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The 3 Layers to a Faster Rugby Player

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Have you ever heard the saying you need to crawl before you walk?

The saying tells us that we need to master the basics ‘crawling’ before we can progress to ‘walking’.

Too many times I see rugby players trying to add power to a weak body or start lifting weights without mastering their bodyweight first. They are ‘trying to walk before they can crawl’. And let’s face it, we all do it across all areas of life. We want the cake before we are prepared to bake it.

If you’re not sprinting faster or becoming more explosive, chances are you’ve missed one of the 3 layers to becoming a faster rugby player.

Let’s take a look at the 3 layers.


This layer refers to how strong you are compared to your body weight. For example, a 90kg rugby player with the same amount of relative strength to a 120kg rugby player would be able to increase the amount of force into the ground, therefore, be able to sprint much faster, be more explosive and change direction sharper.

Rugby players with higher levels of relative strength are also less fatigued and more efficient at controlling and moving their body weight through space.

The key to improving your relative strength is through bodyweight exercises like push-ups, bodyweight squats, and chin-ups. Core stability exercises will also improve your relative strength.


Once you have built your foundation strength, it’s now time to turn to absolute strength.

Absolute strength is all about how much weight you can lift. Instead of using your body weight, you can now start using barbells and dumbbells.

If relative strength is about increasing the amount of force into the ground, then absolute strength is about being able to produce as much force as possible. This has a huge effect on your ability to produce power.

Rugby players with higher levels of absolute strength will have more muscular and power endurance.

You can improve your absolute strength through exercises like bench press, back squat, and deadlifts.


This is where the fun begins.

To develop power, you need to have built up relative strength first, followed by absolute strength. Remember what I said at the start of this blog about seeing too many rugby players trying to add power to a weak body? If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2, you can now add Power.

Power is producing maximal force as fast as possible and can be achieved through plyometrics (box jumps, depth jumps, etc), sprinting and triphasic training (included in my

BUT and this is a very loud BUT.

YOU MUST BUILD YOUR BASE FIRST. You can’t build a house without the foundations. So don’t get ahead of yourself.

If you skip a layer you increase the risk of injury. And you will be wasting your time and will see zero improvements in your rugby speed.

So, if relative strength is the missing link to your rugby speed then now is the perfect time to work on it. You don’t need any fancy equipment, a gym or weights to build your relative strength - all you need is your body and it’s weight. Guys, you can even train in your backyard.

My 4-week Speed & Agility program utilises only body weight and it will set you up with a good foundation, to enable you to develop breakaway speed and explosiveness. Not to mention, your change of direction skills will improve, which always means a much better on-field performance.

Click HERE (or on the image below) for more information about my at-home speed training programs.

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