Strength Elite’s Five Minutes With: Ben Franks

I met Ben a few years ago through his brother Owen (Franks Brothers). Prior to meeting him I had read up and seen a few stories about him… they were all built up around his size and the way he plays… aggressively!  It only took me a few minutes of listening to him, watching him train to realise that he’s highly intelligent and very precise tactically (on the field), the way he trains and who he spends his time with. Whilst I was in London this year I got to catch up with Ben over a bit of food and coffee (thank f#ck he understands what good coffee and whisky is as I was almost at my wits end.)  Ben is a good friend and someone who knows what he’s talking about because he’s tried it and excelled at it… he’s hard working and humble and it’s easy to see why he’s been so dominant in world rugby for so long. Enjoy!


Name: Ben Franks | Age: 33 | Profession: Rugby Player

Background: Professional Rugby Player for the past 12yrs. Owner of Franks Brothers Gyms with my Dad and Brother

Acolytes: 2x Super Rugby Championship 2x Rugby World Cups

Social media: Instagram ben_franks01


Question 1.  What have you been up to this last week?

I play my rugby now in England for London Irish. We are coming to the end of a long 8 month season in which we have made the finals with the semi finals starting this week

Question 2.  What does a normal day look like for you?

In season week to week things are pretty consistent, but day to day things change building up to a game so I’ll give you what a first training day post game looks like.

  • 0600 – me and my daughter have breakfast together before I leave for training
  • 0700 – I’ll get to training before other players arrive ( because it’s quite) to do my review of the weekends game and to also plan my training week so I peak for the coming weekends game
  • 0900 – Weights, depending on how I feel I like to get my lower body weights in. Heavy Squats, RDL, GHR is pretty standard for me. I do my Olympic lifts the day before I play.
  • 1000 – Forwards training, live scrum, lineout and maul training
  • 1300 – Team meet
  • 1400 – Team Training, this is a mixture of skills and drill plus running through team tactics for the coming weekends game. Trainings are short and sharp about 90min and cover about 3km worth of running.
  • 1530 – I’ll stay on the field after training to do extra work ons, catch pass, defence, scrum work.
  • 1600 – I’ll do my recovery and any thing else I want to cover off before the next days training.

Question 3.  Who or what has had the biggest impact on your career?

Well Dad has been a big help to both me and Owen, but I don’t want to say to much as it will go to his head. I’m a big believer in competition as a way to better yourself and to push you outside of your comfort zone. So in saying that having had Owen as a training partner for many years helped.

Question 4.  What drives you to keep on pushing the limits in your physical and mental/emotional game?

Well I love to compete and I still have that drive to want to be better then what I was yesterday. I also really enjoy the process of setting a goal and working towards achieving it as a team and individual.

Question 5.  What in your words makes a good person/human?

These are not my words, I came across them over ten years ago when I was in Denver Colorado, but as soon as I read them they rang pretty true to me and can be reflected in the people I choose to surround myself with:

The Code of the West

  • Live each day with courage
  • Take pride in your work
  • Always finish what you start
  • Do what has to be done
  • Be tough but fair
  • When you make a promise keep it
  • Talk less say more
  • Remember somethings aren’t for sale
  • Know where to draw the line

Question 6. What in your mind and words are two or three things you would do consistently to keep your conditioning (strength, endurance etc) up… things you think are important?

HEAVY squats, pulls, presses, medball and olympic movements. A training program should be well balanced and thought out to reflect the goals you or your athlete is working towards, but at the end of the day it’s how hard your willing to work which counts and makes the program. Conditioning-wise for what I’m required to do in my position, which is get from point A to point B as fast as I can then hit or move someone as violently as I can, I stick to medium to short interval training mixed with sled pushes. I’ve found over the years the more simple I can keep my program the more effective it becomes so in season I really keep to what I know works for me and become the best I can in that movement. My goal each year physically is to be stronger and fitter than what I was at the start of the season. This is not always achievable, but it keeps me working hard all year around trying to achieve it.

Question 7.  Favourite quote?

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

A common theme starting to come through that I don’t like to much noise . To be honest I’m not to good with quotes as I forget them five minutes after I read them but this one seems to have stuck.

Question 8.  How and why is your physical preparation so important to you specifically, and how does it impact you as a person… what are the benefits you see?

Well there have been many benefits but the biggest one is that I believe the reason I’ve been able to stay in the game so long at the highest level is because I started training at 13 which has helped me harden and condition my body physically to be able to take the knocks year after year. Mentally knowing I have left no stone unturned in my preparation gives me the confidence to go out and perform to my best with a clear mind. The clearer your mind is the more likely you will be to make the right decisions under pressure.

Question 9.  Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Well when Dad first took me to a gym when I was 13 he introduced me to a trainer called Warren Thin. Warren had competed in a lot of different strength events in his day and was also a world class bodybuilder. Owen and I both have a ton of story’s about Warren and some of the crazy training sessions he got us to do over the years. Every now and then I would make the mistake of saying to Warren after he had just loaded the bar up with a weight I never believed I could do “Warren, I don’t think I can do that!” He would just look at me and say “Do you want to be a All Black or not?” Of course I did, so I would do as he said and I would alway make the lift. It’s not so much advice, but it’s always been something that has stayed with me and I’ve thought of that many times over the years whenever a little self doubt has set in.