How to Train Like a Rugby Sevens Player - John Moonlight's Lean Tips

How to Train Like a Rugby Sevens Player 

John Moonlight's Lean Tips

I was fortunate enough to have played with John Moonlight, who is one of the world's fittest, toughest and most successful International Rugby 7's player in Canadian history. It wasn't long ago I remember walking in a Fijian village with no electricity and no hydro with John Moonlight on one of our days off. As we were walking through, more and more Fijians began popping their heads out of their small homes as news spread that John Moonlight was in town! By the time we got to the end of the village we had the entire village as our entourage, all because John Moonlight was a Fijian super star for his unbelievable achievements in their national sport, rugby 7's. 

That story was a surreal experience but something I feel highlights John's impact around the world, and the reason, at least in my opinion, as to why he was so successful and internationally known, is because of his work ethic, and commitment to improving his physical abilities through his dedication to training, and nutrition. 

So, seeing as John is one of the fittest athletes on the planet, I figured there would be no better way to learn about his training regime than to train and interview him and that's exactly what we did! I am lucky I made it in one piece!

Lean Tip #1: Be explosive - Train fast to be fast! 


When I asked John to take me through a session, one exactly like he would be doing in the build up to the Pan American Games or World Cup, the first thing he emphasized we would be doing was explosive movements in the gym. The reason being? Speed skills in his opinion. Therefore, our gym session focused on movements that would recruit and develop our fast twitch muscle fibres. These moves included Squat Jumps, Push Press, One Legged Leg Drives, and SA DB Row. We focused on using light weight and moving fast. He stressed the fact that moving slow is not functional. Sometimes it's nice to see how much you can lift, but ultimately, it will not translate into functional performance and lean, explosive muscle. Likewise, he stressed heavier weights ultimately leave him feeling sluggish and slow. 

Lean Tip #2: Fitness, Fitness and MORE FITNESS! 

"There's no point in being fast if you're not fit" John said. Wow. That's a power statement but again, is the truth. The game of Rugby 7's is extremely fast and taxing on the bodies anaerobic AND aerobic systems. Therefore, athletes can't just be fast. They need to be FIT...very, very fit! That's why right after our gym session, John and I headed to the field for a quick HIIT session. It was only 10 minutes (well, actually 11 because he added a BONUS REP) but it was 10 minutes of maxing out the heart rate and pushing ourselves. The HIIT session is below: 

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10 reps (1 bonus round): 30 seconds ON, 30 Seconds OFF

- Start on chest on goal line. 

- Sprint 10 metres then touch line, sprint back to goal line (do a down up)

- Sprint 20 metres then touch the line, sprint back to goal line (do a down up)

- Sprint back to 10 metres and repeat until time is up. 

Notes: Active recover on rest. Push as hard as you can! 

Lean Tip #3: Food is the fuel to success!

"Food is the fuel to success" John says. Without his dedication to nutrition, he doesn't believe he would have achieved the success he did. He was always aware of what was going into his body and it paid off! He is looking extra lean and insanely fit despite being one of the older guys on the Canadian National team! Of course, he said "everyone deserves a treat so long as you put the work in" and that's why, it became a bit of a tradition to make an Ice Cream Stop on every circuit stop. The best ice cream was always in Dubai in case your wondering! 

Combine steps 1, 2 and 3 and you will be well on your way to success. Take if from John! He completed 46 World Series stops in a row (4 1/2 years). That is insane and a large part of it is due to how he trained and treated his body off the field.