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Dave Atwood

Vital Statistics Current
Age 29
Height 201cm
Weight 123.5kg
Body-Fat 11.7%

What does it take to be a top international Rugby player? As Bath Rugby’s Second Row-man Dave Attwood explains, it takes a lot of calories, a solid fitness plan and A LOT of dedication.

Dave’s sporting career started young, as he joined his primary school rugby team at the age of 8-years-old. Ever since then, his love for the sport didn’t waiver – working harder to be better year after year.

Fast forward all of these years and he’s capped England a whopping 23 times and is playing some really good rugby at Bath! We sat down with him to find out more about his history, diet and fitness.

Dave Atwood

Meal Plan

Breakfast will usually consist of scrambled eggs and salmon or bacon with some lentils and a cup of black coffee

Monday to Friday we eat at the rugby club and it's usually possible to be pretty consistent. 

A large portion of broccoli, wilted spinach or green beans.

A variety of proteins; salmon, steak, chicken

And on days where we are training harder... An added portion of carbs. Usually sweet potato, long grain rice or noodles. 

We play on a Saturday in a normal week, so I would tend to introduce more carbs Monday and Tuesday as we will train harder, then drop off as we reduce training in order to be ready for the game.

Following this, I will pick the levels back up Friday and Saturday to get an energy boost ready for the game. Saturday and Sunday would be much more relaxed – classic cheat days. 

Evenings would be similar in composition to lunch times, but we have a new born baby at the minute, so it's more a case of whatever I can get!

Dave Atwood

Hi Dave! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s begin by hearing your backstory – tell me about how you got into Rugby?

I moved to a new primary school when I was 8, and a kid in my class asked me if I wanted to come and play for his team.

I said yes and from then, I was hooked!

Daves Diet

What has been your biggest achievement in the sport to date?

I have 23 caps for England so far.

How did it feel to represent your country in the epic international games you competed in (especially the big win over Argentina in 2013)?

Playing for your country is one of the best experiences imaginable.

From the pride of being selected as the best in your position, to the ability to repay all the sacrifices that friends and family make to help you get there

What has it been like playing for Bath Rugby over the past few years?

We have enjoyed some really good rugby at bath since I arrived – having played in two finals and continuing the quest for some silverware. 

How do you psyche yourself up before a big match?

I like to watch videos of us playing well. Usually there is a big physical edge to it…

What would you to say to any other aspiring rugby players out there?

Success doesn't come from wishing. It comes from doing

Right – onto fitness! What does your standard workout routine look like?

We have a relatively light weights programme to supplement our rugby during the season. It's hard to make real substantial physical gains during the season. We work a lot on power weights and maintenance. 

Monday would involve some fitness work, usually a combination of shuttles.

A typical session might be from chest, run 10m, to chest, run 20m, to chest, run 10m. 1:1 work to rest ratio, 4 sets of 5.

That may be less than people expect, but that’s because we get a large volume of fitness from the rugby training.

Monday we would also do leg weights. These sessions vary frequently due to the volume and variety of injuries sustained week to week, which greatly affects what exercise we are able to do.

Tuesday will be upper body weights and the. Our last session in the gym will be Thursday. This will be Olympic lifting and power focused.

Dave Atwood Playing Rugby
mitzy /

What are the essential exercises for any rugby player?

I'm a big fan of large compound lifts, aside from heavy front/back squats, power cleans and a lot of shoulder and shoulder stability exercises

Do you have a favourite exercise?

I've got pretty good range for a big guy - I enjoy back squats and at times of the season is hope to be power cleaning 160kg

And which one do you dread doing?

I hate doing isometric holds. Particularly back extensions and planks!

Okay! Let’s talk nutrition – do you have any Muscle Food favourites?

I love the chicken sausages! 

Daves Diet

Any secret meal recipes you’d like to share?

I'm a huge fan of microwaved lentils mixed with chopped pancetta and served with eggs for breakfast.

How many calories do you need a day to support your fitness regime?

I'd expect to chew up to 3500/4000 calories a day because of my size alone, so on a heavy training day I would chew through up to 6500/7000!

What is your current macro split?

Generally, I'll try and build meals at 40% protein: 40% carbs: 20% fats, but I will consciously swap from vegetable based carbs to potato/flour/rice based carbs in heavy training days.

What are your thoughts on supplements? Important or not?

I'm not a big believer in supplements.

They obviously can have a big difference if you have a deficiency for some reason… But if you eat a good balanced diet, you should be fine

Who was/is your Rugby idol?

I am in awe of how diligent Guy Mercer is. His commitment to diet is world class. Also Peter stringer. He is a good obsessive!

What do you feel are the next steps in your career? And do you have any goals outside of the sport?

I'm slowly trying to strip 1% of my total mass to help me achieve some of my rugby goals - hoping that will help me further my international ambitions.

Finally, do you have any motivation/tips for anybody generally looking to get more into health and fitness?

If you have bad food in the house, you will eat it. When you have a craving, write it down and have it on your cheat day/meal. That way you still get to fulfil your craving.