James Haskell 3 ()James Haskell 3 () © Copyright

Eat. Lift. SMASH. Repeat.

The engine room of England’s Six Nations campaign James Haskell explains how he maintains his outrageous physique

James Haskell is 6ft 4, weighs just shy of 19 stone, and runs into people for a living. He also boasts an infectious character. When FS spent time with him for the purpose of our interview and the photoshoot you see before you, we found him bursting with energy, constantly smiling, always chatting; and big. Like really big. Even in rugby, where players are renowned for their size in the modern game, Haskell stands out. And after the snappers depart, we ask just how he got this way…

“Do you know what? It was never a conscious effort,” Haskell explains. “I knew that you had to have a certain level of physicality to play rugby, and after I didn’t get into England under 16s, I took it really badly. It was either give up or take it as motivation, so I got a trainer to start working with me twice a week. But I never consciously wanted to get big, I just sort of started to develop size – then when I got to Wasps, Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards were very keen to have their players physically on point, so they locked me in the gym, and that sort of sparked me on the journey.” 

James Haskell 2 ()

 

Fast forward 13 years, and rugby is full to the brim with huge units. For the most part, backs are now the size of yesteryear’s forwards, and forwards are the size of freaks. The collisions are bigger, the recovery harder. 

“Everyone is big these days, and everyone is physical. If you’re not, you get found out,” explains Haskell. “We all wear GPS vests now, and some of the collisions are akin to having a car accident. You’re running eight or nine kilometres with maybe 110-120 collisions in a game, so you get pretty battered – then you’ve got to turn around and do it again the following weekend.

“However, there’s this misnomer that you have to be huge, and kids are getting carried away with trying to be massive. Yes, you have to have a certain level of physicality, and if you weigh 135 kilos, it helps, but more often than not, it’s down to footwork, stability and core skills.

“That’s why I don’t train to be big anymore, and I don’t do any bodybuilding weights. I have to put more work into my mobility because of my size. I’m not blessed with the best flexibility, and I put my body on the line during games, so I have to keep myself moving. I used to probably do too much during the week, so I would come to games sore. Now I’m trying to be a lot cleverer about my training. I’m constantly trying to improve my movement by doing agility, foot work and speed work, and I work with a couple of guys to help me with that.”

Haskell in action ()

 

Next up for Haskell is the Six Nations. The Wasps man was part of the England squad that failed to emerge from their group at their home World Cup back in September. Head coach Stuart Lancaster paid the price; Eddie Jones has taken the hot seat. 

“I think people just have to stay behind the team and stay confident,” says Haskell. “I think everyone lost their shit over the World Cup,” Haskell explains. “Obviously everyone was very disappointed. At the end of the day, we still have a very good group of rugby players and a bad World Cup doesn’t change the fact. We took a backwards step in the World Cup, but that doesn’t detract from the talent of players, and the fact Eddie Jones has a wealth of experience in building teams. We are in a good place.” 

Want to smash people out of the way like Haskell? Follow his workout here

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