Shaw thinks players should emulate the likes of Serge Betsen
England lock Simon Shaw says the emphasis on power over skill in rugby has turned players into "gym monkeys".
England's preparations for the autumn internationals have been hampered by injuries to six key players.
And 36-year-old Shaw, who is recovering from a broken metatarsal and hoping to be back for the last Test, thinks the standard of rugby is also suffering.
"We shouldn't be creating gym monkeys with technique, we should be trying to create rugby players," he said.
"We should be looking more at the skill side of the game rather than the physical. I hope we don't go down the route of using American football style padding."
There's a lot of pressure, especially on the young guys coming through, to be fitter, stronger and faster
Shaw is likely to miss England's first two Tests in the autumn series against Australia and Argentina, but is aiming to return against New Zealand on 21 November.
Phil Vickery became England's latest casualty on Tuesday after he was ruled out for at least three months because of a neck injury, and joins a growing list of injured players such as Andrew Sheridan and Delon Armitage on the treatment table.
The issue is a concern to Shaw and he suggests that over-training could be the root cause of the problem. Yet he is also worried that the pressure to stay in the team means players are ignoring other areas.
"There is an argument that people are spending too much time in the gym, creating more of an athlete than a rugby player," he said.
"But there is a limit to how far you can stretch your body. There's a lot of pressure, especially on the young guys coming through, to be fitter, stronger and faster.
"That in turn makes them train harder in the gym to be physically stronger than the player who is currently holding that position.
"But they should look at guys like Lawrence Dallaglio and Serge Betsen. Betsen is not the strongest man in the world, he doesn't lift a lot of weights. He's not even the fittest guy on the training pitch.
"But when he goes out playing he never stops - he's got an incredible engine. Lawrence as well was never that great in the gym."