The modern day professional rugby player is approximately 25% bigger than the amateur player back in 1955 – this increase in size is undoubtedly a result of becoming more jacked…

The question is, when will the rate of gain stop? Is there an upper limit as to how much muscle rugby players can build?

If we were to express muscle growth as a simplistic formula, it’ll look something like this:

Gains = Weight training stimulus + adequate protein + sufficient calories + picking the correct parents (genetics).

Pro rugby players would typically have the correct strength and conditioning support since a young age. Combine this with the correct nutrition guidance and being genetically blessed, they are most likely going to be bigger than the normal homo sapien.

McHugh et al (2020) conducted research with pro rugby union players from a European Championship team where they aimed to examine the relationship of visceral fat, body mass and body fat percentage…

Although their primary finding was interesting, I was more interested in their secondary finding…how jacked can pro rugby players get?

After analysing their body composition throughout a normal season (via DXA), their findings suggested that a threshold may exist when total body mass reaches 116kg. In other words, if the players tried to surpass 116kg, gains in fat mass would happen.

In addition to this, research on NFL players suggests similar results where any additional gain in body mass above 114kg was highly likely to be fat gain.

Finally, research in athletes demonstrated a linear gain in muscle mass up to ~90kg where it then started to plateau around. 120kg.

So, if you have all the above parts of the equation locked in, you can become very jacked…up until ~115kg. After this point, you’ll gain body fat. This perhaps suggests a genetic upper limit to how big human beings can get…

That being said, there’s certainly some absolute freaks of nature that surpass this. I certainly work with a handful… but they are very far and few between. I.e. the genetic freaks amongst a cohort of very large human beings.

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