Jacked former England rugby star James Haskell has finally let slip how much he could bench press at his peak, a fact he has largely skirted around in the past.
The 6’4, 114kg flanker was famous for his chiseled physique throughout his professional rugby career, and has transitioned to a post-rugby career in – among many other things – fitness. Haskell is often asked about what his max bench press was but has always maintained that how much you press is irrelevant as a professional rugby player.
Speaking on his new ‘What a Flanker’ podcast, Haskell spoke about maintaining his body image and how it didn’t in fact help his career.
“I for a long time trained badly because I was concerned about my image. I wanted to be a big guy, I wanted to be really lean. I wanted to have that Men’s Health cover model body.
“People talk about having anorexia and eating disorders, but I think a lot of men have body dysmorphia and bigorexia. I think it’s something that has always been an issue, I think for me I always had to balance it out.
“I got to a 295kg box squat, me and Tom Wood. Bench pressing 195kg for a couple of reps, like ‘this is unbelievable’.
“It was not making me a good rugby player.”
While he doesn’t reveal his one-rep max in the exchange, it’s not much of a leap to presume it’s at least 200kg based on the ability to do two reps of 195kg.
While top players continue to raise the bar in terms of their physiques, Haskell cited a player who was wreaked havoc on the rugby pitch, despite gaining masses of excess fat mass. Fijian Rupeni Caucaunibuca ballooned up to 118kg on a 5’9, yet was still faster and more explosive then opponents could handle, proving the point that having a ripped body doesn’t translate into being a good rugby player.
“The classic example of that was Rupeni Caucau. He signed for Agen and he came to play Gloucester. His kit was orange and he looked like a roundabout. If he stood still long enough someone would have sponsored him and put a flower arrangement on top of his head.
“He was so big and I remember everyone was laughing ‘oh, Rupeni Caucau’s lost it’, [this was] after his amazing World Cup where he put two of those mega tries against Scotland and just destroyed the world playing for Fiji.
“He played Gloucester and went around Olly Morgan like he wasn’t there. He went through the team, stepped the entire team and scored. It was one of those things. People were literally judging him and he was still pure fire.”
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