Updated: Apr 1
When I suggest to a player that they need to include strength training to become faster, I get a funny look and often a reply that goes something like this: “Coach, I said faster not stronger”.
Strong rugby players are generally faster rugby players.
Greater strength allows you to produce more force into the ground - a key component to speed.
If you don’t believe that strength training will improve your speed, just look at 100m sprinters and look how big and powerful their legs are.
Let me clear this up, when I talk about strength for speed, I’m not talking about how much you can bench or lift. I’m talking about getting the right muscles stronger which will allow you to become faster.
Simply going to the gym and lifting weights won’t cut it, you need to be targeting the key muscles for speed - hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and glutes.
The strength training I include in my online speed programs are single-leg strength exercises.
These types of exercises are so important to developing speed because sprinting is a single leg movement. Each leg works on its own to propel your body forward. You also push off one leg when you accelerate off the mark explosively. So, it makes sense that all rugby players would be training single leg movements.
The other reason why I include single-leg strength exercise in my training programs is that they:
1. Improve your stability and balance - something that two-legged exercises can’t improve
2. Balance strength on both the left and right sides of the body so that you can produce force equally on both legs
3. Develop small muscle groups that you can’t hit with two-legged exercises
4. Promote greater muscle growth - you engage 3 more muscles in a single leg exercise than a two-legged exercise.
There is one drawback though, and that is that single-leg strength exercises can be difficult for young rugby players that lack strength and stability.
So, here are 3 hacks to improve your stability when performing single-leg strength exercises
1. Squeeze your core – by activating your core and keeping it tight, your stability will improve. And, don't forget to breathe.
2. Slow down – This will allow you to perform the movement correctly and fire the correct muscles that will improve your speed
3. Use a counterbalance – Hold a weight plate or something similar arm’s length to provide enough stability and keep you from wobbling.
Finally, let's look at my 3 favourite single-leg strength exercises that you need to include in your training to improve your speed.
1. SPLIT SQUAT
2. SINGLE-LEG HIP THRUSTERS
3. Rear elevated Split Squat
Strength really can make you a faster rugby player. Remember strong Rugby players are fast rugby players. Give single-leg strength exercises a go, not only will they improve your strength but your balance and stability as well. As always, send me a message if you have any questions.