How Strong Are Rugby Players?

We all know rugby players are seriously big athletes with the average player standing at 6ft 1 and weighing over 100kg. However, is that size just for show or do these athletes actually have the strength to match their impressive physiques?

How strong are rugby players?

Rugby players are very strong with the average professional rugby player being able to squat 2x his bodyweight, bench 1.5x bodyweight, deadlift 2.5x bodyweight and perform 15 pull ups. These are impressive numbers way in excess of what the average man is capable of especially considering the average player weighs 100kg.

Rugby players may not be weightlifters but that doesn’t stop these athletes from throwing up some huge weights in the gym. When professional players are in the gym it is a common sight to see bars bending and barbells overflowing with weight plates. 

Rugby players are always trying to get bigger and stronger so they can deliver more force when tackling and break through the defensive line when sprinting up the field. Weightlifting is a major training modality they use to develop their strength.

Weight training has been shown to increase rugby players’ on field performance and since the 80s has been a common part of rugby. Weight training has only become more popular in rugby as the years have gone on with now all teams getting their players into the weight room regularly. 

Teams will have a staff of strength coaches whose sole role is to get their players as strong as possible. These coaches will design training programs and supervise weight room training sessions. Strength coaches are a fairly new addition to rugby, first appearing in the 90s. Nowadays they are commonplace with teams usually employing multiple coaches.

Rugby players typically focus on the big compound movements such as bench press, squat and deadlift. To develop their strength athletes will lift heavy in these exercises, only performing 3-5 reps per set of 80%-95% of their max. 

Players will be routinely tested on their strength throughout the off-season. Coaches realise the importance of strength and if players are not hitting the strict standards they can jeopardise losing their starting place in the team. 

Currently professional rugby players are expected to squat 2x their body weight, bench press 1.5x body weight and deadlift 2.5x body weight. Based on the average rugby player weighing 100kg (220 pounds) this equates to a 200kg (440 pounds) squat, 150kg (330 pounds) bench and a 250kg (550pounds) deadlift.

If you are a young aspiring rugby player don’t worry if you are not anywhere close to these strength standards yet. This is what is expected of adult professional players who have often spent at least 10 years lifting weights. If you train consistently for 5-7 years you should be able hit these lift weights too.

How Much Can Rugby Players Squat?

Rugby players are expected to be able to squat 2x their bodyweight. As the average player weighs 100kg (220 pounds), the rugby athlete can squat 200kg (440 pounds). Ben Franks of the All Blacks is known for squatting more than 250kg (550 pounds).

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

The average rugby player can squat a lot more than the average man who would be lucky to squat more than 100kg. The average rugby player is expected to squat at least 200kg which is some serious weight. However, even among rugby players there are some freaks who are squatting insane weights that make their fellow rugby players look weak.

Andrew Porter who plays for Ireland must make his fellow Irish players feel a bit insecure when sets himself up in the squat rack. The prop can reportedly squat 350kg which is 3x his bodyweight and is impressive even for professional powerlifters let alone rugby players. Not to be outdone his front row mate Cian Healy can squat an impressive 300kg.

These numbers are outliers even for hulking front row forwards. The average front forward squats between 230kg-270kg. There might be something in the water in Ireland because Porter and Healy are putting up some freaky weight.

How Much Can Rugby Players Bench?

Rugby players are expected to be able to bench press 1.5x their bodyweight. The average professional rugby player can bench press 150kg. Will Genia is famous for benching 185kg (407 pounds) for reps while weighing only 88kg (193 pounds).

BORDEAUX, FRANCE – OCTOBER 01: Stephen Moore of the Wallabies spots team mate Wycliff Palu as he bench presses during an Australian Wallabies strength training session at the Colombier Gymnasium October 1, 2007 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rugby players are fond of the bench press. It is one the main lifts they focus on. Due the bench press being a staple of all rugby strength programs it is no surprise professional players are putting up some impressive numbers.

The average rugby player is expected to be able to bench press at least 150kg which is very impressive considering the average man can bench press 70kg. 150kg may be big weight however, there are a number of beast footy players who use 150kg as a warm up and toss it around like an empty bar.

Players benching over 200kg is becoming more and more common in professional rugby. England’s Andrew Sherridan put up 225kg while Samoan backrow Alfie To’oala benched 210kg during his tenure at London Welsh. Backrow legend Pocock is getting close to the 200kg mark with a best of 185kg as is the squatting freak Cain Healy who has hit 190kg.

Rugby players are very strong at bench pressing which is expected as it is a common exercise that all players are expected to perform regularly. With players expected to adhere to strict strength standards. Currently, players are expected to bench 1.5x their body weight for 1 rep.


Rugby players’ strength does in fact match their hulk like physiques with the average player being able to squat 200kg (440 pounds), bench press (150kg) and deadlift 250kg (550 pounds). There are some freak players who can well and truly exceed these weights with Ireland’s Andrew Porter squatting 350kg (770 pounds) and Gheorghe Gajion benching 230kg (506 pounds).

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