How Much Can Rugby Players Squat?

Rugby players are famous for being heavily muscle bound particularly their lower limbs with the average professional standing at 6ft 1 and weighing an impressive 100kg.

Rugby players regularly tear up the gym and lift weights in an effort to build the massive physiques they need for rugby. As the squat is a common exercise performed by rugby athletes I’m sure are curious on just how much professional rugby players lift. Lets find out!

How much can rugby players squat?

Rugby players are expected to bench press 1.7 to 2 times their body weight. With the average player weighing 100kg they are expected to bench press 170kg to 200kg. These are standards, many players are able to squat a lot more, such as Cian Heal who has squatted over 300kg.

As the squatting standards of rugby are based on body weight and the average weight of rugby players differs greatly between positions their expected squat numbers also vary greatly.

Prop – Average weight – 118kg – Expected squat – 200kg to 236kg

Hooker – Average weight – 106kg – Expected squat – 180kg to 212kg

Lock – Average weight – 117kg – Expected squat – 199kg to 234kg

Flanker – Average weight – 108kg – Expected squat – 183kg to 216kg

Number 8 – Average weight – 110kg – Expected squat – 187kg to 220kg

Halfback – Average weight – 84kg – Expected squat – 143kg to 168kg

Five Eighth – Average weight – 90kg – Expected squat – 153kg to 180kg

Inside Centre – Average weight – 97kg – Expected squat – 165kg to 194kg

Outside Centre – Average weight – 94kg – Expected squat – 160kg to 188kg

Wing – Average weight – 90kg – Expected squat – 153kg to 180kg

Fullback – Average weight – 90kg – Expected squat – 153kg to 180kg

Which Rugby Players Can Squat The Most?

Irish international prop, Andrew Porter is the rugby player with the highest squat at 350kg (770 pounds). In number 2 spot is Porter’s Irish front row partner, Cian Healy who squatted 300kg (660 pounds) for reps. Rounding out the top 3 is All Black, Ben Franks who has squatted 270kg (594 pounds). 

Rugby players don’t just have impressive physiques they have the strength to match. Top professional rugby players have squatted huge numbers which would be impressive lifts on the powerlifting platform.

The fact that rugby players can squat huge numbers while still training rugby full time is an amazing feat. You would expect all the running involved and physical contact involved in rugby to hurt players’ performances in the weightroom. Despite the toll rugby has on athletes’ legs; they are still capable of squatting big weights. 

It would be interesting to see just how much a player like Cian Healy or Andrew Porter could squat if they left rugby and pursued a powerlifting career. I would expect them to hit the 400kg (880 pounds) mark.

How Can Rugby Players Increase Their Squat?

To increase their squat rugby players need to program their weightlifting using linear periodisation by slowly increasing the intensity of their workouts over time. Rugby players must add supplemental exercises to their regime eg. barbell jumps, pause squats, kettlebell swings and front squats.

Many rugby players go into the weight room with no real plan and don’t follow a program. This is a recipe for failure. If you do not follow a strength program you will fail to improve your lifting numbers and any initial progress you do make will quickly stall and plateau.

To ensure rugby players continue to make good gains in the weight room they should follow an easy to implement strength program. One of the most effective strength programs is linear periodisation.

Linear periodisation involves continually increasing the intensity of your workout over time. For example week 1 you squat 70kg for 6 sets of 3 reps and then in week 2 you squat 72.5 kg for 6 sets of 3 reps.

Linear periodisation places increased stress on your body which forces it to adapt resulting in increased strength and muscle. If you are not consistently pushing your body it will stay the same and your strength and muscle levels will not change. Too many rugby players do not attempt to increase the intensity of their workouts in a consistent fashion and end up making no gains.

Here is an easy and simple squat program that rugby players can use to add some serious weight to their squat max.

Take 60% of your current squat max. Squat twice a week and perform 3 sets of 8 each workout. At the start of each new week add 2 to 2.5 kg to your working weight. Perform this program for 10 to 12 weeks.

2015 Rugby World Cup, Ireland Rugby Squad Training, St George’s Park, Burton-upon-Trent, England 22/9/2015 Ireland’s Nathan White during today’s gym session Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

For example if your current max squat is 100kg the program will look like this:

Monday & Thursday – 60kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 62.5kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 65kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 67.5kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 70kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 72.5kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 75kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 77.5kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 80kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 82.5kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 85kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

Monday & Thursday – 87.5kg – 3 sets, 8 reps

 Test 1 rep max – goal should be 115% of your old max

If you are able to consistently add 2.5 kg every week by the end of the program you should be lifting your former 87.5% of your max for 3 sets of 8. This should give you the work capacity to increase your old squat max by 10% to 15%.

Apart from effectively using linear periodisation the other way rugby players can increase their squat is through incorporating effective supplemental exercises into their programs.

To squat big numbers you need big quads. Front squats are one of the most effective exercises at building explosive, big and power squats. Front squats should be performed 1 to 2 times a week. Perform 6 sets of 3 or 5 sets of 4 and use 70% to 85% of your max

During the squat you need to be able to explode off the bottom to get out of the hall and past the sticking point. Many rugby players lack explosive power and speed and end up failing their squat because they can’t get out of the hole. 

To ensure you never get stuck in the hole during your squats again add pause squats to your training program. By pausing at the bottom of the squat you can’t use any bounce, you are forced to train your ability to drive and explode out the bottom. Pause squats make you much more confident in your ability to power out of the hole. Perform these once per week and 5 sets 4.

If you are a rugby player looking to increase their squat then you better have strong and powerful hips. The hip dominant movement with the greatest carry over to the squat is kettlebell swings

Kettlebell swings should be performed 1 to 2 times a week. Start off light as this is a deceptively difficult movement to perform correctly. Perform 3 sets of 8. Once rugby players start effectively swinging kettlebells it is only a matter of time before their squat numbers go through the roof.

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