We were lucky enough to have a quick Q&A with Ben and Owen Franks about their thoughts on strength training. Coming from two legendary athletes like these guys, it was awesome getting their insights here on the Strength Elite blog.
- Ben Franks | Height: 184cm | Weight: 118kg | Position: Prop
- Owen Franks | Height 186cm | Weight: 121kg | Position: Tight Head Prop
How did you first get into Rugby?
Ben: I first got started in rugby when Dad took me down to the Huia rugby club for my 6th birthday. Being an All Black is a dream of all NZ kids. As I got older it changed from a dream to wanting to be the best rugby player I could be, and to me that was being an All Black.
Owen: I got started through my dad; he played for the local league team (Motueka Tigers) and I played for the junior team. My family would always make a big deal of the Bledisloe Cup games between the All Blacks and the Wallabies. A lot of the family grew up in Australia so half the lounge room would be decorated in green and gold and the other half in black and white… I would sit on the black and white side and that’s where my dream of playing for the All Blacks started.
When and how did you start your strength training?
Ben: I started at 14 when Dad introduced me to a trainer in Christchurch, Warren Thin.
Owen: I started strength training when I was 14 too.
What’s your personal training philosophy?
Ben: Master the basics. Hard work. Consistency.
Owen: Train hard and smart! I’ve always done exercises that I know will benefit me in rugby. I don’t get caught up in new age exercises that are usually just variations of the original ones. My weight training is old school strength and power! I have my core lifts – squats, pulls, bench press and Olympic lifts – and then assistance exercises around that. I like to do higher reps in upper body exercises in season around 6-10 reps so I can keep my mass on. My core lifts are usually no higher than 3 reps. Pre-season we obviously increase the volume, but still keep it pretty consistent. Something I’ve also worked on pretty hard throughout my career is my agility; being a big guy I think it’s a real edge in rugby when you have quick feet and the ability to change direction efficiently. And obviously you need the fitness base to go along with all that for rugby.
Is there a moment in your career that stands out from the rest?
Ben: 2008 – first time I played for the All Blacks
Owen: When my brother and I started with each other against Ireland in 2010; that was something I always dreamed about growing up so it was a pretty proud moment.
What advice do you have for young athletes?
Ben: In terms of strength training, don’t be in a rush to put that weight on the bar. Take time to master the technique. When you can achieve full range with correct technique, then you can add the weight.
Owen: My advice for a young athlete would be to do what ever it takes to reach your goal and never give up on your dream.
How important is your strength training to your athletic development?
Ben: It has played a big role in my career. My first year season for the Crusaders I weighed 108kg and was undersize for my position. Now in my 10th season I’m 118kg and physically I feel the best I’ve ever been. Being able to train consistently year-to-year has helped me to improve my conditioning without injury.
Owen: Strength training has been huge for my athletic development. If it wasn’t for my dad getting me in the gym from a young age I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Strength training has made my body resilient to the demands of professional rugby and has most definitely given me an edge over my opponents
We’ve talked before on the mental aspect of your game; how do you keep pushing yourself harder every session, game etc?
Ben: The fun part about being a professional rugby player for me outside of game day is the pursuit of getting better – every training session is an opportunity to achieve this.
Owen: Before the start of each season I set goals around how I want to play that year and what that looks like, what skill sets I need to achieve that, and then my long term and outcome goals for the season ie: All Black World Cup squad. This keeps me consistently focused on my performance. When I review my performance I hold myself accountable.
Ben: Squats or Deadlifts
Owen: Full clean!
Anything else you wanted to say?
Ben: Yep don’t trust trainers who have pencil necks or ones who are quick to give you advice on how to get strong, but when you ask them what weights they can lift they tell you they’re training for a marathon!
Thanks a lot guys, it was great chatting with you both!