes.
Davies believes it is right to return this year but admits it will probably be the last time the Kingsholm men do.
He added: "Everything has its life span, and I thought it was the right thing to do to go back to Tignes, because it works really well.
"We know the environment, they've actually improved their facilities there as well, so that will be even more beneficial for us.
"This will be the last year that we do this, but it's absolutely right and perfect that we go there again this season."