Rate of Force Development for Rugby

People understand the need to improve general fitness qualities to enhance rugby performance. But if they aren’t training for greater rate of force development they are leaving a huge amount of gains on the gym floor. Read on for the low down on Rate of Force Development for rugby, what it is and how to train it.

Why Not Just Get Strong?

It is no surprise to anybody that strength is important for rugby performance. We have written about how important improving your Squat strength is before but once you get to a certain level of strength, usually 2x your bodyweight in the squat, there are diminishing returns. Meaning getting stronger won’t necessarily improve your on field performance.

What is Rate of Force Development?

Strength is the ability to produce force, Rate of Force Development is how quickly you can produce that force. In a game where the quicker player off the line makes the try saving tackle or jumps higher to catch the ball you can see why rate of force development is important for rugby performance.

Strength Vs Rate of Force Development

Consider this Diagram:

rate-of-force-development rugby

The heavy resistance trained athlete has higher strength levels than the explosive trained athlete but the explosive athlete can reach higher force quicker than the heavy resistance trained athlete. Which Athlete would you rather be? I hope you answered Explosively trained!!

Learn More About The Relationship Between Force & Velocity

Training for Rate of Force Development

If you aren’t yet squatting double bodyweight keep training for strength until you hit that standard. You can and should still use phases of power and explosive training but your ultimate goal is to get that maximum force up. After all there is no point being able to produce a small amount of force quickly.

If you are squatting double bodyweight then explosive training is about to become your new best friend!

Rate of Force Development Exercises

The best exercises to train rate of force development usually involve a pause of some kind or begin from a static position. Why? Well to have a rapid increase in force it is best to start at zero. Of course you should aim to be as explosive as possible when performing the concentric portion of the lift. Here are some great exercise options to build rate of force development:


Want Some More Workout Ideas?…

Olympic Variations

The olympic lifts are great for Rate of Force Development for rugby, when performed correctly. Read our article about the effects different variations of the olympic lifts on power etc here. For rate of force development we prefer the hang variations of the Clean and Snatch

Loading & Programming for Rate of Force Development Training

Here’s a couple of training ideas to try out:

Box Squat Dynamic Effort Method

10 sets x 2 reps @50-60% 1RM

Rest 45-60secs between sets

Concentric Jump Squat

5 sets x 3 reps @60-70% 1RM

Rest 2mins between sets

Hang Clean

5 sets x 3 reps @70-80% 1RM

Rest 2mins between sets

If you have access to a GymAware, Tendo Unit or Push Band (or any other bar speed measuring device!) use it! they a great for increasing training intensity and tracking your progress in explosive work.


We hope this article has highlighted the importance of rate of force development for rugby performance. Ensure that you are training to improve it, once you have decent relative strength levels. Try out some of these exercises and protocols and be the first off the line and dominate collisions!

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